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Yeshiva / Henry Wittenberg

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Apparently, Yeshiva University is dropping varsity wrestling. 

 

That Yeshiva even has a team may be fodder for jokes. But there is a bit of history worth mentioning. 

 

Yeshiva was once coached by Henry Wittenberg, who won an Olympic gold medal in '48 and a silver (while injured) in '52. 

 

Before Smith and Baumgartner came along, Wittenberg, a NYC cop, was arguably America's best wrestler. He went undefeated in more than 300 consecutive matches during the 1940s, according to the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.

 

I knew him a bit when he was in his '60s and '70s. He was still a bull.

 

Here is his NY Times Obit: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/10/sports/10wittenberg.html

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If I remember correctly, Yeshiva was one of the biggest institutional investors that had invested money with Bernie Madoff.

 

The school, with 3,000 undergrads, lost $110 Million, on paper, from the ponzi scheme. As a result, it really impacted the school's budgets and strategy.

 

It is a very good school but their wrestling program has resembled more of a club program than a varsity program. Unfortunately, I don't think there is much of a demand for collegiate wrestling opportunities with their students.

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Yes, but all of those are Saturday night, with 8:30 PM start times (after sundown). You can't really run the entire NCAA Division III wrestling championship in such a manner.

Ah, yes. You're correct. I didn't consider that fact. I should have caught it.

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^^I believe that Wittenberg was coached at City College of New York by Joe Sapora (went to high school at Renovo, PA), who won the NCAA tournament in 1929 and 1930 for the Univ of Illinois.  Joe Sapora was Pennsylvania's first NCAA champion.  Sapora, after college, coached CCNY from early 1930's into late 1960's.  Coach Sapora was a fine and interesting person.  I had the opportunity to talk with him a couple times about late 1950's at the Wilkes Open.  Wittenberg, obviously one of American's all-time greats, started wrestling late, but did have a good coach in college.

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My high school coach Bob Williams wrestled at Oklahoma A&M in 1939 on Ed Gallagher's last team. He took third that year behind Henry Wittenburg who took 2nd. The champ was from Indiana U, who later was a long time head coach there. I got to know Josh Henson fairly well, i wished I'd have asked him about Wittenburg, they were the two old guys on the 1952 team. Tommy Evans (2nd), Bill Smith (1st) and Dan Hodge (5th) were the young guys on the 1952 team. Henry was one of the first wrestlers to be active in weight training. Art Griffith the Oklahoma A&M head coach after Gallagher, didn't believe in strength training. Griffith was the head Olympic coach, i think in 1948. Henry informed Griffith he would be lifting on the boat trip to London. Griffith reportedly told him okay, just do it so others don't see you.

It's a shame when wrestling i s dropped at any school. Many of the small private schools have found adding a wrestling program has increased their male enrollment.

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Stove_Pipe, yes, Henry Wittenberg was coached by Joe Sapora at City College.  My Dad, Clarence Shapiro, was Henry's teammate. My Dad always spoke so fondly of Henry and Joe, and told me many times what a tremendously positive influence Coach Sapora had on him. He loved the "Coach."  I suppose, in an indirect way, Coach Saparo (through my Dad) had a pretty big influence on me. I met Coach Sapora when I was much younger, and he was older, but still have fond memories of that day because my Dad was so excited for me to meet him.  Coach seemed very personable and charismatic, and if I recall correctly, he greeted me with an arm drag instead of a handshake :-).  Wonderful memories!  And to brag a bit on my Dad (who passed away four years ago after a long and, by any account, terrific and meaningful life), he, Henry and Joe are the only three wrestlers in the City College Athletic Hall of Fame.   

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Yeshiva U, #1 or #9 train uptown. Never dreamed they had any athletic teams let alone wrestling. They also have a Bronx location with a well respected psychology dept.

Edited by Bloate

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Yeah, knew they had basketball and baseball, but didn't know about the wrestling program.

 

Speaking of respected departments, how about the Einstein school of medicine at Yeshiva. I hear it's very competitive to get accepted there.

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