Gable takes the stage at Trump rally in Des Moines

The legendary former Hawkeye wrestling coach will be the latest recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.


File Photo/The Daily Iowan

(From left) Iowa assistant coach Jim Zalesky, Royce Alger, head coach Dan Gable and Tom Brands give encouragement during a meet.

Robert Read, Pregame Editor

Former Iowa wrestling coach Dan Gable found out Tuesday night that he was the latest recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Wednesday night, he took the stage with President Donald Trump at a crowded rally in Des Moines.

Trump pointed to Gable’s many accomplishments, including his 1972 Olympic gold medal and 15 NCAA team titles won as Iowa’s head coach, as his reasoning for awarding Gable the honor. Gable, a member of several wrestling hall of fames, is the first wrestling athlete and coach to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The award is the nation’s highest honor for a civilian.

“It’s humbling because that’s the highest honor,” Gable said. “I’m used to winning and having to do it on the mat.”

Trump said he will be awarding the medal “very shortly” to Gable at the White House. An official date has not been announced.

Between his high school and college careers at Waterloo West and Iowa State, Gable compiled a record of 181-1 and won two NCAA titles. Gable led the Iowa wrestling program from 1976 through 1997. During his time leading the program, the Hawkeyes won 21 straight Big Ten Championships and 15 NCAA titles.

During his tenure at Iowa, Gable coached 152 All-Americans, 46 national champions, and 12 Olympians who combined to win eight Olympic medals.

Gable’s historic 1972 run in the Olympics was highlighted in his brief time on stage. On his way to winning a gold medal, Gable defeated his six opponents without surrendering a point.

“He’s the pride of Iowa and he’s great,” Trump said. “You always try and figure out what makes a champion. Because you look at him — nice guy, good-looking guy, all that stuff. But why is he a gold medalist that’s done something that nobody ever did? He didn’t allow one point against any of these wrestlers and they are all the best in the world, the toughest. It’s just something different. Probably never figure it out. It is with great champions. You see it and you see it all the time with great champions, but there are very few.”

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