March 9, 2010 by David Gillaspie
Before Gable. After Gable.
I met a wrestling legend at the state meet. Len Kauffman manned the Hall of Fame board. I asked about some of the greats. My high school coaches and my college coach each have a plaque. I asked about them.
What I didn’t ask was how it felt during his run at the top levels of wrestling while Dan Gable and his generation of greats moved toward the 1972 Olympics. It’s easy to forget the time before Gable.
Len Kauffman is a fine example of that era, and a local guy. A quick google pieced together this time line: Dale Thomas to Oregon State; Iowa coaches come out, one to Lebanon. Len Kauffman goes from Lebanon, to Corvallis, to US teams.
He must have seen the greats when they weren’t so great.
Dan Gable’s wrestling shadow grew so strong that it’s hard to imagine wrestling Before Gable. That era floats in the mist like the ancient Bear Bryant football teams that went to the desert to find who could play football in horrible conditions.
AG (after Gable) produced a line of athletes who subjected themselves to the harsh treatment Gable put himself through; he put them through it. How many coaches AG (after Gable) run U.S. wrestling? The shadow keeps growing.
One cultural shift AG happened that deserves mention.
Hippies, environmentalist, and feminists walked the land in the time of Gable. Those groups all agreed on at least one thing: nutritional food. Most often that meant natural foods.
Today we take natural food for granted with stores and farmers markets. We all know to eat brown rice and whole wheat to capture all they have to offer. Before the sixties and seventies the lean was more toward processed foods with a long shelf lives. White flour and white bread.
What makes whole wheat better? The seed consists of three parts, the endosperm, the bran or husk, and the wheat germ. They aren’t stripped away and bleached like white flour. The bran stays with its fiber. The endosperm brings the carbohydrates. The wheat germ is the living part of the seed with protein and nutrients.
AG (after Gable) has the advantage of better training and nutrition. With all of that, where is the next Gable? Who is the next transitional figure in wrestling? You can stop looking. Dan Gable has no expiration date for staying on the shelf. There will never be an AG (after Gable) era. The shadow keeps growing.
With that in mind, give a nod to those who laid the foundation for Dan Gable. The Len Kauffmans keep working. I don’t know what is on his pantry shelf, but the man looks like he could make weight tomorrow.