By Brian Kelley
Recently I was honored to be invited to the home of wrestling historian Mike Chapman to present him with the 2010 Missouri Wrestling Revival lifetime achievement plaque.
It has taken me some time to write about this, because I wanted to be able to put over the fact that how much I appreciated to be a guest in Mike Chapman‘s home.
With that said here I go.
The MWR Lifetime Achievment award in the past have been given to 8 times NWA World Champion Harley Race in 2008 For his many great years in the sport and continued support of wrestling and communities in the Midwest. Last year in 2009 we presented the award to Wrestling at the Chase announcer and wrestling historian Larry Matysik.
The award is given to the man or women who have been a positive influence in the Midwest throughout their years in the sport.
When we sat down to decide who was deserving of the 2010 MWR Lifetime Achievement Award receipt, we wanted an individual who had been active in bringing to the Midwest a positive endorsement for the sport that we love. Mike Chapman was an easy choice.
As his bio states at his website Mike Chapman retired from a 35-year newspaper career in 2002 and in 2009 retired from an 11-year career serving as the executive director of the Dan Gable International Wrestling Institute and Museum (DGIWIM).
As a writer, he has met and interviewed such people as Ronald Reagan, Muhammad Ali, Robert Redford, Lou Ferrigno (The Incredible Hulk from TV fame) and many other famous stars of movies and sports. Mike has appeared on numerous TV shows –including the networks ESPN, A&E, Fox Sports, Iowa Public Television and Fox and Friends. He has been the guest on over 200 radio talk shows.
Mike is highly respected in the world amateur wrestling. He is the founder of WIN Magazine, the nation’s top amateur wrestling publication; the WIN Memorabilia Show, which draws 8,000 fans each year to the NCAA Championships; and the “Dan Hodge Trophy,” which goes each year to the top college wrestler in the United States. It has been called “the Heisman Trophy of wrestling.”
Mike is a member of six halls of fame. In 2002, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the CAC (Cauliflower Alley Club, an organization of boxers, wrestlers and movie actors)
In 2009 retired from an 11-year career serving as the executive director of the Dan Gable International Wrestling Institute and Museum (DGIWIM).
That is just a quick look at some of the accomplishments of Mike Chapman. For more please take a look at his website here.
Before I made the drive to Mikes home, I had read his book, Frank Gotch An American Hero. When I finished the last page and put the book down, I truly was a fan for life of the great Frank Gotch. During our time together at his house Mike would show me many of his personal collection of the greats in pro wrestling . One memorable item for me was the opportunity to wear the bowler hat that Gotch personally owned while sitting in the chair that Mike had bought from the Gotch home during an auction at his house.
For a few hours, Mike shared story after story of his time around the ALL-TIME greats including Lou Thesz and Danny Hodge. Mike spoke of the sad days at the flood at the Dan Gable International Wrestling Institute and Museum (DGIWIM) in Waterloo when so many important items were lost.
When I asked about the City of Humboldt to honor Frank Gotch with a statue in park his eyes lit up letting me know how proud of the work that the men and women involved had done during a recent open house to raise funds for the statue in Humboldt. MWR will keep you posted of the progress of the statue her at MWR when more details come out. It is with great hope that we are able to cover such an historic event, honoring one of the all time greats in Frank Gotch.
The world of pro wrestling in the Midwest should be thankful to have Mike Chapman as a presence in the sport. His time and efforts have been instrumental in keeping the legacy of the golden age of wrestling alive.
When the time came to leave Mikes house I knew that he had given his heart and soul to each of his passions. In the end I came to the conclusion that he deserved each and every award and HOF inductions .
Mike has spent a lifetime given back to many people and it is with great hope that I hopes that he knew that I was honored to present him with the 2010 MWR Lifetime Achievement Award.