Olympic wrestler Tamyra Mensah-Stock hunter and hugger in equal parts

Tamyra Mensah-Stock enjoys watching zombie movies.

She roots for the zombies.

“I like being the hunter,” she says.

Spoken like the world champion freestyle wrestler, Mensah-Stock is, although arguably the friendliest, talkative, seek-and-destroy grappler to stalk the mat at the Tokyo Olympics.

Katy’s 28-year-old Mensah-Stock arrives in Japan as the reigning 150-pound world champion. An Olympic gold medal would give him a sort of grand slam, added to two state championships at Morton Ranch High School and two college titles at Wayland Baptist in Plainview.

Women’s wrestling is hardly a glamorous sport in the Olympic pecking order, but Mensah-Stock impressed the producers of NBC Sports enough to rate a two-minute biographical short that is frequently shown during programming on the Olympic Channel. of the society.

She speaks a good game, citing Christian rapper Andy Mineo’s line that “my biggest enemy is me, and even I can’t stop”.

“I don’t know how I survive in this sport because wrestling is such a nasty sport, and I want to laugh and have fun all the time,” Mensah-Stock said. “I get by laughing and having fun in training and being a little proud too.

“When I go to competitions I feel like I’m more prone to athletics than most. and I’m like ‘I got you. You can’t put me down on that. I’ll shoot you down. Yes? You like this? That’s right. Now hold me tight. Let’s be friends, even though I just beat you. ‘ “

Mensah-Stock was born in Chicago but moved to Houston with her family, including her twin sister Tarkiya, when she was six months old. She competed in track and field at Morton Ranch, but switched to wrestling after her sister started the sport.

“I loved being there (at Morton Ranch). It was very diverse, ”she said. “The fact that they have a wrestling team was great. They gave us a lot of opportunities in this school.

His father, Prince Mensah, who was born in Ghana and arrived in the United States at the age of 30, died in a car accident in 2009 while returning from a wrestling tournament in Louisiana. She kept her name in his honor after marrying Jacob Stock, who also wrestled at Morton Ranch and Wayland Baptist.

Mensah-Stock hosted their first international tournament in 2013, two years after graduating from Morton Ranch with two consecutive state titles. She won the Olympic trials in 2016, but was unable to qualify in her weight class for the Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Mensah-Stock admits to having a crush on her husband in high school, but they didn’t start dating until his freshman year in college.

“He said the reason he didn’t want to date me (in high school) was because he thought I was too much of a good girl and didn’t want to mar my aura with what he had.” to offer. And I was like, ‘Whatever’, ”she said.

The couple moved to Colorado Springs in 2016 as Mensah-Stock prepared for a possible Olympic trip and got married later in the year. She ended her college career with another national title in 2017, then returned to Colorado Springs to train at the Olympic Training Center.

In 2018, she won her first bronze medal at the world championships, followed a year later by her first world title. She won the Pan American title in 2020 and tournaments in Italy and France this year in addition to the Olympic Trials title in Fort Worth.

Mensah-Stock has said she will continue to fight for the Paris 2024 Olympics. She would like to try a job at World Wrestling Entertainment, but is reluctant to take that route as she hopes to start a family before becoming a coach at the World Wrestling Entertainment. university.

Her in-ring style, she said, is very similar to her personality: cheerful, albeit with a hint of violence.

“I really enjoy getting beaten up and beating people up,” she said. “I never wanted to be predictable or be good in one move. I want to be good at as many moves as possible so that I have an answer to whatever someone throws at me.

“I’m a bit like a viper. I just knocked.

And then, if all goes well, she gives a hug.

Robert J. King