Get Authentic with Marques Ogden
Get Authentic with Marques Ogden

Episode 9 · 2 weeks ago

Get Authentic with Marques Ogden - Lee Kemp


Marques talks with Lee Kemp

Yeah, hello everyone and welcome back to get authentic with Marcus Shaw. I'm your host, Marcus Ogden, where we talked to amazing people with amazing stories. But before we talk about our next guest, which is episode number five, Mr Lee Kemp, I want to give a shout out to our some of our sponsors. Head start equity over. My good friend Brian had a real estate multi family investing firm Canadadad, a hip brand in the shop North Care Line of Area Lux Denver, with my good friend Robert Blaize. A Uh it is a realtor brand that's in Denver. We have power plus mouthguard with my good friend Dr Michael Hutchinson. Is A mouthguard designed to help keep you safe while playing sports and other athletics. And then stout franchise advisors, my good friend Doug Stout. They help people that want to franchise get into the franchise business. Thank you to our amazing sponsors. Now here's Mr Lee Kemp. Lee is a great guy, has been the world of wrestling and a lot of phenomenal stuff and he's here to talk about his authentic story and authentic journey. Lee, how are you today, sir, Marcus, very good today, excited to be here. Thank you for inviting me. Absolutely my friend. So, before we get started, Lee, the first question. I asked every guest. What does the word authentic, slash authenticity mean to them? What does it mean to lead camp? The thing that comes to my mind when I first learned of your show and met you is and and learned of your story, is that authenticity, the pure essence of it, is vulnerability really, and it means to be to be yourself. Um, social media is great, but it's also bad, because we put this veneer up and it's not who we really are and we put the best presentation of ourselves out there for the world to see. But but when you crash and burn and there's no more, there's nothing else that you can use to hide that, when the public, when you're a public person and you and you fail like like I have, and when I tell my story, you'll hear that there's nothing there. You, you, you are you. You have nothing left but to be authentic, and it means being honest. It means being your true self, finding out, Um, what you're really good at. You Know Uh self. Realization is something that that that, I think, is really important when you realize who you really are. Uh, it's not, Um, it's not sometimes what other people think you are. So Um, you know, when I when I learned to this uh of of your podcast, I started to think about my my own life a little bit deeper than I had before. So Um, it's Um, I I guess at its core it just means, uh, being vulnerable. Love it, love it. Lee. Can you talk honest a little bit more about you background upbringing where you're from, your career in wrestling and trying to kind of share with them? As you mentioned, you've had a lot of struggles...

...your journey on your trajectory. Can you share with the author it about who is Lee Kimp at his core? When I talk about my life, I have to kind of rewind and go back sort of to the beginning. I was adopted when I was five years old. So I guess you could say I was institutionalized for a while because not a lot of people want to adopt a child, you know, five and shortly, not older than five, it gets a little bit harder. So, UM, my biological mother, I do have a relationship with her and her when I was like thirty six. UH, she at the time she had me, she was a teenager and she already had a child. So my life would have been a lot different than than than it turned out, you know. So, Um, then I was adopted into a family uh and typed, by the way. My biological mother named Me Darnell. I was Darnell Freeman when I came into the world and when I was five, my biological family, or at least my my adopted family, Lee Ray and Jesse Kemp, uh, they named Me Leroy Jr. So that has had meaning to me over the years and it's getting more meaningful to me as I as I even get older, because I realized what my parents, uh, we're doing. You know, my mom and dad, they were in the fifties a couldn't have any kids. They were from the south. They were black couple from the south. They each came from very large families, like a lot of families were during that time. My parents, they were born in nineteen eleven and nineteen twelve, you know, in Mississippi. So I learned a lot just having those people as my parents. But, but, but the main thing that that I want to like convey to the audience is that you know your journey. Sometimes is goes in the path that you really have no control over. I mean, I had no saying any of that. So I I I credit that to a divine purpose from my life. Every was like, has a divine purpose. Um, I feel like that was my divine appointment, my divine purpose to have the Kemp family adopt me and then to name me Leroy Jr. So when when they couldn't have any kids. So they embodied in me all the all the love that you can imagine that that that a person could have for a child. And and incidantly, my dad had three other brothers and they all all had girls. So I was the only Kemp mail coming out of that lineage, which is another thing I found out much later in my life. So, so they raised me that way. They raised me with the understanding that my life was important, that I was carrying the legacy of the Kemp family. Uh, a lot of black families felt strong about that, especially the ones who were from the south, which most of us, most of our lineage does, come from the south. We always felt like we had to do some thing important and great with our lives so that we can make our parents proud and that was kind of so I always start out by when I talked about my life. That kind of created the you know, the ability for me to dream big and to feel like I could be something. And I had a good core. I had a good my parents were married for over fifty years. I was their only child. So that is the that is the beginning of Lee Kim's life. So, Um, I grew up in the in in Cleveland, not in the inner city, but the city of Cleveland, and after night Martin Luther King was assassinated, my parents wanted to move out of Cleveland. Like most cities in the United States, they were under. They were just under. They were just under a lot of seats, a lot of fighting, a lot of racial tension. So they moved to Chardon, Ohio, five miles northeast of Cleveland, and it was it was a white community. It's probably was two black families in the whole town. So in one summer I went from being in...

