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    Cutting Weight, the Dark Side of WrestlingBloged in News and Information by Randy Lewis Wednesday November 2, 2005

    Cutting weight, the dark side of wrestling. Almost everyone who has ever wrestled, with the exception of some heavyweights, has had to cut weight at some point in their careers. Many wrestlers, at all levels, have at times cut way more than they should have. At times in my career, I also fell into this category. Most wrestlers have their own ?weight cutting stories,? and in this article I will regale you with a few of my own.

    This article will not discuss the proper diet, nor will it discuss the correct way to slowly lose weight, but rather it will give you some of my insights and thoughts as to why myself and others cut weight, and how it affected both our mental and physical abilities. To me, cutting weight has always been the hardest part of wrestling, both physically, and especially mentally.

    In high school, I wrestled at or near my natural weight, cutting only 3 or 4 pounds during my season. During the summers, for junior nationals, I would sometimes cut 7 or 8 pounds, but nothing that was too difficult. In college, and international competition, that would change dramatically. At times, I believe I cut too much weight, and when that happened, it took a mental and physical toll.

    Throughtout my fifteen years wrestling and coaching with Dan Gable at the University of Iowa, coaches J Robinson and Dan Gable put me and others through thousands of very tough and very physical workouts. I was able to go through all of them, and never break mentally. However, when it came to cutting weight, it was a different story. I have seen the toughest wrestlers in the world break mentally from cutting too much weight. Cutting weight will always be a part of our sport, no matter what rules go into effect. I do like most of the new rules that help to cut down on the amount of weight that wrestlers lose.

    In high school and college wrestling, weight cutting has changed dramatically because of the new rules. With colleges and high schools outlawing saunas and plastics, weighing in one hour before matches, and the new hydration rules, the amount of weight cutting, particularly by dehydration, has been significantly reduced. When I look back on my college career, I wish these new rules had been in place then. In college, I wrestled two years at 126 and two years at 134, with a five-hour weigh-in for duals and night-before weigh-ins for tournaments. If I were wrestling under today?s rules, I would have wrestled at 133 for two years and at 141 for two years, and that would have been seven pounds that I did not have to sweat off for every meet.

    I find it interesting that while high school and colleges have made rules to eliminate or reduce weight cutting, in international wrestling, FILA has made rules that have forced some wrestlers to make a very difficult decision to cut even more weight than in the past. By dropping down to seven weight classes, and having only one weigh-in for tournaments, the night before, they are forcing some wrestlers to cut a ton of weight.

    With only seven weight classes internationally, some great wrestlers have been forced to make a very difficult decision to either cut an extreme amount of weight, or to have to add considerable muscle mass, which I believe could lead to a sharp increase in the use of steroids.

    I think wrestling has been a sport where steroid use has been kept to a minimum, but with only seven weight classes, a wrestler ?caught? in between weight classes may make the decision to ?juice? to move up a weight class, and that is more likely to happen with fewer weight classes, and too much weight between weight classes. It is my belief that FILA should go back to 10 weight classes for the world championships, and then go to 7 for the Olympics if necessary. FILA has no chance to reinstate weight classes at the Olympics if we don?t already have them for the world championships.

    What I want to do in this article, is give some of my thoughts on weight cutting, both now and in the past, but before I do that, I would just like to share some ?old school? weight cutting stories from the past, to give you the perspective that I am coming from.

    Starting Easy. Getting Harder

    When I first came to the University of Iowa, I had never really cut much weight. My freshman year, at the start of the season, I made the starting lineup at 126 pounds. The most I had ever weighed at the start of the season was 135 pounds, and at the beginning of the year in college, they give a three pound weight allowance. I was usually only one or two pounds over weight after every practice, making weight was very easy.

    However, I was a growing boy, and as the season progressed, every week I kept getting bigger and bigger until the week before the Big Ten tournament I weighed 141 pounds. At the NCAA?s and at the Big Ten?s, you have to make scratch weight. All of a sudden, I was 15 pounds over. At the beginning of the year, I only had to cut 6 pounds, but at the end of the year I was wrestling at the same weight, but had to cut 15 pounds. I was not used to cutting weight, and it was very hard for me to make weight for both the Big Tens and the NCAA?s.

    At the NCAA?s, after the second round, I was 7 1/2 pounds overweight. I had never cut more than 6 pounds in one workout. At the time, you could weigh-in either that night or the next morning. I had about 3 hours to make weight, which should have been plenty of time.

    Sleeping with Gable

    I worked out for about an hour and lost about five pounds, and then I mentally broke, and decided to make weight the next morning. I went and drank a quart of gatorade and showered up, thinking I?d just weigh in the next morning. I knew I had to avoid Gable and the other coaches, or they would make me make weight that night.

    With about 45 minutes left to weigh-in, Gable found out I was planning on making weight the next morning and he quickly grabbed me and said your making weight tonight. He got me in the sauna, (he was in his street clothes) and got me doing all sorts of exercises. When time ran out, I was still 1/4 pound over the weight. I had to make weight the next morning, and Gable didn?t let me out of his sight, making me spend the night in his room.

    I made weight the next morning and went on to place second that year in the NCAA?s. That would just be the first of many times I broke cutting weight. That summer, I would cut from 144 pounds down to 125.5 pounds to make the world team and wrestle in the world championships. Making weight that summer and the next year in college would prove to be very difficult, and very tough mentally. I probably broke mentally about four or five times that summer, and here are a couple of those stories.

    Randy?s Mental Breakdown at the Drowning Pool

    It was a hot, humid summer day in early July in Iowa City, about two weeks before the world team trials. I weighed 138.5 pounds before practice. That was 13 pounds over. Coach Gable was having a cookout at his house that night, with the team and friends and boosters all coming. Gable knew I was struggling with my weight, and he told me I couldn?t come to the party until I got my weight down to 130 pounds.

    After going through the wrestling practice, I weighed 132 1/2. It was about 100 degrees out, and very humid, and I put on my plastics and went for a run around Iowa City?s Finkbine golf course. About half way around the course, I was really hot and really thirsty, and I broke mentally. I pulled off my plastics and the rest of my gear except for my shorts, and tried to cut back across the golf course to walk back to the gym. When I got by the clubhouse, I saw the swimming pool. I was so hot and thirsty, that I jumped into the pool to cool off. I was so thirsty, that I just stuck my head under water and drank what seemed like a gallon of pool water.

    Only after I drank my fill, did I look up and realize that mounted on the wall was a drinking fountain, with ice-cold, clean drinking water. I never did make 130 that day, but Gable let me come to the cookout that night anyway. As I sipped on my first Miller Lite that night, it not only tasted great and was less filling, but a thought ran through my head. You know, that pool water tasted even better than this Miller Lite.

    A few weeks later, out in Squaw Valley, California, I had to make scratch weight four days in a row, to make the world team. Making weight was so hard, that every day after I made weight I honestly didn?t even care if I won my matches. I remember vividly thinking, well if I lose I don?t have to make weight again. Somehow, I managed to make weight all four days, and when I faced 1976 Olympian Joe Corso on the final day, I had pinned all of my opponents up until then.

    After struggling hard to make weight four days in a row, I went out and got pinned by Joe Corso in 12 seconds in the first match in a two out of three. I remember thinking, man, I cut all this weight for 4 straight days and then get pinned in 12 seconds. I thought no way did I lose all this weight and work so hard to be the alternate. After the last weigh-ins were over, it suddenly seemed very important again to win. That afternoon I went out and won 11-7 and then pinned Corso to make the team. I broke many times that summer, pulling off my sweats and dipping my head in pools and streams up in the mountains, but in the end it made me a lot mentally tougher. After that, I became a much better weight cutter, and I learned a few lessons from the King of the Cutter himself, Bruce Kinseth.

    The King of the Cutters

    My sophomore year in college, I wrestled over half my matches at 134 pounds, but the second half cut down to 126. It was a big cut for me, and Bruce Kinseth (incidentally the brother of NASCAR champion Matt Kenseth), the self proclaimed King of the Cutters took me under his wing and showed me how it was done. Kinseth was in phenomonal shape, and at 6 feet was very tall and skinny for a 150 pounder. I had never seen anyone who could sweat like Kinseth. He could easily lose ten pounds in just one hour. At the time, I could only lose five or six pounds in an hour. Bruce?s philosophy which he gave to me was ?You can?t cut weight on an empty stomach.? What he meant by that was that he would rather be 12 over and full, than 10 over and hungry.

