Numbers Speak For Themselves
Gable, as both wrestler and coach, has amassed some of the most amazing numbers in the sport, unparalleled in terms of athletic competition today. He was known in his time as the Babe Ruth of Wrestling, and today his utter dominance might be more closely allied with other athletes who compete individually, such as Tiger Woods. During his prep and college careers, Gable compiled the outstanding record of 182-1, winning 99 straight matches at Iowa State. He also won six Midlands Open Championships, and he was that meet's outstanding wrestler five times (he set NCAA records in winning and pin streaks).
As a coach he may be even more impressive, becoming the University of Iowa's all-time winningest coach during his tenure from 1977 to 1997. He compiled a career record of 355-21-5 while at the school, coaching 152 All-Americans, 45 national champions, 106 Big Ten Champions, and 10 Olympians (including four gold medallists). There is no getting around his almost unequivocal influence in the modern era. And, his wrestlers loved him. As a coach, Gable kept in shape with his students. He told American Health that, "I need to be able to teach [my team] new techniques, and there's nothing like being able to demonstrate to them hands-on. Staying in shape is a real good example of the dedication wrestlers need, too."
Gable's approach to wrestling, to coaching, and to life was brought to the small screen in a 1999 HBO documentary, Freestyle: The Victories of Dan Gable. Dan's desire to have the film made was due in part because he feels wrestling needs more publicity, especially since in the wake of Title IX, many colleges let their wrestling programs fold rather than adding another sport (Title IX is the legislation passed in 1972 that prohibits discrimination in sports due to gender).
Gable has said that, "To coach someone to be the best is a much higher honor than being the best." Dan Gable knew what both were like, and he passed his legacy on to more people than can possibly be imagined.