Who is Dan Gable?
Dan Gable is a former Olympic wrestler and head coach who is often considered to be one of the greatest amateur wrestlers in American history. Born in the small town of Waterloo, he did not devote himself to wrestling with full concentration until the age of 16 when a tragedy took place in the family. While Dan and his parents were away on a fishing trip, his older sister was raped and murdered in the family’s living room. This unfortunate incident changed the course of his life and motivated him to pursue a career in wrestling to make his family proud, including his late sister who he believed was watching him from the skies. He focused on the sport and became famous for having lost only one match in his entire Iowa State University collegiate career. After graduating, Gable undertook an intensive training program and won the 1971 world and Pan-American championships. Later, in his six matches at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, Gable did not lose a single point, becoming the first American in 12 years to win a wrestling gold medal. But he became most famous for his tenure as the head coach at the University of Iowa where he was able to win15 NCAA team titles between 1976 and 1997. He dedicated his entire career to wrestling and still remains close to his beloved sport as a wrestling analyst
Childhood & Early Life
Danny Mack "Dan" Gable was born on October 25, 1948, in Waterloo, Iowa, to Mack Gable, a real-estate salesman, and his wife, Katie Gable, a homemaker.
He began competing in sports at an early age, but realized that wrestling was his true passion around middle school when an unfortunate tragedy struck his family. His older sister, Diane Gable, was molested and murdered on May 31, 1964, in the Gable family home, while Dan and his parents were on vacation.
After the incident, he became motivated to earn a name for himself in order to make his family proud of him and thereafter started wrestling for Waterloo West High School. He was undefeated in high school competitions and won three consecutive Iowa state high school championships.
After completing high school, Dan Gable got enrolled at the Iowa State University where he decided to continue his wrestling.
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In his freshman year, he participated in the Midlands Tournament, a major U.S. wrestling meet, and emerged victorious in that competition, defeating two national champions.
After graduating from Iowa State University, he won the 1971 Pan American Games in Cali Columbia and World Championships in Sofia Bulgaria.
At the 1972 Munich Olympics, he won a gold medal in the Freestyle, 68 kg category.
In 1972, Dan Gable decided to become a coach and joined the Iowa coaching staff, assisting the head coach, Gary Kurdelmeier. In 1976, Gable became the head wrestling coach at the University of Iowa and went on to become the most successful coach in American collegiate history.
His team won 15 NCAA titles in 21 seasons, including a record nine titles in a row, from 1978 to 1986. He also coached the 1980, 1984, and 2000 U.S. Olympic teams and served as an assistant coach in 1988.
In 1997, he retired as the head wresting coach of University of Iowa.
In June 2002, he was appointed to the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports.
In 2007, he rejoined the coaching staff at Iowa and later also served as a wrestling analyst for Iowa public television.
He shared his coaching techniques for developing wrestling champions in his book titled ‘Coaching Wrestling Successfully’. He has also created a series of wrestling instructional videos.
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Awards & Achievements
Dan Gable was undefeated at Waterloo West High School, winning 64 matches and earning 25 pins. His success continued at Iowa State where he won 117 matches in a row, along with two NCAA championships and three All-America titles.
At the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, Germany, Dan Gable won a gold medal in Men's Freestyle, 68 kg event. In the whole Olympics, he did not surrender a while single point.
From 1976 to 1997, Gable was the head coach of wrestling at the University of Iowa. Under his supervision, the Iowa team achieved extraordinary success, winning 15 NCAA titles and 21 Big Ten championships.
In 1980, Dan Gable was inducted into the U.S. Wrestling Hall of Fame.
In 1985, he was inducted into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame.
In 1996, he was named on the list of ‘100 Golden Olympians’, an honor bestowed to the top 100 U.S. Olympians of all time.
In 1999, he was selected as the greatest sports figure in the history of the state of Iowa by ‘Sports Illustrated’.
During the 2012 Olympic Games, Dan Gable was inducted into the FILA Hall of Fame Legends of the Sport.
In his honor, October 25, 2013 was recognized as ‘Dan Gable Day’ in Iowa.
Personal Life & Legacy
In 1974, Dan Gable married Kathy Carpenter and the couple has four daughters: Jenni, Annie, Molly and Mackenzie.