Forty years after winning Gold at the 1972 Summer Olympics, the international Olympic governing body for the sport of wrestling is recognizing what Hawkeye fans have known for years... Dan Gable is a legend.
The Federation International de Luttes Associees (FILA) will induct the former Hawkeye coach into the International Wrestling Hall of Fame tomorrow at the Grange St-Paul Hotel prior to the beginning of the Olympic wrestling competition in London, England.
Gable ran through the competition in Munich, Germany, in 1972, cruising to Olympic Gold at 149.5 pounds without surrendering a single point. Because of that dominance, he will become just the seventh American inducted into the FILA Hall of Fame, and the first in the "Legends" category -- an elite group that includes just two other members.
"For this distinct accomplishment, Gable will join Dr. Cjaba Hegedus from Hungary and Ivan Yarygin from Russia in the Legends category," said Stan Dziedzic, Vice President of FILA and head of its Hall of Fame Commission. "Given the 2012 Olympics will be in London, we seized the opportunity to recognize several nominees with an attachment to Commonwealth countries this year."
Gable is being recognized for his dominance in Germany, but his entire path to Munich is a journey worthy of its own celebration. In his final 21 Olympic competitions, from the U.S. qualifying trials to the Munich medal stand, he scored 12 falls and outscored his nine other opponents 130-1.
That unprecedented run through Olympians and Olympic hopefuls caught the attention of ESPN.com. The self-proclaimed Worldwide Leader in sports recently rated Gable among the top 20 United States Summer Olympians of all-time. The list ranks Gable No. 19, but it considers only his 1972 individual performance. His Olympic legacy goes beyond his individual gold when you consider the impact he had on USA Wrestling while coaching the United States' corner for three years -- 1980, 1984 and 2000.
His 1984 Olympic team, which featured four Hawkeyes, combined for seven Gold medals, including three by pupils Ed Banach, Lou Banach and Randy Lewis. Former Hawkeye Barry Davis contributed a silver medal that same year. All told, Gable had nine former Hawkeyes qualify for 12 Olympic Games and capture eight Olympic medals.
Gable was also an assistant freestyle coach at the 1976 and 1988 Olympics, and served as head coach of the U.S. World Team in 1977, 1978, 1979, 1983, 1994 and 1999. He won three gold medals as head coach of the U.S. World Cup team and led the U.S. to a bronze medal at the 1986 Goodwill Games.
He's also no stranger to the Hall of Fame circuit. Gable was named to the U.S.A. Wrestling Hall of Fame in 1980 and to the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame in 1985. With the upcoming FILA induction ceremony, he'll join a short list of Americans that includes men's freestyle wrestlers John Smith, Bruce Baumgartner, Kevin Jackson and Lee Kemp, along with women's freestyle wrestler Tricia Saunders and referee Vince Zuaro.
The 2012 London Olympics began Friday, July 27, and ends Sunday, August 12. The FILA Hall of Fame induction ceremony will be held Friday, Aug. 3, two days before the start of the Olympic wrestling competition.
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The Hawkeye track and field program earned USTFCCCA academic honors.