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October 8, 2004

Does any town have a better ambassador than Mr. Danny Hodge Sr. of Perry, OK? He has two Olympic medals, dozens of other medals, photos autographed by many notables and a vast array of memorabilia accumulated during an incredible career as an amateur and professional athlete. He is probably the greatest and best known, the most successful collegiate wrestler of all time, but he is still a Perry citizen and he is very proud of that title. It means much more to him than any of the titles and awards that have come to him during a lifetime of unparalleled success in athletics. Danny's comfortable home on Jackson street has a room set aside for the medals, ribbons, citations and other awards that have come to him during his fabulous career.

Still, he makes no phony pretensions about his great career and he continues to be an unassuming, humble son of this community. He is proud of the recognition he's received but he views it all with a level eye that few others can claim. Danny is a hometown Perry boy who knows he's reached the pinnacle of an awesome career but takes it all in stride.

The other day, I led an admirer to his front door with a request for an autograph. He and his charming wife, Dolores, willingly complied and tossed in some very interesting anecdotes that have occurred in his life. Among them were stories about his high school coach, John Divine; collegiate coach at OU, Port Robertson; and others who have contributed to his successes. He obviously loves to talk about those highlights and it is something special to hear those tales coming directly from Danny.

Danny is indeed something very special and a credit to this little community. He is still the only wrestler, at any level who has graced the cover of Sports Illustrated, the celebrated magazine that is held to be the bible of the sports world, here and abroad. (That was the issue dated April 7, 1957.) We are proud of you, Danny Hodge.