How do you honor a legendary wrestler and coach?
In the case of Dan Gable, you invite 1,000 of his closest friends to dinner, have a handful of friends offer speeches, and announce that a statue will be erected in his honor at the arena where he coached.
The head wrestling coach at the University of Iowa from 1976-1997 was honored at a “Gable’s Gold: A Celebration of Dan Gable’s Legacy” retirement dinner at the Coralville Marriott Hotel and Conference Center outside Iowa City Saturday night.
In addition to the tributes, it was announced that the 1972 Olympic gold medal-winning wrestler will be honored with a seven-foot bronze statue outside Carver-Hawkeye Arena on the Iowa campus.
The statue, showing Gable in a classic coaching pose, will be sculpted by Larry Nowlan, the same artist commissioned by the school to create the Nile Kinnick statue outside Iowa’s football stadium named in honor of the Heisman-winning Hawkeye quarterback who died during World War II at age 24, and will have the same look and finish. The sculpture is expected to be in place when Carver-Hawkeye hosts the 2012 USA Wrestling Olympic Trials in April 2012.
Among the speakers serving tribute to the Waterloo, Iowa native: Gable’s high school coach Bob Siddens; current Iowa wrestling coach Tom Brands (who wrestled for Gable at Iowa); current University of Minnesota coach J Robinson (who worked as an assistant for Gable at Iowa); Iowa State teammate (and fellow Olympic gold medalist) Ben Peterson; present Iowa Athletic Director Gary Barta, and former Iowa AD Bump Elliott.
Although Gable hadn’t officially coached in a number of years, he remained on the University of Iowa payroll as an administrator until the end of 2011.
Dan Mack Gable was a three-time Iowa high school state wrestling champ at Waterloo West, and a two-time NCAA champ at Iowa State University in 1968 and 1969. He won the gold medal in freestyle at the 1972 Munich Olympics. After serving for four years as an assistant to Iowa wrestling coach Gary Kurdelmeier, Gable was promoted to head coach in 1976. In 21 years at the helm of the Hawkeye mat program, Gable compiled a career record of 355-21-5, garnering 21 Big Ten conference team titles and ten NCAA team crowns. He coached 152 All-Americans, 106 Big Ten Champions, 45 national champions, and 10 Olympians — including four gold, one silver and three bronze medalists.