Gold-Medal Wrestler Takes on New Challenges

October 28, 2010 / by / 0 Comment

By Doug Carroll
Communications Staff

Olympic gold-medal wrestler Henry Cejudo has his sights set on another gold — and another goal.

The improbable triumph of Cejudo, 23, in Beijing two years ago was an inspirational story that made headlines around the world. Raised by a single mother in some of the poorest neighborhoods in Los Angeles, Las Cruces, N.M., and Phoenix, the 121-pound Cejudo became a two-time high school state champion in Arizona on the way to Olympic glory.

Now he’s enrolled at GCU, taking three classes on campus and one online, while starting to train for the 2012 Olympics in London.

About a year ago, he began a partnership with the University, and he was on campus Thursday for promotional photo shoots along the Promenade and in the wrestling room of the new Student Recreation Center.

“This is amazing,” Cejudo said of the new wrestling facility. “There are no words to describe it. GCU has really stepped up its game.”

Cejudo’s adviser and mentor is Ray Arvizu, a former GCU basketball player who has his own advertising and promotions company in Phoenix.

“Henry has the personality to really connect with kids,” Arvizu said. “I’ve told him, ‘Make sure you impact people.’ He’s using his success to help himself and help others.”

Cejudo said his experiences as an Olympic champion have shown him the possibilities. He wrote a book about his life story, “American Victory: Wrestling, Dreams and a Journey Toward Home.”

“It’s a life-changer, to go from the kid down the street to people honking at me,” he said. “I had a guy read my book in prison who wrote me a letter. A college wrestler drove all the way from San Jose to L.A. for my book signing. The story inspires everybody, people of all ages.

“I grew up right here in Maryvale. My church was three blocks from GCU. I want to be a leader to the Mexican-American community here.”

Cejudo said he expects to be halfway to his college degree after the current academic year.

A degree would be “the biggest life-changer of all,” he said.

Reach Doug Carroll at 639.8011 or [email protected].

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