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Henry Cejudo Overcomes the Odds to Win Gold

Posted by Fara Kearnes on August 22, 2008 2:42 PM |

henry cejudoCongratulations to Henry Cejudo who overcame a childhood of adversity where he moved "about 50 times" but always kept wrestling and dreaming. "My mom would always tell us when we were kids, if you want to be an astronaut you can be an astronaut, doctor you can be a doctor, president," said Henry. His mom came to the US at age 15 as an illegal immigrant from Mexico. "She was always really encouraging us."

Henry, 21, chose to the impossible. He became an Olympic Gold Medalist in 121-pound freestyle wrestling.

In a class that included three reigning and former world champions, Henry entered the Olympics ranked 31st. He fell behind in all three of his preliminary matches but came back to win before dominating Asia champion Tomohiro Matsunaga of Japan in the final.

And then he became the youngest gold medalist in US Olympic wrestling history.

"We grew up in a pretty tough environment. It's gold or bust," Cejudo said of his childhood. He's the second to youngest of Nelly's seven kids. "I believe it's the right mentality; it should be the American mentality. Gold. That's all there is to it. I've never trained for second place or third place. We weren't brought up like that."

"The streets are paved in gold in the U.S., they really are," he says. "It's the land of opportunity."

Henry plans on giving the gold medal to his mother, who, though not a U.S. citizen yet, is now a resident alien. "You ask my mom, she'll tell you she's American," Cejudo says. "She has to study for the [citizenship] test."

The star wrestler had wanted to reunite with his estranged father but Jorge Cejudo died in Mexico City in May 2007 from heart failure after years of alcohol and drug abuse. He was just 44.

"I would sure have loved him to see what we've been through," says Cejudo. "And what we are now."

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