Dan Gable, Ben Askren, and Wrestling: A Committment to Being Unknown

Drew EmersonCorrespondent IJuly 29, 2008

Dan Gable.

If the mention of that name does not immediately bring thoughts of "The Best," "Top 10 Athlete of all Time," and "Iowa Hawkeyes" to your mind, then you need to do some research.

For those of you who are not befuddled by the name, this article is for you.

Wrestling is the oldest sport in the history of the world.  While those who argue that foot races are the oldest sport have a legitimate argument, they would be wrong.  Babies push each other around while crawling long before they ever learn to walk.

Wrestling is also the hardest sport to train for.  While training for the Olympics, Dan Gable hung pull-up bars from the door frames inside his house.  If he passed the door frame, he did 10 pull-ups.  Imagine if he forgot his keys after leaving the house.

I have always compared wrestling to the hardest football practice during summer two-a-days, while trapped in a 105ºF room, and wearing a sweat suit.  Dan Gable once stated that, "Once you've wrestled, everything else in life is easy."

Many well-known people achieved success in the sport of wrestling, but never received notoriety for it.

Abraham Lincoln, the most wiry president, was a champion wrestler in his town.

A former great actor, turned lunatic, was once a high school wrestler before getting injured and deciding to start acting in school plays. His name was Tom Cruise.

These are just a couple of examples of people you know, that you do not know as wrestlers.

Now comes another—Ben Askren.

Ben Askren is a young man who has qualified for the Olympic Team.  He was a two-time Wisconsin state champion.  He chose Missouri University to attend college (not known for a stellar program), where he won two national titles.

Askren has achieved a level of ability alien to such a young wrestler.  But I am sure you are just now hearing about it.

As a moderate-level high school wrestler, I grew up knowing that no matter how good I was, the best I had to look forward to was winning a lot of matches, getting my name flashed across the news one time for winning a gold medal at the Olympics, and then fading away.

I hope I can sway a few of you to look for Askren and the United States team as they compete.  Keep in mind some of the things you have read hear, and remember that the men you are watching work harder, longer, and go through more hardships than any other athletes—and they receive less recognition.

Tell me what you think.