Josiah Henson, a Distinguished Member of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, passed away on April 4, 2012, in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He was 90.
Henson was a two-time EIWA champion, going undefeated for three years while competing for the U.S. Naval Academy during World War II when no NCAA Championships were held. He then became one of the nation’s best freestyle wrestlers, winning a bronze medal at 139 pounds in the 1952 Olympic Games in Helsinki. He was also the 1952 AAU national champion, competing for the Armed Forces team.
“Joe served his country and the sport with honor and will be deeply missed by the Hall of Fame,” said Lee Roy Smith, executive director of the Hall of Fame. “He was a tireless promoter of the sport and recently served on the National Wrestling Hall of Fame’s Military Committee.”
Henson’s leadership roles in the wrestling included serving as chairman of U.S. wrestling within the U.S. Olympic Committee in 1964 and 1968; Chef de Mission of the 1967 Pan American Games; and president of the AAU. He also founded and directed the Henson Company, a major wrestling products company now known as Brute Wrestling.
In addition to his wrestling honors, Henson completed a distinguished career as a captain in the U.S. Navy. A pilot with more than 400 carrier landings from 1941 to 1969, he is a decorated war veteran honored with a Presidential Commendation.
Funeral arrangements are pending in both Tulsa and at the U.S. Naval Academy.