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Port Robertson

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Just finished the "dean of dicipline's" biography. Unirvisity of Oklahoma AA, national championship coach and Oklahoma University atheletic department legend. Amazing respect from not only the wrestlers who competed for him but all the athletes at OU who labored at the altar of stadium steps under Port's disciplined eye. My favorite story: one of the football players asked how many sets of stadium steps (92 in all) he was going to have to run. Coach responded, 9 1/2. Don't really care how you get down after the last trip up.

Edited by Bloate

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I enjoyed the Port Robertson book and would recommend it. Lots of photos, some new to me.

 

Realize that the book is NOT all wrestling, as Robertson was involved in the wrestling program... and, in fact, was responsible for the behavior of ALL male athletes at Oklahoma, including gymnasts and golfers -- making sure they went to class, didn't get into trouble with the law, etc.

 

Here's what I wrote about it for InterMat earlier this year: http://intermatwrestle.com/articles/13926

 

Mark

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A group of former OU coaches and athletes, which included me, made donations to get the book published. I worked for him 3 years, and he asked me to stay two more till he retired. I said you won't retire until they make you. 10 years later he retired at 72. It took 8 people to replace him, and they didn't do as good a job as he did.

I've tried to login on my computer without luck, but can on my Ipad. I wrote several stories about Port thatvI gave to Mark Cody when he got the head coaching job. He didn't know the history of OU wrestling under Port and Tommy Evans, he knew only about Stan Abel.

 

The last time I saw Port was 3 months before he died at 88. Stan Abel, Barry Switzer and me spent three hours at his house. Stan essentially did a clinic in Port's den showing Barry all the things Port had taught him. About 2 hours into the evening the Spiral Ride came up, which Port invented. Barry asked what it was, so I got down on my hands and knees on the rug and Stan showed it point by point with Port crtiqueing it. I said well I learned from Stan in 1972 and I've been doing it correctly since then. Stan said 90% of the college coaches don't know how to do it correctly.

 

Near the end Switzer asked Port when he went into Europe in WWII. Port said on D-Day. Switzer asked which beach? Port said Omaha. Barry said no wonder you never talked about it.

 

As we walked out Switzer said I learned a lot tonight. Stan turned to me and said we could have sold tickets to wrestling fans tonight and made a lot of money. Stan told me later that whenever he'd visit Port, Port would talk about how much he enjoyed the evening.

 

If i can get logged on my computer I'll paste the stories I wrote.

It was 72 rows on the lower section of the stadium. You had to do them in 15 seconds up for them to count, 10 seconds counted double. Only two wrestlers did it Don Reece ( who beat Myron Roderick twice) and Duwane Miller 1961 NCAA champ at 123. The wrestling teams did 10 in a row after a hard two hour practice.

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I'll add another story that showed the importance of Port to football. Chuck Fairbanks was promoted to head coach when Jim McKenzie died of a heart attack after one year. Chuck told Port he wanted to cancel the mandatory study hall for football players, Port said that's your perogative as head coach. The next spring 27 players are academically inelgible. Chuck comes to Port about getting them eligible. Port said Mr. Fairbanks you cancelled study hall you get them eligible. Chuck then said if you'll help get them eligible, i will never interfer again. Both kept the bargain. I ran the study hall one year. Port told me that when the second had went past 12 at 7 pm if they weren't in their seats they were late. The first offense for being late got you washing dishes from 6 am to 8 am for 7 days. Everytime the penalty doubled. There was no talking, three tutors, for math, english, and science were there the three nights a week it was held. You could get out with all Bs or better after the first semester. If you got a D or F you were back in study hall until you got your grades up.

 

He would get jobs for former athletes who'd left to play in the pros and didn't have their degrees. One I remember was Albert Qualls, he got his degree and would up getting a PhD and was a college professor until he died a couple of years ago.

 

My roomate in Vietnam was the captain of the 1961 team. He lived west of Ft. Worth, we'd go out the night before the OU-Texas game each year when I was at OU. We were in a bar shooting pool and a 5th string tight end Kirk Killion was also in the bar, he wasn't on the traveling squad. I introduced him to Bill, Kirk asked about Port. Bill said while you're there you'll hate him, after you leave you'll love him.

