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Dan Hodge was a legend in every way

Dan Hodge never lost a match in college, won an Olympic medal and is the only wrestler to grace the cover of Sports Illustrated.

But his most impressive feat may have come after he celebrated his 80th birthday.

He demonstrated his ability to crush an apple with one hand.

Dan Hodge
Hodge, who passed away on Christmas Eve at age 88, was an outstanding athlete and person who lived an incredible life.

He will be remembered as one of the most legendary and successful competitors in the history of wrestling. He was a larger-than-life presence, on and off the mat.

The Perry, Oklahoma native won a state high school title in 1951 before going on to a phenomenal collegiate career at the University of Oklahoma.

In college, the 6-foot-1 Hodge went 46-0 with 36 pins. He won three NCAA titles at 177 pounds, pinning all three of his opponents in the finals. He twice was named the tournament's Outstanding Wrestler.

He was a strong, tough, physical and intimidating wrestler who many of his opponents feared. He wrestled the way you were supposed to, dominating opponents with a relentless, attacking style.

He was regarded as a ferocious but disciplined wrestler during his competitive days. He didn't mess around when he stepped on the mat. His goal was simply to pin his opponent as quickly as possible.

Hodge captured a silver medal for the United States at the 1956 Olympics. He was on course to win the gold before suffering a controversial setback in the finals.

Hodge appeared frequently in recent years at the NCAA Championships and during Hall of Fame events in Stillwater, Oklahoma and Waterloo, Iowa.

He was a fantastic storyteller with a charisma and humility to match.

Hodge appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated on April 1, 1957. He remains the only amateur wrestler to appear on the cover of SI. The Hodge SI cover is a collector's item that is a prized possession of any wrestling fan who has it.

Hodge went on to wrestle professionally for two decades, winning numerous championships. He also excelled in boxing while winning national titles in that sport.

Hodge's name has been associated with the top award in college wrestling for the past quarter-century.

The Dan Hodge Trophy has been presented annually since 1995 by WIN magazine to the top college wrestler in the U.S. It's "The Heisman Trophy" of wrestling and is an honor that carries great significance in the sport.

The trophy was created by WIN founder Mike Chapman, who authored a book on Dan Hodge.

The list of Hodge Trophy winners is impressive. It includes Olympic gold medalists Cael Sanderson and Jordan Burroughs along with world champions Stephen Neal, David Taylor, Kyle Dake and Logan Stieber.


The criteria for winning the Hodge Trophy not only focuses on wins and losses, but on a dominant style of wrestling. Pinning opponents, a Hodge staple, factors heavily into determining the winner of the prestigious trophy each season.

Hodge performed his remarkable feat of crushing an apple seemingly countless times, including during the NCAA tournament. It was definitely something to see when he would perform his signature feat, crowds would cheer and Hodge would flash a huge smile. That was priceless.

Anyone who was fortunate enough to meet Hodge and shake his hand immediately learned how strong the man's grip was. You also would learn what a class act he was. And a true gentleman.

Dan Hodge
The sport of wrestling was so fortunate and blessed to have Hodge as one of its leading ambassadors. He embodied all of the characteristics you would want in a great champion. He loved wrestling and all of the great life lessons that the sport teaches. He was a great representative of the sport.

Dan Hodge was a champion in every way, shape and form. It's awesome that his legacy will live on with the Hodge Trophy.

He was one of the best wrestlers and people in the history of the sport. He made a tremendous impact in wrestling, long after he retired from competition.

He definitely will be missed.

Craig Sesker has written about wrestling for more than three decades. He's covered three Olympic Games, written 10 books and is a two-time national wrestling writer of the year.

Comments

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ban basketball (1) about 3 weeks ago
Always knew that it had to be a slight of hand to be able to crush apples, and, sure enough, I watched a few videos of him doing it today and discovered the trick.

Oh well, it's cool to watch, either way.
Keyser Soze (1) about 2 weeks ago
now that you have mastered the "trick" why not make a video and squeeze the apple just like dan does and show us all how great you really are.

I mean seriously dude, all that you had to say about one of the greatest humans ever is.... ha haaah... I have been trying to figure you out because I've got nothing on my own and you were basically lying to everyone and had hands weak as a kitten? GFY, try typing something positive for once in your miserable life. How about saying Dan Hodge was probably the greatest ambassador for our loved sport of wrestling, he spent his whole life trying to get a little bit of his positivity across to everyone.

Thank you Dan for everything you did before I even knew what wrestling was. The sport would not be where it is right now without you and I for one appreciate you and all your actions and will never forget you for the rest of my life.
ban basketball (1) about 2 weeks ago
Funny you should say that! I not only noticed the trick-and, yes, it's a slight of hand that a keen eye can catch (doesn't say much about your eye, eh, my boy?)-but tried it soon after, and, voila (or, as you'd write, "wala"), I crushed the apple as well.

Yes, it takes a bit of effort, but easily doable, my boy!
Keyser Soze (1) about 2 weeks ago
so are you talking about how he uses his fingers to squeeze the apple.... yes everyone sees that so you are no detective, just a dick.

I'm sure there is some womens nba game on right now so why don't you skip over to the loveseat and enjoy your lonely new years eve.
ban basketball (1) about 2 weeks ago
Can't get one by you, can he, Columbio? ;)
ban basketball (1) about 2 weeks ago
"How about saying Dan Hodge was probably the greatest ambassador for our loved sport of wrestling..."

So, it's NOT Dan Goblee, as everyone's been saying for the past month? Huh...
Keyser Soze (1) about 2 weeks ago
goblee... what the fuck are you talking about. Dan Gable is his name and he didn't pass away like Hodge did.
ban basketball (1) about 2 weeks ago
Guhbell? Gabble? Nope, he didn't die, but he was being lauded as the "greatest ambassador the sport has," and then you go mess it all up with your interlect by claiming that HODGE was the greatest ambassador the sport had.

I don't know. Too much deep thought for me, my boy!
Keyser Soze (1) about 2 weeks ago
I said probably and it was a suggestion for you to say instead of your negative bullshit. Are you in your late 70's and just pissed at the world? You never give a good take on here. It would be better for everyone that you just stop typing.
ban basketball (1) about 2 weeks ago
Guhblee? Gablee?

Oh, how confused I am now!