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Remember The Wrestler: Kelly Fox of Guthrie Center


While reading Kelly’s responses to the questionnaire and learning about his journey and experiences with wrestling, it hit me in “the feels” pretty hard at parts.  It gave me the same feeling I get whenever I watch the end of the movie, “Rudy.” I can’t make it through that movie without crying.  I didn’t make it through reading about Kelly Fox’s wrestling journey without crying either. 

Do you think I’m a wussy for that? Ok then, I’ll sick Dan Gable on you!


HAHA, TAKE THAT, ROBOTS! See…it’s ok for wrestlers to be sentimental about wrestling. Dan Gable clearly is…. and he is the complete opposite of  someone who is “weak-minded.” Wrestlers are way more human than we are often times given credit for by non-wrestlers. The next time a non-wrestler tells me that wrestlers are nothing more than emotionless robots that like to roll around with each other dressed in swimsuits, ironically may summon my inner Terminator. 


\The story of Kelly Fox is something that could appeal to any sports fan. Heck, it could appeal to someone not interested in sports at all. If a person tells you that they don’t think they could ever get into wrestling, the Kelly Fox story would be a perfect one to use if you want to try to change their outlook on that. Kelly Fox qualified for state as a Sophomore with a mediocre 14-10 record and managed to win a state title. This just simply does not happen very often. He was an underdog in every match, he faced a high ranked wrestler in every match and he WON all four of these matches to win state. It amazes me that this story was almost completely forgotten about in time by most wrestling fans. I had never heard of it happening prior to watching the 1983 state tournament for the first time ever a few weeks ago and you’ll be hard-pressed to find someone who has studied Iowa HS state wrestling history over the years more than I have.

There are tons of people who love inspirational sports movies like Rudy. Some people who love these types of movies may have no interest in the sport being played in the movie, but love it anyways because they love stories of good characters defeating the odds… it makes people feel happy. Kelly Fox is a guy you could make a movie like that about…(If I had a budget to work with, I 100% WOULD do it. I mean that). A person doesn’t have to have any prior wrestling knowledge, experience or interest to be inspired by Kelly’s story either. What’s not to love about a true story of a person repeatedly defeating the odds at the perfect time and accomplishing tremendous feats despite being doubted by everyone outside their own supportive and enthusiastic wrestling community? Most love those types of stories, no matter who or what they may be about.  Rocky… Rudy… Miracle…Hoosiers….. KELLY FOX! This man is our Rudy, guys… 

(In Case You’ve Never Seen The Ending Of The Movie “Rudy” That I Referred To):


This is also a perfect example of something that needs to be documented and accessible to anyone who has a wrestling background and/or people who try wrestling in the future…For it could inspire them during the rough times that they will most certainly have at some point in their careers or well, lives. Not to mention, it’s something that should not be forgotten in time as it almost was! And to think that there may be other stories or journeys similar to Kelly’s that are at risk of permanently falling between the cracks of infinite obscurity… It just makes me want to research more and try to find more Kelly Fox’s before their memories fade even further…. Thing is, I don’t know if there is a likelihood of finding any other stories quite like Kelly’s…. The only one I can think of that comes close is Rice Owens from WDM Valley winning state with something like an 25-13 record in 1998. The Kelly Fox story does not happen very often, BUT maybe it will happen again in the future for a young reader out there who may use Kelly’s words and story as the inspiration they needed to spark their own inner fire that helped them accomplish their goals.

I hope parents/coaches of wrestlers encourage their kids to read this one. You can tell them to skip past my ramblings…. They need to learn from and learn about Kelly Fox! What he accomplished and his account in how he accomplished it is one of the most heart-warming things you will ever hear about in this sport. As I mentioned above, it made me cry.  If you think I am a cowardly lion for that, then I guess I should offer you an oil can, for I assume you are a heartless tin man who could use some.



What clubs, schools, etc. did you wrestle for?

I only wrestled for my High School, Guthrie Center High School. Back then there were no clubs that you attached yourself to and did out of season wrestling with. There were a few summer tournaments, but most of us had jobs during the summer. We did have a 2 week camp period during the summer at our HS, but that was about the extent of wrestling when not in season.


What year did you graduate?  

May 1985


 Who or what encouraged you to give wrestling a try?