Kirk said no way, Bill said trust me. The next monday Kirk asked me if that old guy actually played at OU. I said look in the training room he has 5 "TUG" awards for being the outstanding defensive player of the game. Carl McAdams had the most with 6. I then told him he played a lot more than you ever will.

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My younger sisters have been bugging me to write my stories from my experiences in Vietnam as a medevac (Dustoff) pilot in 1967-1968. I flew for 26 years before retiring from the National Guard. My mom saved all my letters and I usually wrote weekly. We've been on Lewboo to write a book, he's very entertaining and writes well. Stan Abel should have written a book, he said if he did the title would be "Before You Draw Another Breath of Air". That was what Port would tell you about the importance of doing something, an example was when the opponent grabbed your head, you must control his elbow before you drew another breath of air.

 

My last year Port informed me that I would be running the football/basketball players dorm. All single athletes had to live in athletic dorms at OU in 1973. He told me that i was to be there at 6 am on a certain date to check in the "peahead football players". I told him I couldn't be there by that date, because I'd still be at Ft. Carson for national guard summer camp, and that if he wanted me to be there he'd have to call General Matthews who was the commanding officer of the Oklahoma National Guard. He had also been Port's teammate at OU. Low and behold a message came down from his office that I was to be in Norman on the date specified by Port.

I flew the OH-58 back, slept on an airfield one night in my sleeping bag, arrived about 15 minutes before my scheduled time, hadn't shaved or showered in two days. He told me I looked like hell, to get showered and shaved and to get to work. Years later i reminded him and General Matthews of what they'd done. Port said what do you think teammates are for!

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Your sisters are right!


I looked for the Port Robertson book at my library, but they didn't have it in their system.  

There is a drop down on the library site where you can suggest library purchases.  I requested that this book be purchased.

It worked.  It's now in transit to my local library.   

Edited by TheOhioState

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I know the author quite well. I can get you an autographed copy at a reasonable price. Part of our funding put the book in each high school's library. I was quite pleased this year to see the two time placer who will be a junior next year have it on his backpack. Port is probably the least appreciated college wrestling coach, because he never promoted himself. When his teams won the NCAA chsmpionship he would stay in the stands and send the team down to get it, telling them you earned it.

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Yes, as mentioned, you tell us some (really) interesting tales. Curious to know……where did you earn your degrees? Also, where did you wrestle ? If I were a betting man ( and I'm not ), I would say somewhere in Oklahoma? Did you wrestle FS or GR in the Army ? BTW….thanks for your service

 

I know it's a bunch of questions. Although , from the looks of the posts, many of us may enjoy knowing a little about the competitive side of your earlier days. You seem to have surrounded yourself with some wrestling (and football) ledgens.

 

Thanks again,

 

Denny 

Edited by denny

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I graduated from OU in December 1973. Grew up just outside of Wichita, Kansas. Went to Campus High School which opened my sophomore year. Our coach was Bob Williams who took 3rd at 171 in 1939, Henry Wittenburg took 2nd. I was always the youngest kid and smallest in my class until my sophomore year when i'd grown to 5'-5" from 5'. 5'-9" as a junior, 6' as a senior. Lost in the quarterfinals of district to the guy who took 3rd in state. He lost in the semis to the eventual state champ i was eliminated. All 4 from our district placed at regionals, then 3 placed at state. I wished I'd been born 18 days later as i turned 17 in December of my senior year.

 

In the Army i learned Greco from Rafik Turna who had wrestled for Turkey in the 1960 Olympics. Then wrestled freestyle with the "pinning machine" Len Kauffman. Tommy Evans refereed the 4th Army tournament, told me to look him up when I got out of the Army. He was the company commsnder of the NG helicopter unit located in Norman. He got me a job running and athletic dorm, Port was my boss. I started working out with the team, Tommy told me I wouldn't last pass November. I was hanging in pretty good with Bill Struve who tied Chris Taylor that year in a dual. Tommy made me an assistant coach in late December.

 

I wasn't teaching technique,i was learning it from the best. I was pretty good at helping in recruiting. When Stan Abel took over he told me he wanted me to do the same things for him as I had for Tommy. Then he said which 16 are we cutting, because that is how many recruits lined up (we had 30 full scholarships then). I picked who to cut, none of them did anything at other schools. Two years later I carried home OU's last NCAA championship. The next year began the reign of Iowa. Stan had several teams better than the 1974 team, but Iowa always had an even better team.

