Monday, April 21, 2008

Don't know much about history

Don’t know much about history

I swapped a couple of emails with Mark Palmer Saturday. Mark is a staff writer for whose Rev Rewind articles are among my favorite writings about the history of wrestling. (Mark’s latest is about Harold Henson, the first African-American to wrestle in the NCAA championships:

From our online discussions came a question, “Just how important is it for young wrestlers and fans to know the history of the oldest sport in the world?” Is it even important at all?

Certainly a young athlete doesn’t have to know that Wade Schalles pinned 530 opponents in his career to learn how to use the “spladle” – the pinning move that was invented and perfected by Schalles – and knowing the facts of Wade’s career won’t make the athlete’s “spladle” any more effective. However, knowing the full scope of Schalles’ accomplishments can give a young competitor something aspire to.

(For a synopsis of Wade Schalles career, see his National Wrestling Hall of Fame Distinguished Member biography at

The future growth of the sport must be built upon a respect for its’ past. I’ve encountered far too many young wrestlers and fans that don’t know of Lee Kemp’s impressive resume. To paraphrase a comment made by Mark in one of his emails, we may one day have a Hodge Trophy winner that won’t be able to tell us after whom the trophy is named. Here’s some help:

Dan Hodge, probably in the 1957 NCAA finals

What about international wrestling? Should this generation of American fan or competitor bother to learn about the greats from the past in other countries? Keep in mind as you watch this next match that Sergei Beloglazov was a 2X Olympic Gold Medallist, 6X World Champion and 2X World Silver Medallist and that John Smith won the Olympic Gold twice and the World Championship 4 times. This is true greatness.

Have you decided to learn more about the history the “world’s oldest and greatest sport? Good! Here are some places to start.

The National Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum

The Dan Gable International Wrestling Institute
You can order all of Mike Chapman’s great wrestling books here. One of my favorite features on their website is an old clip of Vern Gagne and Dan Gable.

Sports Illustrated recently added the SI Vault to its website. This is a searchable database of articles written over the entire history of the publication.

This one is about Dan Gable – written in 1969.

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