Actually coming from a smaller town you played all the sports. In Jr. High I did football, basketball, track, and baseball. Up until my 7th grade year I had never tried wrestling. So that year I went out and 2 weeks into it, I quit. Did not feel good at quitting something that I had started, but just was not a fan. I think because I had never been exposed to the sport, I did not get out on a very good foot and quite frankly was getting my butt whipped. I was a guard in basketball and actually thought I had some game, so had decided that basketball would be my winter sport. Once 8th grade came around, I still had a bad taste in my mouth for quitting wrestling the year before, so I went back out and tried it again. I had some success. I think I was .500 in matches, but after the season I felt much better and thought I had made up for quitting the year before. Summer came and I had football and basketball camps and at that point I had ordered my basketball shoes for my upcoming freshman year. Throughout my freshman year of football, I had numerous upper classmen come up to me and tell me they better see me on the mat after football was over, for they were in need of a 98 pounder. Didn’t think much of it, but as the season got closer and closer the noise was getting louder and louder and a few seniors indicated that they didn’t want to stick me into a locker if I had made a bad choice on not going out for wrestling. In the end, it was the Sunday before winter sports practices started that I had made my decision and it was one that would pretty much change my path in life. Mind you, my new basketball shoes were not in yet, but that Monday in early November of 1981, instead of taking a left into the door that led to the basketball practice gym, I went right into the wrestling room and the look on the basketball coaches’ faces was not a good one. I was young then and did not have the heart to tell them that I had changed my plans and felt wrestling was a better fit based on my size at the time. I was less than 100 lbs. and only 5’2”. In the end it was the best decision I ever made, for it forever changed who I was. Footnote to that story, my basketball shoes did come in about 2 weeks later and when the assistant coach gave them to me, he did say he missed me on the court, but hoped I was happy with my decision. He ended up being a big fan of mine which really meant a lot. You hate to disappoint people especially that early in life, but in the end if worked out for everyone.


Do you have any family who wrestled or wrestles currently?Parents, children, brothers, etc.? How did they do?

My younger brother who is 2 years younger than me did some wrestling and I had a cousin also who wrestled in HS prior to me getting into HS. Nobody currently in my family wrestles, I do have a 17year old son, but I never once pushed him into the sport and he was a hockey player growing up. He never seemed to have any interest so I just stayed away from it. I told him I thought he would be good, for he is very competitive, but it was not something he ever wanted to try. I am at peace with that, as a father, down deep I wanted him to, but I always told him I was good with whatever sports he wanted to play. It was baseball and hockey.


What were your youth results? Any rivals there?

Didn’t really have any for I didn’t do any of the younger kids tournaments or wrestle until got into my junior high years.


What was your record in HS?

Freshman year = 15-15 (3rd at Sectionals, but see below on a bizarre activity in which I got to actually wrestle at districts that year). Sophomore year = 18-10, Junior Year = 26-8, and Senior Year = 21-1, so totals look like 80-34.


How did you place at state every year?

Freshman year – -Got 3rd at sectionals, but the night before districts started, my coach got the call that Dexfield’s Paul Merical became ill and was unable to compete, so I got the nod being that I finished 3rd. So mind you this was technically my second year of competition, so when I got there, I truly didn’t understand the impact of what districts was. I knew the wrestlers at districts would be tough, so I was not expecting much that would surprise me. Ended up beating the sectional champ from the week before, but that was as close as I got. Finished 3rd and only top two from districts went onto state. But I almost back-doored my way in my Freshman year. Sophomore Year – -State Champ 98 lbs, went in with a 14-10 record, that has to be, if not the worst, one of the worst records in the bracket. I got 2nd at both Sectionals and Districts. You guessed it, I was 16th seed at State. Had to go through the gauntlet to get that crown. Junior Year 105 lbs – 4th place overall. Senior Year – 105 lbs…Beat out in first round by a freshman and no wrestle backs for my guy got beat next round.


What were some of the most notable adverse challenges or moments you experienced in wrestling and how did it turn out?

The one that sticks out the most is my Senior year where I rolled my ankle in a dual in early January and I was out 3 weeks. Very painful and I could not put a lot of weight on the ankle for that period of time. We did not have a pool and there is only so much bike you can ride to stay in shape. Came back the weekend before Sectionals that year to wrestle in my last Guthrie Center Tiger Invitational and ended up winning it, but in the championship match took a huge elbow to the top of my head and it split wide open and the cut was deep. I was wrapped up like a mummy to finish the match, but then had to go to hospital afterwards to get 9 stitches in the top of my head. Took it pretty easy the week leading up to sectionals and going into both sectionals and districts, I was clearly out of shape and not at my peek that was for sure for didn’t have that many matches. Being that I was a senior, I was wrestling a lot of underclassmen at 105, so that was of help.


How would you describe your wrestling style?

