Gable: The Punisher by Randy Lewis
It was 1972. I first heard of Dan Gable when I was in 7th grade. People told me that he was the best wrestler in the world. Nobody could beat him. At the time, I was a three-time state AAU age-group champion, and a national AAU age-group champion. My career record at the time was 60-0. I remember thinking, if I was as big as Dan Gable, I could beat him.
Nineteen years later, I would find out I was wrong. In 1991, I was thirty years old and I wrestled at 149.5 pounds, the same weight-class that Gable won the Olympics (without giving up a single point!) in 1972.
I wrestled a dual meet against the 1989 world champion Russian, Boris Budaev. I was pounding him 13-4 and ended up sticking him. One week later, I asked Gable if he wanted to wrestle. At the time Gable weighed about 160 and was 41 years old. I was up to about 163. Gable said yes but wanted to warm up a bit. I just sat there and watched him. Gable went through a 45-minute session of drilling and stretching, moving around, getting ready to tangle with yours truly.
By this time his shirt was drenched. He was ready to go to war. I warmed up in about 30 seconds. I slapped his hand and asked him if he was ready. Gable said, â€œgoâ€ and I jumped across the mat and threw him with what I would call a Steven Segal-type judo throw and headlock. He went right to his back.
Two seconds later, Gable scored a reversal. For the next forty-five minutes he tortured me. What he likes to do is put you on your back, bar your arm and torture you. Then he will sort of let you off your back, but he will keep the bar arm with just your shoulder down. Sort of like isometrics, only diabolical. Finally, he will let you go and when you get back on your feet, you can barely feel your right arm.
Then, heâ€™ll take you down again and start on your left shoulder. Pain must balance. When you finally get back on your feet both shoulders are numb. Your arms are useless. Death is a fleeting moment away.
After that â€œworkoutâ€ somebody asked me how I did against Gable. I said â€œOh, he beat me about 50-5.â€ They said â€œno way.â€ I said â€œway.â€ Actually the score was 50-4!
Iâ€™ve spoken with hundreds of people who went one-on-one with Gable in the room and they all say the same thing. Unless you have actually wrestled him, you can not understand what it is like. I have wrestled the best in the world ï¿½" having competed against 27 world and Olympic medalists and countless others in practice. Nothing is like wrestling Dan Gable.