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  1. When Dan Gable was in Munich for the 1972 Olympics, Kirk Douglas was there also and wanted to meet Gable. Kirk contacted the US Olympic committee to arrange a meeting with Dan just prior to the start of the Games. But somehow it never happened due to a time mixup. I just talked to Dan a few minutes ago and he said he was sorry he missed meeting Kirk Douglas as he admired him..... "but at the time I was pretty focused on my wrestling and the gold medal," Dan said..
  2. Great photo, dmm 53. Lou Thesz was a long-time personal friend of mine and was known as a "hooker" who knew all the submission holds. He told me he had great respect for Kirk Douglas, both as a man and an actor. "And he wasn't a bad wrestler, either," sad Lou. "He knew all the basics." For a little perspective -- Dick Hutton, 3-time NCAA champion at Oklahoma A&M, wrestled pro for many years and said Thesz was the best wrestler he ever knew, or saw. Also, in the movie "Spartacus", Kirk's big rival in a gladiator scene was the very muscular Woody Strode, who was a great athlete at UCLA and wrestled pro for several years between film gigs.
  3. And this is where I remind people that the NAIA wrestler recorded a 50-0 record that season with 24 pins, and won three top-level tournaments -- the Las Vegas Invitational, the Midlands Championships and the All-Star Classic. Along the way, Emmett Willson defeated wrestlers who finished third, fourth, sixth and seventh in the NCAA Div. 1 tournament and placed ahead of Div. 1 champion Damion Hahn at Vegas. Dan Hodge thought Willson was an excellent choice for the trophy named in his honor! All the Division 3 wrestler Nick Ackerman did was attract national acclaim outside the sport by winning the national title with no legs below the knees. Two Olympic champions, Doug Blubaugh and Randy Lewis, pushed hard for Nick to have the trophy as a recognition of the fact that this sport allows just about anyone to excel who works hard and dreams big. As creator of the Dan Hodge Trophy, I am very proud that we selected both Emmett and Nick ( co-winner that year with Cael Sanderson). -- Mike Chapman, (BTW, no relation to jchapman)
  4. Here are some names to consider: 1. Dale Anderson, two-time NCAA champion at 137 pounds for Michigan State, three-time Big Ten champion, captain of the 1967 NCAA team. Dale has been a high-level attorney for decades, and is a member of Mensa,. Wrote the book "A Spartan Journey" in 2017 and writes legal study books for police officers about their legal rights and boundaries, and gives seminars on the subject. 2. Bill Kerslake, graduate of Case Tech with engineering degree and was an aerospace engineer at NASA and co-inventor of the first ion thruster for space propulsion. Served as chairman of the national technical committee of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. Won 15 national titles at heavyweight in freestyle and GR, won a gold medal in the 1955 Pan-American Games and was on three Olympic teams. 4. Dr. Stanley Henson, three-time NCAA champion for Oklahoma A&M and the first sophomore to be O.W. He was a Naval officer during World War II and became a legendary surgeon in Fort Collins, Colorado. Anyone who ever had the pleasure of spending time with Dr. Henson knew they were in the company of an extraordinary and highly-intelligent human being. 5. Ray Brinzer was Asics High School Wrestler of the Year in 1990 and won three Junior National titles. He was a two-time All-American for Iowa and was a top GR competitor for several years. Ray is extremely well read in many fields and can expound for hours on subjects from Plato to Homer, from Darwin to Jefferson. He submitted to an IQ test once as a joke and finished well over the genius level. Mike Chapman
  5. Great point, headache, about being great competitors first and the work ethic. I have been to 47 NCAA tournaments and feel I have some perspective. I I have been on the mat with Gable and it was an incredible experience. Talk to anyone from those days and you will understand that Gable brought something intangible to the mat with him. As pointed out, he won the Midlands as an 18-year-old freshman over some top competition. He never redshirted. His first year of college eligibility, he beat Dave McGuire, the defending NCAA champion, in both the Big 8 and NCAA, handily. (McGuire won the NCAA the next year to finish as a two-timer and one time runner-up). His senior year, Gable moved up a weight to take on the defending NCAA champion, Mike Grant of Oklahoma, in his home arena and beat him 9-4. Gable brought an intensity and commitment that has seldom, if ever, been matched. Ask the Petersons or the Banachs or Chuck Yalga what it was like to wrestle him. He had one loss in 181 matches over 7 years, 13-11.
