DATELINE: MARCH 15, 1976
Danny Hodge relinquishes the NWA World Junior Heavyweight title, and retires from professional wrestling after breaking his neck in a severe auto accident
Hodge had just begun his latest run with the championship after capturing just two weeks earlier, but had previously been the dominant titleholder of the division during his era.
His stellar professional run came after what had been the most dominant amateur career of all time. So dominant, in fact, that he won the 177-pound title at the NCAA championships in three consecutive years (1955–1957). Today, the NCAA award given annually for the best amateur wrestler (the equivalent of football’s esteemed Heisman Trophy) is named The Dan Hodge Award.
Known for his almost freakish athleticism, he’s perhaps most lauded for his unique feats of strength. Hodge has regularly crushed apples and bent sets of pliers with his bare hands, even into his 70’s. Hodge has claimed that it was due to having double tendons that allowed him to apply such a tremendous grip.
Hodge was enshrined in The Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2007. Today, he is the chairman of the Oklahoma Professional Boxing & Wrestling Commission.
WrestlingMuseum: DANNY HODGE
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YouTube: IYH Wrestling