...a black world to a white one in Charton Ohio, and I say that's important because it allowed me to understand, uh, how to get you know, to get along in this world. Basically, I saw my parents moved into that community. I watched how they interacted with that community and, Um, I saw how my dad treated people. I saw how everyone treated my parents. Um, they demanded dignity and respect and they and they got it. Why? Because they were they were great people. They worked hard and I saw that. And we had a farm. We went from Cleveland with the city, and then we moved to this farm, acres of land. My Dad because he came from the south, my mother, they knew how to they knew how to farm. We had cows and pigs and chickens and I learned how to work hard on that farm. So, anyway, you kind of you can see where I'm going with that. So that created the base for everything I did in my life. I learned how to work hard. I grew up uh in an environment where, you know, my father, you could not talk back, you couldn't even look at him like you were a little upset. He told you to do something, you did it. That was just the environment that I was from. You you may have been raised by a man like that, but that's just kind of how it was like. Now I've got three three children, two boys. I joked with my son Adam. I mean I don't mean this any but you know, when he was younger, I would tell to do something, he'd looked at me like well, let me see if I'm gonna do that or not, like, you know, I'm not sure if I want to do that, Dad Nico, sit back down and I was like this is not like how it was when I grew up, but anyway. So I had that as a foundation, uh, learning how to respect the forty, first foremost your parents and uh, and then I saw how my parents got along in that community. I saw a man live a dream when everybody was saying he shouldn't do it. Relatives for people in our neighborhood and we left Cleveland and go to Shardon. They we were saying, Oh, what, what do you who out there for? They were basically telling them it wasn't gonna work. And it did work. It worked in a very big way. My Dad had the most immaculate garden you could imagine. We had flower guardens. He was just a guy who was living his dream. So I saw a man live his dream. I remember getting up in the morning, uh at seven or eight, and my parents had already been outside for two or three out was working in the garden. You know, so I'd see them sitting underneath the apple tree drink it's eliminated, and I saw them as a couple and I saw this acreage and everything they had created. So, anyway, I start off, whenever I talked about myself, I have to talk about that because if I didn't have that, then I wouldn't be who I am today. I wouldn't be able to dream, I wouldn't be able to feel like I could accomplish anything that I that I wanted, because truly, when you think back in that time period for a family to move into a white community, and we all know some of those stories and and uh, you know, I watched them. I watched them navigate that and have success and that prepared me for the bigger world. But I was gonna venture into I went to the University of Wisconsin. You know, you kind of know that there was a probably white university and you know the whole bit. My whole life has been kind of in that, in that trajectory, I guess you could say. I've worked for corporations, UH, where I was one of only a few black people in in the department that I was in. I worked for an agency and you know, so there's just a lot of different things I did in my life in addition to being an athlete, but it all started from chardon. M Hm. You know, Lee. Let's get real for a second. I took a lot of notes what you said and what I got most about what you said is the importance of demanding and expecting and respecting dignity rights. Your family and had. There was respect for them.

