news RIP Danny Hodge (1932 - 2020)

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Partridge

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Nov 12, 2002
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One of the greatest wrestlers America has ever produced in Danny Hodge passed away at the age of 88.

He's mentioned mostly courtesy of Jim Ross (who drove for him when he started), and for the occasional clip of him crushing apples with his hands (which he could still do well into his 80s). But his list of legitimate accomplishments is worth revising:
  • A three time National champion at the University of Oklahoma
  • One of only two US wrestlers to be undefeated in Collegiate wrestling with a 46-0 record (Cael Sanderson is the other one)
  • Out of those 46 wins, an astonishing 36 came via pins
  • Was selected for the Helsinki Olympic games out of High School even before college and placed 5th
  • Won a Silver medal in Melbourne in 1956
  • The only amateur wrestler in history to be on the cover of Sports Illustrated
  • Did not have a point scored on him in his senior year, and was never taken off his feet in amateur competition
  • Decided to try out boxing and won the Golden Gloves, thus making him the only man in history to be undefeated as an amateur wrestler and amateur boxer
  • The most outstanding Collegiate wrestler in a season is now awarded the Hodge trophy (for MMA fans, Ben Askren won it twice, and Cael Sanderson won it three times)
After trying out professional boxing (with a 8-2 record), he switched to professional wrestling and became a star in the next 15 years mostly in the Oklahoma, Louisiana and Florida territories. His grip strength was a thing of legend, with hobbies including crushing apples, breaking pliers, and ripping faucets off showers (as a prank). Due to his background a lot of legitimate shooters in that era tried him out, included a young Iron Sheik who Hodge demolished. Japanese wrestler Hiro Matsuda paid Karl Gotch ten thousand dollars to perfect submission holds to try Hodge out, and said once it started "I just wasted ten thousand dollars".

Jim Ross has always maintained Hodge was the toughest man he ever saw, and I've never heard anyone from that era refute him.

The shame for me is that there was no UFC in the 1960s. You'd imagine he would have been very well suited.

Rest in peace.

 

Rusty Brookes

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Aug 9, 2001
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Matsuda was one of the very few guys that Hodge agreed to drop the NWA junior heavyweight championship to. I get the feeling while he was protective of his well deserved rep, he knew what was good for the pro-wrestling business but would only put over guys who were legit tough shooters (Matsuda, Briscoe, et al).

 

Partridge

Hall of Famer
Nov 12, 2002
38,156
43,065
AFL Club
Geelong
Matsuda was one of the very few guys that Hodge agreed to drop the NWA junior heavyweight championship to. I get the feeling while he was protective of his well deserved rep, he knew what was good for the pro-wrestling business but would only put over guys who were legit tough shooters (Matsuda, Briscoe, et al).

Florida must have been a fun territory for a while there. At any given point from the mid-1960s to mid-1970s you would have had Hodge, Matsuda, Thesz (past his peak but still knew his stuff), Jack Brisco, and occasionally Karl Gotch. Good luck breaking in.

I've heard MMA fighters say there's to this day a very educated fanbase in Florida and the history. Easy to see why.
 

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