When Shelby Wilson first started school at Oklahoma State, he had trouble making the wrestling team as they already had a national champion in his weight class. His college career was less than distinguished; twice an NCAA runner-up, his only title of consequence was a Big Eight championship. Wilson persevered, however, and continued to train after graduation. At Rome in 1960, it paid off when he defeated the Soviet, Vladimir Sinyavsky, to win the gold. Wilson then spent a brief time as a clergyman, and then returned to wrestling as a coach.