In preparation for the 2018 George Tragos/Lou Thesz Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame inductions on July 26-28, Dan Gable, namesake of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame Dan Gable Museum and a Distinguished Member inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 1980, answers five questions about professional wrestling. Gable won a gold medal in freestyle wrestling at the 1972 Olympics and coached the University of Iowa wrestling team to 15 NCAA team championships from 1977-97.
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One of the most common questions we get asked is, “What does Dan Gable think about professional wrestling?”
“As an amateur wrestler growing up in Waterloo, Iowa, I was influenced more than normal by professional wrestling. Like most other people, I tuned into professional wrestling for excitement and entertainment, which is a good product. I write my books for excitement and entertainment, so that’s a positive thing.
There was personal attachment that gave me more insight and brought me closer when Chris Taylor, my teammate at Iowa State, went into professional wrestling after college. When professional wrestlers like Iron Sheik and Kurt Angle throw my name out it enhances my connection to professional wrestling. Professional wrestling is not a foreign subject to me.”
(Kurt Angle, left, with Dan Gable)
Chad Gable, who competed in Greco-Roman in the 2012 Olympics as Chas Betts, is a current WWE Superstar who shares your famous last name. What is it like knowing that your grandchildren are fans of his?
“I have grandkids whose dad is a professional wrestling fan. Knowing the family of their dad, I’m amused because I never would think they would have been professional wrestling fans. It showed me that there are fans out there of this profession that you wouldn’t think would be fans based on their personality. It must draw from a lot of different places.”
You put Chad Gable through a workout in the Iowa wrestling room a few months ago. How hard did you push him?
“He had already been through a couple hours of filming and I don’t think he was going at a high level when I came in. They were just doing things for recording and for viewing. I probably upped the pace of his heart rate from 90 to 190 in a matter of seconds. The workout wasn’t real long but it was intense. Based on what I’ve seen with him and his wrestling I think he would have developed well in the Iowa wrestling room.”
(Dan Gable, left, with Chad Gable – photo by Wade Keller)
You had a cameo in a professional wrestling movie “The Wrestler” (1974) starring Verne Gagne, who was inducted into the George Tragos/Lou Thesz Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame as a member of the Charter Class in 1999, and Ed Asner. What do you remember about filming for that movie?
“I just remember that we filmed it on the University of Minnesota’s campus. We did it in a wrestling room and that’s where I trained for the Olympic Games. Those memories stick with you for a lifetime.”
Were you a baby face (good guy) or a heel (bad guy) when you were the head wrestling coach at Iowa?
“I think a lot of wrestling fans appreciated the success, the domination, and the entertaining style of Iowa Wrestling. It also created animosity because we dominated. A lot of people who weren’t fans because of personal reasons became fans when I stepped down as head wrestling coach. However, a lot of them still aren’t fans because (Iowa Wrestling) scarred them. When you get scarred it’s tough. If you didn’t get scarred personally and you appreciated it then you’re probably a Gable fan. There are some wrestlers out there that will never be a Gable fan.”