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College Wrestling Continues to Produce Pro Wrestling Stars

Brock Lesner’s victory at the 2022 WWE Royal Rumble is another nod towards college wrestling as the former amateur star has since gone on to have an incredible career as a pro.

However, it is not just in the WWE that Lesner has been successful in that he has also held the heavyweight title with UFC and New Japan Pro-Wrestling. Across those three brands, he has been an 11-time heavyweight champion, which is an incredible and unusual feat for someone of his stature.

Here is a look at how Lesner and other amateur wrestlers have made it in the pro world.

Brock Lesner

Lesner was very accomplished as an amateur wrestler, but nobody could have foreseen back then the career he would go on to have. It all started when he represented Bismark State College and the University of Minnesota.

Lesner was the ‘Next Big Thing’ and a two-time All-American at college. He won the NJCAA Heavyweight Championship in 1988 and then went on to have success within the National Collegiate Athletic Association, becoming the heavyweight champion in 2000.

After switching to pro wrestling, Lesner made his debut on the WWE’s main roster in 2002. Since then, he has had spells working on different brands, but he has always returned to the organization. His latest victory at Royal Rumble ensures he will once again headline WrestleMania in April.

The six-time WWE championremains one of the biggest names in the brand. Thus far, he has been the King of the Ring, won the Money in the Bank, and has also held the WWE Universal Championship three times.

Lesner has been linked with [the AEW men’s roster](, but for now, he still has a contract with the WWE and he is likely to feature among their major storylines in 2022.

Mike Caruso

Switching sports from wrestling to horse racing is not an obvious transformation, however, that is something Mike Caruso has managed to do over the span of his eclectic career. As an amateur, he won three NCAA Championships.

In his formative years, Caruso was used to winning as a wrestler. At Lehigh University, for example, he finished with a dominant record of 57-1. His success came in the 123lb division, with championships coming in his sophomore, junior, and senior years.

When he retired from wrestling, though, Caruso confused many avid fans with his choice to buy a racehorse. He soon proved his passion for horse racing as a sport by winning his first official race in 1982 as an owner. This success further encouraged his new pursuit and subsequently led to him taking a greater interest in thoroughbred ownership.

Caruso has always had a strong interest in horse racing, and interviews have revealed that he credits his father for getting him into the sport. This acquaintance with the sport meant that Caruso went into ownership with some knowledge of what it takes for a horse to be successful on the track.

Like most owners, Caruso had to be patient for his first major success. This came in 2011 when he won the Grade One Spinaway Stakesat Saratoga with Grace Hall.

In 2015, the former college wrestling champion was victorious at the Longines Breeders’ Cup meeting which is regarded as the World Championships in North America. He prevailed in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint with Wavell Avenue.

Caruso will be hoping to enter a horse at Royal Ascot one day as it is widely regarded as is one of the leading international events in horse racing. One of the feature races at the meeting is the Ascot Gold Cup. As of the 31st of January, the UK-trained Trueshan is the +275 favorite in the horse racing odds Betway for the 2022 race. Given how competitive Caruso is, he will feel he still has so much to achieve in his new sport, including a victory at the highlight of the UK Flat season.

Kurt Angle

As an Olympic gold medallist, Kurt Angle is considered to be one of the greatest American amateur wrestlers of all time. He won Gold at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.

Angle attended the Clarion University of Pennsylvania. He became a two-time NCAA Divison I champion. He has also had success as a national freestyle champion in 1987. When he left college, the 1996 Olympics was always the target for the amateur wrestler. He avoided the temptation of turning professional to pursue the gold medal.

The WWE had been trying to sign Angle up to their brand since 1996 to help the WWE in TV ratings. He made his debut for them at the 1999 Survivor Series, beating Shawn Stasiak. It did not take him long to become the WWE champion as he won the belt in 2000 at the pay-per-view No Way Out.

The four-time WWE champion is now in the Hall of Fame with the organization. He received offers to take part in some AEW PPVs but he still appears on the WWE in various roles such as a manager and guest referee.

With so many talented wrestlers in the amateur game at the moment, we could be set to see many more appear in pro wrestling in the near future.

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