Hall of Fame Celebrates Wrestling in the Olympics

Hall of Fame Celebrates Wrestling in the Olympics
From Mr. Jack Carnefix of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame & Museum

The National Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum is excited to announce that it will "Celebrate Wrestling in the Olympics" throughout July and August. The museum will spotlight the remarkable achievements of Olympians, honoring their contributions to the sport of wrestling and their enduring legacy.

The exterior of the building features new banners that highlight Olympic medalists whose medals are displayed in the museum (Bruce Baumgartner, Doug Blubaugh, Frank Lewis, Patricia Miranda and John Smith), trailblazing female Olympic wrestlers (Clarissa Chun, Amit Elor, Helen Maroulis, Tamyra Mensah Stock and Sheila Wager), and Oklahoma natives who won Olympic medals (Tommy Evans, Ross Flood, Danny Hodge, Kenny Monday and Shelby Wilson).

Children will be able to learn about wrestling and receive a prize by completing the “Flag Find,” where they find answers to trivia questions by searching the museum for exhibits displaying American flags.

Located on the corner of Hall of Fame Avenue and Duck Street in Stillwater, Oklahoma, the museum is open Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information, visit nwhof.org or telephone (405) 377-5243.

“Every four years the Olympic Games come along and we remember those who competed for our country in a sport that is synonymous with both the ancient and modern day Olympics,” said Lee Roy Smith, Executive Director of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. “We hope that with the upcoming Paris Olympic Games we can spark interest in Americans as to what the sport is all about and where its Olympians and Legends Live On.”

Thirty-nine Distinguished Members of the Hall of Fame have combined to win 42 Olympic gold medals. 

The museum proudly displays the gold medals won by Robin Reed in 1924, Bobby Pearce and Jack VanBebber in 1932, Frank Lewis in 1936, Doug Blubaugh in 1960, Bruce Baumgartner in 1984 and 1992, John Smith in 1988 and 1992 and Jake Varner in 2012.  

It also has Olympic silver medals won by Ross Flood and Danny Hodge in 1936 and 1956, respectively, and the Olympic bronze medals won by Patricia Miranda and Coleman Scott in 2004 and 2012, respectively.

Baumgartner’s four Olympic medals (two gold, one silver and one bronze) and his nine World Championship medals (three gold, three silver and three bronze) are displayed in a cabinet in the entryway that was crafted by Baumgartner and fellow Distinguished Member Greg Strobel.

The museum also displays the four World Championship gold medals and the Sullivan Award won by Smith.

Visitors can also see the Women In Wrestling – A Legacy Inspiring Generations exhibit that celebrates the rich history and significant milestones of women's wrestling, highlighting the incredible journey and achievements of female wrestlers. The exhibit is a tribute to the resilience, determination, and talent of female athletes who have fought for recognition and respect in wrestling.

Featured in the exhibit are images of Sheila Wager and the members of the 2004 United States Olympic team (Sara McMann, Patricia Miranda, Toccara Montgomery and Tela O'Donnell Bacher) with Women’s National Team Head Coach Terry Steiner. Miranda became the first American woman to win an Olympic medal in history, a bronze, while McMann became the first U.S. woman to compete in the Olympic finals. McMann, Miranda and Montgomery are all Distinguished Members of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.

Wager became the first U.S. female to referee at the Olympics when she worked the 1988 Seoul Olympics. Wager, who also worked the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, was honored as a Meritorious Official by the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 1995, becoming the first female to be recognized by the Hall of Fame.

It also includes a digital kiosk where visitors will be able to access a timeline of great moments in U.S. women’s wrestling history, females honored by the Hall of Fame, and see the group of donors who made the exhibit possible.

The exhibit also features women’s wrestling memorabilia, including a singlet from Tamyra Mensah Stock, the first Black woman in history to win an Olympic gold medal in wrestling and a two-time World champion.

Boasting the largest collection of Olympic wrestling uniforms and memorabilia, the museum displays singlets from current Olympian Kyle Dake and Olympic gold medalists Blubaugh, Jordan Burroughs, Tom Brands, Steve Fraser, Monday, Mark Schultz, and Kyle Snyder, and Olympic silver medalist Adeline Gray.

It also has an extensive Olympic pin collection from Distinguished Member Manuel Gorriaran.

There are portraits of the 48 Americans who have won Olympic gold, including Oklahoma natives Blubaugh, Kendall Cross, Lewis, Monday, Pearce, Smith, VanBebber, Wayne Wells and Shelby Wilson.

Replicas of posters from Olympic Games are featured as well as a collection of Olympic jewelry from Baumgartner. Baumgartner competed in the Olympics 1984, 1988, 1992 and 1996, tying him with Mark Fuller for the most appearances by an American wrestler. 

The lounge area has a floor-to-ceiling photograph of Blubaugh competing in the 1960 Olympics where wrestling was contested outdoors in the Forum in Rome, Italy.

There is also a display highlighting that Olympic gold medalist and Distinguished Member Wells was the first signature athlete for Nike. The exhibit includes the first pair of shoes that Nike created for Wells and a Nike poster feature Wells and the shoes.

The United World Wrestling area features an electronic kiosk with the UWW Hall of Fame, which honors the greatest names in the sport from around the globe, as well as memorabilia. 

Visitors can also visit the William S. Hein Library which has wrestling books from around the world, including several highlighting the Olympics.

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