    Bruce would come in to practice the day before a meet 11 or 12 pounds over, and he would work out for an hour and 15 minutes and get down to weight. Then he would go eat a big dinner and drink liquids and he would come back that night 10 or 11 pounds over again, work out and lose it all, and then show up 6-10 pounds over the next day about an hour before weigh-ins. He would lose the weight and then gain back between 10 and 13 pounds before his match that night five hours later. I could only do about half of that, and was amazed at Kinseth?s ability to lose and gain weight.

    One day about two hours before weigh-ins, I was farther over than Kinseth. I was 6 1/2 over, and Bruce was five pounds over. I was all bummed out being so far over, and Kinseth said, ?Lewboo, will it make you feel any better if I drink a couple pounds of water so I?m farther over than you?? I said ?Yeah it would.? Bruce then went and drank two pounds of water, and got back on the scale. He was 7 pounds over. 35 minutes later, Bruce was on weight. It took me an hour and 20 minutes to lose my 6 1/2 pounds.

    That year (1979) Bruce and I were selected to wrestle in the All-Star meet in Corvallis, Oregon. We had just wrestled in two duals meets that weekend at Michigan and Michigan State. Bruce and I both wrestled up a weight in bot of those duals. Afterwards, we drove to Chicago and were eating and drinking liquids the whole way. We then flew to Oregon and arrived on Sunday night. We were scheduled to weigh-in on Tuesday afternoon. They were giving a five pound weight allowance for the meet, and when we arrived in Oregon I weighed 143 pounds, and Bruce weighed 174 pounds.

    Bruce was 19 pounds over the 5 pound allowance. He weighed more than the 167 pounders. Bruce?s body was full of liquids, and he lost 14 pounds in one workout. The next day, in the morning, Bruce and I worked out, I got down to 3 over, and Bruce got down to 2 over. We then had a big lunch, and went to practice later that afternoon. Bruce was 11 over, and I was 9 3/4 pounds over. Weigh-ins weren?t scheduled until noon on Tuesday, so I was in good shape.

    However, all the other wrestlers were very close to weight, and they all wanted to weigh-in after practice, and not have to the next day. Bruce and I both agreed to it. Bruce worked out for an hour and 15 minutes, and made weight, losing 11 pounds. Less than 24 hours earlier he had been 19 pounds over. I lost my 9 3/4 pounds, but it took me 2 hours and 45 minutes, and I was hurting. Once again, Bruce had shown why he was called the King of the Cutters. Bruce and I both won the NCAA?s that year, and Bruce pinned everyone he wrestled at the Big Ten?s and the NCAA?s, earning the Outstanding Wrestler Award, along with a tremendous amount of respect. Three years later, Bruce would win the U.S. Open at 180.5 pounds, beating Dave Schultz in the finals.

    Another big 150 pounder that Iowa had around that time was two-time NCAA champion Chuck Yagla, who once missed making weight at the U.S. Open at 149.5 pounds by a quarter of a pound. Chuck then wrestled at 163, and had to cut weight the second day of the tournament to make 163. He still won the tournament.

    Why cut weight?

    Most wrestlers cut weight because they don?t want to have to compete against bigger wrestlers. Some want to be that bigger wrestler. For most wrestlers, they cut to give themselves the best chance to win. Some do it for the team. Some do it to make the team, and some do it to avoid a specific opponent.

    Troy Steiner was the defending NCAA champion his senior year at 142 pounds, and was undefeated and ranked number 1. For the team he cut down to 134 pounds so Lincoln Mclravy could come out of redshirt and cut to 142 pounds. Lincoln ended up winning the NCAA?s at 142, while Troy Steiner ended up third at 134, losing to Cary Kolat in the semifinals. The next year, Darryl Weber was Iowa?s 158 pounder for the first half of the season. Gable pulled Joe Williams out of redshirt, and Weber cut down to 142 to make the team and become an All-American. Two years later, Weber would win the NCAA?s at 167 pounds.

    When I did cut weight in college, I wanted to keep my size and strength, and I tried to weigh as close to my normal weight by the time I stepped out on the mat to compete. Back under the old rules, I believe that as a team, Iowa had the advantage over other teams because we were able to recover and gain our size back faster than other teams. My sophomore year of college, I won the NCAA?s at 126 pounds, and when I wrestled in the finals I weighed 142 pounds. The next year, when I won at 134 pounds, I weighed 143 pounds before the finals.

    For the mental aspect of cutting weight, wrestling against John Azevedo, I felt like I was a full weight class bigger than him when we stepped out on the mat. John had wrestled at 118 pounds the year before, and I just knew in my heart that I was going to be way too big for him. We were both in great shape, but I ended up wearing him out in the third period and won 20-14, because of my size. If I did cut weight, I wanted it to help my mental preparation, not hurt it.

    Throughout my career, whenever I cut a lot of weight, I used to believe I could recover and win by being bigger, and stronger, which I talked about in my article ? Mind Games?, which I wrote last year. If I wasn?t cutting weight, I would use that to think that my opponent would be too sucked down to beat me. To me, cutting weight was mostly mental. When I first started cutting weight, I wasn?t very good at it, and I broke several times, but later I got better at it, and it made me a lot tougher mentally. However, if I had it to do over again, I would always move up a weight when in doubt.

    Some of the most legendary weight cutters that I know of did just as well when they moved up a weight class, some when they moved up several. Gene Mills won Tibilisi at 114.5, and was a legendary weight cutter. He later got fat and happy, and still made a world team at 136.5, and won the Midlands at 142 pounds. Melvin Douglas cut hard to make 180.5 and 16 years later took Steve Mocco to overtime at heavyweight. Bruce Kinseth won the US Open at 180.5, Mark Churella moved up two weight classes in one year at the NCAA?s and won his third title. Rick Sanders did just as good at 125.5 as he did at 114.5. Looking at the careers of many great wrestlers, they almost all do well when they outgrow a weight class and don?t make that huge cut.

    In 1989, I cut to 136.5 for the last time, and I felt like I was going to die. After that, I moved up to 149.5 for good. While I never made a world team at 149.5, I did beat several world medalists and a world champion twice at that weight. I wish I had gone up to 149.5 sooner, rather than later. Weight cutting has caused many wrestlers to quit the sport too soon. If I had it to do over again, after 1984 I would have taken two years off to party and lift weights, and then gone 149.5, rather than cutting to 136.5 again. So, all you young wrestlers out there, leave the big weight cutting to us ?Old School? idiots, and don?t try this at home, remember we were trained professionals.

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    Default Re: I came across this article


    I've read this before. I found the part about Kinseth particularly interesting.

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    I used to have this saved to my computer before my hard drive shit the bed this summer. Thanks for digging it back up, quality Lewboo story.
    RIP Jacob Schlottke - 1984-2011

    "If Cornell finishes ahead of Iowa with five all americans I'll jump into the Des Moines River after finals." -Herkey#1 8/16/12

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    Ya gotta love Lewis..."I would have taken 2 years off to party and lift weights"

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    Default Re: Randy Lewis Stories: Great Reads

    I came across the E-mail I got from John Rizzuti that contains basically all the Lewis stories save for that one. Here's the first one.

    By Randy Lewis
    All Rights Reserved

    In the fall of 1969, Jim Brandt, the gym teacher at Meadowbrook Grade School in Rapid City, South Dakota announced that in six weeks all students were going to take the President?s Physical Fitness Test. He posted the school records for each event. He told all of the 5th graders to try and pick out one record and see if any of us could beat it.

    I saw that the school record for chin-ups was 18. I tried to see how many I could do. I did 12! When I went home that day, I told my dad about it. He said, ?Why don?t you try doing 12 every day for a week, and then the next week, do 13 every day and then the next week do 14 every day until you get up to 18.?

    I listened to him, and by the time of the fitness test, I could do 18 chin-ups. I tied the school record.