They wanted to be treated with dignity. They went from the city to the farm and they really approached things from a perspective that in that time, in the nineties sixties, especially with Dr King was assassinated, racial titching was at all time high. So, people that are listening, you need to in your everyday life, expect people to respect you and demand dignity for yourself and all that you do, because if you don't have dignity and you don't have self respect, then you have nothing lead. Tell everybody about your wrestling career, some things you did there to really get into that trajectory of having success as a wrestler in that time, as one of the first African Reagans to do so. And then where did the struggle come about be authentic with our with our listeners. Where did your struggle and your journey come about? Well, UM, again I go back to the story of Chardon. Uh, if my family had moved to Chardon, I probably never would have wrestled because growing up in the streets of Cleveland, I mean we we we had a nice life. We weren't in the inner city of Cleveland, but Um, I never played organized sports. I was in the streets a lot and not do anything bad. But then we went to chardon and all of a sudden we had this farm, we had animals. I mean I can remember riding horses. I mean what what fourteen year old kids would want to do that? It doesn't matter what color you are, you know. So I started to embrace being there. Then a big strong farm boys were out there and I went out for the I start going out for sports because that was kind of the thing to do. And and I gravitated to wrestling and never knowing I was going to really be good at it, but I gravitated toward it. We had rested in gym class and then so I started to excel right away. So I guess that's that was something good, I think. And and I started to set really really high goals from myself and wrestling, and maybe that came from my parents. Remember my dad talked to me one day about wrestling and he kind of asked me, well, you know, how far do you think you can go with this, because my parents are very unfamiliar with wrestling. They thought wrestling was like professional wrestling, you know, and so my mom and dad came to a wrestling match and they saw that it was top it was a really good sport, and so my dad was challenging me early on, like how far do you think you can go with this? And I told him, Dad, I want to be a state champion and that was the highest you can go in high school. And so he looked at me said you really think you could be a state champion? I said well, yeah, so I was able to have that kind of direct conversation with my dad, who was, you know, motivating me. I guess you know, most parents are your mentors and I had a great high school coach to him, by the way, I had a great high school coach that took me under his wing and had this young athlete who had these big dreams and he allowed me a dream and and I just in northeast Ohio was a wrestling hot dead. A lot of great wrestlers and athletes in general came out of Northeast Ohio. So I got paired with a great coach. It wasn't a wrestling powerhouse high school. It was just a young man who coached, who saw this talented young guy and he just you know what, coach wouldn't want to have a guy who could potentially be great? And it just started from there. I mean I started wrestling only in the ninth grade. I tried to play basketball before that. That's kind of I came from Cleveland. That's all we did and we played basketball, you know, on the streets and the playgrounds, and I got to chart and I wasn't any good, I guess I never played. So Um I went out for basketball for two years and then in ninth grade I went out for the wrestling team because the wrestling coach recruited me, as some coaches do. They started recruiting kids and I had success like right away, maybe because I was athletic, I was physical, and then I was done that farm, you...

...know, learning how to be strong, and so I started to dream a little bit. There was a guy on the team, the best restaurant our high school team was. His name was John Taylor. He was second in the State Tournament as a tenth grader. So and I was a freshman. So, by the way, I saw that and I thought I want to be that. So I started to do everything that John Taylor did because I set my sights on the highest person that I could see in my environment. Anyway, the next year I made the Varsity. I had a five hundred season, as you might expect, but then something miraculous happened. I went to a camp that summer where I met Dan Gable and Dan Gabele was like the Babe Ruth of wrestling. He was like Lebron James of wrestling. He was it, he was everything that wrestling was. It was embodied in this guy. And UH I was at this camp in the summer of nineteen semi two. That was the summer of the Olympic Games. I was there, Dan Gabele was there. Is that one of the coaches, one of the teachers, and uh I was his drill partner. And, by the way, I volunteered for that. Just for like, for your listeners. They have to understand that when you want something you can't be embarrassed. You will volunteer. So, when you know this, it was a room of maybe three wstlers and when it came and wrestling, you've got to demonstrate on somebody. So when day Gabel was ready to demonstrate the technique, I stood up right before he could even pick anybody because I wanted to be the person that he was going to demonstrate the technique on. I thought I was going to learn more if he was physically doing the moves. To me it's like sitting in the front of the class. It's like, you know, all that embodied into one. So, anyway, day Gabel wins Olympic gold medal that summer. I watched him win it, you know, on TV, and I said I'm gonna be just like him. And so that a few months later I'm entering to my tenth or love of the Great Year and I won the state tournament and I was undefeated that year. And it wasn't because I became superman. You know, I didn't find a superman cave. My mindset changed. I decided that if, if, if he could do it, if one man can do it, then why not me? Why not? You know, I should be able to and that thinking came from my parents, you know. You know he's not invincible, so why can't I do the same thing? So I started to train like I saw him train at that one week camp. I started to mimic everything that I saw him do and I started to have confidence from that and I just believed that I could win as well. So I end up being the defending state champion, to be a state champion that year and I didn't lose any matches my next year. So I was two years undefeated. That year. That earned me a scholarship to college and how I got to the University of Wisconsin. They weren't arresting power, but they were a good, solid program, great academic place and actually Wisconsin at that time they had Russ Hullikson, who was an Olympic silver medalists, as one of the coaches. So I was again in another environment with people I could look toward to, you know, to measure myself against to be great. So Um, at the time of my freshman year there had never been a freshman that um or there have never been a four time in C double a champion. So when I went into college my goal was to be the first died to win it four times. So in order to be a four time in C double a champion, I had to win it as a freshman. So I end up taking second that year. I came up just a little short. I lost on a refereees decision. So anyway, the thinking that I had propelled me through three national championships after that. I didn't lose another college match. After that I made my first world team. UH, the summer after my senior in college I became a world champion on the senior level. Um, I was the youngest American ever won a world title. At that point I was twenty one years old. Um, that record stood for over thirty years. And my goal is to be an Olympic champion. So this leads me to the time when I had to be to overcome probably one of the the biggest Um setbacks ever had in my...

