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A Look at Native Americans to Have Wrestled at Oklahoma State

A rundown of some of the accomplishments of various tribal members that wrestled at Oklahoma State



November is National Native American Heritage Month and naturally, with all the Oklahoma ties to Native American history, there are a number of prominent native Oklahoma State wrestlers. Your favorite Oklahoma State beat writer happens to be a member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation and I thought I’d take a look at and share with you all some of that history and background on native OSU wrestlers.

Cliff Keen (Comanche Nation)

Keen wrestled under Ed Gallagher and also played football during his time at Oklahoma State. He was a Missouri Valley Champion and in 1924 he won the Olympic trials but was unable to compete due to a broken rib. He went on to a successful coaching career at Michigan that spanned 45 years.

His name is probably best known today due to his wrestling gear and equipment brand. Cliff Keen Athletic is one of the most well known wrestling brands in existence.

Keen was born near Cheyenne, Oklahoma and is a member of the Comanche Nation.

Jack and Gerald Brisco (Chickasaw)

Jack and Gerald Brisco are two former Cowboys that are probably most well known for their professional careers. Both shared long careers in professional wrestling and are now members of the WWE Hall of Fame.

Jack had the most prominent amateur wrestling career of the two. After growing up in Blackwell, Oklahoma he came to Oklahoma State and was a two-time NCAA finalist. In 1965, he became an NCAA Champion and according to many sources was the first Native American to win an NCAA title in wrestling.

The Brisco brothers are both members of the Chickasaw Hall of Fame.

Mark Branch (Kaw Nation)

Mark Branch has a pretty incredible history in wrestling. He went into the NCAA tournament his freshman year with a losing record and won a National Title. He followed that up with three more NCAA finals appearances and one more title.

Branch went on to be a very successful assistant at Oklahoma State and big part of the run of four-straight NCAA titles in the early 2000s for the Cowboys. After his time as an assistant at his alma mater he became the head coach at Wyoming and has now been the leader of that program for 13 years.

Branch grew up in Newkirk, Oklahoma and is a member of the Kaw Nation.

Johny Hendricks (Otoe-Missouria)

Johny Hendricks has more recently been in the spotlight than most of the others on this list as he was the UFC Welterweight champion in 2014. As a wrestler at Oklahoma State, Hendricks won two NCAA titles and was a four-time All-American.

Hendricks has family in the Kiowa, Cherokee, and Otoe tribes.

Wyatt Sheets (Cherokee)

Wyatt Sheets is currently a junior at Oklahoma State and was the starter last year for the Cowboys at 157 pounds and projects to return to that helm again this season. He was named a second-team All-American for the Cowboys last season by the NWCA.

Wyatt Sheets is a member of the Cherokee Nation.

Naturally Oklahoma State has had a number of other Natives through the program over the years that are not included here, but I felt it appropriate to profile a few of them in honor of Native American Heritage month.

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