  6. For 35 years, I earned my living as a full-time newspaper journalist and happened to be ass't sports editor of the daily newspaper in Iowa City when Gary Kurdelmeier took over as head coach. I sat in his tiny, cramped office the spring of 1971 when he told me his master plan for changing Iowa wrestling from crowds of 300 in an auxiliary gym on a Saturday afternoon to a BIG TIME Saturday night event. He was a rare visionary ....and he knew the No. 1 key was getting the media involved. For decades, I have tried to get the leaders of various wrestling groups to listen but have had little success. I created WIN magazine, the WIN Memorabilia Show, the Dan Hodge Trophy, the Dan Gable Museum and have written 17 books about wrestling, all in an effort to increase the awareness in the general public. I have had a struggle with USA Today editors for nearly 20 years and made some progress at times but when those editors moved on I had to start all over again. So now, at age 75 and worn out, I have given up on getting wrestling to grow into the mainstream. If you want to read more about how Kurdelmeier changed the atmosphere in Iowa City and other battles I had as a newspaperman to try and improve wrestling coverage, you may want to get my 2017 book entitled "A Journey: Reflections on 50 Years of Writing, Wrestling, Weightlifting and Heroes". -- Mike Chapman
  7. To jchapman: Can you explain who you mean by "they"? Last year in the issue of WIN telling that Zain Retherford had won, Bryan Van Kley, publisher of WIN, explained that we have a select panel of retired coaches, select media and experts from other organizations who vote, as well as all former Hodge Trophy winners. In addition, we had over 25,000 unique votes cast on line. Bryan and I own the Hodge Trophy equally and we don't always agree. So again...I'm curious who you think are the "they" who make this decision? -- Mike Chapman (no relation to jchapman), Creator of the Dan Hodge Trophy.
  8. Yes, a Division 3 wrestler by the name of Nick Ackerman shared the 2001 Hodge Trophy with Cael Sanderson. Nick overcame an incredible handicap of both legs being amputated below the knees and showed what a wonderful sport wrestling is when he won the NCAA 3 title despite such a handicap. Two Olympic champions, Doug Blubaugh and Randy Lewis, talked to me at length to convince me that it would not lessen the impact of the award but enhance it by showing what wrestling can do for such a person. It was a very uplifting story and was applauded far and wide...but not by everyone. The NAIA winner was Emmett Willson, who won the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational over a field of solid Div. 1 stars, then drove from Montana to Chicago to compete in the Midlands and won that as well. He also won the All-Star Classic. He finished the season 50-0 and had wins over Div. 1 All-Americans Ryan Bader of Arizona State, Sean Stender of UNI, J.D. Bergman of Ohio State and Matt Greenberg of Cornell. Dan Hodge himself said it was great to see Willson win the award. In a recent article by Nick Corey, he wrote: "in one sense, Emmett Willson wasn't supposed to win the Hodge Trophy. But at the end of the 2004 season nobody deserved it more." We can all debate the results of any such award and that's okay. BTW, to date, one million sports fans (including large crowds at halftime of football games) have seen the Hodge Trophy presented in person and that's terrific exposure for the sport. Last year, 20,000-plus fans participated in on-line voting. -- Mike Chapman (no relation to jchapman), creator of the Dan Hodge Trophy
  9. Doug often stayed with me and my wife Bev after I created the International Wrestling Institute and Museum in Newton, Iowa (now the Dan Gable Museum in Waterloo) while he was traveling the nation. He was also the guest at our booth many times at the WIN Memorabilia show at the NCAA tournament. Like Dan Hodge, he loved meeting fans and talking about wrestling. He is on the cover of my book "Legends of the Mat" which has the stories of 34 of the greatest wrestlers in American history, and I also created a poster of Doug called "The Epic Struggle" which shows him pinning Habibi in the 1960 Olympics. How tough was Doug? One time while staying with with us it had snowed and as we were leaving the house, I told him to look out for the front steps as they were very slippery. Suddenly, his feet went out from under him and he fell hard -- the back of his head hitting the concrete step with a loud thud. I feared he was seriously injured. He sat up, shook his head once and stood. "Doug," I said. "let's go back in the house for you to rest. That was the hardest head hit I have ever seen!" He just smiled and said, "No, I'm fine. Let's go." He was one of a kind in so many ways. My latest book is called "Wrestling Tough: Second Edition" and it just came out last week. There is a lot about Doug in it -- including an amazing story about him running down a horse that was acting ornery. For more on Doug's influence as a coach, you can read the book by Dale Anderson called "A Spartan Journey". Dale was a 2-time NCAA champion on the 1967 Michigan State team that won the NCAA title and Dale dedicates the book to Doug, who was assistant coach at MSU at the time. -- Mike Chapman PS --There are several versions of the Blubaugh-Knight story. Doug told me a slightly different one but the basic fact of the confrontation is true.
