Profile – Bobby Douglas
Bobby Douglas is a true pioneer in the sport of wrestling, as a competitor and coach.
Among his firsts: first African-American to win two state wrestling titles in Ohio… one of the first blacks to compete for the U.S. in wrestling at the Olympics… and first coach of color to guide his wrestling program to an NCAA Division I team title.
Born in Cincinnati but raised in eastern Ohio in a tiny community of Stop 32 near Wheeling, W.Va., Douglas made history by winning two state titles for Bridgeport High School, the first at 112 pounds in 1959, followed by a second state title in 1961. He started his college career at nearby Liberty State in West Virginia, where he won an NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) title and placed second at the NCAAs… then transferred to perennial powerhouse Oklahoma State. As a Cowboy, Douglas captured the 147-pound crown at the 1964 Big Eight (now Big 12) conference championships.
In 1964, Douglas earned a place on the U.S. Olympic freestyle wrestling team – and a place in the history books — joining Charlie Tribble as the first African-American grapplers to compete at any Olympics. Douglas just missed earning a medal, placing fourth at 138.5 pounds at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. He also competed for the U.S. at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. Douglas’ participation in the Olympics didn’t stop there; he also coached a number of U.S. Olympic freestyle teams over the years, most recently at the 2004 Olympics in Athens.
Douglas may be best known for his accomplishments as a college coach, in a career that spanned more than three decades. In 1968, Douglas continued his pioneering ways by becoming the first black to serve as a head coach at a Division I wrestling program (University of California-Santa Barbara)… then taking the helm at Arizona State, where, in 1988, he guided the Sun Devils to their first and only NCAA team title, becoming the first head coach of color of an NCAA championship-winning team. After 18 seasons at ASU, Douglas headed north to Iowa State, where, over the course of 14 seasons, he guided the Cyclones to 11 top-ten team finishes. A number of individual ISU wrestlers earned titles; arguably the most famous was Cael Sanderson, four-time NCAA champ (1999-2002) who compiled a 159-0 record under Douglas’ mentorship. Overall, Douglas coached 13 NCAA champs, 110 All-Americans, and 68 conference champions.
Douglas shared his experience and expertise far beyond the wrestlers he worked with directly, writing a number of instructional books.
For all these accomplishments, Bobby Douglas has been welcomed into a number of halls of fame, including the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in Stillwater, Okla. in 1987.
To learn more about Bobby Douglas, visit his official website… and check out Craig Sesker’s excellent biography, “Bobby Douglas: Life and Legacy of an American Wrestling Legend.”
Guest Contributor www.truewrestlinginsider.com