Dan Gable



The YMCA Wrestling facility is named in honor of a YMCA kid from Waterloo, Iowa who became an American sports legend. Dan Gable experienced the YMCA as a safe place away from home. From boxing to ping-pong, he was introduced to a variety of sports at the YMCA.

Excelling in most all sports, Gable enjoyed taking part in football, baseball, wrestling and swimming and he credits the YMCA’s core-valued programs as the platform that shaped his social skills, work ethic and competitive drive.

After landing his first job at the YMCA as a locker room attendant, earning 35 cents an hour at age nine, he learned the value of responsibility. Gable's first state championship was earned in swimming for the YMCA, before concentrating solely on a wrestling career that brought him to fame.

As a high school athlete Gable honed his skills in wrestling, losing only one match in his 1963 freshman season. He went undefeated in high school, winning three state championships in 1964, 65 and 66.

Gable went on to earn 117 more victories at Iowa State University and was a two-time NCAA national wrestling champion and three-time all-American. Gable set NCAA records in winning and pin streaks. His only defeat in college came at the NCAA finals his senior year.

After college, Gable won a gold medal in the 1972 Summer Olympics without surrendering a single point. The Soviets came to the Olympics with only one goal in mind – to defeat Gable. They were unsuccessful.

Gable became head wrestling coach at the University of Iowa in 1976 and went on to be the most successful coach in American collegiate history. Gable’s teams won 21 straight Big 10 team championships and won the NCAA team titles 15 times. His teams compiled a dual meet record of 355–21–5. He coached 152 all-Americans, 45 national champions, 106 Big Ten champions and 12 Olympians, including four gold, one silver and three bronze medalists.

Dan Gable was the United States of America’s Olympic Coach 1980, 84 and 2000 and World Coach 1977, 78, 79, 83, 94 and 1999.

In 1999, Sports Illustrated selected Dan Gable as the greatest sports figure in the history of Iowa. His accomplishments were later recognized by President George W. Bush in 2002, naming him to the President’s Council on Physical Fitness.

Dan Gable frequents Naples, Florida often and upon learning of our desire to establish a YMCA youth wrestling program he volunteered his services.


Dan Gable sharing his experiences with the YMCA.


1960-71: U.S. freestyle champion

1964-66: Iowa State High School Champion

1968-70: NCAA Champion

1971: U.S. Pan-American Games gold medallist

1971: World Championships gold medallist

1972: U.S. Olympic gold medallist

1977-97: Big Ten Championship Team coach

1978-86, 1991-93, 1995-97: NCAA Championship Team coach

1980: Inducted into National Wrestling Hall of Fame

1980: Amateur Athletic Union Wrestling Coach of the Year

1984: U.S. Olympic Team coach

1985: Inducted into U.S.


In 2014 the YMCA developed a plan to introduce youth wrestling to its sports curriculum. The concept included building a permanent, padded wrestling room within the walls of the Greater Naples YMCA. This news reached Olympic gold medalists Mark Schultz (1984) and Dan Gable (1972), who both agreed individually to participate in a fundraising effort for the YMCA. 

The support of these world champions drew regional attention from the wrestling community and assured the capital campaign was a success. Soon, a world-class wrestling facility became a reality. The wrestling room built inside the YMCA was designed with permanently padded walls and a 5-inch recessed subfloor filled with three inches of foam and a 2-inch wrestling mat.  

Today, the Greater Naples YMCA offers a youth wrestling program, technique clinics and an advanced program for high school athletes to hone their skills. The YMCA SWFL Elite high school wrestling club practices at the Y each week and has participated in the Disney Duals.


The Greater Naples YMCA would like to grow the sport of wrestling and take the next step toward its growth. Phase II of the YMCA’s plan is to fundraise for competition-grade wrestling mats and a mat hoist for the Y’s gymnasium. Gable, a champion who learned the sport of wrestling through the YMCA, has agreed to help the Y achieve this goal. Once this goal is achieved, wrestling competitions, including showcase dual meets and youth tournaments would easily be accommodated at the Greater Naples YMCA.

Click image to enlarge


Our goal to fill the Gymnasium with competition-grade wrestling mats and a mat hoist is $40,000. Help us pin down this project by donating now!

"I'm a big believer in starting with high standards and raising them. We make progress only when we push ourselves to the highest level. If we don’t progress, we backslide into bad habits, laziness and poor attitude."