Always wanted to get the very first take down and my go to move right out of the gate was a duck under to a single and down to the mat you go. After that, loved riding the legs and controlling your arms and using tilts. Did not pin a bunch, but I would rack up some back points. When I rode legs, I rode high and put a lot of pressure on your shoulders/neck. I could sense frustration a lot of times for if we would have had riding time back then, I would have racked it up on most kids.


How many guys in high school did you go back and forth with or exchange wins with?  

A few that stick out to me was wrestling Pat and Mike Moran from Woodward Granger were guys I went back and forth with a lot. First and foremost, those guys were class acts. Win or lose they were always so gracious and we ended up being friends. After matches and at tournaments I would hang out with them and we would talk wrestling. My Junior year in 1984 I went back and forth with a wrestler from Dallas Center Grimes named Doug Hatch who ended up winning it all that year. We wrestled in a dual and then a few tournaments and he had my number every time. We had to wrestle in the Semifinals at State that year and he got the best of me. I was happy to see him go on that year and take the Championship, very good wrestler and person as well. Of course in my conference and regular tournaments there were numerous guys that I would wrestle multiple times and the last one that sticks out me is Mark Patrick From Coon Rapids. He and I went back and forth and I don’t believe Tim every beat me, but I will tell you every time I wrestled him he would get better and better and just such an outstanding person. We wrestled each other so much, we knew what each would do, so it truly was a game of cat and mouse by the time we were seniors. Those four guys jump right out at me when I think of tough exchanges and good people in the sport.


Who was your most influential coach?

I have to go with my head coach at the time I won it, Jim Calvert. But also had some pretty good assistants throughout my career, but I think more importantly were the boys in the room that I wrestled against every day. They were scrappy, tough, and really took it to me from time to time. I always remember we would try different things and bounce things off one another. Learned different techniques from them all, but at the end of the day we all respected one another and were good teammates.


What was the story of your state championship your Sophomore year? What was your record? How did districts and the matches leading to the finals go for you?

