OU Family Mourns Loss of Danny Hodge
December 26, 2020


The University of Oklahoma Athletics family and wrestling community mourn the loss of National Wrestling Hall of Famer Danny Hodge, who died Dec. 24 at the age of 88 in his hometown of Perry, Okla. Hodge won three NCAA championships for the Sooners and is the namesake of the Hodge Trophy, the wrestling equivalent of the Heisman Trophy. His success on the mat led some to call him the greatest amateur wrestler of all-time.

Hodge came to Norman from Perry High School in 1955 to wrestle for hall-of-fame coach Port Robertson. He compiled a perfect 46-0 record as a student-athlete, winning 36 of his matches via fall on his way to three consecutive national titles. His performance in the 1957 NCAA Championships earned him Most Outstanding Wrestler honors and assisted the Sooners to their fourth national championship. He is one of only two collegiate wrestlers to win three NCAA titles via fall and he was known for never surrendering a takedown throughout his OU career.

The depths of Hodge's success went deeper than just college wrestling as he won three national freestyle championships and took home a silver medal from the 1956 Melbourne Olympics. He enjoyed an 18-year run as a professional wrestler and accrued a 17-0 record as a boxer in the 1950s.

In 2005, Hodge was honored by Oklahoma state lawmakers as an Oklahoma Sports Hero and was invited to the House of Representatives floor to crush an apple with his bare hand, something he had become famous for over the years. In 1957, he graced the cover of Sports Illustrated and to this day remains the only wrestler to ever do so. Hodge was honored as a charter member of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 1978.