The 1977 Rapid City Stevens grad won the gold medal at 136.5 pounds in freestyle wrestling at the 1984 Olympics, outscoring his first four opponents 52-4 to advance to the final, where he crushed Japan's Kosei Akaishi 24-11 in 4:52. He was the youngest member of 1980 Olympic wrestling team but President Jimmy Carter’s boycott prevented the U.S. team from traveling to the Games in Moscow.
He was second in the ‘88 Olympic trials to John Smith, who wound up winning a gold medal. He was the 1990 Pan Am champion. In the biggest match ever held in South Dakota, Lewis pinned two-time world champion Viktor Alexeev as the USA earned its first ever dual team win over Russia before more than 7,000 fans in Rapid City in a pre-1980 Olympics dual.
At Iowa, wrestling for Coach Dan Gable, he was a four-time All-American and two-time NCAA champion with a record of 127-11-1 with 64 pins. He was the national runner-up at 126 as a freshman, then won NCAA titles the next two years while winning 74 matches in a row. As a senior, he suffered a dislocated elbow during a match, and finished the season using virtually one arm and still made All-American.
At Stevens, Lewis was 89-0 with 83 pins in three years (‘75-77), and he set a national prep mark with 45 straight pins. As an 18-year-old high school grad, he became the youngest wrestler ever to win the Junior World Championships (for the world's best 20-and-under wrestlers).
Lewis began his wrestling career as a fifth-grader at Meadowbrook Grade School in Rapid City, winning his first state AAU title that season. He entered the state meet in awe of his competition. “My dad said, 'They might look tough but I'll bet none of them can do 18 chin-ups like you can.' He also told me not to think of them as the best kids in the state. He said what if they were from Rapid City, and they went to Meadowbrook Grade School, and what if they lived right next door to us? If you couldn't beat them, then you wouldn't be Meadowbrook school champion, and you wouldn't be the toughest kid on your own block. He said, 'You are the toughest kid on the block, aren't you?' I smiled and said, “I sure am!”
He used that “toughest kid on the block” mentality the rest of his career, taking him from grade school champion to Olympic champion.
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