    I also started wrestling that year for the first time. I became the school champion at the lightest weight class of 65 pounds. I knew only three moves, the double leg, half nelson, and the stand up. Jim Brandt and my dad, Larry Lewis took a bunch of us kids to the AAU Age-Group kid?s regionals to qualify for the state tournament. In my first official tournament, I went 5-0 and won the regional. From there it was on to the state tournament.

    As I warmed up with the other wrestlers before the tournament started, I was in awe of competing against the best kids in the state. Some of them had been wrestling for three or four years. They had medals on their jackets, too.

    I went and told my dad that some of these kids looked tough with their medals. With all their experience, I didn?t think I could win. My dad said ?They might look tough, but I?ll bet none of them can do 18 chin-ups like you can.?

    He also told me not to think of them as the best kids in the state. He said what if they were from Rapid City, and they went to Meadowbrook Grade School, and what if they lived right next door to us? If you couldn?t beat them, then you wouldn?t be Meadowbrook school champion, and you wouldn?t be the toughest kid on your own block. He said, ?you are the toughest kid on the block aren?t you??

    I smiled, and said, ?I sure am!?

    Before my first match, I asked my opponent, a kid named Dan Blye, if this was his first state tournament. He said that last year he got second place. Feeling a little more nervous, I asked him how many chin-ups he could do. When he said 16, I felt better.

    Knowing I was stronger than he was convinced me that I could overcome his experience, and beat him. I can vividly remember thinking that if he lived in Rapid City, if he went to my grade school, and if he lived next door to me, I could beat him. I knew I was the toughest kid on the block.

    When the referee blew the whistle, I immediately shot in on a double-leg and would not let go. The matches then were two 2-minute periods, both starting on the feet. I ended up winning the match 4-1, getting both takedowns, and losing a point for choking.

    I had five more matches that day, and I won them all by scores of 4-1, or 4-2, or 4-3. In every match I got points against me for locking hands or choking. I got every takedown and I would not let go once I got on top.

    Before every match, I asked my opponent how many chin-ups he could do. Not one could do 18, like I could do. I also remembered to think about every match, not as if I was going up against the best kids in the state, but I brought them back in my mind to Rapid City. To Meadowbrook grade school, and all the way right next door. To my block.

    At the end of the day, not only was I the South Dakota State champion at 60 pounds, but I was still the toughest kid on the block.

    The next year, I went on to repeat as state champion at 65 pounds. From there, it was on to my first national tournament in Miles City, Montana. While I was warming up I saw a mean-looking kid with a crew cut about my size.

    I went up and said hello and asked him what weight class he was wrestling. He said he was at 65 pounds and he was going to easily win the tournament. He said he was a two-time state champion from Wyoming and had never lost a match.

    I told him I was a two-time state champion from South Dakota, and I had never lost either. He said he was going to easily beat me, and I had never had any kid tell me that before. I figured he must really be tough to go around telling other kids he was going to whip them. (This was the days before Muhammed Ali.)

    I went over to the brackets to see who I had to wrestle, and wouldn?t you know it, I had the two-time state champion from Wyoming. Truth be told, I was scared. Then I asked the kid how many chin-ups he could do? When he said he could do 18, I smiled.

    By now, I had set the Meadowbrook school record with 20 chin-ups. I knew I was stronger than the kid from Wyoming was. I remembered that if he were from South Dakota, if I couldn?t beat him, I wouldn?t be a two-time state champion. What if he was from Rapid City, and went to Meadowbrook grade school? What if he lived on the same block as me?

    If I couldn?t beat him, I wouldn?t be the toughest kid on the block. Well, I got fired up and went out and whipped the kid from Wyoming 16-0, on the way to winning the tournament. Not only was I now a national champion, but I was still the toughest kid on the block.

    It was this mindset that I continued to have great success, winning national titles at every age-group and winning the NCAA?s as a sophomore and making the world team as a true freshman. That took me to January 1980.

    That was my junior year in college. In the middle of the college season, I went to Russia to wrestle in the toughest tournament in the world, the Tbilisi Tournament. This meet is considered tougher than the world championships or the Olympics, because so many Russians entered. The Russians at the time as they are now, were considered the best freestyle wrestlers in the world.

    At the time, I was 20 years old, and wrestled at 136.5 pounds. Gene Mills and myself were the only two collegiate wrestlers to make this trip. At the time, I was a junior in college and thought I was the best wrestler in college at any weight.

    I was the only collegiate wrestler at that time who had made both the world team and had won a NCAA title. While Mills was also a NCAA champion, he had not yet made a world team. I considered myself to be a better wrestler than Gene Mills.

    What I saw from Gene Mills on this trip totally astounded me. ?Mean Gene the Pinning Machine? as he became known, went on a tear. Wrestling at 114.5 pounds, Mills went 8-0 in the Tbilisi tournament, with 7 pins. In the finals, he was ahead 18-0 when they cautioned the Russian out of the match for stalling. I went 0-3 against the Russians and 5-0 against other foreigners on this trip.

    Mills was pinning Russians right and left. How was he doing it, I asked myself? He was getting really psyched up before each match, saying I?m going to pin this Russian, I?m going to tear him up, nobody can go the distance with me.

    I remember thinking, these are the Russians he is talking about, the best wrestlers in the world. How can he think he can pin them and beat them so easily? I thought, I am better than Gene, why is he pinning these Russians, and I am losing to them.

    And then it hit me.

    Mills was pinning these Russians and I wasn?t for the simple reason that he believed he would pin them. I was thinking, these are the best wrestlers in the world, how can I beat them? After the tournament, I remember thinking that if Gene Mills can pin these Russians, then so can I.

    A few months later, the United States and the Soviet Union had a dual meet in my hometown, Rapid City, South Dakota. I was picked to wrestle for the United States team against the best Russian wrestler at 136.5 pounds, Victor Alexeev, a two-time world champion.

    At the time, my record against the Russians was 0-5. Back in my hometown, my dad and all my friends all asked how I thought I could do against the Russian. I told them all I was going to pin him. They all said Randy, ?how can you say you are going to pin the Russian? He is the best in the world, and you have never beaten a Russian.?

    I told them, ?Last night I looked through my old high school scrapbooks, and I counted all the matches I wrestled here in Rapid City in high school. I was 50-0 with 48 pins, and I won the other 2 matches by scores of 12-0 and 23-2. That?s what I do in Rapid City is pin people.?

    And then I looked at my dad and told him, ?Dad, tomorrow night, I am not going to be wrestling the best wrestler in the world. I?m going to be wrestling another kid who may have grown up in Rapid City, and may have gone to Meadowbrook grade school, and may have lived right next door to me, and tomorrow night we are going to see who really is the toughest kid on the block.?

    Over 7,000 fans showed up the next night to watch the dual meet between the United States and the Soviet Union. The Russians won the first 3 matches before I stepped on the mat against Victor Alexeev. They had the momentum going their way.

    Two minutes later, when I threw Alexeev on his back, I heard the loudest roar I had ever heard, only to be eclipsed 20 seconds later when the referee called the fall. With victories by Lee Kemp, Chris Campbell, Ben Peterson, and Larry Bielenberg (over 2-time Olympic champion Ivan Yarygin), the United States scored our first-ever dual meet victory over the Soviet Union.

    My father, Larry Lewis organized the event, and former USA Wrestling Executive Director and now head of the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC), Jim Scherer has said it is still the most successful USA?Russia dual meet he had ever seen.

    After the meet, I hugged my dad and told him I was still THE TOUGHEST KID ON THE BLOCK.
    RIP Jacob Schlottke - 1984-2011

    "If Cornell finishes ahead of Iowa with five all americans I'll jump into the Des Moines River after finals." -Herkey#1 8/16/12

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    Default Re: Randy Lewis Stories: Great Reads

    ideamark has the match referenced in this story on his Lewboo highlight tape.

    Mind Games.
    Randy Lewis on wrestling?s mental edge.
    By Randy Lewis


    n my first article, The Toughest Kid On The Block, I told the story of how I was able to get mentally ready to compete and believe in myself, even when facing the best wrestlers in the world. One thing I was always aware of, even in fifth grade, was that before you step out on the mat, you have to give yourself at least one good reason to believe that you can win.

    Also, the more reasons you can find to believe that you can win, the easier it becomes to win. Throughout my wrestling career, I always tried to give myself as many reasons to win as I could. For the first eleven years of my career, this was very easy for me to do. For the next couple of years, it became much more difficult.

