One of the greats: Dan Gable speaks to KTD crowd
WORTHINGTON -- A crowd of 15,000 people filled 10th Street to hear Dan Gable as the featured speaker for King Turkey Day 2015. Known as nothing short of the best wrestler in the world, Gable drew long-time fans -- and new ones, too -- who were ex...
WORTHINGTON - A crowd of 15,000 people filled 10th Street to hear Dan Gable as the featured speaker for King Turkey Day 2015.
Known as nothing short of the best wrestler in the world, Gable drew long-time fans - and new ones, too - who were excited to see the gold-medal Olympian and world champion wrestler in person.
“I’ve been in town not very long, and I’ve really been impressed,” said Gable at the start of his 16-minute speech.
Though he’d been in Worthington years ago, and even spent part of 1971 and ’72 training in nearby Okoboji, Iowa, for the Wrestling World Championships and the Olympics, he hadn’t realized the many connections he has with Worthington.
“I knew (Worthington) was over here, but I really didn’t know the background as much as I should have known… (you) have unbelievable background and people and tradition in a lot of different things,” he said.
In an interview prior to his official speech, Gable disclosed that he wasn’t quite sure what he was getting into when he came to Worthington. Originally booked as the King Turkey Day speaker, Gable also agreed to speak at a Friday evening event benefitting the Worthington Youth Wrestling Association.
“I didn’t really think that anyone would come, but it turned out really well,” he said. “People stayed for three hours. I realized that what I’ve been doing all my life as been effective, and that motivates me.”
At the close of Saturday’s speech, Gable reiterated the encouragement that he’d felt by being in Worthington.
“Last night was tremendous. It helped my passion in the sport of wrestling, realizing that there (are) a lot a great people here that support that sport.”
Having a passion for wrestling sums up Gable’s life. It was his commitment to his sport, in fact, that helped bring him through the toughest time in his life - dealing with the murder of his older sister when he was in high school.
“I had a sister that was murdered in my house and because of that it was going to ruin the family,” Gable said.
He credits the many mentors he had in his life with helping him deal with his sister’s loss.
“I’ve been blessed when it comes to those who were associated with my life,” Gable stated earlier in the day. “I had great people like Bob Siddens, the top Iowa coach of all time, as my mentor. He was also a guidance counselor, so he counseled me through that time, and I actually helped my mom and dad go through that time and be able to survive it.
“I didn’t understand at the time why my sister’s death was so hard for them, but I understood now better after being a parent. Back then, I just had to stay focused on my wrestling. Her death actually affects me more today than it did back then.”
Gable said the same thing of his experience at the 1972 Olympics when the Israeli athletes were murdered - including a wrestler in his own weight class.
“I was done competing when it all happened, but I was so focused on what I was doing that it affects me more now than it did then.”
“I used to say (about) adversity: you either take it on or it takes you on,” said Gable in his Saturday afternoon speech. “Sometimes it’s easier said than done, but you really have to do it. It’s not just about (wins) and (losses): it’s about life and death, and because of that it’s a little bit harder to take it on sometimes, but you still have to have that same philosophy.”
Focusing on excellence, overcoming adversity and doing everything as well as possible are high priorities in Gable’s life. So is his commitment to leadership and family, both of which he emphasized in his speech.
“It’s about leadership, and leadership is something that is just really crucial - not only in business, but it is also important in life from a family point of view.
“In my world, leadership is all about being the first one there. It’s about the last one to leave. It’s about being the hardest and smartest worker overall. … Make sure that you put people into position so you don’t always have to the be person that covers everything. No way one person does everything. It takes a team.
“That’s real crucial for leadership. … Leadership is about knowing your subject, which for me is wrestling and family. And then the other thing that you know is your subjects …that’s about the people you deal with.”
Gable emphasized the importance of using leadership skills and positions of influence in positive ways, as well as making a difference in the lives of others in the hope that they will then go out and positively impact the world in their own manner.
The champion wrestler, coach and father of four said in closing: “I’ve really enjoyed my time here. I was a little skeptical about coming up here just because I (wasn’t) sure exactly how Minnesotans would accept an Iowan, and so far it’s been really good.”