Dan Gable, Iowa Wrestling And The Greatest Dynasty You’ve Never Heard Of


People love winners. In fact, there’s a wildly hilarious piece of sound from San Francisco 49′er’s head coach Mike Singletary declaring his particular fondness for exactly that.

But what is a winner exactly? What do you have to be to become one? What do you have to be willing to sacrifice? The one man who can answer that question better than most is Dan Gable.

As a high school star in the amateur wrestling hotbed of Iowa, Dan Gable started a tradition that became a habit: He was the best in the state and in his weight class. He was the best from sophomore year to senior year. There was also something else: He came to realize that the best way for him to win, to dominate in the manner he had to, was to outwork his opponent with an almost fanatical zeal. And in so doing, he discovered the basic secret of wrestling, a secret that has enabled success or failure for anyone who has ever attempted it.

With very few exceptions, almost none if we can think of it, there are no Eddy Curry’s here. By this, I mean you can’t be a world-class wrestler and be lazy. To get to that level requires work ethic, a desire to condition yourself beyond what your opponent is willing to, and a will that insults the word iron.

Once he went to Iowa State the work ethic continued. Famously, he was known for going out on a date one night, then discovering he was dragging during his relentless conditioning sessions. So what did he do to solve the problem? Easy. He stopped dating.

That, in a nutshell is the commitment that a great wrestler requires. And it is the commitment, the hunger for greatness that you need to have to be great. And it is that same commitment that he had that allowed him to set an NCAA record by winning 181 straight matches, win a gold medal at the 1972 Olympic Games while not surrendering a single point, and creating a dynasty at Iowa that won 15 National Titles and 21 consecutive Big 10 Titles.

That’s the moral of this story. Do you want to be great? Then you should be willing to pay the price.

2 Responses to “Dan Gable, Iowa Wrestling And The Greatest Dynasty You’ve Never Heard Of”

  1. MODI says:

    Why ya gotta mess with Eddy Curry! :-)

    the handful of athletes who reach greatness at Gable’s level are in many ways mentally deranged in their singular focus.

    so I thought Gable was 181 and 1. does that mean he lost his first match?

  2. Okori Wadsworth says:

    he lost his LAST match. Pissed him off to the point that he won the ’72 Olympic Games in Moscow while never being scored upon.

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