Program features Gable, Brands


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Wrestling legends Dan Gable and Tom Brands teamed up Monday night to discuss the challenges, hardships, and successes it takes to become a world champion.

The talk was part of the Iowa City Public Libraries Summer Reading Program. This summer’s series is “Everyday Heroes,” and the former and current Iowa head wrestling coaches talked about life, family, and of course, wrestling.

“When you win a gold medal, sometimes it takes the littlest things when you’ve already made a commitment in your entire life,” Gable said.

He began the night by telling a story about Brands during his sophomore year at Iowa. Brands had lost a close match during the finals of the Big Ten championships, and immediately after the match ended, he marched out of the arena and on to the practice football field and began running 100-yard sprints in a blizzard.

“There was a big storm going on, but the real storm was in his head,” Gable said. “And the determination was there, because two weeks later, he would be in the national finals in Maryland, with the same guy.”

Among other things, Brands, a three-time Big Ten Coach of the Year, talked about his relationship with Gable and the how the things he has learned from wrestling helped him with his family.

Brands noted the state of wrestling at Iowa, saying they had to do better.

“What I am charged with now is to be at the top of the wrestling world,” he said.

As a wrestler, Brands won the national title during his sophomore year, an event Gable described as a key moment in both the lives of the young wrestler and him.

Gable and Brands discussed their remarkable history as wrestlers and coaches during the event.

“My whole life hasn’t really changed from the beginning until now,” Gable said. “I pretty much have the same routine, maybe backed off a little. I’m a little smarter, that’s really crucial for life, you have to get smarter instead of just working hard.”

Dan Gable is one of the greatest college and Olympic wrestlers of all time, winning all but his final match against Larry Owings in the 1970 NCAA finals.

“I work at [wrestling] every day; I work at the sport every day, because you need leaders out there, and if you don’t have the leaders, then people take it for granted, and they cut corners, they do less than they can,” Gable said.

He also spoke quite a bit about the current state of wrestling, at the youth, college, and international level.

“I’ve been focusing a lot of my time on the international effort,” Gable said. “You know as well as I know we almost got kicked out of the Olympics, and it was basically poor leadership … we definitely weren’t working in the right direction.”

Gable said sports, especially wrestling, is one of the things that can bring countries together.

The adult summer reading program that the wrestlers spoke at is designed to be similar to youth summer reading programs; it is aimed at getting those older than 18 to enjoy books and read more.

“We’ve always done this for kids, because if they go months during the summer without reading, their reading skills drop,” said Beth Fisher, the summer reading program coordinator. “Well, then we started doing it for teens and kids, and all of a sudden we would have these parents doing it with the kids to encourage them; what better way than to do your own reading program and be a role model?”

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