    When I first started wrestling in fifth grade, I was able to win for two reasons, because I could do more pull-ups than my opponents could, and because I thought I was the toughest kid on my block. After that, I continued to win, and my reasons for winning became more varied.

    In my mind, there are three things you need to be successful in wrestling. They are strength, technique and conditioning. Fortunately, all three are areas where anyone can get better. Anyone with the desire can get in better shape, they can get stronger, and they can improve their technique. What I set out to do, to be successful every time I wrestled, was knowing that I was in better shape, physically stronger, and had better technique and skills than anyone I wrestled.

    It was easy to believe I could win when I had the advantage in all three areas. The only way to get that advantage was to go to wrestling camps, lift weights, and wrestle and train as hard as possible. In high school, I ran cross-country, so when the season started, I was already in great shape. When I wrestled, I wrestled at an extremely high pace that few others could match.

    Coming from South Dakota, I spent much of the summer competing in tournaments against the best kids in the country. I went to camps learning from the top coaches ? learning early how to win. I believed in myself, and was on my way to a very successful career.

    By the time I entered the University of Iowa, I experienced success at every level. I had won five AAU age-group national titles, the USWF Junior Nationals, three high school state titles, and an Espoir World Championship.

    At Iowa, the success continued. My true freshman year I placed second in the NCAA?s, and that summer went on to make the world team, beating five former world team members in the process. My sophomore and junior years I went undefeated against collegiate competition and won back-to-back NCAA titles.

    My junior year in college, I also made the 1980 Olympic Team, but was unable to compete because of the boycott. I am not telling you all of this to brag, (well, maybe a little), but to let you know how confident I had become in my abilities. This confidence came because I had always stepped out on the mat knowing for certain that I was more prepared than my opponents were.

    I stayed in great shape year round, and had spent years working with the best coaches and training with the best workout partners in the country. Like my dad told me when I was young, the more things that you do right and the fewer things wrong the better your chances of success.

    Having done everything I could to prepare myself for success, it was very easy for me to step out on the mat with confidence. The only time I did not totally believe in myself was against the Russians, and I finally got over that hump, which I wrote about in the article The Toughest Kid on the Block.

    Basically, I had spent my entire wrestling career winning almost every time I competed. My confidence was at an all-time high. This was a big reason for my success. Heading into my senior year of college, I was in great shape, and full of confidence.

    After winning the super-tough Midlands tournament for the 3rd time, I went into January of 1981 undefeated against collegiate competition for three years. I was ready to win my third straight NCAA title. I was wrong. I would not win another tournament in the next two years.

    In January of that year, in a dual meet against NCAA champion Jim Gibbons of Iowa State, I suffered a severely dislocated elbow. (The match has been shown on CSTV repeatedly and is sickening to watch.) It was a brutal injury. I ended up wrestling in the Big Ten Tournament (placing second) and the NCAA Championships placing 7th that year. Over the next two years, I wrestled in several tournaments, but I did not win any of them. I was shattered. In tatters.

    I had a series of injuries including knees, back, shoulders and more. Over that two-year period, I only had one phase where I was able to work out for a month straight without taking at least one week off. It seemed like every time I competed, I had only been on the mat for a week or two before the whistle blew. I had believed in myself and won in the past because I had always been totally prepared. I had never been injured and was always in great shape.

    I am not using these two years of injuries as an excuse, but rather to show how I was not mentally strong. I did not believe in myself enough to win, when everything was not perfect.

    I didn?t lose in the NCAA tournament my senior year because I dislocated my elbow, and I didn?t lose every tournament I wrestled in for the next two years because of other injuries. I lost because I was not mentally tough enough to believe in myself. During that time, when I stepped on the mat I doubted myself, thinking how can I win when I have only been on the mat for two weeks in the last two months.

    I doubted my shape, my wrestling skills, and my mental toughness. I forgot to give myself reasons to believe I could win. I hoped I would win instead of knowing that I would win. I had forgotten how to win. I needed to learn how to win again. During this time my legendary coach Dan Gable brought me into his office.

    Gable told me I was too good of a wrestler and too much of a winner to be losing like I was. I told him I never felt like I was more prepared than my opponents were because I was constantly coming off of injuries.

    Gable said that was just an excuse. He said I needed to go into my matches with reasons to win not reasons to lose. He was right.

    In 1984, before the final wrestleoffs to make the Olympic team, I had injured my knee. For three weeks before the trials, all I could do was ride the bikes and lift weights. I didn?t know if my knee was going to be okay or not. Gable told me not to worry about my knee. He knew me well enough to know that if I tested my knee and it hurt, I would lose.

    At this point in my career, it was all mental. I did not test my knee at all, knowing that if it hurt in practice I would lose. I went into the trials just assuming that my knee would hold up, and if there was pain I probably wouldn?t feel it in a match as I would in practice. I went into the final trials giving myself reasons to win, not reasons to lose.

    I was still in great shape, my strength was real good, my wrestling skills and techniques were great, and I had been a winner my whole life. Three weeks off the mat shouldn?t matter. My knee held up fine, and I went on to make the Olympic Team and win the gold medal that year. The trials were the first time that I was able to win coming off of an injury, something I was not mentally tough enough to do before.

    Gable had helped me become mentally tough so I believed could win. I learned that you always need to give yourself a reason to win, and for over two years I had not done that. I had found reasons to lose instead of reasons to win. I?d like to finish this article by telling one more story about a reason to win.

    In 1988, in the finals of the Olympic Trials, wrestling against current OSU head coach and six-time world champion John Smith, I injured my knee, completely tearing my PCL. Five months later, in December, I got back on the mat. I had been training for about a week when USA wrestling called and asked me if I wanted to wrestle in a dual meet against the Russians in Tempe, Arizona on Dec. 30th.

    I asked what I would have to weigh, and they told me 143 pounds. I weighed 163 at the time but I said okay. I was to wrestle the Olympic silver medallist, Stepan Sarkisian who I had wrestled twice before, going one and one.

    The day before weigh-inns, I was eleven pounds over. I saw Sarkisian and he looked huge. Sometimes at these Russian duals they are not real strict on weigh-ins, so I asked if we had to make weight for sure. I double checked with the officials and told them to make sure the Russians all have to make weight too. I had to work real hard to make weight the next day. Real, real hard.

    At noon on the 29th, we weighed in. I stepped on the scale and weighed 143. Sarkisian stepped on the scale and weighed 150. The officials let it go. I was pissed. I couldn?t believe they made me lose all that weight and let Sarkisian weigh in seven pounds over.

    The Russians were laughing at me. My face was all sucked in and I was totally dehydrated.

    I made up my mind right then that I may be all sucked down right now, but tomorrow night I was going to be bigger and stronger than Sarkisian. That would be my reason to win. In the next 30 hours I put back on 16 pounds, and I weighed 159 before I stepped on the mat to wrestle the Russian.

    Sarkisian was the biggest, strongest 136-pounder I had ever seen, but by the time we stepped on the mat before our match I was bigger. And stronger. And tougher. And meaner. When we lined up before the match, Sarkisian looked at me and said, ?Randy, today you are very big, yesterday you were very small.? My face was full, and my arms and legs had regained their size also.

    I looked at Sarkisian and flexed my bicep and said ?Yes, today I am very big and very strong, I weigh 159 pounds, very big.? I had just given myself my reason to win. We had a wild match with the lead changing three times. We were both exhausted near the end of the match when with 20-seconds left and Sarkisian leading 5-4, I got in on a bear hug. Sarkisian tried a headlock and it ended up being a slip throw.

    That year the rules were no points for a slip throw, but you got to stay on top and attempt a turn. With five seconds left I put every ounce of energy I had into a gut wrench against the strongest guy I had ever wrestled. On that night, I was bigger, and I was stronger, and I got the gut wrench for two points and won 6-5. I still had enough energy to jump up and raise my arms to the screaming crowd of over 6000.

