Dan Gable had
The Courage to Succeed
Taken from "The Edge" by Howard E. Ferguson
"When I lifted weights, I didn't
lift just to maintain my muscle tone. I lifted to increase what I already
had, to push to a new limit. Every time I worked, I was getting a little
better. I kept moving that limit back and back. Every time I walked out
of the gym, I was a little better than when I walked in."
During the summer before Dan Gable
was a freshman at Iowa State, he worked out with Bob Buzzard. Buzzard had
won two Big Eight wrestling titles. He recalls, "Dan was a tough kid.
Some days I'd crunch him, some days I'd fool around and let him make some
moves. But on the last day before I went back to Eastern Michigan
University, I wanted to show him he had a ways to go, even though he had
won three consecutive state high school championships."
After Buzzard finished with Gable
that night, Dan fell to the mat crying tears of anger. Right then Gable
recalls, "I vowed I wouldn't ever let anyone destroy me again. I was
going to work at it every day, so hard that I would be the toughest guy in
the world. By the end of practice, I wanted to be physically tired, to
know that I'd been through a workout. If I wasn't tired, I must have
cheated somehow, so I stayed a little longer."
To push one's body to the limit of
endurance and beyond, to deny one's self normal pleasures while all around
others are enjoying those pleasures, to persevere under grueling
competition is, to me, a rare act of courage. Gable decided that he
would never allow himself to get tired in a match again. Dan's strength
and endurance allowed him to be on the offense all the time, always
attacking, always pressing, never giving an opponent a chance to relax or
After a college career in which
Gable won two National titles and lost only one match, he found a new
motivation-the Russians, the dominant force in wrestling. Before the
Olympic games of 1972, Gable had defeated a dozen Russians in dual meets.
At a banquet after one match, the Russians made a vow to Gable that they
would find someone before the games in Munich who would beat him.
Between the banquet and the
Olympics, Gable tore the cartilage in his left knee. The doctors
recommended an operation, but Gable wouldn't hear of it-he just kept on
practicing. The injury did, however, force Gable to alter his wrestling
"I changed my style of wrestling
from simply offensive scoring to what I call defensive, offensive
scoring. In this situation, I actually made myself a better wrestler
because I learned a new way of scoring."
Once the games began, Gable
encountered more adversity. He received a head-bump to the left eye in
his first match and doctors sewed up the eye with seven stitches.
"The blood was obstructing my
opponents chances of wrestling, and consequently, the medical doctor
almost disqualified me," he recalls. "I can remember thinking in my
corner while the doctors were bandaging me up that nothing was going to
Neither the Russians nor any other
country found a wrestler who could beat Dan Gable in the 1972 Olympics.
He won the gold medal without giving up a point to any of six opponents.
Dan Gable had a goal, and he would not allow anything or anyone to stop