Anthony Knox shares a common story with a lot of youth wrestlers. Early struggles. Wins were harder to come by and success was judged more by progress from match to match than racking up championships. But, as we sit here today, we know, that changed. So, I wanted to learn a little more about what changed. How he developed into one of the very best high school wrestlers in the country. Where success is judged by dominance.

And what I learned immediately was consistency. Whereas now he’s consistently dominant, he began just being consistently present. Never giving up. Never quitting. His love of the sport drove him to be better. He practiced harder. Took extra matches. Eventually, Anthony developed himself into the elite competitor we see now.

Starting when he was 8, he would follow his dad to the gym where he trained as an MMA fighter. While maybe as kids we wanted to be like Mike, little Ant definitely wanted to be like big Ant, like dad. He got time to roll around before practice started and he used that time to his advantage. He cherished it. And you could say his love for the game began there.

Then it became official. The matches were official and Anthony was officially a youth wrestler. And he loved it. Even as the results were going against him, he wanted more. More matches meant more development and he knew at that young age the time spent would lead to the outcomes desired.

As his youth career was building, he attended Rhino Wrestling Club. There, he had access to many coaches who shaped him into who he is today. Mike Malinconico, a Jersey legend. “Mike Mal” has been a technique specialist for Flo and currently leads the Poway RTC. Anthony also had great partners. NJ State champion and Princeton freshman, Tyler Vasquez, world champ Marc-Anthony McGowan, also currently at Princeton, and many more.

According to Anthony, “I always placed an emphasis on finding good competition rather than worrying about wins and losses.” And that approach to the sport has paid dividends for him. Clearly. You won’t often find a high school athlete that has that particular mindset. With that level of mature perspective. He credits his family and coaches for helping him develop along those lines. And for providing the opportunity to compete at the best events against the best kids. “Traveling out of state to big competitions with my family are some of my best childhood memories.”

The list of these tournaments is extensive. Super 32 three times. Escape the Rock. Beast of the East. Fargo. He’s also quickly become the first 3 time Flo Who’s #1 winner. As if there were any doubt, he’s been #1, he’s #1 now. Consistency.

The St John Vianney junior is a two-time NJ state champion, on pace to be one of the next four timers. He has a high school record of 76-1, and sits atop the national rankings at 120, something he’s keenly aware of, “I do [pay attention to rankings]. I use it as motivation. I like to prove people wrong. I don’t get mad about it, it’s just someone’s opinion, but it’s definitely motivation to get better.”

Talking with Anthony, you learn how important loyalty is to him. He’s been wrestling with the same coaches for over 10 years. Consistency, loyalty, love for the game, just some of what Cornell University is getting in their 125 heir apparent.

As one of the top gets in the class of ’25, whenever or wherever Anthony made his decision was going to generate news. That he did it after winning his 2nd Super 32 belt, just added more weight to the moment. About the school choice, he says, “I love the academics of an Ivy League school, but from the wrestling side, I really love the staff and the partners that I will get to go with every day.” 

Partners like Vito Arujau? The only 2023 senior world gold medalist still in college. Is there a better partner for an up and coming lightweight star? If there’s no limit to the brightest of the Anthony Knox star, what better place to shine. And if I know anything, he’ll do whatever it takes to get there.

That’s his mindset, that passion, that love of the game. I asked what his post collegiate plans were and he was clear. He’s aiming for a spot on the 2028 Olympic team. A lofty aspiration for a kid full of meeting the loftiest. And no one said it would be easy, just worth it. And when you look back at the early mat time rolling around, the early struggles, the consistency leading to immense success, it’s definitely been worth it. And he can’t help but love that.

Be sure to follow Anthony’s continued journey on Instagram: @ant.knox

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Meet Todd Wightman

Based in Western PA. Right in the heart of WPIAL country, Todd brings an insider’s view from the country’s epicenter  of wrestling. He’s excited to build on the TKDWN tradition of starting with the story first. The athletes, the coaches, their families and supporters, there is no shortage of stories to tell. And Todd will bring his unique perspective to help us continue to deliver top notch content for the world’s greatest sport!