Gable immortalized in bronze statue
IOWA CITY (MCT) — Rarely does Dan Gable let his standard for excellence fall anything to less than gold.
The legendary coach and wrestler made an exception Wednesday when the University of Iowa honored Gable by unveiling a bronze statue of him outside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
“I want you to know this is the only bronze award that I will ever accept,” Gable quipped shortly after the statue sculpted by Larry Nowlan, the same artist who created the Nile Kinnick statue outside Kinnick Stadium, was unveiled by his four daughters.
The seven-foot statue reflects an iconic image of Gable calling for stalling in one of the Hawkeyes’ many great battles with in-state rival Iowa State.
At the base, it lists all of Gable’s contributions as both an athlete and coach in addition to this quote, “(No) stalling ... Execute. Contribute forever ... in sport and in life.”
“That is what it is really about,” Gable said of the saying. “It’s not about history. It is about future history. It is about people who want to be about something great in the future. That is what it is about.”
The unveiling took place three days prior to the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials at Carver-Hawkeye, a fitting setting for the coach who had trouble keeping his eyes clear, especially when his daughters — Jennifer, Annie, Molly and MacKenzie — stepped forward.
“It’s an honor,” Gable added. “What does it mean to me? It means if this statue can represent excellence, let’s get somebody to beat that excellence.”
Among the dignitaries who spoke before Gable were University of Iowa president Sally Mason, who called Gable one of the U of I’s finest citizens.
Mason said as many people who might think wrestling when you say Iowa will also think Iowa when you say wrestling. The place and the sport are that intertwined, she added, citing Gable as the reason.
“Wrestling teaches self-control and pride. Some have wrestled without great skill, none have wrestled without pride,” said Mason, reciting a Gable quote. “I think that philosophy has not only characterized the Iowa wrestling program but has become a defining idea for wrestling across the country.
“If you search for that Gable quotation on the internet you will find it emblazoned on the front pages of hundreds if not thousands of wrestling team’s websites.
“That is how important and influential Dan Gable is, and that is why we are very proud to honor him today and forever with this wonderful statue.”
Iowa athletics director Gary Barta and current Hawkeye wrestling coach Tom Brands also spoke about Gable, who compiled a career record of 355-21-5 while coaching the Hawkeyes from 1976-97.
Gable coached 152 all-Americans, 106 Big Ten champions, 45 national champions and 10 Olympians, including four gold, one silver and three bronze medalists.
As a competitor, Gable won the 1972 Olympic gold medal without surrendering a single point.
“Like Nile Kinnick, his legacy goes beyond the borders of Iowa,” Barta said of Gable. “He is known across the world and across all walks of life for his accomplishments in wrestling, but beyond that his incredible passion, focus and his tenacious will to be the best.
“There aren’t many people who can say they were the best in the world at what they did. Dan Gable can say that and we are going to have an opportunity for the rest of time to display for all the world to see this larger than life memory of his accomplishments.”
Brands, who wrestled under Gable and served as one of his assistant coaches prior to becoming the head coach, was brief in his comments.
In fact, most of Brands’ comments were not directed at Gable or the crowd, but rather the statue.
“I’m talking to the statue right now, and you’d better be tough because of what you represent. Go Gable. Go Hawks,” Brands exclaimed.