Wrestling legend Russ Hellickson grew up in Wisconsin. Hellickson excelled as a star athlete in baseball, football, and wrestling. He went on to win states in wrestling and was a top football player in Wisconsin. Hellickson was recruited to be a two-sport athlete by the University of Wisconsin. Russ earned All American honors as a Wisconsin Badger Wrestler. This was just the beginning of his rise in the sport.
Hellickson dominated US Wrestling racking up 12 US National Freestyle Titles and one Greco Roman Championship. Russ balanced life as a competitor and a coach during his career. He served as an assistant at his Alma Mater, the University of Wisconsin. Russ wanted to balance his time between his athletes and his own wrestling career. Hellickson chose to only compete in world level competition in the year leading up to the Olympics and the Olympic year itself.
Russ captured world medals winning silver in 1979 and bronze in 1971. Hellickson also won an Olympic silver medal in Montreal at the 1976 Games, losing to Russian Olympic legend Ivan Yarign. Hellickson was named captain for the 1980 US Olympic Wrestling team and was poised for a run at a gold medal but was unable to compete due to the US boycott of the Olympics that year. Russ won the prestigious Tbilisi International in 1974. He also won a World Cup in the same year. Hellickson was the first wrestler to win three gold medals in the Pan Am games.
In addition to his incredible career as an athlete, he had an extensive coaching career. Hellickson’s assistant coaching and competitive experience provided the platform for a career as a Big Ten Wrestling Head Coach. Russ served as head coach for Wisconsin from 1983-1986, followed by being the head coach at Ohio State from 1986-2006. Hellickson mentored 17 NCAA Wrestling Champions and 67 All-Americans. In 2002 Russ received the NWCA National Coach of the Year.
Hall of Fame Honors
Hellickson is a distinguished member of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. Russ has been inducted to both the Ohio State and Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fames.