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Tommy Evans was "triple dipping" that week. He was getting paid as the head coach at OU, flew down to Ft. Hood in an O-1 birddog, which I'm pretty sure he got some additional flight training periods, each was worth a day's pay, plus being paid to officiate the tournament.

I was there as a coach and wrestler. I was already the coach of the post team at Ft. Wolters when Len Kauffman arrived. I asked him don't you want to coach you are a lot better than me. 3 years before he tied for the bronze medal, and lost on the 11th and final criteria, he weighed more than the Iranian who he was tied with in a match and the other 9 criteria. He said no I just want to wrestle, i told him guess i'm going up a weight class (198) since there was no way I'd beat him for 180.

 

He won the tournament at 180, I think he probably didn't spend 2 minutes on the mat, because he pinned everyone quickly. I took 3rd at 198, I weighed 178. Len lost to George Radman in the finals of the All Service Tournament. Then he won the AAU national freestyle which was still the big USA championship. He was the OW, he beat Chuck Jean and Jason Smith and a few others.

 

I had no business being his workout partner since all I'd done was wrestle in HS. But there wasn't anyone else on base his size who'd wrestled. I never backed up knowing this was the opportunity of a lifetime for me. First practice he pinned me with a counter when I shot on him. He dared you to shoot using an exaggerated staggered stance similar to Rick Sanders. He'd show me what he did everytime he pinned me. I started getting better, everyday I'd try some different way to take him down. Finally after about a month I shot low level on his ankle and took him down,then I stopped. He asked me why I stopped, i said I never got this far before I'm in shock. Towards the end of the season he said if you can get your arm fixed you'd be good enough to wrestle in college. I'd been shot flying in Vietnam, and 1-inchof my right radius was gone. The doctors fused it to the ulnar bone, as a result I can't rotate my right wrist. Went to the orthopedic specialists at the base hospital who told me they'd have to break my arm, cut out some bone, and it would take about 2 years for my arm to heal up to a normal condition. I decided I'd learn to be a coach at 23 years old, which is what i've done since then primarily as a volunteer wherever I lived or worked.

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1969. It was the first time i heard of Port Robertson. Ed Corr a career ambassador in South America was there visiting. Frank Marks, who was an Army Chaplin and had taken 2nd in the NCAA for one of Port's team and Evans, they were telling each other stories about him. Frank said well Port never said he was perfect, but then again he never said he wasn't. I told Port that line one day, he liked it so much he started using it. Tommy invited Len and me to come up to Norman to watch a dual meet as his guest, put us up in Jefferson House, which I later ran for 2 years.

 

Len said something to me on the way into Norman, i took to heart and tried to instill in wrestlers I coached later on. At that time OU and OSU were the two historically dominate programs with Iowa State getting into the mix. Iowa wasn't even considered a power then. He said do you know why the Oklahoma wrestlers dominate. I said better technique. He said no. Then i said better athletes. Again he said no. Then he said when they step on the mat they know they are going to win, when we step on the mat we think we are going to win. He said the difference between knowing and thinking you'll win is worth 2 points.

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Apple,

 

Jeez….I'm Lickin' my chops, wanting to respond to your post of 5 Aug. 

 

Back from Nam in late '67 (combat with 1st ID). After a short leave, it was back to duty.

 

Then, found my way to the post gymnasium at  FT Polk. And wouldn't you know it……….this guy was running a bonified practice. On - nice n' soft insulite mats -- no less. The coach recognized me from HS wrestling, & some post HS tourneys. 

 

I had 7 months left in active duty. I (happily) spent all of those months wrestling (got new orders cut for me to be in Special Services). Now, how cool is that ? That, instead of a riot control unit. The hippies were making a mess (remember?).

 

Apple, I recall thinking…..man I would hate to wrestle me at that time of my life. Just back from 12 months of combat. I suppose that you (and others who experienced that war ) can understand ? I was a total loose canon.** Weighed in at about 210 stomping pounds.

 

Coming into an olympic year………all of the branches of the services seemed stacked with former collegiate wrestlers. What in sued  was 7 months of travel to tourneys, lots of tough practices. Loved it !

 

Apple, I now need  to stop. I really want to get it right…… RE: 1968-- and the 4th US Army, the All Army, and the All Service tourneys. Dates, names, the weight classes etc. Me….the stickler for gettin' it right. Oh, you wrote 180. Remind me to bring that up. 'Cause I recall it as 171.5 ? Then all the way up to198 ?