...entire life. If anybody was going to be an Olympic champion, it was gonna be me. I mean with that career I had, with confidence I had with, you know, the record of winning I had. So Um, the ninety eight Olympics was just right on the corner. Two years after I graduated. I had won the World Championships in seventy eight, I won him again in seventy nine. I was ranking ember in the world and then several months before the Olympic Games that were going to be in Moscow, Jimmy Carter orders a boycott of the Olympic Games of our US team and he convinced our allied nations to boycott the Games as well. So something I had been working for my whole life up until that point had just been taken away just like that. And not just me, I mean there was like four or five other US American athletes, plus our allied nations like Japan and Canada and other allied nations that Jim Carter and our our government and convinced to boycott the game. So it was just taken away just like that, just like that, and I had no saying it, no control over it. Drew Him an easier to have gotten beat by somebody. I could have accepted that better, or maybe an injury. That would have made sense, but to just have it taken away like that was tough and that sent me. I guess that triggered a cavocade of disappointment and just bad decisions maybe, or it just put me on a I wouldn't say a bad pad. I wasn't doing bad stuff, but I just that's who I thought I was, I guess. You know, this is a lot. I thought of myself as an Olympic champion and I didn't have an opportunity to do that. So that, uh, that disappointment. I just couldn't face it. And when I say disappointment, a lot of people will remind me and say, well, Lee, you didn't really lose you you had it taken away. Well, that's true, but I made the decision to train for four more years and in the nine four Olympic Games, the trials, I didn't make the team. I got beat by H David Schultz, the guy that that I had beaten four years earlier. He's a bit younger than me, about four years longer than me, and he made the team and won the Olympic gold medal. So I felt like that was my medal that he won. So there. So to me it was, you know, a sport that had done so much for me and that had been so successful in in the end I just didn't get what I wanted out of it and I felt I felt like I had failed. I felt like I just didn't feel the same. Give you a little example. I know I had good credentials, of course, and I I would get invited to wrestling functions and I remember being invited to this function with a lot of our recent Um American Olympic champions and and anyway, one of the wrestlers I know really well. Uh, it was a banquetype thing, you know, and he said, let's get a photo of all of us Olympic champions, and I just I like I thought, well, right when he was saying let's get a photo, I'm gonna be in the photo. So I started walking up because I know all these guys, and so he said just US Olympic champions and I had to kind of step back and go, oh, man, and then he saw me, he saw how I oh, you can't getting the picture too, you don't getting the picture. I'm like no, that's okay, that's cool. Like so I realized it's like, man, I'm not an Olympic champion. I didn't I didn't make it, and it was just it was another reminder that I had failed in something that that I wanted so badly. So Um, what happened next was huge and I'll let you ask your nice question because I could go on and on about that. That that was and it took me probably until two thousand five, something like that, to to get over that. So that's...

...not healthy. You know that's not a healthy thing, but that, that's that. That was tough for me. Well, you know, Lee, I appreciate your authenticity and the authentic tip I want our audience to get from your interview is you said You you know you didn't get what you wanted out of wrestling, but at the end of the day you are able to now pass on so much knowledge, so much information, to other people, and that's like me. I didn't get what I wanted out of construction, but I've been able to now pass that information on to other people, get them educated so they can do the best with what they can with the time they had. And again, I can understand you're coming from and again it takes time to get over things. But I appreciate the authenticity because that's what this show is all about. It's all about the ability for people to really be able to get to that next level and that trajectory lead. If anybody wanted to perfore, we close out this interview. If anybody wanted to hear you speak, hire you, find out more about you. How can they get in touch with you to be able to connect with you for speaking engagement, an opportunity to do like an appearance? How can people get in touch with Lee Kemp? Um just through my website at Lee Kemp dot com or an email to L K at Lee Kemp Dot Com. But my website has a contact form on it as well. Awesome. Ladies and Gentlemen, the authentic tip always, always understand in life you have to do your best to get what you want and again, you don't have to be the best to do your best. Lee learned a lot from his parents upbringing how to work, how to do all those things. As a result of that, he has had a great life in doing what he loved, helping others and getting people from a to B. and what's really great about Lee is the authenticity that he showed on our show today. Is exactly why we started this podcast. Great people with authentic stories. Lee. Thank you for joining us, everybody. I hope you have a great day. Talk to you. Simply.

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