Pro Wrestling Legend and 3-Time NCAA Champ Danny Hodge Dies at 88

by Quentin Blount

Danny Hodge, pro wrestling legend, Olympic silver medalist, and three-time NCAA champion passed away yesterday on Christmas at the age of 88.

The list of accomplishments for Hodge is really remarkable. His amateur wrestling career includes a silver medal at the 1956 Olympics and three NCAA championships in the 177-pound weight class. In fact, the collegiate wrestling equivalent of football’s Heisman trophy is named after him — the Dan Hodge Trophy — which is given to the top college wrestler each year.

Furthermore, Hodge is the only amateur wrestler to ever appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Meanwhile, he was also a Gold Gloves boxer and also saw professional success as well in the 50s. He was a fixture in NWA territories throughout the 1960s until he retired following a car accident in 1976.

Among other titles he holds, Hodge was the NWA Junior Heavyweight champ seven times. In addition, he is in multiple Halls of Fame. He was also given a Lifetime Achievement and the Lou Thesz Award by the Cauliflower Alley Club.

While many of today’s fans may not be aware of Hodge and his legacy, he left an unquestionable impression on the industry. As news broke early on Saturday that he had passed at age 88, memorial and remembrances have flooded social media.

The WWE released a statement, calling Hodge a “true trailblazer” for winning national titles in wrestling and boxing.

“The Oklahoma native’s highly decorated career included recognition as a three-time NCAA Champion, Olympic silver medalist, National Golden Gloves heavyweight champion, and eight-time NWA World Junior Heavyweight Champion,” WWE said. There were a number of pro wrestlers to pay tribute to Hodge including William Regal.

“WWE is saddened to learn that Danny Hodge passed away today at age 88,” the official WWE account wrote.

Pro Wrestlers Pay Tribute to Danny Hodge

There were a number of pro wrestlers to pay tribute to Hodge on Saturday including William Regal.

“I’ve just seen the saddening news from my friend ⁦[Gerald Bisco] that the legendary Danny Hodge has passed away,” Regal wrote on Twitter. “Please take the time to google this incredible man and his career both in Wrestling and Boxing. I always loved talking to him. My deepest condolences to his family.”

Furthermore, Hodge made it into the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2007. Fellow Hall of Famer Bret “The Hitman” Hart gave a lot of praise to Hodge after his induction.

“I look at Danny Hodge, he’s one of the most, one of the greatest wrestlers in pro wrestling or amateur wrestling there’s ever been,” Hart said, per the Baltimore Sun. “To be in this room with Danny Hodge is a big, big honor to me.”