Adam Coon stepped onto the mat one last time for all the marbles. The former Michigan heavyweight was paired against Russia’s Sergey Semenov in the gold medal match of the 2018 World Championships on Oct. 28. Win and go down in wrestling history. Lose and avoid satisfaction with the taste of victory fleeting your starved pallet.
Unfortunately for Coon, the latter would play out before his very eyes. After dropping his opponents for four straight pins to land him a spot in the final bout, Coon’s run would come up one match short. And in the end, Coon saw his own dominant move, the body lock, used against him and fell by a 9-0 technical fall to Semenov.
The body lock, a move completed by stepping into your opponent and clenching your arms around his upper body, led Coon to execute devastating upper body throws and ultimately pin his opponents in dramatic fashion throughout the tournament.
What makes Coon’s body lock so deadly, though, is not his upper body strength, but rather shifty footwork that tricks his opponents into falling into the lock. Coon uses hip bumps, turns and false steps to lure his opponent into a prime position to be taken down. Falling for the siren call of the false step, Coon’s opponents then fall victim to the throw.
“I’ve been working body locks since I first started wrestling when I was very young, so I kinda grew up in it,” Coon said. “I’ve very comfortable in that position, especially when I know a lot of other people are not. Especially the way that I hit it. I have a very unorthodox type style from the body lock.”
Semenov, on the other hand, proved apt at countering Coon’s trickery and confounded the former Michigan star. Also relying heavily on the body lock, Coon knew the bout would be a fight for the position — though this was a fight he could not win.
Moving forward, Coon will look to diversify his offensive arsenal in the Greco-Roman style of wrestling, so as to not use the body lock as a crutch in future matches. Offensive diversification as well as defensive adaptability will be the name of the game for Coon’s future training regimen. And in order to gain that extra edge, this training might not happen in the United States.
“I’ve been wrestling since I was eight years old, and I’ve never experienced that type of positioning,” Coon said. “So I need to train more outside of the United States because there are very few people in the United States who can mimic the same type thing.
“I know there are a couple foreigners that would be able to do the same thing, so I have to focus on training overseas and allowing people to come in and train with me at the same time. So just opening the door to some international training, I think is what’s gonna make me better.”
Leaving Budapest behind, Coon fully intends to continue competing in the big international tournaments in pursuit of the ultimate goal — an Olympic gold medal. Along the way, Coon will look to monetize his efforts in next-level wrestling by pioneering the freshly minted American Wrestling League (AWL).
The AWL is seeking to create professional wrestling — not the “chair-over-the-head” kind, but legitimate, traditional wrestling where athletes can make money while they pursue international glory in the World Championships and Olympics. After getting drafted by fellow United States team member David Taylor on Nov. 3, Coon will test the waters of the AWL and try to spin wrestling into a full-fledged career.
Before he gets another crack at the next major international tournament, don’t expect Coon to fade from the spotlight anytime soon. Whether wrestling in the AWL, playing tug-of-war against 50 elementary schoolers or pulling trucks by rope, Coon’s stardom has grown beyond Michigan, and if all goes well, will one day land him on top of the podium at the World Championship.