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|Hall of Fame Honors Weekend in Stillwater, Okla. a big event as World Wrestling Month ends|
By Gary Abbott USA Wrestling
With wrestling in the news after being one of the three sports selected by the International Olympic Committee Executive Board for its short list for consideration for the 2020 and 2024 Olympics, there is much interest in the sport across the nation.
World Wrestling Month will end with two more big events including the United States: the National Wrestling Hall of Fame Honors Weekend in Stillwater, Okla., May 31-June 1, and The Battle At the Falls international women’s wrestling duals in Niagara Falls, Canada on May 31.
The 37th annual Hall of Fame Honors Weekend will begin on Friday, with the Reception and Presentation of Plaques at the Hall of Fame at 6:00 p.m. CT. The festivities continue on Saturday, with the Golf Tournament luncheon at Stillwater Golf and Country Club at 12:00 noon CT and the Honors Banquet at the OSU Student Union French Room at 7:00 p.m. CT.
The Olympic theme will be a huge part of this year’s Honors Weekend, as most of the inductees, as well as numerous others who will be attending the event, have a direct involvement in USA Wrestling and the Olympic movement.
Three of the four Distinguished Members were members of at least two Olympic Teams, with Dan Chandler making three Olympic Greco-Roman teams, Melvin Douglas making two Olympic freestyle teams and Matt Ghaffari making two Olympic Greco-Roman teams, including an Olympic silver medal at the 1996 Atlanta Games. All three were on numerous U.S. World Teams, with Douglas winning four World medals and Ghaffari three. Chandler has coached numerous U.S. Olympic and World Teams.
The other Distinguished Member is Ron Gray, a two-time NCAA champion and longtime Div. I college wrestling coach.
Both of the Outstanding American honorees have an Olympic connection. John Bardis was the Team Leader of the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team, a member of CPOW (the Committee to Preserve Olympic Wrestling) and a third-place finisher at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Greco-Roman.
Joshua Harris, an owner of the Philadelphia 76ers basketball team, is a member of U.S. Olympic Committee Board of Trustees
The Medal of Courage winner Matt Hamill, now a UFC fighter, competed in freestyle and Greco-Roman on Senior level and was a Deaflympic athlete.
Order of Merit winner John Dustin was an international referee, an AAU employee who managed Olympic wrestling programs, and served as event director of Goodwill Games, World Championship and Olympic wrestling events.
The Dave Schultz High School Excellence Award winner Zain Retherford is considered a future Olympic hopeful after winning a FILA Cadet World gold medal in men’s freestyle.
Lifetime Achievement for Officials goes to Pat Fitzgerald, one of the nation’s top college and high school referees in the nation.
TheMat.com will have complete coverage of the Hall of Fame Honors Weekend, with stories, videos and photos by Larry Slater.
Below are the Hall of Fame biographies of each inductee:
Distinguished Members biographies
Outstanding American biographies
Medal of Courage biography
Order of Merit biography
Lifetime Achievement for Officials biography
Dave Schultz High School Excellence Award winner biography