UW wrestling: Badgers honor Kemp
By ANDY BAGGOT
Lee Kemp enjoyed an extraordinary career as a student-athlete at the University of Wisconsin, so it is appropriate the honor he will receive this weekend will be no less so.
When more than 200 former UW wrestlers, family members and friends gather for a three-day reunion starting Friday, their marquee event will be the grand opening of the Lee Kemp Room inside the Tom Talbot Wrestling Complex.
The $425,000 project, built by gift funds in conjunction with the $2.3 million Heritage Hall addition inside Camp Randall Stadium, is a testament to the storied legacy of UW wrestling for which Kemp is a prominent figure.
As such, he is believed to be the first UW athlete to have his name attached to an athletic department facility solely for his contributions as a student-athlete.
"I'm flattered and appreciative of it," Kemp said. "If it's symbol to help others, then I think that's a good thing. It's not a good thing because it's me. It's a good thing because, from what it symbolizes, it could help other people."
Kemp competed from 1975 to '78, winning three straight NCAA individual titles at 158 pounds and compiling the highest career winning percentage in school history at .957 (143-6-1).
A charter member of the W Club Hall of Fame, Kemp won three world freestyle championships (1978, '79 and '82) and was a gold-medal favorite for Team USA when it boycotted the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow.
Those gathering for the reunion also will acknowledge the work of two former UW coaches, Duane Kleven and Russ Hellickson, and will surely take time to revel in an under-publicized wrestling achievement from last week.
For the first time in history, the Americans won the team title in the World Greco-Roman Championships held in Azerbaijan.
A central figure in that effort is former UW all-American Mitch Hull, who serves as national teams director for USA Wrestling in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Hull and Kemp came up through a UW system cultivated by Kleven (1970 to '82) and Hellickson (1983 to '86). Kleven is a member of the W Club Hall of Fame as is Hellickson, who won a silver medal in the 1976 Summer Olympics.
Also, earlier this year, current Badgers coach Barry Davis was inducted in the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.
The grand opening of the wrestling complex is scheduled to take place at 4 p.m. Friday. A reception will follow at Heritage Hall, the recently completed complex dedicated to the achievements of UW student-athletes.
A formal dinner honoring Kemp, Kleven and Hellickson will be held Saturday night at 7 at the Marriott in Middleton.
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