Dan Gable | Retired American Olympic Wrestler and Head Coach

Dan Gable

Retired American Olympic Wrestler and Head Coach

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Dan Gable

Legendary athlete and coach Dan Gable was born and raised in Waterloo, lowa. When Gable was just 15 years old his older sister, Diane, was tragically murdered in the family home. Although Gable has called his sister's death his "biggest loss,' he did not allow this tragedy to define him. Instead, he thought of it as a reason to train with even more determination. His perseverance through this tragedy served as the diversion he and his family needed to survive. Wrestling truly saved his life.

During Gable's prep and collegiate careers, he compiled an unbelievable record of 182-1. He was undefeated in 64 matches at Waterloo West High School, and went 118-1 at low State University. His only defeat came in the NCAA finals his senior year. Gable is a three-time all-American and three-time Big Eight Conference champion. He set NCAA records in winning and pin streaks.

After college, Gable added titles at the 1971 Pan American Games, the 1971 World Championships, and the prestigious Tbilisi Tournament in 1972. He won an unprecedented six Midlands Open championships and was the tournament's outstanding wrestler five times. In Gable's final 21 Olympic-qualification and Olympic matches, he scored 12 falls and outscored his nine other opponents, 130-1. The single point being scored by Larry Owings, the same man who defeated Gable in his final collegiate match. In 1972, in Munich, Germany, Gable won an Olympic gold medal without surrendering a point to any of his opponents. The Soviets came to the Olympics that year with only one goal in mind: defeat Gable. They were unsuccessful.

Gable joined the University of low coaching staff in 1972, assisting Hall of Fame coach Gary Kurdelmeier until taking over the program in 1976. As the University of Iowa's all-time winningest wrestling coach from 1977 to 1997, Gable compiled a career record of 355-21-5. He coached 152 All-Americans, 45

National Champions, 106 Big Ten Conference Champions and 12 Olympians, including four gold, one silver and three bronze medalists. The Hawkeyes won 24-consecutive Big Ten Conference championships during the Gable era(4 as assistant coach and 21 as head coach). He had a winning percentage of .932 and captured nine-consecutive (1978-86) NCAA Championships. At the time that achievement equaled the longest streak of national titles won by any school in any sport.

The 1996-97 season added the final chapter to Gable's storied career. In late January, he underwent hip replacement surgery, missing four dual meets while recuperating. He reappeared in the Hawkeyes' corner just in time to lead the team to its 24th consecutive Big Ten title and 17th NCAA title. Iowa shattered its own NCAA team points record, scoring 170 points during the three-day tournament in Cedar Falls, low (just minutes from Gable's hometown of Waterloo).

Gable coached many United States teams in international freestyle competition. He is a three-time Olympic head coach (1980, 1984 and 2000). The 1984

Olympic team, which featured four Hawkeyes, won seven gold medals. He was an assistant freestyle coach at the 1976 and 1988 Olympics. Gable also served as head coach of World Teams in 1977, 1978, 1979, 1983, 1994 and 1999, as well as 10 World Cup teams, winning three team golds in World Cup competition.

Gable also coached the U.S. team to a bronze medal at the 1986 Goodwill Games, and has led several all-star teams to Europe and the Soviet Union.

Gable was named to the USA Wrestling Hall of Fame in 1980, and to the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame in 1985. He was selected the nation's outstanding wrestler by the AAU in 1970, and the U.S. Wrestling Federation in 1971. Gable was the Amateur Wrestling News Man of the Year in 1970. He was inducted in the International Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2012.

At the end of the last century, Gable was named one of the "100 Golden Olympians", an honor bestowed to the top 100 U.S. Olympians of all-time in all sports. He was also named the top wrestler of the 20th Century by Gannett News Service; listed as one of the top coaches in the 20th Century by ESPN; and named low's top "sports figure" in the past 100 years.

In 2002, Gable was appointed by President George W. Bush to the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. In 2020, at age 72, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor.

After retirement from his head coaching position at the University of lowa, Gable served as Assistant to the Director of Athletics in charge of performance enhancement from 1997-2011. He briefly returned mat side as an assistant to head coach Tom Brands for the 2006-07 season at lowa. Retirement from coaching has allowed Gable to continue to promote the sport of wrestling and further influence others.

Gable and his wife Kathy were married in 1974. They reside in lowa City and have four grown daughters - Jenni (Brian) Mitchell, Annie (Mike) Gavin, Molly (Danny) Olszta and Mackenzie (Justin) McCord - and 13 grandchildren - Gable, Danny, Jake, Elsie, Eliza, Betsy, Mickey, Louie, Archie, Sammy, Kate, Hank, and Mack.

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Dan Gable

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