    I will tell you this; it was one of the most satisfying wins of my career.
    RIP Jacob Schlottke - 1984-2011

    "If Cornell finishes ahead of Iowa with five all americans I'll jump into the Des Moines River after finals." -Herkey#1 8/16/12

  7. #7
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    By Randy Lewis


    n no other sport do the rules change as often and drastically as they do in international wrestling. Football, baseball, golf, track and field, soccer, boxing, and almost every other sport are consistent with their rules, year-in and year-out. They may make few changes, tweak some minor rules every now and then, mostly with the intent to increase scoring and fan interest.

    College wrestling?s rules have stayed pretty much the same over the last thirty years, with the biggest changes being the technical fall, and the manner in which overtime matches are decided. Takedowns are still two points, near falls are still two or three points and the escape is one point.

    FILA, the International Governing Body for wrestling, however, has made numerous rule changes over the last twenty-five years that have drastically changed the nature of our sport. Recently, these changes have made the sport dull and boring and have taken away the true combativeness and physicality of wrestling as it was meant to be. Can you say clinch?

    Having been around freestyle wrestling at a world-class level since 1977, I have witnessed many of these changes, and I believe most of them have hurt our great sport. I have not followed Greco-Roman wrestling closely, so when I refer to the rules for the rest of this article, I will be talking about freestyle only. I came on the scene in freestyle wrestling in 1977 when I won the Espoir World Championships. So, I will start with the rules since then.

    With this article I?ll discuss the rules and changes that FILA has made over the years and my thoughts on how they affected wrestling. Before I do that, however, let me tell you what I feel wrestling should be.

    Wrestling should be a test of character. It should be about strength, technique, speed, conditioning and will. Wrestlers should be required to wrestle hard all the time, and to attack and score points the whole match, even while ahead.

    The goal in wrestling should be to pin your opponent, just like the goal in boxing is the knockout. Like boxing, wrestling is a one-on-one battle to find out who is THE MAN. Fans in boxing expect the fighters to throw punches the whole fight. Boxers usually hold up to that standard. Those that don?t fight exciting fights, don?t make the big money. In wrestling, the rules have changed so much, that taking risks to score points, especially with the lead, is just not worth it anymore.

    There was a time when it was. That was then. This is now. This is not wow.

    From 1977 until 1980, I believe the rules were at their best. Matches were nine minutes long, with three 3-minute periods. There were no technical falls. Points were awarded for stalling, with the first caution being a warning, the 2nd and 3rd were penalized a point, the 4th caution was two points, and the 5th caution ended the match. There were two points for exposure, and if you held you opponent on his back for 5 seconds you were awarded an additional point.

    The officials did not let you bury your head or back up at all. The fall was the objective. Wrestlers were encouraged by the rules to work for the fall. During this era, throws in freestyle were much more common than today. Even with a lead, the officials made you continue to attack, either by shooting or attempting upper body throws.
    In a 9-minute match, with points awarded for passivity, you could afford to get behind and still win. Strength, conditioning, and technique were all important. Being able to go hard for nine minutes was important, and you had to be able to continue to score throughout the match. The scoring was incredibly high between the best wrestlers in the world, especially when compared to the scoring in the late eighties and early nineties.

    In 1979, Andre Metzger wrestled two defending Olympic champions at the world championships in San Diego. He hammered Ying Yang from Korea 19-15, and lost 13-9 to Vladimer Yumin from the Soviet Union. Later, there were two defending Olympic champs going at it as Yumin won 27-3. Russ Hellickson lost the gold medal match 13-12 at the same meet.

    In the world championships in 1978, as a 19-year old freshman, I lost a match by fall with one second left in the match. I was getting pounded 30-16 at the time. Matches like that were common, because of the rules and the way they were applied. Tournaments were round-robin with bad marks, which were okay except they did not produce a championship match, which I believe is vital for wrestling to keep its fans interested in what?s going on.

    Weigh-ins are at scratch weight. You made weight every morning, two hours before competition started. Having to make weight daily put an emphasis on conditioning and mental toughness. However, as the rules are now, I like having only one weigh-in the night before competition.

    During these years, the officials did not give enough time on top to attempt more than one turn. Since a leg lace took too long to lock up, it was rarely used. Gut wrenches were not used very much either, because unless you hit a high bridge, they were scored two and two. There was too much risk and too little reward.

    In 1981, all that changed. Starting that year, the matches were shortened to six minutes. Wrestlers were put down in par terre instead of penalized points for passivity. And, points were awarded for going off the mat under attack. At the time, being put down for passivity instead of being penalized a point was a good idea.

    It worked for a while. Most of the best wrestlers became good enough on top and could turn their opponents. By the year 2000, wrestlers had worked on par terre so much that it was becoming increasingly difficult to turn a good wrestler. When a good wrestler had the lead, he could stall as much as he wanted to if he was good at defense.

    The change to six minutes was intended to increase the action, but it is my belief that the opposite occurred. With the six-minute matches, and with no points awarded for stalling, good wrestlers were no longer forced to attack and to continue to try and score points.

    Whoever scored first had a much bigger advantage than under the old rules, and a good wrestler with the lead would no longer take any risk attempting to score. In the eighties, the officials let the wrestlers keep a lower stance with their head down in a better defensive stance, without calling passivity.

    Par terre wrestling became much more important. Technical falls were almost all because of turns on the mat, with gut wrenches and leg laces becoming common between mismatches. But the best against the best was often decided with one turn, leading to many matches won by scores of one or two to zero.

    Wrestlers could not afford to make one mistake. In the years from 1989-1992, the rules were at their absolute worst. There was absolutely no penalty for passivity, no points were awarded for it, and you were not put down in par terre for passivity.

    Scoring hit an all-time low. At the world team final trials once, five straight matches in the finals were 1-0. Many of these points scored were on fleeing the mat calls, which became very important in the eighties. Two good wrestlers would just maintain position, waiting for the other wrestler to make a mistake. Eventually, one of them would attempt a shot on the edge and push his opponent out of bounds. These calls were totally up to the discretion of the officials. If they liked you it was a point if they didn?t they would not award you the point.

    This is a rule that started in the eighties and continues today. If a wrestler turns and dives out of bounds to avoid a takedown, he should be penalized a point and a caution. However, a wrestler should not be awarded a point and a caution for pushing a wrestler out of bounds instead of trying to finish the shot. To me, the officials are awarding a point for almost scoring on someone out of bounds.

    This is like if football rules say that if you step out of bounds you just need to touch the ball to get credit for a reception. It would be like in basketball if you step out of bounds and throw the shot at the basket it counts as a basket if it just hits the rim.

    Because of the rule changes that FILA continued to make, scoring in the eighties became very difficult, with many of the points between the best wrestlers coming on arbitrary fleeing the mat calls.

    These calls were so inconsistent that the officials were deciding who wins, instead of the wrestlers. Under the old rules if you lost a 13-12 match, you may have a bad call go against you, but you had the opportunity to score enough to offset the call. In the late eighties and early nineties, one point on a shoddy call could be all that was scored in the whole match.

    I push you out, they don?t score it. You push me out, they score it. This happened often. After 1992, they changed the rule so that a wrestler needed to score three points in regulation to win the match. If no wrestler scored three, it would go to a three-minute overtime.

    This did not increase the action, if a wrestler scored one or two points in regulation, then both wrestlers usually shut down, with the wrestler trailing not wanting to risk giving up that critical 3rd point in regulation. This meant that only the boring matches with no scoring went eight or nine minutes.

    If you like watching paint dry, we?ll paint another wall and you can watch it dry for three more minutes. By the late nineties, most good wrestlers had spent a considerable amount of time working on the bottom in the par terre position. With the rules penalizing risk on the feet, and with such good defense in par terre, scoring points was becoming more and more difficult.

    At this point FILA decided to introduce a whole new element to wrestling, the clinch. Good golly, miss molly. Wrestlers had spent the last 20 years learning how to maintain good position and not take risk, and now all of a sudden they were put in a high-risk situation that they had not experienced.

    It seems nobody knew what to do in the clinch. The wrestlers didn?t know how to lock, and they didn?t know how to throw. The officials didn?t know how to make them lock correctly, either. Many world teams and world championships were decided in the clinch, either by the wrestlers in the clinch, or by the officials penalizing one wrestler. Just ask Brandon Slay.

    The confusion and chaos caused by the clinch and the number of matches won and lost in the clinch was unbelievable. It seems nobody liked the clinch, and with good reason. It sucked. Big-time.

