Thanks to Flowrestling.com for posting the link to this story from the Arizona Republic...
For more info and pics of 1967 NCAA champ Curley Culp, visit his photo album at the NCAA Heavyweight Champs Yahoo group:
Word of mouth gave Culp following
Jason P. Skoda
The Arizona Republic
Aug. 9, 2007 11:55 AM
Long before there were recruiting Web sites, 24-hour TV stations dedicated to sports and Sports Illustrated included high school in its national coverage, there was word of mouth.
And when Curley Culp's Yuma High team went on the road the opposing bleachers were often filled with people wanting to find out if all of the talk was true.
The future Arizona State NCAA wrestling champion, All-American defensive lineman and borderline NFL Hall of Famer rarely disappointed.
No matter how many people asked for his autograph.
It wasn't uncommon to see a handful of youngster following Culp around, asking for his autograph before wrestling matches.
"We got a lot of forfeits with him, too," Tom Daniel, one of Yuma's wrestling coaches in Culp's junior and senior years, told The Republic in 1999. "When he did wrestle, it was mostly a track meet, with guys trying to stay away from him."
It's exactly the type of homegrown athlete who was destined for the inaugural azcentral.com Arizona High School Sports Hall of Fame's enshrinement class.
"That's truly an honor," said Culp, who graduated in 1964. "I remember my youth years in athletics in Arizona fondly. Those were the foundation years that set me forward to college and onto the NFL."
Culp, 61, lives in Austin, Texas, where he is owner of a transportation company. He's divorced and has two sons, Christopher, 27, and Chad, 24.
When taking his entire athletic career - two sports at Arizona State, his five NFL All-Pro selections, his Super Bowl IV ring, garnering Pro Football Hall of Fame votes - it is obvious that Culp has to be near the top of the list of Arizona athletes, and he was when The Republic produced its Athletes of the Century in 1999 and Culp came in No. 6 overall.
This Hall is based on high school achievement only and as one of three Arizona athletes in the National High School Hall of Fame, Culp is one of the most prominent.
"Back then Arizona didn't have probably half as many high schools as they do now," Culp said modestly. "It was easy to standout so when there a top guy everyone knew about them and people used to come out to see them play."
Culp, who learned his worth ethic growing up and working on the family farm, said he probably had a bigger following on the wrestling mat and enjoyed the individual aspect of it. He said his fondest high school memories probably come from winning two heavyweight state titles.
When it comes to football, where Culp, then 6 feet 1 and 260 pounds, was an honorable mention all-state player as a junior and a prep All-American as a senior, he remembers being asked to play fullback because of an injury to a teammate.
It was like trying to stop a runaway boulder descending down a mountain.
"It was a homecoming game, and I got in as a fullback," Culp remembered with a chuckle. "I could move a little bit for big guy, and I was so top heavy that I was hard to bring down. We went on to win the game, and it's one of things I will always remember from high school."
Culp, who chose ASU based on the fact that he could continue wrestling, said there was no question that both sports had an impact on his athletic career.
"Wrestling was an individual sport on the mat, but not in the locker room," he said. "Football was a team sport, but you still had to win your individual battle. I was probably a better high school wrestler than football player, but what I am most remembered for is football.
"It's a toss up."
Maybe so, but not when it comes his standing in Arizona prep history.
Culp lived up to the hype long before top prospects created recruiting buzz on the information superhighway.
"We didn't have the biggest crowds for football, but we did for wrestling," he said. "I remember a lot of people coming up to me after games and matches telling me I was for real, that I was what everyone said I was."