“On behalf of the National Wrestling Hall of Game Board of Governors I want to extend our deepest sympathy’s to the Farrell family for their loss” stated Board Chairman Jim Keen, Sr. “I have known Bill many years and will miss him dearly as a friend, business associate, and leader of the sport of wrestling.”
By Gary Abbott USA Wrestling
Bill Farrell of Centre Island, N.Y., 82, passed away today in hospice at the North Shore Hospital on Long Island.
Farrell was a true visionary and leader who made a major impact on wrestling at all levels.
He was the head coach of the famous 1972 U.S. Olympic freestyle wrestling team, which included Olympic champions Dan Gable, Wayne Wells and Ben Peterson. He was an athlete, coach and administrator for the New York Athletic Club, one of the greatest wrestling clubs in the entire world. He was also the top wrestling executive for ASICS America, helping build and expand its wrestling business to become the leading company for wrestling shoes and products in the world.
“Our sport lost an icon today, someone who was truly personally responsible for the development and growth of wrestling worldwide,” said USA Wrestling Executive Director Rich Bender. “We truly celebrate Bill’s involvement and leadership in wrestling. His legacy will last forever.”
“Personally, my only adult livelihood has been working with and around Bill Farrell. He is an inspiration in my life. I learned from him and grew with him,” said Nick Gallo of ASICS America and TW Promotions. “Bill was an innovator from the time he sold his first shoe. He inspired people in so many ways. He got us all to do what nobody else could do. He was truly a master motivator. A big chapter of my life ended today.”
Those who knew and loved Bill are asked to please not try to contact the immediate family at this time and respect their desire for privacy. There will be a memorial planned for Bill Farrell, and information will be posted and promoted as soon as it has been finalized.
For someone who did not wrestle in high school or college, he made a lifetime of the sport after joining the New York Athletic Club as a young adult. At “the club” he did it all, competing, coaching, and serving as an administrator. He also served as the President of the New York Athletic Club, responsible for all activities of the world-famous club.
He may be most remembered for his coaching of the 1972 Olympic freestyle team, which competed in Munich, West Germany. The U.S. team had one of the greatest performances in American wrestling history, with six medalists. Joining gold medalists Gable, Wells and Ben Peterson, the other medalists were silver medalists Rick Sanders and John Peterson and bronze medalist Chris Taylor.
Farrell was pleased with the success of the 1972 team, but as in everything else in his life, he was not satisfied because of his high goals and belief in his team. Farrell wrote the following in Amateur Wrestling News shortly after the 1972 Olympics.
“To say that I am pleased with the performance of our Freestyle wrestling team would be the mildest way of stating my position. With few exceptions I believe that everyone is very elated with the results of 1972. One should be satisfied with six medals, but after you have won six, it is very easy to visualize the winning of at least two more,” wrote Farrell.
His work with ASICS, the industry leader within wrestling, has changed the sport of wrestling and helped it to grow and develop. ASICS is a long-time sponsor for USA Wrestling, which has helped the American wrestling program reach great achievements at all levels.
In addition to his induction to the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, Farrell was also inducted into the Helms Hall of Fame, the Sporting Goods Industry Hall of Fame, the O’Dea High School Hall of Fame and many others. He was named Man of the Year for wrestling, received a Lifetime Service Award from USA Wrestling, as well as numerous other major recognitions.
It would take a book to document all of the ways that Bill Farrell impacted wrestling and those involved in the sport. We will post a few of his biographies below, and promise to share more about this amazing and wonderful man.