To Make My Father Proud: Honor, Faith, Wrestling, and Redemption

Jose Campo


Coach Jose Campo, the son of Hall of Fame Wrestling Coach Joe “the Gov” Campo, grew up in an extremely competitive family, and felt constant pressure to achieve perfection. After his older brother, Michael, went to West Point, and his father helped several wrestlers gain admission, Jose was determined to attend the Academy as well. He started Beast Barracks in the summer of 1973, and soon gained notoriety as Michael Campo’s little brother. Over the next three years, he endured one major surgery per year and struggled on the Wrestling Team. He later came to realize that he attended West Point for the wrong reasons; he came to be an athlete, not to serve. In the spring of 1976, he became embroiled in the Class of ’77 EE304 cheating scandal. 152 Cadets were eventually separated, although 98 eventually applied for, and were granted, readmission. Jose Campo left the academy, found his relationship with his father strained, and attended Southern Connecticut State University. After college, he began coaching wrestling in California. Coach Jose Campo was the 1994 National High School Wrestling Coach of the Year, and in 2006 was awarded the Lifetime Service to Wrestling Award, from the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, an honor his father received in 1996. In this interview, Coach Campo describes his upbringing, his determination to make his father proud, and his experiences at West Point. He examines his role in the Class of ’77 cheating scandal, explains how he had cheated and rebelled in high school, and addresses the influence of certain individuals at West Point who were considered “cool” on honor. He discusses being separated from the Academy, how it affected him personally, and the rift it created between him and his father. Finally, he talks about his faith, which helped him move past the cheating scandal and other personal demons, and enabled him to repair his relationship with his father. After nearly 40 years, he has finally been able to come to terms with his past, returning to West Point in September, 2016 to speak to Cadets about the critical importance of living honorably.


name Jose Campo
institution USMA, Southern Connecticut State University
graduation year x1977, 1979