G’Angelo Hancock is proof that no dream is too big, even the ones you have a hard time believing yourself.
Hancock, a Fountain native, went from getting expelled from high school to channeling his energy and athleticism into a meteoric rise to stardom in Greco-Roman wrestling. He’s a gold medal contender in the 97 kilogram (214 pound) weight class at the Tokyo Olympics, which begin Friday.
“I wrestled all the top guys — the Armenian (Artur Aleksanyan), a multiple-time world champion and reigning Olympic champion — and I’ve beaten these guys,” Hancock said. “I’ve wrestled all the guys who got medals from Rio (in 2016), so I’m very confident. I’ve been wrestling these top guys now for four, five, six years now and winning.
“I believe that I am the guy who’s supposed to be at the top of the podium, so that’s the type of energy I’m going to bring into this.”
Hancock’s confidence on the international stage began to swell in 2018 when he won the Pytlasinski Memorial in Poland, pinning Aleksanyan in 28 seconds in the semifinals en route to victory. It cemented his status as a bonafide international star and buoyed the Tokyo hopes for a wrestler who finished third at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials as an 18-year-old.
“When I wrestled him and I just wrestled to my abilities, (the pin) happened so fast — just like the way I dreamt about it happening but I didn’t necessarily know if I believed that dream,” Hancock recalled. “It was a moment like, ‘Dude, these (Olympic gold medal) dreams are real.’ What I think can happen, can very much so happen.”
But before Hancock ever got on the track to possible Olympic glory, he needed a wake-up call.
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While at Fountain-Fort Carson High School, Hancock — then wrestling as Tracy, his given first name — made the podium at state each of his first two years. However, as a junior, his lack of off-the-mat focus caught up to him, and he was expelled from school for fighting.
Had it not been for an opposing coach wondering what had happened to Hancock, he likley wouldn’t be in Tokyo. After Hancock cruised to a win in a meet against Pine Creek earlier in his junior season, Eagles coach and 2008 Olympian T.C. Dantzler wondered why the mammoth, raw wrestler wasn’t at their next dual. When Dantzler found out Hancock was in trouble, he tracked him down and showed up at his door.
“I opened the door and I swear the first thing he says to me was, ‘Hi, I’m T.C. Danzler, and I’m the man who’s going to change your life,’” Hancock recalled. “A few minutes later I was packing my stuff. At this time my parents were definitely thinking of alternative options for discipline, like military school. Something had to happen, and T.C. was my last chance.”
Source:: The Denver Post – Sports