 

So I need to start a little journey. Find my comprehensive wrestling/football scrapbook. AKA The Book of Denny. 

 

 

** VA had (has) me "rated T & P in nature" -- Serv./combat related

Edited by denny

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In 1968 they changed from 8 weight classes to 10. Len Kauffman wasn't happy he said 171.5 was perfect for him. His weight became 180. They also changed from two 5-minute periods to three 3-minute periods. The 4th Army tournament was held in late February 1969. Len went to a one month training camp for the All Service Tournament. He came back and said Wayne Baughman about broke him in two, he was very impressed with Wayne's strength. All Service championships were probably early April, the the AAU nationals were probably the following weekend.

 

Met Uetake a week ago at the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame banquet. Buddy of mine said in the early 1970s he got to practice with Uetake. Said he couldn't move his neck for about 3 days. Uetake hit him on the back of his neck about 20 times a minute.

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In 1968 they changed from 8 weight classes to 10. Len Kauffman wasn't happy he said 171.5 was perfect for him. His weight became 180. They also changed from two 5-minute periods to three 3-minute periods. The 4th Army tournament was held in late February 1969. Len went to a one month training camp for the All Service Tournament. He came back and said Wayne Baughman about broke him in two, he was very impressed with Wayne's strength. All Service championships were probably early April, the the AAU nationals were probably the following weekend.

 

Met Uetake a week ago at the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame banquet. Buddy of mine said in the early 1970s he got to practice with Uetake. Said he couldn't move his neck for about 3 days. Uetake hit him on the back of his neck about 20 times a minute.

Nothing like a wicked head snap!  Some of the best guys I ever took down were with a head snap and spin around, if I were being honest about it.

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I've always taught the head snap. My first coaching was as a senior in HS. I'd recruited Luis Tjierina to come out for the wrestling team. He'd taken 4th in state in cross country behind Jim Ryan and two Ryan's teammates. I wanted him to cut to 95, which became 100 after Christmas in KS then. He wouldn't cut stayed at 103. I'd injured my shoulder and was out of the lineup. My coach told me you got him out you coach him. I taught him and head snap and a standup, and told him this is all you are going to use. I told him if you make your opponent keep moving you'll wear him out. We had riding time then. I'd be in the corner yelling to snap and keep moving. Never had him try ride, figuring he'd get reversed. He took 4th in state at 103. The next year he moved to Newton and won state at 95. My coach said he learned to wrestle. I said if he'd been at 95 like i wanted him he might have won as a junior.

 

I teach kids to keep head snapping until the opponent raises his head up when you attempt one. Then the next time just touch the neck and hit a double leg. They learned they've setup, their setup.

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Apple, I would love to continue some Port Robinson era…..either directly -or-- indirectly related to the coach, and his legacy.

 

We are going on vacation later today. Driving up the coast. So, more too shall be revealed.

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Buy the book Denny, it's worth the $. My first year at OU, i was primarily the workout partner for Bill Struve our Hwt., who tied Chris Taylor that season. Bill was 250, I was 185-195. He had a good double leg, and could keep me down. He couldn't get away from me, inwas good with legs. On bottom, he couldn't turn me, i'd "freeestyle". Jerry Stanley warned me one day Port will come in. He did and saw Struve couldn't turn me with a half nelson. Port who about 60 at that time told him to get off of me. Then Port got on top of me and i couldn't turn over quick enough. I was holding my neck, and said I got shot and it didn't hurt that bad. What hold did you put on me. Port said a bar nelson without the flanker. I asked to see it applied on Struve. He but an arm under Bill's, elbow joint to elbow joint, palm up. The put the point of his elbow on the side of the neck, locked his hands, stepped up with his outside foot and put all 230 pounds onto the side of the neck. Since then i've worked with a lot of high school hwts, who said you can't turn me. I tell them to lay down, and i put on fthe bar nelson, they go over quickly.

I'll look up my stories I wrote about Port and see if I can log on to this site the computer. I can log on my Ipad, but not on the computer for some reason. If I can solve that problem I'll post them.

I'll be at the Worlds in LV, then San Diego for about a week of golf, then stop in the Valley for a couple of days to see friends. The to the mountains in NM for more golf, then back to OKC

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