Two of the country’s most prominent young Greco Roman wrestlers, Kamal Bey (75 kg, Sunkist Kids) and G’Angelo Hancock (98 kg, NYAC), are extremely close off the mat. If you to talk to each of them separately, they will tell you that they’re brothers. Not like brothers, but brothers. As Bey is quick to point out, “There’s no amount of blood that could make us any closer.”
It makes sense. The pair of 19-year olds took up shop at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs around the same time over a year ago and consequently, both have emerged as stars in a sport traditionally dominated by older athletes. Coming of age in an elite, highly-competitive environment is not supposed to be easy but they have made it look that way thus far, with the duo having secured spots on this past year’s Junior World Team (Hancock would later earn a bronze medal at the Junior World Championships) along with picking up their first Senior National titles in December. Parallel steps have been the story of their journey.
So perhaps, it is only fitting that thanks to Daymar College and USA Wrestling, the “brothers” are set to begin their college careers together, as well. Just last week, Daymar College, in association with the national governing body, awarded Kamal Bey and G’Angelo Hancock with $75,000 scholarships and both wrestlers have hit the ground running. Classes have already started and needless to say, it’s an incredible opportunity both wrestlers are extraordinarily grateful for.
Bey, who was looking into attending Pikes Peak Community College upon graduating from high school, received the news on his birthday two weeks ago. It made a special occasion all the more memorable. “I was waiting it out a little bit and then I was registering for classes when I got the call on my birthday about the scholarship,” Bey explains. “It’s the best present I could have asked for.”
Donating a future off the mat
Daymar donated the scholarships to USA Wrestling, who was then tasked with selecting the recipients. Head of Donor Relations and former National Team head coach Steve Fraser was instrumental in the process and said of Bey and Hancock being chosen: “USA Wrestling is proud to present two full-ride scholarships to Tracy Hancock and Kamal Bey from Daymar College. Daymar College donated these scholarships and are making a huge impact on these two young men’s lives. USA Wrestling is so very grateful to Dan Peterson, Chancellor of Daymar College and his supporting staff.”
Fraser is correct in alluding to the impact of the scholarships. Daymar is an online institution — all the athletes need in order to complete their coursework is a laptop and an internet connection, a huge advantage for two world-class wrestlers who travel often. Because while Bey and Hancock are over-the-moon excited, the fact that they can chase down a collegiate education without breaking their stride certainly stands out as an enticing perk. “It’s at my pace,” agrees Hancock. “After I train, I can take advantage of doing homework, then rest, wake up and do more homework. It will always be in front of me so I don’t have to see a professor face-to-face. But If I need help, I can call someone and there is a guaranteed answer every time, so it worked out great.”
Especially now, as 2017 has the potential to be an incredibly busy year for the newly-minted college students. In the immediate future resides the Dave Schultz Memorial International, held in the friendly confines of the Olympic Training Center. But in March, it’s off to Austria and Denmark and a month later, it will be the World Team Trials in Vegas. Should success follow them there, the promise of multiple training camps in preparation for the 2017 Paris World Championships awaits.
It might be a dream come true for every young athlete, to traverse the globe in pursuit of a World glory, but to do so while being enrolled in school is not for the faint of heart, making online-only classes the most logical route. “Online school may not be for everyone, but for athletes as focused and serious as Tracy and Kamal, Daymar is the ideal fit”, says US National Team head coach Matt Lindland, who played a vital role in bringing Bey and Hancock to Colorado Springs when they were still in high school. “Not only do our elite Greco Roman athletes get the opportunity to become educated from traveling the world and be exposed to the various cultures and discover the similarities we all have in common as humans, they also get to attend college and work towards their degrees. Education is a big piece of the puzzle for these two men to reach their potential.”
Gratitude and then some
And they know it. Take Bey, for instance. Recognized for his immense wrestling talent, flashy performances, and engaging, outgoing personality, his prowess on the mat has obscured the struggles he once endured off of it growing up in Chicago. Pulled in different directions, Bey went through periods of profound doubt so far-reaching, he at one point wondered if dropping out of school was a reasonable option. He persevered, partly because he is extremely intelligent — anyone who has spoken to Bey for 10 seconds can attest to that. The other part? Bey was lucky enough to have been influenced by a couple of teachers who were able to penetrate the noise he was surrounded by.
“The area I came from was so close-minded among my peers, I never really thought of school as a priority,” Bey admits. “And the right teachers I did have, they were the reason I stayed in school, so I am really thankful to the ones who built me up as opposed to the ones who brought me down. I am honestly so grateful for this opportunity because if it wasn’t for the teachers who built my confidence, I don’t think I would have went back to school.”
He is showing his gratitude the best way he knows how — by putting in the effort. Bey’s enthusiasm, infectious and illuminating to those around him, is once again on full display. “Ever since I’ve received this scholarship, I’ve been working my butt off,” he says excitedly. “Tracy is actually better than I am with schoolwork, so I put in the extra time and do the extra things I need to do in order to keep up. I am getting help from my sisters and the college tutors and everything, but I am just so grateful to be able to do this.”
Hancock, who is usually a touch more stoic and reserved than his counterpart, couldn’t help but be floored when he found out he was going to be able to continue his education. “I was speechless,” admits Hancock. “It was hard for me even fathom if it was true or not. It was after our morning practice and I was like, Am I even awake, or am I still dreaming? Coach Herb (House) told me, ‘Tracy, USA Wrestling chose two random athletes to receive this $75,000 college scholarship’, and it was me and Kamal. I looked at Kamal and he looked at me and like I said, I was speechless. We both had nothing to say to each other.” A rare occurrence, for sure, but in this case, perfectly understandable.
Strength in numbers
Since they do practically everything together, it should come as no surprise that US Greco Roman wrestling’s power-youth tandem have chosen the same major. It was as much of a tactical decision as it was based on mutual interest. If they are willing to train, sacrifice, and experience this whole wild ride of world-caliber competition together, then why not do the same when it comes to their schoolwork? It’s a built-in advantage that like everything else, could pay big dividends later on.
“Tracy and I both chose Business Management,” informs Bey. “We can help each other out if we need to. We study together, we Facetime each other, if we have questions, we can bounce them off one another. If he has questions, he can ask me and if I have questions, I can ask him. It’s great to be able to go through this with someone my age doing the same thing. We’re living the same dream but we’ve also struggled together. We’re both out here, training and working out, and those bonds that have been forged through our struggles have made us brothers.”
For his part, Hancock remains awestruck. One only needs to go back and take a look at the last year and half in both his and Bey’s lives to get the picture. There have been a lot of big moments. Life decisions. Long conversations. Trial and error, all during those intense yet potentially redefining formative years in a young man’s life. What’s more, it has all taken place at seemingly warped speed. You ask Hancock how he reconciles these undeniably fortuitous events he’s encountered and he sums it up like this: “It’s amazing to see where dedication, hard work, and passion can take you. It’s getting me everything I’ve wanted so far.” You can’t argue with that.
Through it all, they will have each other, the two young stewards who are helping usher in a new dawn for the US Greco Roman wrestling community. They have received a great gift and they know it. Given the track records of Kamal Bey and G’Angelo Hancock, the smart money says they will attack college with the same veracity they do opponents: joyously and yet, unmercifully. That’s what they’re about. That’s what the sport is about. In case you haven’t gotten the memo, they know that, too.
They’re both dreamers. Thanks to Daymar and USA Wrestling, Bey and Hancock have one more to go after.