Yesterday much of the wrestling world woke up to the sad news of Danny Hodge’s passing.
The sport, the state of Oklahoma, the University of Oklahoma, and the City of Perry, OK, all lost a giant on Christmas eve as one of the all time greats passed away at the age of 88.
One could speak all day of Hodge’s accomplishments in wrestling. An unblemished college record of 46-0, three NCAA titles in which he pinned all but two of his opponents, an Olympic Silver Medal, and so much more.
Here’s Hodge pinning his opponent in the 1957 NCAA finals
My immediate thoughts, and I’m sure most from my generation were the same, went back to the youth tournaments we all competed in as kids. Mr. Hodge would shake hands, sign autographs, take pictures, hand out medals, crush apples, and spend countless hours of his time with young kids discussing this sport we all love. For such a dominant athlete in such a tough sport, Hodge was seemingly one of the kindest and most gentle people that you could ever come in contact with.
The outpouring of support on social media that came from the wrestling community for Mr. Hodge and his family yesterday was nothing short of amazing. From individuals that just had a few interactions with him to some of the sports all time and current greats(these were just a few that came across my timeline).
Two-Time NCAA Champion and Hodge Trophy Winner Spencer Lee
Hodge winner and Five-time World/Olympic Champion Jordan Burroughs
I especially enjoyed this one.
And former OU star Robbie Waller
Beyond his amateur career, which is richly celebrated and well known here in Oklahoma, is his boxing and professional wrestling career. Hodge was a National Golden Gloves Boxing Champion and eight-time NWA World Junior Heavyweight Champion. The WWE released this on Hodge and a number of legends in the industry Tweeted their condolences and celebrated Hodge’s legacy.
Jim Ross has quietly been a big advocate for amateur wrestling over the years and is a close friend of Danny Hodge. The Tulsa World spoke with Ross in depth on Hodge.
Kurt Angle, whose career in many ways mirrored Hodge’s with the transition from professional to amateur wrestling.
WWE Hall of Famer Adam (Edge) Copeland
Long time announcer Mike Tenay
William Regal and the Iron Sheik
I could continue to post countless more but ultimately the legacy that Hodge has in the sports of amateur and professional wrestling extend far beyond just his greatness as an athlete. He was clearly an individual that was revered by almost everyone that came across his path.
The impact he’s had on individuals in the sport is immeasurable. I think Joe Castiglione succinctly said it as well as anyone.
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of Danny Hodge, a true giant in the sport of wrestling. He was a man who displayed great character and toughness but was also selfless and had an ability to connect with people of all ages. His mindset of what makes a champion was timeless. In that sense he reminded me of what made Port Robertson so memorable. He made everyone feel important when actually he was the one we were trying to celebrate. I was so honored to get to know him a little over the years. It was always special to have him on campus.”OU Athletic Director-Joe Castiglione
The sport and state lost a giant this week and my deepest condolences go out to his family and close friends.