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Continued from page 7


tional button. He knew who needed a pat on the back and who could handle a kick in the pants.


Brands remembers a match early in the 1990 season when he lost to Oklahoma State rival Alan Fried in the finals of the Northern Iowa Open. Brands flipped open the newspaper the next day and saw a Gable quote that called the sophomore out for his performance. “You wanted to be around the guy, you wanted to impress him,” Brands said. “But you had to be the right kind of guy, too. He ran some guys out of town. He was a hard guy to wrestle for. … You had to be tough to wrestle for him.” Ask Ironside about Gable and he points the 1996 All-Star


to dual in Carver-


Hawkeye Arena. Iowa wrestled Wisconsin on a Saturday night in January. Ironside came to practice the next morning and he and Gable went to work on his next oppo- nent, a quick turnaround for a Monday- night match against Lock Haven national champion Cary Kolat. Kolat was 11-0 with 11 pins. Nobody


had taken a match into the third period against him, and even Ironside, a return- ing All-American ranked second, admitted he first approached the match with the curiosity of seeing where he stood against the No. 1 wrestler in the country. “We never talked about Kolat, we never


trained for Kolat or anything like that until it was the next match on the schedule,” Ironside said. “Then we started working for Kolat, where he was good and what I needed to do to beat him, and everything out of Gable’s mouth was, ‘When you beat Kolat, here’s how you’re going to do it. Here’s the way you’re going to beat Kolat.’ It was all positive. “The first couple times he said it I knew


what he was doing. I kind of did a double take like, ‘Yeah, I see what you’re trying to pull here.’ But he said it with so much (con- viction) that he made me believe it. He kept saying it over and over and over until I bought into it and I went into that match, honest to God with (no doubts). I knew I was going to win that match.” Ironside’s 9-8 victory was the headline performance for the Hawkeyes on a night when they won all five of their matches against top-flight competition. Ironside called it “the biggest turning point mentali- ty-wise in my wrestling career, the thing that probably helped me the most.”


8 USA Wrestler


Dan Gable poses with a young wrestler at the National Wrestling Hall of Fame Dan Gable Museum. The museum is located in Gable’s hometown of Waterloo.


Iowa’s practice started the next day with Gable giving a rundown of the all-star per- formances from lightest to heaviest. He praised Mike Mena for his pin. He spent minutes breaking down Jeff McGinness’ victory. Ironside sat in the back row with his chest out, waiting to hear Gable gush over his win.


“I’m thinking I’m the man because I just


beat Cary Kolat and Dan Gable is going to praise me,” Ironside said. “He gets to me and says, ‘Ironside, good job. Zadick…’ And he went right onto Bill Zadick. My heart sunk for a split second and I’m like, ‘Huh? That’s it? Ironside, good job?’ It took me a matter of two seconds to really com- prehend what happened, that it was time to put that behind me and move on and it was expected of me now.”


Whitmer shook his head when Gable


told him prior to the 1997 season that he was destined to become Iowa’s next NCAA champion. After all, Whitmer was a fifth-year senior who hadn’t even cracked Iowa’s lineup on a full-time basis. But Gable kept saying it over and over throughout the year and started calling the 118-pounder “The Strongest Man in the World” for his prodigious feats in the weight room. But when Whitmer dropped an 18-7 decision to Michigan State’s David Morgan midway through


the season,


Gable had to go back to his bag of mind tricks when he addressed the match the next day before practice.


“Instead of pointing out all the things I did wrong in the match, he pointed out everything I did right and what we learned from the match in a positive light,” Continued on page 9


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