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.
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 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.
Rest In Peace to the Legendary Dan Hodge. I'm honored to have shared this moment with you, and to have you present me a trophy with both of our names on it. Wrestling is better because of you. pic.twitter.com/Mok4cPdvOFâ€" Jordan Burroughs (@alliseeisgold) December 26, 2020
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 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.