  10. One of the main goals of the Hodge Trophy's creator was to expand the awareness and image of wrestling into other areas. For over 20 years, the trophy has been presented at halftime of football games, sometimes in front of crowds of 75,000 and more. Seeing a fine young athlete like Logan Stieber or Zain Retherford holding the trophy aloft may cause some fans to say, "Hey, let's go to a wrestling meet and see what it's all about." Over one million fans have seen the Hodge Trophy presented at college football games and that certainly is a plus in the marketing sense.
  11. Ooops...I meant the 2018 vote, not 2017!
  12. According to WIN, there were 25,000 unique fan votes cast for the 2017 Dan Hodge Trophy, with Zain Retherford winning his 2nd straight. Penn State has now won 4 of the last 7 and it looks like 2 more Nittany Lions will be favored in 2019. Can any wrestler stop the Penn State drive to excellence?
  13. Yes, the book came out in 2005 and quickly sold out. I even did a book signing in Hamtramck, and I think we ate lunch at the Polish Village Cafe. The book is called "The Tom Tyler Story: From Cowboy Star to Super Hero" and has a complete filmography. It has over 50 photos, from his movies and from his weightlifting career. I have written 29 books, including 17 on wrestling but was motivated to write Tom's biography because I loved his movies and I am also a long time weightlifter. .
  14. Sgallan and Coach J -- I'm enjoying your conversation very much. In 2002, I journeyed to Hamtramck to do research for a book I was writing about Tom Tyler, a wonderful movie actor who was raised in Hamtramck as Vincent Markowski (changed his name in Hollywood). Tom was a popular cowboy actor in the 1930s and then starred in two movie serials in the 1940s, as The Phantom and Captain Marvel. He was also in some blockbusters, like "Stagecoach" and "Gone With the Wind". My wife and I spent 3 days in Hamtramck and we found it charming. Tom Tyler was also a national weightlifting champion in the 1920s. He appeared in nearly 150 movies in his long career but suffered from scleroderma (a horrible disease) and died at the age of 50 in 1954. He spent the last two years of his life with family members at a home on Moenart Street and is buried in Mt. Olivett Cemetery in Detroit.
  15. Yes, the whizzer was Bill Smith's trademark move. He was an undefeated two-time college champion (52-0-2) at Iowa State Teachers College (now UNI). He won the 1952 Olympics at 160.5 pounds without surrendering a single point and won 3 national freestyle titles.He coached the San Francisco Olympic Club to 7 national team titles and is one of just several coaches to have led high school teams to state championships in two different states (Illinois and California). Just two months ago, UNI unveiled a beautiful display in their West Gym because Bill gave his Olympic gold medal to the school he loved. Bill was a wonderful wrestler and coach -- but was even a better human being and friend. He was like family to my wife Bev and me and we aleady miss him dearly. -- Mike Chapman
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