    I believe that most great wrestlers want to compete aggressively. They want to score points, and they want to take risks and wrestle hard the whole match. However, first and foremost, they want to win. This is every wrestler?s top priority. Competitors will adapt their style, technique and strategy to whatever the rules dictate to give them the best chance to win.

    If that means taking no risk and winning 1-0 on a push out-of-bounds, they will do it. If it means winning 14-13 in a wild match with a lot of shots and throws and constant attacking, they will do it.

    I believe the rules of engagement for freestyle wrestling in the late 70?s were very good for taking risk and wrestling aggressively throughout the whole match. From the mid 80?s through 2004, taking risks has not paid off, wrestling without risk and making no mistakes has become the norm. One of the most aggressive college wrestlers of all time, Cael Sanderson, had to tone down his attacking style to win a gold medal.

    If he wrestled in the 70?s his finals match probably would have been 17-8 instead of 3-1. Likewise, some of those matchups in the 70?s that were 19-15 would probably be 3-2, and decided in the clinch if they were wrestled today.

    In the late 70?s, with 9-minute matches, strength, conditioning, heart, aggressiveness, and technique were all at a premium. In the last 15 years, strength, technique and defense have been at a premium. I?m old school, and I believe conditioning and aggressiveness should be rewarded, not penalized.

    Today?s wrestlers have had to wrestle under ever changing rules that have not done them justice. Matches that were too short, with too much emphasis on maintaining position have hurt our sport, both for the wrestlers and for the spectators.

    Once again FILA has made major rule changes this year, and while the verdict is not in yet, judging by their past results I doubt these new rules will last very long before their next overhaul.

    In summary, FILA should look at the rules of engagement, during the late 70?s when scoring and action was at an all time high. Today?s wrestlers would love to wrestle under those rules, where both wrestlers attacked for nine minutes to figure out who is THE MAN, instead of a 1-0 match won by a pushout or a clinch. Wrestlers will adapt to the rules to give themselves the best chance to win, so make the rules the way they were, when your best chance to win was to be in great shape and to attack and score the whole match.

    Do it before freestyle wrestling loses its fans. That day is coming.
    RIP Jacob Schlottke - 1984-2011

    "If Cornell finishes ahead of Iowa with five all americans I'll jump into the Des Moines River after finals." -Herkey#1 8/16/12

  8. #8
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    Great Gable stories here

    The House of Seven Gables
    By Randy Lewis
    All Rights Reserved

    He is, without question, the most famous American wrestler ever. He?s also the most successful college coach in any sport in NCAA history. He won nine straight NCAA Championships and 15 in a 21-year stretch, while serving as a head coach at the University of Iowa. When people find out that I wrestled for, and coached with Dan Gable for 15 years, they always ask the same question. What was Gable like?

    That simple question then becomes several more questions. What was it like to wrestle for Gable? What was it like to wrestle with Gable? How tough was he? What were his practices like? I will try and answer these questions with a few short stories involving the man and the legend, along with my perspectives on him. Hopefully I?ll answer the question, what is Gable like?

    Gable: The Punisher

    It was 1972. I first heard of Dan Gable when I was in 7th grade. People told me that he was the best wrestler in the world. Nobody could beat him. At the time, I was a three-time state AAU age-group champion, and a national AAU age-group champion. My career record at the time was 60-0. I remember thinking, if I was as big as Dan Gable, I could beat him.

    Nineteen years later, I would find out I was wrong. In 1991, I was thirty years old and I wrestled at 149.5 pounds, the same weight-class that Gable won the Olympics (without giving up a single point!) in 1972.

    I wrestled a dual meet against the 1989 world champion Russian, Boris Budaev. I was pounding him 13-4 and ended up sticking him. One week later, I asked Gable if he wanted to wrestle. At the time Gable weighed about 160 and was 41 years old. I was up to about 163. Gable said yes but wanted to warm up a bit. I just sat there and watched him. Gable went through a 45-minute session of drilling and stretching, moving around, getting ready to tangle with yours truly.

    By this time his shirt was drenched. He was ready to go to war. I warmed up in about 30 seconds. I slapped his hand and asked him if he was ready. Gable said, ?go? and I jumped across the mat and threw him with what I would call a Steven Segal-type judo throw and headlock. He went right to his back.

    Two seconds later, Gable scored a reversal. For the next forty-five minutes he tortured me. What he likes to do is put you on your back, bar your arm and torture you. Then he will sort of let you off your back, but he will keep the bar arm with just your shoulder down. Sort of like isometrics, only diabolical. Finally, he will let you go and when you get back on your feet, you can barely feel your right arm.

    Then, he?ll take you down again and start on your left shoulder. Pain must balance. When you finally get back on your feet both shoulders are numb. Your arms are useless. Death is a fleeting moment away.

    After that ?workout? somebody asked me how I did against Gable. I said ?Oh, he beat me about 50-5.? They said ?no way.? I said ?way.? Actually the score was 50-4!

    I?ve spoken with hundreds of people who went one-on-one with Gable in the room and they all say the same thing. Unless you have actually wrestled him, you can not understand what it is like. I have wrestled the best in the world ? having competed against 27 world and Olympic medalists and countless others in practice. Nothing is like wrestling Dan Gable.

    Gable: The Master Psychologist

    My freshman year, I won a close match 13-12 against Bob Logan from Marshalltown, Iowa during our team?s wrestleoffs. One week later, we wrestled in our first competition of the year at a tournament in Minnesota. In the semifinals on the other side of the bracket, a freshman named Ryan Kaufman from the University of Minnesota beat Logan 17-2.

    I was to meet Kaufman in the finals. Gable came up to me before the match to get me fired up. I was a little worried that Kaufman had just beaten someone 17-2 that I only beat 13-12. Gable told me that Kaufman had told him earlier that he should have recruited him (Kaufman) instead of me, and that he was going to beat the hell out of me in the finals to prove it.

    I started getting psyched up, thinking who does Kaufman think he is, saying that to Gable. Telling my coach that he is going to whip me! I ended up getting ahead 10-1 in the second period, then pinning Kaufman.

    It wasn?t until seven years later, in a casual conversation with Gable when Kaufman?s name came up. I asked Gable if he remembered when Kaufman told him that he should have recruited him instead of me. And, that he was going to beat me. Gable thought about it for a second, and then said, ?Oh, Kaufman never said any of that. I just made it up to get you psyched up for that match.?

    Gable: The Disciplinarian

    Later that season, my freshman year, in a dual meet against Northwestern, I came out and pinned my opponent in about 20 seconds. After the match Gable told me ?Lewis, you didn?t even break a sweat, you need to get a workout in.? I laughed and went over and sat down on the bench to watch the rest of the matches. A few matches later, Gable saw me on the bench and said ?Lewis, what are you doing, I thought I told you to get a workout in.?

    I said, ?I thought you were joking.? He wasn?t. I said, ?Gable, pinning people is what I do. If you are going to punish me for pinning someone, you are going to take away my motivation to pin. You don?t want to do that do you?? Gable thought about it, frowned and then said, ?Well, okay, I don?t want to ruin your motivation.?

    Believe me. That was the only time I got out of a workout.

    Our conditioning was always different, and we never knew how many sprint laps or how many of anything we were going to do. When Gable was the Olympic coach, many wrestlers from around the country came and trained in Iowa. During one of our morning conditioning practices, Gable had us doing sprint laps in our gym with a sprint lap being about 300 yards. We would get a short rest after each sprint lap, and then Gable would line us up again and blow his whistle.

    After about the fifth one, former NCAA Champion and world-team member Mike Land asked me how I paced myself during these laps. I said, ?what do you mean?? He said, ?how do you know how fast to run if you don?t know how many laps you are going to run?? I said ?I just run every one as fast as I can. I act like it is the only lap I am going to run.? I had never really thought about it, and it had never even crossed my mind to consider pacing myself.

    Gable: The Motivator

    Just because Gable believed in winning the right way, by attacking and being aggressive and wrestling hard the whole match didn?t always mean his wrestlers would do that. In 1981, in a dual meet against Michigan State, Tim Riley was winning his match but he was getting tired and was backing up.

