Dan Gable is recognized many as the greatest amateur wrestler in U.S. history. He is known by many to be a good coach, wrestler, and friend. He was regarded as the nation’s most successful wrestling coach. Gable is a brilliant wrestler (Garlits 34 and Lippy 161).
Dan Gable was born on October 25, 1948 in Waterloo, Iowa. He started his wrestling career in junior high school. He then attended West High School. While at West High School Gable went on to improve his wrestling skills by winning three straight championships in a row (Garlits 34).
Gable continued his wrestling career at the college of Iowa State. During his years at Iowa State he won the NCAA 130-pound title as a sophomore and the 137 weight class as a junior. He was named outstanding wrestler of the tournament. Gable was undefeated going into his final match of his senior year. At this point he was 180-0 for his high school and college career. Gable fought his way to the NCAA finals with ease, but he lost his last match (Garlits 35 and McCallum 509)
Gable’s last match was against Larry Owings in 1970. Owings was a sophomore from Washington State College. Gable was winning by two points with twenty-seven seconds left. He lost the match when his opponent Owings threw a four-point move. Owings was the only man to defeat Gable (Garlits 35 and McCallum 509, 510).
Although Gable’s loss to Owings was a big defeat, he did not stop wrestling. Gable went on to win all of his international matches; he qualified for the Olympic Team beating Larry Owings 7-1 in the trials. Gable worked hard. He was devoted to win the Olympics. Gable won the 1973 light weight Wrestling Olympics with ease. No one scored a point on him (Garlits 35, 36, 37; Looney 499; Johnson 133 )
Dan Gable, the brilliant wrestler from America’s midwest, says, Sometimes people seem to think the Olympics is track and field, and maybe swimming. Or, in the winter, figure skating. It is a lot more of different sports. My gold medal means as much to me as a sprinter’s means to him. There are a lot of wrestlers and weight lifters and volley ball players, a lot of skiers and gymnast and field hockey players who sacrifice a lot of their lives and work hard and suffer a lot to get goo at what they do, and maybe they don’t get much out of it, maybe not any publicity over an Olympic year, no attention, no money, no fancy offers, probably not even a medal. (Lippy 161, 162)
Gable retired from wrestling after the Olympics. He had the greatest amateur wrestling career in the U.S. history. Gable then went on to be a coach for Iowa University. It is at Iowa University where he has given his greatest contributions of coaching (Garlits 34, 37).
Gable started coaching at the University of Iowa in 1977; it did not take long for him to achieve a good name for himself. He led Iowa to win sixteen Big Ten championships and eleven NCAA titles (Garlits 37 and Looney 499).
Gable’s life consists mostly of wrestling, but he also shares that life with his family. His wife Cathy and three daughters Jennifer, Amy, and Molly have been there for him throughout his career (Looney 497, 515).
Gable had to take off from coaching for the 1998 season. He had surgery on his hip-wrestling has taken its toll on him. He has had surgery on almost every joint in the human body. Gable was so intense as a young athlete that he did not care if he was hurt. He just wanted to wrestle (Garlits 36, 37 ).
One of Gable’s biggest motivations was his older sister. She was murdered by a neighborhood boy. The tragedy inspired him to excel. Gable feels the loss made him stronger (Looney 515).
Dan Gable has had a brilliant career that will never be forgotten by the sport of wrestling. His dedication and intensity is the inspiration many people need to succeed. He is truly one of the best wrestlers of all time (Looney 518).
Garlits, Dan. The Lincoln Library of Champions. 1989 ed., page 34.
Johnson, Paul. Inside the Olympic Games. Chicago: 1992, page 133.
Lippy, George. The Olympic Games. New York: 1984, pages 161-162.
Looney, Robert. The Ultimate Winner. Sports Illustrated. 14 July 1984, pages 499- 518.
McCallum, Doug. The Man Who Spilled the Ink. Sports Illustrated. 14 July 1984, pages 509-510.