Sports & Recreation

Wrestling Legend Dan Gable Turns 70

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posted on Thursday, October 25, 2018

How do you stay relevant for 70 years? Wrestling legend Dan Gable might have the answer.

Dan Gable_Wrestler
Dan Gable in action

Gable was born in Waterloo, Iowa, on October 25, 1948, which means he turns 70 this year. He retired as the head wrestling coach at the University of Iowa in 1997 with a dramatic swan song: the Hawkeyes’ won their 15th and final NCAA wrestling championship under Gable at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls, Iowa – just 10 miles from where he grew up. Iowa scored 170 points — a record that still stands.

A 1966 graduate of Waterloo West High School, Gable accomplished it all during his athletic and coaching career. As an athlete, he won three individual state wrestling championships (1964-66), two individual NCAA wrestling championships for Iowa State (1968-69), and he won a gold medal at the 1972 Munich Olympics without surrendering a single point.

Dan Gable_CoachDan Gable celebrates a coaching win. 

Then there is his coaching legacy. He coached 21 seasons (1977-97) and earned 15 NCAA team titles, 21 consecutive Big 10 championships, and posted a 355-21-5 dual meet record. That’s on top of coaching 106 individual Big Ten champions, 45 individual NCAA champions, and four Olympic gold medalists.

Iowa is known worldwide for wrestling — and Dan Gable is the primary reason why.

His accomplishments were so great that Sports Illustrated named Gable the top sports figure in the state of Iowa, beating out professional athletes from baseball, football, and basketball.

What can you do for an encore after accomplishing so much? How about a museum named in your honor?

Dan Gable_MuseumNational Wrestling Hall of Fame Dan Gable Museum

The International Wrestling Institute and Museum moved from Newton, Iowa, to Waterloo in 2007 and was renamed the Dan Gable International Wrestling Institute and Museum to recognize Gable’s accomplishments. In 2010, it was renamed the National Wrestling Hall of Fame Dan Gable Museum when it merged with the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

Today, the Gable Museum is undergoing a $1.4 million renovation. The project will transform the facility into a state-of-the-art museum with interactive displays. It will also expand the wrestling room, teaching center and theater, providing more opportunities for youth wrestlers to practice and receive instruction.

“We want the museum to be a symbol of excellence and a source of pride in the community,” said Gable. “These improvements will make the museum more modern and appealing and a place you want to go, but more importantly, they will give us the ability to impact more young lives and make a big difference in their future.”

The refurbished museum will be open during the early part of 2019. In the meantime, Waterloo will celebrate the 70th birthday of its most famous native by kicking off the wrestling season.

Like Gable always says, “Wrestling isn’t for everyone…but it should be.”


- Kyle Klingman, National Wrestling Hall of Fame Dan Gable Museum
- Photo credit: National Wrestling Hall of Fame Dan Gable Museum

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