    The Michigan State wrestler was being more aggressive. Gable didn?t like it. He got right up next to the mat and yelled at the referee that Riley was stalling. He kept putting up his hands like he was warning Riley for stalling. With his own coach calling stalling on him, the referee figured Riley must have been stalling. Gable kept telling the referee to call stalling and the referee kept calling it.

    Riley was eventually disqualified for stalling, and Gable applauded the referee when he cautioned Riley out. Riley told Gable afterwards that he thought he was an ***whole, but the next night Riley wrestled like a Hawkeye should and went on to become a three-time All-American.

    Gable: The Mentor

    In 1983, Riley was struggling, having lost a match by about 14 points to Randy Willingham from Oklahoma State. Ed Banach had lost three times to Mike Mann from Iowa State. Senior Harlan Kistler was also down. Gable decided that these three wrestlers needed something to give them a mental edge.

    He decided to put them through some special workouts. For the last month of the season, Gable would pick all three of them up at 4:00 A.M., four times a week to put them through a workout at 4:30 A.M. This was in addition to the regular two or three times a day that the team was already practicing. Gable told them that they were working out at 4:30 in the morning because they would know that nobody else in the country was doing what they were doing to prepare for the nationals.

    At the NCAA tournament that year, Ed Banach won his third NCAA title, beating Mike Mann in the finals. Tim Riley defeated Randy Willingham to become an All-American. Harlan Kistler finished the season strong and ended up 3rd in the NCAA?s. All of them won the Big Ten?s that year, as Iowa won the Big Ten championships with nine champions out of ten weight classes.

    Years later, I was out of coaching and lived in Phoenix, Arizona. Sometimes when I came home late at night I would call the Steiner brothers, Terry and Troy, and wake them up back in Iowa ? usually around 3:00am. I would then crank out about 100 pushups and I would tell them that a forty-year old just did a 100 and what are they doing right now to get better? They would drop the phone, hit the floor and do 100 pushups each. Only then they would go back to bed. They both won NCAA titles.

    Gable: The Beguiler

    One thing Gable was great at was varying our workouts. You never knew how long the workout was going to last, or what you would do next. Gable also had a different concept of time than the rest of us. A three-minute period often took ten minutes. It didn?t take long in the room to understand that a ?Gable minute? was not sixty seconds.

    In 1984, Gable was named as the Olympic coach for the U.S. Freestyle Team. That year many wrestlers from around the country trained in Iowa.

    I remember at the end of one practice when Gable said, ? Let?s go a three minute period.? Fifteen minutes later, we were still wrestling, when someone yelled out ?Gable, this is bull****, that?s more than three minutes.? That someone was not me ? but he was an Olympic Champion. Gable then said ?I just wanted to see how long we would go before somebody snapped.?

    Gable: The Icon
    When I came to Iowa as a freshman in 1977, I had to ask the other wrestlers what do we call Coach Gable? Do we say Mr. Gable, Coach Gable, Dan, Sir or what? The wrestlers on the team looked at me and said, ?We just call him Gable.? I tell you this because it is significant to understand the relationship that Gable had with his wrestlers. The wrestlers who came to Iowa were among the best in the country. Gable was almost God-like to us, and we were his disciples. We all felt at ease enough to simply call him, Gable.

    I do recall one time however when someone called him something else. In 1990, Gable was giving a speech to our team before a pre-season practice. He said this year?s squad could win the NCAA title but we had to do everything just right. In walks two-time NCAA champion Royce Alger, obviously late, and Gable says, ?Alger, stuff like this, you being late, is why you lost to Melvin Douglas and didn?t make the world team.

    Alger didn?t break stride as we walked towards us and said, ?what?s that, Larry?? Gable had a confused look on his face for a second and then hit him. He lowered his head, shaking it back and forth covering his eyes as he started laughing. Alger beat both Douglas and Kevin Jackson later that year and made the world team. He went on to win a silver medal.

    Gable is sometimes a mystery to some people. I found it easy to get to know him, much harder to fully understand him. It?s funny, but the world is made up of two groups: those who know or think they know Dan Gable. And those who wish they did.
    RIP Jacob Schlottke - 1984-2011

    "If Cornell finishes ahead of Iowa with five all americans I'll jump into the Des Moines River after finals." -Herkey#1 8/16/12

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    Can RealProWrestling Save Wrestling?

    By Randy Lewis
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    s I was walking down the steps at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa before the start of the Big Ten Tournament this past weekend, I ran into an old friend of mine, Mark Churella. I sat down beside Mark and said, ?You know, it has been 26 years since the Big Ten Finals in here in Iowa City. That?s where I witnessed the greatest match I have ever seen.?

    We both knew we were talking about the championship match in 1979 between Mike DeAnna and Mark, which Deanna won by a score of 6-4 in overtime, after a 14-14 tie in regulation. Mark laughed and said, ?I think a better match was two weeks later when I pinned DeAnna in the national finals!?

    I laughed then, and we proceeded to talk about that incredible 14-14, 6-4 overtime finals match. Mark said he had never been more tired in his life. I told him how proud I was of both of them for putting on the greatest performance on a wrestling mat I have ever seen.

    Like an Ali-Frazier heavyweight title fight, there is no shame in losing a great battle. It was only fitting that the best match of the finals this year was between Mark Churella?s son Ryan, and Iowa?s freshman sensation Mark Perry at 165. Both wrestlers competed like champions, with Ryan winning 6-5 on riding time in a terrific match full of great scrambles.

    Just like in 1979, when DeAnna beat Churella, this year?s final?s match brought no shame for being on the losing side. Iowa?s Perry showed much more courage and heart in losing this match than he showed in winning his semifinal match, one in which I felt he did not wrestle like a champion. To me, winning and losing isn?t what determines a champion, it is how you win and lose that really counts. The other final?s match that impressed me was Mack Reiter?s pin over Mark Jayne.

    After the finals, a few ex-wrestlers commented to me about how few points were scored in most of the finals matches, and how it wasn?t as exciting as in past years.

    It has long been my belief, shared by many, many others that scoring and excitement are down in wrestling from what they were in the past. I wondered, is scoring really down, or does it just seem that way. I took it upon myself to do a little research.

    I have researched the total points scored per match from the Big Ten finals from 1976-2005, and the NCAA finals from 1976-2004. I then divided them into 5-year time-frame periods, and figured out the average points scored per match during those same time frames.

    When averaging the scores, I threw out all pins and defaults.

    NCAA finals Points per match Pins

    1976-1980 13.4 6
    1981-1985 12.0 1
    1986-1990 11.2 3
    1991-1995 10.8 3
    1996-2000 8.5 1
    2000-2004 10.5 1

    Big Ten Finals Points per match Pins

    1976-1980 12.2 5
    1981-1985 12.3 6
    1986-1990 11.3 2
    1991-1995 10.0 2
    1996-2000 9.9 0
    2001-2005 8.4 2

    While looking these statistics up, I also came across a couple of other interesting facts. In the NCAA finals, from 1976 through 1986, there were zero matches where no one scored an offensive point in regulation (takedown, reversal, or near fall).

    From 1987 through 1999, there were six matches where nobody scored an offensive point in regulation. From 2000 through 2004, there were nine final?s matches where nobody scored an offensive point in regulation, including five matches in the year 2000 alone.

    In regulation in the 2000 finals, there were 66 points scored in ten matches in regulation, and 25 of those points were scored in Cael Sanderson?s match. That means the other nine matches had 41 points scored in regulation. That?s less than five points per match. In the NCAA finals, from 1978 to 1983, there were ten pins. From 1984 to 1993, there were six pins in the finals, from 1994 through 2004; there were two pins in the finals.

    For those of you who say that the level of competition is greater now, and that is why there are no pins, here is a sampling of some great wrestlers who were pinned in the NCAA finals between 1978 and 1983 includes John Azevedo, Bruce Kinseth, Mike DeAnna, Dave Schultz, and Bruce Baumgartner twice. That dog don?t hunt.

    With this brief statistical analysis of the NCAA finals and the Big Ten finals, I can only conclude what many have long believed, that scoring, pinning, and certainly excitement in college wrestling is down from the past. Even way down.

