Simply put, Dan Gable was possibly the best collegiate wrestling coach there ever was. After 21 years as head coach at the University of Iowa, his Hawkeye program accomplished more than any other college sports program. Gable's second stint as an assistant coach with the Hawkeyes will end October 1, 2007, when he returns to his role as special assistant to the director of athletics. His first assistant coaching stint came (1973-76) under Gary Kurdelmeier.
As the University of Iowa's all-time winningest wrestling coach from 1977 to 1997, Dan Gable compiled a career record of 355-21-5. He coached 152 all-Americans, 45 national champions, 106 Big Ten Champions and 10 Olympians, including four gold, one silver and three bronze medalists.
The Hawkeyes won 25 consecutive Big Ten championships, 21 under Gable as head coach and four while he was an assistant coach and administrator. He had a winning percentage of .932 and captured nine consecutive (1978-86) NCAA Championships. At the time that equaled the longest streak of national titles won by any school in any sport, and was also held by Yale golf (1905-13) and Southern Cal track (1935-43).
On only five occasions did a Gable-coached team lose more than one dual meet in a year. In fact, seven of Gable's teams recorded perfect dual seasons. During his tenure, the Hawkeyes averaged over 17 wins and just one loss per season and posted an amazing 95-1 record in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
The 1996-97 season added the final chapter to Gable's storied career. In late January, he underwent hip replacement surgery, missing four dual meets while recuperating. He reappeared in the Hawkeye's corner just in time to lead the team to its 24th consecutive Big Ten title and 17th NCAA title. Iowa shattered its own NCAA team points record, scoring 170 points during the three-day tournament in Cedar Falls.
Gable coached many United States teams in international freestyle competition. He is a three-time Olympic head coach (1980, 1984 and 2000). The 1984 Olympic team, which featured four Hawkeyes, won seven gold medals. He was an assistant freestyle coach at the and 1976 and 1988 Olympics. Gable also served as head coach of the World Team in 1977, 1978, 1979, 1983, 1994 and 1999, as well as 10 World Cup teams winning three team golds in World Cup competition. He has attended 29 World or Olympic wrestling championships.
In 1972, he won a gold medal at the Summer Olympics without surrendering a point to any of his opponents. The Soviets came to the Olympics with only one goal in mind; to defeat Gable. They were unsuccessful.
In Gable's final 21 Olympic qualification and Olympic matches, he scored 12 falls and outscored his nine other opponents, 130-1. The single point being scored by Larry Owings, who had previously defeated Gable in his final collegiate match.
During his prep and college careers, Gable compiled an unbelievable record of 182-1. He was undefeated in 64 prep matches, and was 118-1 at Iowa State. His only defeat came in the NCAA finals his senior year. Gable was a three-time all-American and three-time Big Eight champion during an era where three years of eligibility was the maximum allowed to a student-athelte.
After college, Gable added titles at the 1971 Pan American Games, the 1972 Tbilisi Tournament and the 1971 World Championships. He won an unprecedented six Midlands Open championships and was that meet's outstanding wrestler five times. He set NCAA records in winning and pin streaks.
Gable was named to the U.S.A. Wrestling Hall of Fame in 1980, and to the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame in 1985. He was selected the nation's outstanding wrestler by the AAU in 1970, and the U.S. Wrestling Federation in 1971. Gable was the Amateur Wrestling News Man of the Year in 1970.
Gable joined the Iowa coaching staff for the 1972-73 season, assisting head coach and Hall of Famer Gary Kurdelmeier, until taking over the program for the 1976-77 season.
Since stepping down as the University of Iowa's wrestling coach, Gable has served as Assistant to the Athletic Director dealing with team and individual performance. Aside from helping out with Iowa athletics, he is aiding the University in their fundraising efforts and promoting the sport of wrestling worldwide. Gable also coaches potential Olympic wrestlers in the local sports club, gives motivational and performance speeches nationwide and does color commentary for televised college wrestling.
Some of his most recent accolades include being named the top wrestler of the 20th Century by Gannett News Service, listed as one of the top coaches in the 20th Century by ESPN and named Iowa's top "sports figure" in the past 100 years. In June 2002, he was appointed to the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. Several networks, including ESPN and HBO have aired documentaries on Gable's life and accomplishments.
Gable was born on Oct. 25, 1948, in Waterloo. He received his B.S. degree from Iowa State in 1971. He and his wife, Kathy, have four daughters - Jennifer, Annie, Molly and Mackenzie - and four grandchildren - Gable, Jake, Danny and Elsie.