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Dan Gable: Creating a Modern Blueprint for Wrestling

This interview originally aired on July 5, 2017.

Olympic gold medalist Dan Gable has been a household name in Iowa for decades. After bringing home three state wrestling championships in high school, he went on to the 1972 Munich Olympics, where he successfully wrestled without losing a single point. He famously coached the University of Iowa team to win 15 NCAA titles before retiring after the 1997 season. Since then he has continued to coach and has been actively working to keep Olympic and collegiate wrestling alive and thriving.

Gable’s newest book A Wrestling Life 2: More Inspiring Stories of Dan Gable, expands upon his first book with a collection of wrestling stories and advice for success in the sport. Gable says that writing these books has helped him reflect on many aspects of life, including relationships with family members and former wrestlers.

“When you’re leading your life fast, you just don’t reflect as much as you could and in my life there was so much going on… The reflection is really what these books are about, but more than that, I didn’t realize that by reflecting and going back over a lot of these things, that it would actually affect my current [life].”

Gable explains that it was not until after his retirement that he truly realized how important having a strong mentality is for success—and that his mind needed rest just as much as his body did.

“At a wrestling match, everyone always talks about how physical a guy is or how good he is technically, and what he can do. But I’ll tell you what—if he doesn’t have a strong mind and he isn’t willing to stay in that match the whole time, that’s probably the number one thing that’s going to–he’s really going to lack at the high level.”

On this Talk of Iowa, Gable speaks with host Charity Nebbe about the highs and lows of his wrestling career, the process of writing his book, and how the sport has evolved over the years.

Charity Nebbe is the host of IPR's Talk of Iowa
Dennis Reese was the mid-day host for Iowa Public Radio