    Unlike most sports, wrestling does an extremely poor job of keeping statistics. If scoring drops 2% or 10% in football, basketball, baseball, hockey or almost any other sport, those in charge know about the decrease in their sport and they make rule changes to prevent the dramatic drop in scoring.

    Sadly, this is not true in wrestling, either at the international level, or at the collegiate level. While I just took the NCAA and Big Ten finals over the last 30 years, I?m sure that it is probably an accurate picture of the scoring in college wrestling overall during that time period. I have no way to look any further into this, as it is very difficult to find statistics and records in wrestling.

    It looks to me as if scoring in wrestling has dropped over 30 percent in the last 30 years. That does not bode well for the sport?s popularity, does it?

    Do you think anyone in wrestling is aware of this trend? I would venture to say that scoring in freestyle wrestling at the highest levels has fallen at close to 60-70% from its high in the late 70?s. It is my belief that a decrease in scoring and a decrease in pinning means a decrease in excitement.

    What would happen in any other sport, if scoring continued to decrease at anywhere near the rate that it does in wrestling? The powers that be would find a way to increase scoring, not decrease it. Yet the powers that be in wrestling are conjuring up Beach Wrestling to rekindle the excitement. What?s next, grappling Alaskan Brown Bears?

    In one of my previous articles, ?The Rules of Enragement,? I wrote about how FILA wrecked freestyle wrestling. The rules FILA has made over the years have also negatively affected college wrestling, mostly by a trickle-down effect.

    Many of our top college coaches and assistant coaches have wrestled or coached internationally. They bring this style of wrestling back into their college rooms. When high-scoring wrestlers like Stephen Neal and Cael Sanderson come along, to compete at the highest levels in freestyle, they are forced to ?tone it down? in order to win. It is not my intention to go into all the various reasons why scoring and excitement are down in college wrestling, but rather to help with a solution.

    I believe that solution could be RealProWrestling.

    I am not sure what the exact rules are for RealProWrestling, but from what I have heard the matches so far have been high scoring and full of action.

    This is what wrestling needs, at all levels. RealProWrestling can help college wrestling survive and prosper in many other ways besides excitement, and the wrestling community needs to back RPW as much as possible, at all levels.

    I would really like to see RealProWrestling make it. Everyone involved with wrestling should do whatever they can to help RPW. For some, that can mean just watching the matches on television and telling other wrestling fans about it and making sure they watch it too.

    For RealProWrestling to make it, the matches must be high scoring, exciting and full of action. Right now, freestyle wrestling does not fit the bill at all. College wrestling is nowhere near as high scoring and exciting as it was 25-30 years ago either.

    If RPW is not higher scoring and exciting than college wrestling currently is, then it will fail, regardless of how well it is marketed and promoted. I believe the rules that RealProWrestling has come up with will give the wrestlers the chance to wrestle an aggressive, high scoring, exciting match, I just hope today?s wrestlers can do that.

    Here is some unsolicited advice for Toby Willis and Matt Case, the founders of RealProWrestling, and for the wrestlers and coaches that will make or break RPW, and maybe even college wrestling also. Money talks. In both boxing and ultimate fighting the top paid athletes are not just those who win, but those who create excitement. Find a way to reward the most exciting wrestlers, not just the wrestlers who win the most.

    Don?t become a ?feeder? system for FILA and USA wrestling. Have different weight classes than FILA because seven is not enough. And 265-pound weight limit is too light for heavyweights. Make it unlimited, just like the old days. That could lead to future matches between Steve Mocco, Brock Lesnar, and Stephen Neal, among others.

    While FILA feels that shorter matches lead to more action, we found out otherwise. Shorter matches take away the conditioning and ?heart? that is so vital to our sport, and in a shortened match one misstep will decide the winner, thus wrestlers will be afraid to make that mistake.

    Recognize however, that heavyweights are different, and that lighter weights can wrestle longer at a higher pace. Possibly have heavyweights wrestle shorter matches. In boxing, heavyweights have more power, and the fans love to see knockouts, thus heavyweights get paid top dollar. This does not hold true for wrestling, reward those who create action, regardless of weight class.

    Establish a ?world? champion at each weight class. At some point in the future, bring foreigners in to wrestle. I would love to see some of the top foreigners wrestle under rules that reward aggressiveness, conditioning and heart, instead of just maintaining position. I think Toby Willis and Matt Case have done a great job so far in getting RealProWrestling off the ground, and RPW has a great chance to succeed, if our wrestlers will do their jobs and create action and scoring.

    I challenge every wrestler who steps on the mat and takes a paycheck from RealProWrestling to do everything in your power to wrestle in an exciting and aggressive manner. If you cannot do this, do not step on the mat and take their money. In professional boxing, if a fighter tries to protect his lead he is booed by the fans, and penalized by the officials, his manhood is questioned.

    This happened in the recent fight between Oscar De Le Hoya and Felix Trinidad. De Le Hoya tried to run late in the fight with a big lead and the judges gave the fight to Trinidad. RealProWrestlers must learn to have this boxer?s attitude to attack and score the whole match, not just do what it takes to win, which seems to be the current state of wrestling.

    Many of the wrestlers in RPW are assistant coaches in college programs across the country. If RPW succeeds, this will help save college wrestling in the long run. If we can get our college wrestlers to aspire to and emulate RPW?s exciting style, instead of FILA?s screwed up rules, which penalize aggressiveness, our sport can thrive.

    If RPW can succeed, hopefully FILA will adopt many of their rules. As of now it seems as if Americans have virtually no say in international wrestling, maybe RealProWrestling can change that and save wrestling for everybody.

    There is no question that wrestling currently does not get the publicity and exposure that it deserves. College football and basketball head coaches get paid over two million dollars a year, and assistant coaches are also very well paid.

    Bench-warmers in the NBA, NFL, and MLB make millions of dollars a year. I know of no other sport where athletes train harder and need more mental toughness than wrestling. Yet, most of our top wrestlers can barely afford to stay in our sport. There is more money in wrestling now than there used to be, however it is still not enough.

    Many of our best people in wrestling have gotten out of the sport to make their mark in the world in other ways, because they could make more money. With RPW, we have a chance to keep some of these great people in wrestling, both as competitors and coaches.

    Wrestling is at a critical point in time. College programs are being killed, scoring and excitement are down, international weight classes are being dropped, and the outlook is not good. As I look into my crystal ball 15 years into the future, in the year 2020, I see two different possible outcomes for wrestling.

    Scenario One ? The pathetic downfall of wrestling
    In the first scenario, wrestling continues down the path we are on now. RealProWrestling fails, for various reasons, lack of fan support; the wrestlers did not make it exciting, etc. College wrestling is down to 16 teams, with no qualifying tournaments for NCAA?s, and no scholarships, basically club status.

    College coaches are no longer paid, unless they raise the money themselves. At the Olympics in 2020, freestyle and Greco-Roman are combined into one style of wrestling with 2 weight classes. Matches are best of 3 periods of 30 seconds each. If scoreless, they are decided by some sort of clinch in which the winner of the coin toss has (by FILA?s own admission and intent) a 98% chance of winning the period. Sadly, no gold medal matches are shown on TV. However, the semifinals and finals of Beach Wrestling are shown in primetime.

    Scenario Two ? The incredible resurgence of the world?s greatest sport
    In scenario number two, RealProWrestling is a success, thanks to the exciting style that Toby Willis and Matt Case have come up with and fine-tuned. Their marketing and brand strategy is a stroke of genius.

    The wrestlers in RPW thrive with this exciting style and the go back and coach the college teams to emulate their style. FILA follows suit, and in the 2020 Olympics, there are 12 weight classes for the new hybrid style developed by RealProWrestling.

    Over 100 American wrestlers and coaches are able to make over $250,000 a year and our best athletes and coaches stay in the sport. College coach?s salaries increase dramatically, and highlights on ESPN every night include both RPW highlights and college wrestling highlights.

    Toby Willis and Matt Case have given a tremendous amount of money, time, energy and commitment to help our great sport of wrestling.

    Let?s do everything we can to support RealProWrestling. This opportunity may never come again.
    RIP Jacob Schlottke - 1984-2011

    "If Cornell finishes ahead of Iowa with five all americans I'll jump into the Des Moines River after finals." -Herkey#1 8/16/12

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