Last Friday, Young Guns wrestlers got the chance to talk with an icon in the sport of wrestling, Dan Gable. Gable is known for being the face of wrestling and his motivational teachings. He was a two-time national champion and three-time all-American for Iowa State. His only loss in college came to Larry Owings his senior year in the NCAA finals. He went on to win gold medals at the 1971 World Championships in Sofia Bulgaria and 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, West Germany.
Gable went through a hard time early on in his life. At 15 years old, a boy from his neighborhood sexually assaulted and murdered his 19-year-old sister while he and his family were gone one weekend. Although tragic, he was still able to learn a lesson from his experience.
“The bottom line is communication. I was walking down the street one day, and this neighbor boy started talking to me. He congratulated me on my season. Then he said a derogatory comment about my sister. I was going to tell my parents about it, but I just took it with a grain of salt. It’s tough, especially when you feel like you could’ve prevented it,” Gable says.
Gable’s lone college loss was another event in his life that helped him learn a lesson. Looking to end his college career undefeated, he wrestled Larry Owings from the University of Washington. Owings was able to defeat Gable, 13-11, to prevent him from his third national title.
“When I wrestled him, I wasn’t nervous scared, but I wasn’t nervous high either. I didn’t get myself into that warmup or frame of mind. As much pain as I had to go through, I had to have it happen to be able to go to a higher level of excellence. I wasn’t great at breaking things down and coming up with a strategy. I just wrestled hard. Because of that match, I put science into my wrestling.”
After his wrestling career, Gable started coaching at Iowa in 1972 as an assistant before coming head coach in 1976. The Hawkeyes were dominant during his coaching career. Under Gable, Iowa won 15 NCAA team titles and 21 consecutive Big Ten titles. They won nine consecutive national titles from 1978-1986. With all of the team’s accomplishments over the years, one year in particular sticks out to him.
“I had some really good teams with big names early on. The most memorable, though, was my last year in 1997. We weren’t favored to win going into nationals, and I was on crutches recovering from a hip replacement surgery in January. I had some new guys on the team, but they went out and put on a show while scoring the most team points in history. It was also in my hometown area, so it was like they were sending me off,” Gable remarks.
Young Guns has done a great job of getting amazing guys to interview during the virtual training. Over 100 wrestlers, parents, and coaches were live during the interview with Dan Gable. With that many people, it shows how much the wrestlers and wrestling fans want to learn from one of the greatest of all time.