Klingman name W.I.N. Journalist of the Year
By Mike Finn, W.I.N. Editor
Kyle Klingman, like everyone, had his heroes. The biggest difference is that he was not shy about meeting them.
?At first I was just a crazy kid who wanted to learn as much as I could from everyone that I possibly could,? said Klingman. ?Fortunately, there were some great people who took me up on it.?
One moment happened at the Iowa state high school wrestling tournament in 2000, when he met former Iowa State All-American and coach Jim Gibbons in the restroom at Veterans Auditorium in Des Moines, where Klingman was broadcasting the event for a local radio station.
?It was an awkward situation, but I asked him to come on our radio program,? recalled Klingman about meeting Gibbons, who retired from coaching and later entered the journalism field part-time as a broadcaster. ?(Gibbons) said on the air, ?I?m standing next to this guy at the urinal and the next thing I know he knows more about my credentials than I do.? ?
Klingman?s ability to ask significant questions to the nation?s key wrestling figures in his weekly ?On The Mat? radio show, produced in his hometown of Cedar Falls, Iowa, is one reason Klingman was named Journalist of the Year by W.I.N. Magazine.
?The first thing people notice about Kyle, when they read any of his articles or hear him talk wrestling on his radio program, is that this guy truly loves wrestling,? said W.I.N. Publisher Bryan Van Kley. ?And he?s extremely knowledgeable about it.
?Like many of us, he loves and respects wrestling people in general and years ago committed his career to covering this great sport. He is a professional in every sense of the word and I?m extremely proud that he was selected as W.I.N.?s Journalist of the Year.?
Klingman said he first felt like a journalist in 2003 when his story on ?one-time NCAA champions,? was published by ?The Wrestling Mall,? an internet website that focuses on wrestling.
?People would say it was the best article they ever read,? Klingman said. ?It still gets posted on message boards.?
But Klingman believes it took more than the internet to create his mission in wrestling.
?My past experiences created this,? Klingman said. ?There are certain things that happened in terms of people I met throughout the years that played such a significant role in my journey with wrestling. It?s almost like it was meant to be; that I was going to report about wrestling; that I was going to talk about wrestling.?
Klingman, who excelled in cross country in high school after dabbling in wrestling in junior high school, learned the importance of wrestling from Doug Van Gelder, his junior high wrestling coach who started taking Klingman to NCAA tournaments in 1995.
?He?s the guy who really got me started in it all when I was in high school,? Klingman said. ?He was the one who showed me how heroic wrestling could be and how important it is and how exciting it can be. He?s the creator of the mindset that I have about wrestling.?
Van Gelder also introduced Klingman to Mike Chapman, author, historian and executive director of the Dan Gable International Wrestling Institute and Museum.
?Doug was the first person to tell me about Frank Gotch,? Klingman said. ?I had to go looking for books and in my high school library there was, ?Gotch to Gable.? Mike was a guy who was writing about and preserving the sport. Anytime you talk about someone who makes wrestling exciting, Mike Chapman is the ultimate storyteller of this sport.?
Chapman also hired Klingman as the associate director of the DGIWIM, which moved from Newton, Iowa to Waterloo in 2007.
?Kyle has a remarkable interest in the history of wrestling, one that has been matched by very few people that I have met in the last 40 years,? said Chapman, a former newspaper editor and publisher. ?Through hard work and commitment, he has developed into a very gifted writer. He works diligently to make sure he is accurate and fair, the two most important characteristics of a good journalist. I expect him to be a major contributor to the sport of wrestling for decades to come.?
Growing up in Iowa, Klingman met many of the great wrestlers and coaches at the three state schools.
?Tom Brands took an active interest in me and made sure I got some breaks in wrestling,? said Klingman, whose father Ken is the wrestling team chaplain at Northern Iowa. Despite those ties, Klingman was first a fan of Oklahoma State, where his mother, Linda, attended.
?(The interest) was so fanatical that even Gable recognized me as Oklahoma State wrestling,? Klingman said. ?I wore it (literally) on my sleeve. I wore Oklahoma State clothes. I had it all over my car with bumper stickers. During track photos, people actually wanted to bring my car in and have everyone?s picture taken with the car because of the Oklahoma State stuff.?
Klingman was in the minority of native Iowans who did not celebrate in the UNI-Dome in 1997 when Iowa defeated Oklahoma State for the NCAA crown.
?I was so fanatical Oklahoma State that when the Iowa crowd would erupt, I would get red in the face and I resented them so much for being that loud,? Klingman said. ?Now I work at the Dan Gable museum and that was such a big part of history, but at the time I didn?t like it at all.?
Klingman also writes for W.I.N. and will soon begin working for Wrestling 411, a nationally-televised wrestling highlight show, which was created by Minnesota coach J Robinson, who has challenged Klingman as a journalist.
?J is the guy who has elevated my game as a journalist; not just on the sport but on life and as a person,? Klingman said. ?J is so creative and has so many ideas on wrestling. When a subject comes up, I turn to J and get his thought on things because I know he has a fresh approach and it?s not always inside the realm of wrestling.?
Klingman takes that same approach when he interviews wrestlers and coaches.
?I want to ask questions from a perspective that they?ve never heard before,? Klingman said. ?I want to ask unique questions and actually cultivate interest in that person and get something out of them that they have never heard before.
?There is no other story like wrestling. These are passionate people. That?s what caught me and why I?m still involved in wrestling. It?s the stories about what these guys go through day in and day out to thrive in a sport that is neither lucrative nor draws media attention.?