What a run this was. First and foremost my season record was only 14-10 coming into State. Finished 2nd at Sectionals in Coon Rapids that year where I had to wrestle 3 matches (wrestle back) to advance, and then went to Rockwell City for Districts, where I finished 2nd as well. Don’t remember how that district came out, but remember eventually falling to the champion of our district 3-2 in OT. Have to be totally honest, I was not expecting it. I remember it being a very tough district, but remember in those days I wrestled the 1st place guy from the other sectional and I beat him 5-4 and then had to wrestle Chad Cox again from my district and again he beat me 3-2 in OT. Then it was on to State the next week in which I just remember it being a very compact and quick week. Since the season was technically over, I went up to Coon Rapids to wrestle with their qualifiers and against Mark Patrick a lot (I mentioned before). Had a light practice that Wednesday and then off on Thursday to State. My High School had a send off event which I thought was pretty cool and then in the school van we went. There were some things that stick out to me about how it felt when we first got down there. First at weigh-ins, I found it very intimidating that there were multiple teams with 5-7 wrestlers there and here I was with only one other wrestler, our Super Heavyweight Kent Bortell. I just remember the whole Lisbon team standing there in a huddle and I had to go up against their top guy Danny Benyshek. I can’t fully describe how it felt that very first time entering Veterans Auditorium and walking around the floor where the mats were.  I suppose the best word to describe it is, “amazing.” Nothing will ever compare to that old barn. I know today everything is nice and new and bigger, but I am telling you there was something special about that place and when I walked out on the mat, I felt at home for some strange reason. I wrestled the best guys to get to the finals. I can’t remember their rankings, but I am telling you they were all very highly ranked throughout the year. First off was again Danny Benyshek from #1 Lisbon team. Final score of the match was 7-5, I remember getting the first take down and I believe a 2 pt. nearfall, but don’t remember anything else except for hanging on at the end. The look on my coaches face when that match was over, I am going to say was one of huge surprise. The next day was an early match Friday morning, against Kingsley-Pearson’s LeMont Schmid. It was a 5-1 final, and I believe it was a takedown and some back points that provided me that lead. I remember he was down to start the 3rd period and I gave up a late escape, but he couldn’t get me down. I felt good after that match and I think it was at that point where I was like, “let’s go. I can compete with these guys and you just have to keep the pressure on them.” So after that it was off to get some food and rest, for the semis would be that night. I remember we went back to the hotel and chilled most of the day. Coach didn’t want me to stay around Vet’s, so it was a hangout day at the hotel. Once we got back to Vet’s for the semis, I felt a huge change in atmosphere and the enormity at hand. I could see on my friends’ faces and how nervous they were, but it gave me confidence in a way I can’t describe. My semifinal match was against Bob O’Conner from Dike. He was a year older, had already been to state the year before and was 27-2 coming into our match. I got one look at him before walking out and was like, wow he is thick. He had some tough matches before, so I remember going out right away and trying to take him down and he blocked everything I threw out at him. He did try for some singles, but 0-0 after 1. In regulation we went 2-2, and for the life of me I can’t remember how that went. As we went to OT, I shot right away and as we went to the mat something popped in his knee. There was an injury timeout and after some time, we continued. He clearly was not the same and was hurting, for I ended up tilting him to his back 3 times on my way to a 10-0 OT victory. Later down in these questions, I will provide you with a memory I will never forget about this match. Man, my team and buddies were all fired up after that and we couldn’t believe I would be walking in the Grand March, and wrestling in the finals. That next day was a whirlwind. Had teammates and former wrestlers coming to the hotel all day. I was trying to stay calm and relaxed, but found that very hard. Just remember my coach saying you have gotten this far, let it all go on this match. Got to the arena and the Grand March is something I will never forget. If there is one thing, I wish all my buddies could take part in, it would be that. You have 10K people with a standing ovation and it seems like it goes on forever. I can’t describe the feeling for I still had a match to go, but I remember thinking to myself, “so this what my buddies have talked about.” Got a little warm up time for they have a bunch of awards and things they do before the matches, and then it became time for introductions of the first finals matches, which was 98 lbs…my weight. Honest to God, this next part will be hard for me to type out and know I will be stopping a lot to collect my thoughts and emotions; I mean my God it’s been 37 years, Kelly. After keeping loose in the corner, my coaches were just keeping me as calm as possible. After I headed out to the center, I just told myself, “let’s make the first move and make something happen, don’t hold back.” I did just that, got the first takedown and got some tilt points right out of the gate. This match is fuzzy to this day and I am not sure if I was up 5-0 or 6-0 after the first period, but remember the rest of the way on he pretty much controlled it with a reversal and I believe he got some back points as well, and up until the very end, almost had additional back points to which he would have won the match. I just remember him riding me very hard and trying to tilt me every chance he got. I believe I got called for stalling late, but he ran out of time. I was holding on for dear life for his ride was so tight and I didn’t want to give up any more back points. Time ran out and I had to look over at the board to see exactly how it ended up. I was so relieved. I don’t think I responded with much and my memory is fuzzy with it, but I do remember running into my head coaches’ arms and the cheerleaders racing over to congratulate me and the coaches. The GC crowd was going nuts, it was so loud, but I remember the 2A match was not finished yet and that came down to the last few seconds. The rest was a blur, to be very honest. I remember getting on top of that stand and the moment that medal went around my neck, I was on cloud 9. It finally had hit me when the announcer said, “and your Class A 98 lbs State Champion, from Guthrie Center, Kelly Fox.” I heard every one of my buddies and teammates behind me in the stands yell so loud. Was handed the board and off I went to a few interviews and then into my teammates’ arms. I know I don’t do this justice, but the enormity of this didn’t hit me for days and maybe months. I think terms I saw in the newspapers and what not to describe it consisted of; “Cinderella Story,” “The Little Train That Could” and “leave it to the smallest to bring home the biggest.” I found a quote from my coach Jim Calvert after it was all said and done, he indicated that the difference between the way I wrestled during the season and at the state tournament was my attitude. “There was no stopping him after he won Thursday’s match. He wrestled with so much confidence, it was unbelievable,” he said.

Was your team competitive in HS/college?

Yes we had some gusto, but more than being competitive is we truly where a wrestling family. We always had close bonds inside the room and we always did a lot together in and out of season. I truly will never forget that, some very good people that either win or lose never lost sight of how tight our group was. As you get older it is just something you cherish and are grateful you experienced.


Who was your most influential wrestler that you looked up to growing up?

There was also a couple of brothers from Guthrie Center that I remember always wanting to be like when I was growing up, Mike and Mark Artist. Twin brothers and they were wrestling legends at GCHS. Mark won a State Championship in 1977 and Mike was second that same year. I remember talking to them when I was younger and truly admired how good they were. As I got a little older I was a huge Barry Davis fan and loved what he brought to the mat for intensity and just how he went out and never let up for the full 7 minutes in his college matches.


Who would you consider the GOAT Iowa HS wrestler?

Hands down Dan Gable followed by all the 4 Timers. That is something very hard to do and to repeat every year is just something that is hard for me to comprehend with all the pressure I know that exists.


Are there any wrestlers you’ve seen, past or present that you would compare your style to?

