The Oklahoma Sooners lost a wrestling legend over the holidays.

National Wrestling Hall of Famer Danny Hodge died in his hometown of Perry, OK, on Dec. 24. Hodge was 88 years old.

In 1955, Hodge came to wrestle at Oklahoma, where he would post a 46-0 record and win three straight national titles under Hall of Fame coach Port Robertson.

“We are deeply saddened by the loss of Danny Hodge, a true giant in the sport of wrestling,” Oklahoma Vice President and Athletic Director Joe Castiglione said in a press release. “He was a man who displayed great character and toughness but was also selfless and had an ability to connect with people of all ages.

“He made everyone feel important when actually he was the one we were trying to celebrate. I was so honored to get to know him a little over the years. It was always special to have him on campus.”

Hodge’s showing at the 1957 NCAA Championships ended with him being named Most Outstanding Wrestler, and he was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated (an honor no other college wrestler has earned to this day).

Hodge would go on to excel outside of the college wrestling arena. In the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, Hodge won the silver medal in freestyle wrestling. He would then go on to earn a 17-0 record in the boxing ring during the 1950’s, as well as an 18-year run as a professional wrestler.

The National Wrestling Hall of Fame inducted Hodge as a charter member in 1978, and Oklahoma state lawmakers named Hodge an Oklahoma Sports Hero in in 2005.

The Hodge Trophy was named after him, and is considered the “Heisman Trophy” of collegiate wrestling.

“His impact on OU wrestling and on the entire wrestling world will always be felt and appreciated,” Sooners wrestling coach Lou Rosselli said. “We extend our deepest condolences to his family and friends. His legacy will forever be treasured at the University of Oklahoma.”

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