Sept. 2, 2011
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- This Is Your Life -- Dan Gable featured guest after guest recalling anecdotes about the life of the former University of Iowa head wrestling coach. The tribute displayed the impact and inspiration Gable was to everyone he came into contact with in life.
"What sets Dan apart, and why he is the figure he is, is that he is not only perhaps the greatest wrestler in the history of our oldest sport," said Jim Leach, former U.S. Congressman during the annual Fry Fest celebration at the Coralville Marriott and Conference Center. "He and wrestling symbolize dedication and sport.
"We in this room need to make a point to suggest to Mr. Webster, as in Webster's dictionary, that there ought to be a new word. The new word is "Gableism" -- a noun. It means the American competitive ethic, competition done the right way. That's why we're here to celebrate one man at one time."
The standard to which Gable lived by set him apart. He was focused on being the best in everything he did... and he accomplished it. He was a two-time NCAA champion at Iowa State University, won the 1972 Olympic Gold Medal without surrendering a point and led the University of Iowa wrestling program to 25 consecutive Big Ten Championships and nine consecutive NCAA titles.
"The thing I always remember was the standard," said Terry Brands, Iowa's associate head wrestling coach, who competed under Gable. "My brother (UI head coach Tom Brands) and I used to drink "Liquid Gable". We did "Gable workouts", a "Gable weight routine", "Gable rope work", "Gable time". We were "Gable tough". Those are things that as time progresses will become more of a legacy.
"What he's done, and what the Gable name means, as we come to know and what will continue to be known, is cemented in eternity." Former Iowa Director of Athletics Bump Elliott recounted what it was that made him hire Gable as the UI wrestling coach.
"The fact that Gary Kurdelmeier hired him as an assistant was a no-brainer," said Elliott. "The smartest thing I did was to name Gary an Associate Athletics Director... that moved Dan Gable up to head coach."
Hayden Fry, the namesake of the annual Fry Fest celebration, recounted his early time with Gable as a coaching colleague.
"When I first met Dan, I knew how famous he was, and how much of an impact he had on wrestlers, coaches and on me, coming into a program that hadn't won in quite a while," said Fry. "After I found out his background, about where he was raised, going to Iowa State, I thought `hey, I have an idea.'
"I told my captains `when you go out for the coin toss, you're going to say to those Cyclones that Dan Gable is our friend'... we won 15 straight."
Gable was honored in the forefront in the tribute, as he continues being an ambassador for the sport of wrestling.
"I want to say how much of an honor it is to be able to be associated with Fry Fest and football," said Gable. "I hope that our sport is able to move forward a little further because of the association with people that are very influential in the world of sport.
"I want to say thanks for giving me a chance to move forward a little bit more. I am not going to let up, and I don't want you to let up as well."