Both the Iowa House and the Senate passed resolutions this morning protesting the International Olympic Committee’s decision to end wrestling as an Olympic sport. Dan Gable — considered one of the greatest amateur wrestlers in history — was at the statehouse and spoke to legislators.
“This is just part of the overall educational process that we have to put together and continue to put together for the next few months,” Gable said.
Gable won a gold medal at the 1972 Olympics, never allowing an opponent to score a single point. Gable told lawmakers the Olympics are the “top line” of competition for amateur wrestlers.
“Unlike several other sports that are major professional sports, they have their day in the sun,” Gable says. “The Olympics is nice for them and it’s entertainment, but their big paychecks are the next week when they go somewhere else.”
Senator Tod Bowman, a former wrestler who gave up coaching wrestling at Maquoketa High School when he was elected to the senate, said wrestling “defines” Iowa.
“While Texas may have a rich tradition in football and Indiana basketball, we here in Iowa are known for our wrestling,” Bowman said. “We are the capital of the world when it comes to the sport of wrestling. Colleagues, while we discuss many controversial topics in this chamber, we are united with our support to maintain the sport of wrestling in the Olympics.”
Gable told reporters getting the International Olympic Committee to reverse its decision about wrestling may be the only issue on which the U.S. and Iran are united.
“We’ve had that common goal in wrestling for a long time,” Gable said. “Half of Iran’s medals from London were in wrestling. They had 12 and six of them were from wrestling and they have a tradition and it’s in their government. It’s in their religion and we need to honor those types of things.”
The Iowa House also passed a resolution declaring October 25, 2013 as Dan Gable Day in Iowa.
“Almost got me choked up — almost,” Gable told House members, drawing laughter from the crowd of legislators and staff.
Gable grew up in the Cedar Falls/Waterloo area and wrestled for Waterloo West High School. He won three state titles before wrestling for Iowa State University, winning two NCAA titles while a Cyclone. Gable then coached at the University of Iowa, leading the Hawkeye team to 16 NCAA championships in 21 years.
“All my whole life I’ve had unbelievable help. Right from the beginning of my life people jumped on board with me and they’re still jumping on board with me,” Gable said. “I’m not going to let up. I’m good for business, so hopefully you’ll keep supporting good business and it’s good for the economy as well.”
Officials estimate there are more than 20,000 wrestling fans in Iowa today for the NCAA championships underway at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.
During the Iowa High School Wrestling Tournament in February Iowa Governor Terry Branstad launched a “Let’s Save Wrestling” campaign on Facebook.