IOWA CITY, Iowa - His ears prove he wrestled for many years. His talk about his own life experiences and how they motivated him could motivate you to make healthy lifestyle changes and change your life in other positive ways.
Dan Gable, 62, looking young for his age, is considered the most successful collegiate wrestling coach in the United States, and arguably the best high school, collegiate, Olympic and freestyle wrestler in U.S. history.
He will relate his own life experiences and share a formula for success that you can apply to everyday life at the Heart of New Ulm Community Summit, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 15, at the New Ulm Event Center.
Gable had been around wrestling his entire life.
"I was born into a community of wrestling in Waterloo, Iowa. It was decided when I came home from the hospital," Gable told The Journal. "My dad was a wrestler. Not a great one, but some of his friends where. My uncle, a farmer, was a runner-up at the Iowa state wrestling tournament."
With less of a youth wrestling program in the early 1950s than there is now in some places, Gable began wrestling at a Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) and in the family living room with his older sister's friends who wrestled in high school and college.
If you go:
What: World and Olympic Champion wrestler, coach and motivational speaker Dan Gable at the Heart of New Ulm Project's 5th Annual Community Summit
When: Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012 autographs with New Ulm Olympic wrestler Ali Bernard, 6:30 p.m; presentation 7 to 8:30 p.m.
Where: New Ulm Event Center, (formerly known as Hope & Healing Center), 301 20th South St., New Ulm
Charge: Free, seating is limited, no RSVP needed.
"They were always trying to whip me in the living room. I learned to wrestle to survive," Gable added.
Decades ago, Gable was not allowed to wrestle on the varsity team until his sophomore year of high school. As a high school freshman, the only high school loss of his career was in a scrimmage with a teammate.
As a high school sophomore, Gable experienced a personal tragedy when his older sister Diane was murdered in his family home while Dan and his parents were on vacation.
Gable said that event powered him with a singular wrestling passion as a way to uplift the family.
"I needed to give them enough entertainment that they didn't have to look other places," he said. "It put me on a path for victory."
Gable set high wrestling goals and accomplished them with unrelenting drive.
"My everyday goal was to push myself to exhaustion, work so hard in practice, someone may have to carry me off the mat," Gable said. "When people ask me how to raise their performance level, the first thing I ask is 'how important is it to you?'
A three-time Iowa state wrestling champion, Gable won all 64 of his high school matches. He was 118-1 at Iowa State University, losing only in the national finals his senior year, setting national college records for wins and pins.
He was a Gold Medal winner at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich. Gable's opponents did not score a single point against him.
He coached the University of Iowa Hawkeye wrestling team for 21 seasons, from 1977 to 1997. Gable's teams won 355 meets, lost 21 and tied five. He coached 152 All-Americans, 45 National Champions, 106 Big 10 Champions, 12 Olympians, including four gold, one silver and three bronze medalists.
The Hawkeyes won 25 consecutive Big 10 championships, 21 under Gable as head coach, four while he was an assistance coach and administrator.
Gable coached the 1980, 1984 and 2000 U.S. Olympic Freestyle Wrestling teams. He was an assistant freestyle coach at the 1976 and 1988 Olympics.
He was U.S. World Team head coach in 1977, 1978, 1979, 1983, 1994 and 1999.
Still involved with the University of Iowa wrestling team, Gable spends much of his time as a motivational speaker at corporate gatherings.
"I look forward to being a part of the Heart of New Ulm. It's making a big difference in people's lives. I like that. I'll talk about overcoming adversity, using it to go to higher levels, good planning, staying current and living well," Gable said. "I can relate with people. I'm hoping the crowd gets fired up and I can make a difference somewhere in people's lives."
New Ulm's two-time Olympic wrestler Ali Bernard will sign autographs with Gable at 6:30 p.m. at the New Ulm Event Center. She'll briefly share her Olympic experiences, tips for setting goals and staying motivated to work toward healthy lifestyle changes.
For more information, visit www.heartsbeatback.org or call the Heart of New Ulm office at 507-217-5945.
Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at email@example.com.