3 minute read

Dan Gable

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).


1948 Born October 25 in Waterloo, Iowa, to Mack and Katie Gable
1960 Wins YMCA backstroke championship
1962 Suffers first loss in wrestling
1964 Shattered when learns his sister was raped and murdered. Uses it as motivating force in his life
1968 Enters into college career, one of most successful ever, at Waterloo West and Iowa State
1972 Wins Gold Medal for the United States in the Olympics
1974 Marries Kathy Carpenter
1974 Asked by Gary Kurdelmeier at Iowa to be assistant coach
1977 Leads Iowa Hawkeyes to Big Ten Championship in first season as head coach
1979 Coaches Hawkeyes to first ever undefeated and untied season (19-0-0)
1980 Asked to coach Olympic team
1980 Honored with induction into the USA Wrestling Hall of Fame
1984 Coaches the 1984 U.S. wrestling team at Olympic games in Los Angeles. His wrestlers win seven gold and two silver medals
1985 Coaches second perfect season at Iowa (18-0-0)
1985 Enters U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame
1986 Leads U.S. team to bronze medal at 1986 Goodwill Games
1992 Coaches third perfect season
1997 Announces retirement from coaching
1997 Undergoes hip replacement surgery
1999 Airing of Dan Gable documentary on HBO, Freestyle: The Victories of Dan Gable
2001 Considers running for Governor of Iowa, but decides not to

Awards and Accomplishments

1960-71 U.S. freestyle champion
1964-66 Iowa State High School Champion
1968-70 NCAA Champion
1971 U.S. Pan-American Games gold medallist
1971 World Championships gold medallist
1972 U.S. Olympic gold medallist
1977-97 Big Ten Championship Team coach
1978-86, 1991-93, 1995-97 NCAA Championship Team coach
1980 Inducted into National Wrestling Hall of Fame
1980 Amateur Athletic Union Wrestling Coach of the Year
1984 U.S. Olympic Team coach
1985 Inducted into U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame

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.

Additional topics

Famous Sports StarsWrestlingDan Gable Biography - Growing Up, The College Tradition, The Worst Sort Of Motivation, Olympic Gold And Coaching - CONTACT INFORMATION