STILLWATER, Okla. – The National Wrestling Hall of Fame & Museum has selected its honorees to be inducted into the Hall of Fame on June 5-6, 2015, in Stillwater, Oklahoma.
Distinguished Members selected for the Class of 2015 include Frank Bettucci, Joe Gonzales, Sammie Henson, and Greg Johnson. The other recipients are Outstanding American Mike Golic, Order of Merit recipient Dr. David “Doc” Bennett, Medal of Courage recipient Mike Powell, and Lifetime Achievement for an Official Kenny Ritchie.
“This class of inductees for 2015 is an exceptional group of individuals who have left their mark on all levels of wrestling in this country,” said Lee Roy Smith, Executive Director of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. “We are excited to honor them because of how they have enriched the sport of wrestling’s heritage and how their legacies will continue to awaken, nurture, and empower lives of excellence, service and leadership for generations to come.”
A Distinguished Member can be a wrestler who has achieved extraordinary success in national and/or international competition, a coach who has demonstrated great leadership in the profession and has compiled an outstanding record, a contributor whose long-term activities have substantially enhanced the development and advancement of the sport, or a combination of the above qualifications.
Bettucci was a three-time EIWA champion and the 1953 NCAA Champion for Cornell University. He also saw success in freestyle as a two-time AAU National Champion, member of the 1956 Olympic team, and alternate to the 1960 Olympic team. Following his freestyle career, Bettucci served as an assistant coach at Cornell. He is a member of the New York State Wrestling Hall of Fame, Cornell University Athletic Hall of Fame and Eastern Intercollegiate Hall of Fame.
Gonzales competed for East Los Angeles College, Oklahoma University, and Cal State-Bakersfield, earning a California Junior College state title, NCAA DII title and NCAA DI title. He has set and currently holds the single season NCAA record of 528 takedowns. He is a five-time U.S. World Team member, five-time U.S. Open Freestyle champion, three-time World Cup champion, a 1982 World Games bronze medalist and 1982 Tbilisi champion.
Henson competed for both Clemson University and the University of Missouri and was a two-time NCAA champion. Internationally, he was a Junior World Greco-Roman champion, Senior World Freestyle champion, Senior World Freestyle bronze medalist and Olympic Freestyle silver medalist. He also won three USA Senior Freestyle titles and one in Greco-Roman. As a coach, Henson has assisted numerous top college programs. He was hired as the head coach at West Virginia University in 2014.
Johnson amassed a record of 58-3-2 and was a three-time Big Ten Champion for Michigan State University. He was the first wrestler to win three NCAA titles in Big Ten Conference history. His coaching career included positions at Clarion State, University of Utah, University of Illinois and Alfred State Junior College. At the University of Illinois he coached Kevin Puebla to All America honors in 1979. He was a charter member of the Michigan Wrestling Hall of Fame in 1978 and a member of the Michigan State University Athletics Hall of Fame in 2014.
The Hall of Outstanding Americans recognizes those who have used the disciplines of the sport to launch notable careers in other walks of life, such as science and technology, business and industry, government and the military, and the arts and humanities.
Mike Golic is the co-host of ESPN Radio’s Mike and Mike show. He is a former NFL defensive lineman and television football commentator. Golic wrestled and played football for Notre Dame. He has been a strong advocate for the sport of wrestling, using his ESPN platform to show his support for wrestling when it was threatened to be removed from the Olympic program.
The Order of Merit is presented to an individual who has made a significant contribution to the advancement of wrestling, other than success as an athlete or coach.
For the past 45 years, Doc Bennett has been contributing to the advancement of wrestling through work in coaches education, videography, and coaching. He balanced his career as an optometrist with coaching, creating instructional videos, and producing television shows. Bennett served as the National Developmental Freestyle Coach from 2000-2009 and received the United States Olympic Committee Coach of the Year award in 2008. He continues to volunteer his services to USA Wrestling, United World Wrestling, and the NWHOF as either a coach or with digital media productions.
The Medal of Courage is presented annually to a wrestler or former wrestler who has overcome what appear to be insurmountable challenges, which may be physical, mental or other disabilities that make their achievements all the more uplifting.
Powell served as the head coach at Oak Park and River Forest High School in Illinois for a decade. During that time, he led the team to two dual team state championships, one dual team second place finish, a total of six appearances in the dual team state finals tournament, and top team scores at the individual state wrestling tournament four times. He coached 10 individual state champions and 31 all-state wrestlers. A 1994 Illinois state wrestling champion and All-American at Indiana University, Powell was diagnosed with polymyositis in 2009. This chronic inflammation of the muscles is a progressive autoimmune disease that has affected the physical aspects of his coaching duties. Although he has recently stepped down as the head coach in order to rest his body, he plans to remain involved as an assistant.
The Lifetime Achievement for Officials award recognizes outstanding service as a wrestling or pairing official, judge or referee.
Ritchie has officiated high school and collegiate wrestling for the past 33 years. He has officiated 27 High School State Wrestling Tournaments in Oklahoma while receiving Oklahoma HS Official of Year awards nine times. As a collegiate official, Ritchie has officiated 12 NCAA DI National Championships, eight NCAA DII National Championships, eight NCAA/NWCA National Dual Tournaments, 17 BIG 12/Big 8 Tournaments, and six Virginia Dual Tournaments. He has served as Chairman of the NWOA Technique and Technology Committee since 2010.
More information on Honors Weekend and the Hall of Fame inductions is available by telephoning 405-377-5243 or visiting the National Wrestling Hall of Fame website at www.nwhof.org.