National Wrestling Hall of Fame

Dan Gable feted with his own day in his hometown

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WATERLOO, Iowa — Dan Gable didn’t want a birthday celebration.

“My wife (Kathy) throws me a big bash like every 10 years you know like 30th, 40th, 50th, 60th … but when you are 64 what kind of birthday is that?” questioned Gable.

But not too long ago, Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad gave Gable a call and said he wanted to honor the legendary wrestler, coach and wrestling ambassador on his birthday, Oct. 25, 2012.

Gable’s interest level in a birthday party was now piqued.

Thursday, Branstad made a special trip to Waterloo and the National Wrestling Hall of Fame Dan Gable Museum to proclaim Oct. 25, 2012, as Dan Gable Day in the state of Iowa.

“I didn’t want a birthday party,” Gable said to Branstad shortly after the governor read his proclamation. “My goals and visions … they are beyond a birthday party. But Governor … now we are talking.”

Hundreds of dignitaries from around the state were on hand to hear Branstad declare Dan Gable Day including Gable’s high school coach Bob Siddens, as well as Ed Banach, Tom Brands, three-time UNI NCAA champion Bill Nelson and legendary Oklahoma State wrestler LeRoy Smith who now serves as the executive director of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in Stillwater, Okla.

“He is a great role model for all of our young people and Iowans are so very proud that he was born and raised here in Waterloo,” Branstad said. “And his entire career has been associated with Iowa State University, the University of Iowa and West High School and he continues to be an inspiration and continues to be involved in our state and his hometown of Waterloo.

“We are very proud he has not forgotten his roots.”

Smith and Waterloo mayor Buck Clark also addressed the large crowd that filled the museum.

“Our board of governors has embraced this museum that pays tribute to Dan’s legacy,” Smith said. “A legacy that began here in Waterloo and runs across the state of Iowa and well beyond the borders.”

Clark kept with the Waterloo theme during his presentation. The Waterloo City Council also authorized a proclamation Monday making Thursday Dan Gable Day in Waterloo.

“What a great turnout for this great day,” Clark said addressing the many Waterloo faces he recognized in the crowd. “Sometimes I don’t think we recognize enough how much we have in this city to be so very proud of, so many things, so much history and Dan Gable is certainly at the top of that list.”

The days events featured Branstad and Gable trading jabs on both their respective records. Branstad is a perfect 12-0 in elections, while Gable was 182-1 in his high school and collegiate career.

“He had that tremendous record both in high school and college, I think he won all but one,” Branstad deadpanned.

“You would bring that up,” Gable quickly quipped back.

“I had a feeling the governor was going to talk about his undefeated record,” Gable continued during his speech. “Man that hurts.”

Branstad closed that while it was a special day to honor Gable, it shouldn’t be just a one-time thing.

“This year is about the proclamation,” Branstad said. “But I’m going to go to the General Assembly and the Legislature and ask this become a permanent day in our state and pass it as law.

“We’ve done it for one other person — Nobel Prize winner Norman Borlaug, a wrestler from Cresco. I believe Dan Gable deserves a similar type recognition from our state and we are going to ask the General Assembly to make this day, October 25th, permanently Dan Gable Day in Iowa.”

Gable likes the permanent Dan Gable Day idea, but true to his form he wants even more after finding out Borlaug will have a statue in his honor placed in the Hall of Statues at the U.S. Capitol by March of 2014.

“My vision just … (went up) … because I’m not letting some guy get one ahead of me,” laughed Gable who had a bronze statue of himself placed outside of Carver-Hawkeye Arena last spring prior to the U.S. Olympic Wrestling Trials in Iowa City.

Provided by Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier.