WASHINGTON – Legendary wrestling coach and Iowan Dan Gable on Monday received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor, from President Donald Trump during a ceremony at the White House.
“No one has done more to promote wrestling in America than Dan Gable. He’s an athletic giant who conquered one of the most difficult and ancient sports in the world,” Trump said. “He’s the greatest wrestler, probably, ever. We’ve never had anybody like him. He’s made our country very proud. And he’s a true GOAT. You know what GOAT is? GOAT? Greatest Of All Time.”
The 72-year-old former Iowa Hawkeyes wrestling coach is the first wrestler to receive the medal.
Gable amassed a 181-1 wrestling record while in high school (wrestling for Waterloo West High School) and college (at Iowa State University). His only loss came in the finals of the NCAA championship match his senior year as a two-time defending NCAA champion.
He later won a gold medal at the 1972 World Freestyle Wrestling Championship. The following year he won a gold medal in the 1972 Olympic Games in freestyle wrestling without having a single point scored against him.
Watch Gable’s victory over the USSR’s Ruslan Ashraliev in the 1972 Olympic gold medal round.
As a coach for the University of Iowa from 1976 to 1997, Gable recorded a dual meet record of 355–21–5. The Iowa Hawkeyes, under his leadership, won 21 Big Ten Conference titles and 15 NCAA championships. His wrestlers saw individual success as well, during his coaching tenure, he coached 152 all-Americans, 45 national champions, 106 Big Ten Champions, and 12 Olympians, including eight medalists. He also coached three Olympic and six World Championship teams.
U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa honored him on the U.S. Senate floor.
“Dan Gable demonstrates that through hard work and determination you can accomplish great things. While he’s famous for winning awards both as a wrestler and as a wrestling coach, he’s also well-known and respected for his focus on family and giving back to his community and state. Congratulations on receiving this prestigious and well-deserved award,” Grassley said.
Grassley and U.S. Senator Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, were notified of President Trump’s plans in October. The Iowa senators had contacted the White House after hearing about grassroots support in Iowa for this award.
President Trump had Gable speak at his October rally in Des Moines, Iowa.
Both Ernst and Grassley attended the ceremony at the White House.
As an Olympic gold medalist, former @IowaStateU wrestler, & legendary @uiowa wrestling coach, Iowan Dan Gable is one of wrestling’s greatest icons. @ChuckGrassley & I were honored to witness Dan receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom at the @WhiteHouse today. Congratulations! pic.twitter.com/rlMHIN29LH
— Joni Ernst (@SenJoniErnst) December 7, 2020