Dan Gable is a demi-god in the world of wrestling. He’s been called “Sports Figure of the Century” by Sports Illustrated. Why?
As an athlete, he had a 182-1 prep and college record. His single loss, in his final NCAA match, infuriated him. To make up for it, he out-trained the world and won the gold medal at the 1972 Munich Olympics…without surrendering a single point. This is like winning Wimbledon on serves alone.
Most impressive to me, as coach of the Iowa Hawkeyes, he was able to replicate his success. He had a recipe. Here are a few stats from his 21-year career:
21-year record — 355-21-5 (94.4% wins)
Big Ten record — 131-2-1 (98.5% wins)
21 Big Ten Team Titles
45 National Champions
The above video clip is from Dan Gable – Competitor Supreme, which my mom bought for me when I was 15. It changed my life.
I watched it almost every day in high school, and it kept me fighting through all the various losses in life. Didn’t finish the SAT in time? Watch Dan Gable. Have a guidance counselor laugh while telling me I don’t stand a chance of getting into Princeton? More Dan Gable. Lost my first important judo match in 7 seconds? Watch the Iowa Hawkeyes…again and again and again. Then, return to the same tournament six months later and win.
In life, there are dog fights. You must learn to enjoy them. Few people look forward to banging heads (literally or metaphorically), and therein lies the golden opportunity.
Sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose. But there are factors inside your control that greatly improve the odds. Being aggressive doesn’t guarantee success, but failing to be aggressive nearly always guarantees failure. In a modern world of political correctness, glad handing, and fear of offending everyone and anyone, the art of the fight is undervalued.
Remember: It’s not the size of the dog in the fight. It’s the size of the fight in the dog.
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