Dan Gable was born October 25, 1948 and grew up in Waterloo, IA. As a prep wrestler, Gable was undefeated. Winning 64 matches and winning state championships his sophomore, junior, and senior years. His only recorded high school loss was an exhibition against teammate Michael DePaschalis. During his Sophomore year he and his family suffered a tremendous loss. His sister, Diane raped and murdered on May 31, 1964, in their family home. Gable later recalled that the event gave him a singular passion for wrestling as a way to uplift his shattered family.
As in high school, rules prohibited freshmen from competing as varsity athletes. Despite this, Gable won the prestigious Midlands Championship while competing unattached. Gable would go on to be the tournament’s champion 6 times and win its Outstanding Wrestler Award 5 times. As a varsity athlete Gable achieved a record of 117 wins and one loss. His lone defeat came in the NCAA finals his senior year. It is one of the most iconic upsets in the history of the NCAA, in any sport. Along with his two NCAA Championships, Gable won All-American honors 3 times, was a 3 time Big 8 Champion. He also set NCAA records for consecutive wins and pins.
His cumulative record between high school and college was 181 wins and one loss.
Olympics 218x270Gable’s international achievements were even more impressive than his high school and college career. He won the 1971 Pan American Games, 1971 World Championships, 1972 Tbilisi Tournament, and the Gold in the 1972 Olympic Games. At the time, The Tbilisi Tournament was considered the most difficult tournament in the world due to its inclusion of many competitors from eastern block countries, as opposed to only one under the Soviet Union.
Gables achievements led to him being named one of America’s Top 100 Olympians by ESPN.
In 1972, Gable joined the University of Iowa as an assistant coach under Gary Kurdelmeier. He became head coach in 1976. And over the next 21 years set a standard for excellence in coaching that some argue may never be equaled.
With Gable as the head coach, Iowa won 15 NCAA Championships (including 9 in a row from 1978-1986), 21 Big Ten Championships, and had a dual meet record of 355-21-5.
He coached 152 All-Americans, 45 National Champions, 106 Big Ten Champions and 12 Olympians (4 on Gold, 1 Silver, and 3 bronze medalists).
In Gable Style, during his last year as Head Coach the University of Iowa scored 170 team points at the NCAA tournament. They won the NCAA team title and set and the record for highest team point total. It still stands as of today.
Through Dan Gable's career as an athlete, coach and beyond, his personal achievements have been magnificent. But during his life, what may be most impressive about Gable is his ability to bring his teammates, athletes, business people and all those around him to new heights as well.