Gable Steveson officially retired from the sport of wrestling after wrapping up his second consecutive NCAA championship on Saturday night in Detroit.
His 6-2 victory over Arizona State’s Cohlton Schultz capped off a dominant run for the 21-year-old heavyweight from the University of Minnesota. After earning his win, Steveson celebrated with his high-flying signature flip through the air before removing his shoes and leaving them in the center of the mat, which signifies the end of his wrestling career.
“It’s done,” Steveson said on the ESPN broadcast about his retirement. “I knew what I came to do. I was going to win an Olympic gold, win the national tournament again. It’s just weird. I don’t know how to describe it.”
Steveson was a heavy favorite to repeat as NCAA champion after completing a stunning run through the 2020 Olympic games, where he claimed the gold medal at 125kg. The final sequence in Tokyo saw Steveson come from behind in the closing seconds to score a takedown to beat Geno Petriashvili from Georgia and become an Olympic champion.
Following that historic win, Steveson was bombarded with opportunities to potentially return to wrestling or turn his attention to a future in either pro wrestling or mixed martial arts. Ultimately, Steveson decided to go back to Minnesota to win another National Championship while also signing an NIL rights deal (name, image, and likeness) with World Wrestling Entertainment.
Steveson has made several appearances at WWE programming as he prepared to make his eventual move into pro wrestling.
Now that journey is complete, as Steveson is retiring from competition to focus on his new career with WWE, however wrestling will always have a special place in his heart and he even offered advice to the next generation of athletes who will take his place.
“Just maturing, physically and mentally, having good people around me,” Steveson said about his own career. “Having a good support system. It’s taken me to many places, you guys could see so many more.
“Just stay focused, stay grinding, keep a good friends group, young kids stay in school, have fun, train hard and love wrestling. You will never get here if you don’t love it.”
Former two division UFC champion Daniel Cormier called the matches from the ESPN commentary booth on Saturday and was sad to see Steveson leave wrestling behind, especially considering the potential he had to return for another Olympic run in 2024.
That said, Steveson obviously had his mind made up that Saturday would serve as his final match, with plans to now put his full focus on a future in WWE.
“For a young guy like this at the top of his game, it speaks to what a special talent Gable Steveson is,” Cormier said. “It’s sad for me as a wrestling guy. It’s sad for me to know he won’t be back.
“I do appreciate all the memories that we have. Who will ever forget this? Who will forget his multiple takedowns with 15 seconds left to win the Olympic title?”
There’s no word when Steveson will make his debut with WWE, but many believe he will at least appear at WrestleMania 38, which is scheduled on April 2 and April 3 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.