The National Wrestling Hall of Fame announced on Thursday that its Board of Governors unanimously approved Kennis (Ken) Bellmard (Ponca City, Oklahoma) and Tom Keen (Ann Arbor, Michigan) joining the Board of Governors.
“Kennis and Tom are extremely successful individuals with deep ties and a commitment to wrestling,” said Tom Slowey, Chairman of the Board of Governors. “We are excited to have them join our Board of Governors and are thankful for their willingness to serve the Hall of Fame.”
Tom Keen, who is president of athletic and apparel company Cliff Keen Athletic (CKA), becomes the third generation of his family to serve on the board. His father, Jim, was chairman from 2004-13 after serving as vice chairman from 2000-03 while his grandfather, Cliff, was a board member from 1982-1991. Jim received the Order of Merit award from the Hall of Fame in 2004 while Cliff was inducted into the Hall of Fame as a Distinguished Member in the Charter Class of 1976.
CKA is a preferred apparel partner of the Hall of Fame and has been a dedicated supporter of the museum since it opened in 1976. Established in 1958, Cliff Keen Athletic is the largest manufacturer of wrestling apparel and protective equipment in the country. In addition to wrestling, CKA manufactures officiating uniforms and uniforms for several sports.
Tom Keen received his bachelor’s degree in sports management and communication from the University of Michigan in 1994, and began his career with CKA in sales. Working alongside his brother, Jim Jr., and his father, Jim, Tom eventually became president of the company in 2012. In 2011, CKA received the prestigious “Manufacturer of the Year” award from Sporting Good’s largest industry buying group, Sports Inc.
Keen is a board member of the United States Wrestling Foundation and is active in supporting and sponsoring many national and local tournaments, teams, athletes and wrestling organizations around the country, including the Beat the Streets programs.
Bellmard was a three-time Oklahoma state wrestling place winner, including an undefeated season and state championship as a senior in 1976. He was selected to the Oklahoma All-State wrestling team and was a United States Wrestling Federation Junior National All-American. Bellmard competed in Bulgaria in 1975 and in Japan in 1976 as a member of the Oklahoma AAU wrestling team.
He was an NCAA Division II national runner-up for Augustana College in 1977, a member of the Northern Oklahoma College wrestling team in 1978 and a letterman for Oklahoma State in 1980. Prior to entering law school, Bellmard was a junior high wrestling coach in Ponca City, leading his team to state championship, and a high school coach in Newkirk, Oklahoma, where his team finished second in state.
Bellmard received his associate’s degree from Northern Oklahoma College, a bachelor’s degree from Oklahoma State and a juris doctorate degree from the University of Oklahoma’s College of Law. A member of the Kaw Nation Indian Tribe, he has been a practitioner of Native America law since 1990. Bellmard has served as chair of the Indian Law Section of the Oklahoma Bar Association and has been named as one of the “Best Law Firms for Native American Law in Oklahoma” by US News and World Report. He has been on the forefront of Oklahoma Indian Gaming Development and Renewable Energy Development on Indian land. Bellmard is a senior advisor with Dentons Law Firm and is associated with the firm’s Washington, D.C. office.
Active in Kaw Nation cultural activities, he has been a member of the Kaw Nation’s Cultural Committee and was drumkeeper for the Kaw I-Lon-Shka ceremonial dances. A board member of USA Judo, Bellmard attended the Olympics in 2008 and 2012 as a member of the USA Judo delegation.
The Board of Governors is responsible for preserving the history and tradition of the sport of wrestling in America by operation of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame & Museum in Stillwater, Oklahoma, and the National Wrestling Hall of Fame Dan Gable Museum in Waterloo, Iowa. The Board is also responsible for the annual election of Distinguished Members, Outstanding American, Medal of Courage, Order of Merit, and Meritorious Official.
The Board is comprised of no less than 10, and not more than 30 members, who shall serve a maximum of six consecutive years in as many as three consecutive two-year terms. Three members of the Board shall represent United World Wrestling, USA Wrestling, and the National Wrestling Coaches Association. Those individuals are nominated by their organizations, and must be approved by the Board.