For Hodge, Olympics meant meeting people
By GREG OLIVER -- SLAM! Wrestling
For Danny Hodge, it was meeting athletes from other countries that
really stood out from his Olympian experiences, politics being placed aside in favour of athletics.
Hodge competed in two Olympics. He was 19 and just out of high school in
1952 when he competed in Helsinki, Finland for the U.S. at 174 pounds in
freestyle wrestling. He didn't place.
It was quite a trip for a young man from Oklahoma, who was in the naval
reserves and there was a war going on in Korea.
"I had to join the naval reserves before I was 18, my senior year,"
Hodge recalled for SLAM! Wrestling. "I joined the reserves and of course
in '51 they called me into the Korean War. Now, the strange thing was
I'm here with the Korean athletes (in Helsinki) and they're just like
you and I. And I have trade pins from their country and they were just
as wonderful and as nice as can be. I respect everybody for
representing their country."
In 1956, Hodge again represented the United States, this time he was on
both the freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling teams at the Games in
Melbourne, Australia. He ended up only fighting freestyle, and won the
silver medal. Nikola Stancheu of Bulgaria claimed the gold.
SLAM! Sports covers The Games
Earl McCready, 1928|
Mad Dog Vachon, 1948
Danny Hodge, 1952, 1956
Dale Lewis, 1956, 1960
Bob Roop, 1968
Chris Taylor, 1972
Bad News Allen, 1976
Brad Rheingans, 1976
Mark Henry, 1992, 1996
Kurt Angle, 1996
The other Olympians
He is very proud of having gone to two Olympics. "You meet a lot of the
Olympians from other countries
and then you tell them you'll see them at the next Olympics, and the
chance of them making it for their country in four years from now and
the chance of me making it for my country in four years was like one
hundred million to one."
Making friends came easy in the Athletes Villages. "The bonding of the
athletes, that what was so neat about it, to see all the guys and girls
from the different countries."
The opening and closing ceremonies still give him chills to talk about.
"What a thrill to walk into the stadiums in those countries and the
fans, it was just thrilling."
"When you walk around the stadiums and everybody gives you a standing
ovation it just makes the goosebumps come up on your arm. Knowing
you're in the country to do your best and everybody is there to do their
best, and this is the best."
Hodge went on to a successful career in pro wrestling following the 1956
Games, and was the best for years and years as NWA World
-- with files from John F. Molinaro
Danny Hodge story archive