Not really, to be very upfront. Since I started so late in my career to wrestle, I just felt I needed to go out and do what I could do. I was not flashy by any means, my style was to get the first takedown, ride you out and take you to your back.


Who are some Iowa HS wrestling guys from your era that you have an immense amount of respect for?

Any of the 4 timers of course, the Gibbons brothers were always so good, and just the guys I wrestled against daily in the wrestling room. I will forever be indebted to them for making me who I was.


Who are your favorite current wrestlers?

We are huge Iowa Hawkeye fans so my answer would be anyone that wrestles for them, but by far over the last few years my favorite has been Spencer Lee. What a great wrestler, but more than that…just how he carries himself and how humble he is. You can follow him up with Marinelli and Kemerer and so on.


What music would you listen to back in the wrestling days?

I was an ACDC/Van Halen guy. All their songs got me pumped up and those are the songs blaring in the weight room at our school. But I had one song I had to listen to before each big match and that was “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor. Before Sectionals/Districts/State I always took a long walk around the town and would put my headphones on and that was always the last song I would listen too. Got me so fired up and to this day I still get some chills when I hear it for it takes me right back there.


What was the most upset you ever felt after a loss?

My very last match ever, 1st Round of my Senior Year at state. Got beat by a freshman and I couldn’t do anything against him. Again, coming in I wasn’t in the best shape with being out so long with my ankle injury, but no excuses for this was state. I was ranked 2nd in the state coming in and just got whipped and my hats off to Bruce Obrecht from Underwood. When I got up after being rode practically the whole 3rd period, I looked at my family and friends and to see the looks on their faces to this day truly makes me disappointed. It was all on me, I didn’t wrestle good and remember thinking at one point before the match was over, “is this the way you are going to go out?” I let a lot of people down that day and for the longest time, that truly stayed with me and was hard for me to overcome. I felt so bad for them and was not worried about myself when I walked off that mat, for that day the better person won hands down and I knew it.


If you could go back and change one thing about your wrestling career, what would it be?

Wish I would have put more time in the off season into the sport. Plus, I had some offers from some Juco’s to continue my wrestling career, but I chose to go a different path and it was clearly not the right one for me. I had my heart set on going to the University of Iowa, not to wrestle (walk on was in the back of my mind). I wanted to get that college experience and that was just not a good call. Trust me, I had a good time, but I forgot what college was for. I spent too much time with extracurricular activities and forgot I had to go to class and study, for that’s why I was there.


What was your best wrestling memory or accomplishment?

Most would think I would say when I won the State Championship and that was my best moment for sure, but my best memory was probably in the Semi-Finals of that year. I was wrestling Bob O’ Connor From Dike who was very good and very highly ranked that year (believe 3rd) and we had a tough match where we went 2-2 in regulation and then went to overtime and unfortunately he hurt his knee in the first period after I took him down and he was not the same from then on. I put him on his back three times in the match to end up winning 10-0 in OT. Prior to going into OT, I just remember a group of my friends started a chant and was getting other people to join in and I just remember thinking, “how can you let them down now?”  A few of my buddies would yell, “Who are you rooting for!?!??” The rest of their crowd would answer, “Kelly Fox!!” and it was so loud and they got others who didn’t even know me to join in. Remembering that 37 years later truly gives me goosebumps and brings big tears to my eyes. After that match I went running to that group, and they literally picked me up on their shoulders and were chanting again. That is the wrestling memory I will never forget and feel is the best.


How would the guys from your day stack up against the guys today?

Guys today do much more wrestling in and out of season, both folk and freestyle throughout the year so I am going to say they would be tough to beat, that is for sure. Another thing, kids don’t cut as much weight as we did back in the day, which when I look back, it was totally stupid. My senior year I cut from 125 down to 105 and the muscle and strength would go along with the weight I lost. I sweat out every day. I ran and I would lay under the mats to make weight and that was silly…plain stupid. I had no business doing that, should have wrestled at 112 or 119. 


Did you wrestle after high school?

I did not wrestle after high school and a very stupid mistake on my part that I will never ever forget. Again had some offers but never pursued them.


What other sports did you play?

In high school, played them all. Smaller 1A school so I loved that I got that chance. Football in the fall, wrestling in the winter, track in the spring, and rounded it out with baseball. Was all Southwest Iowa in Baseball my senior year as a Utility player (for I was catcher, relief pitcher, shortstop). I truly loved representing our school in every sport, once a Tiger Always a Tiger.


What are your favorite sports teams?

In College, anything to do with the Iowa Hawkeyes, our family is Black and Gold baby. In Pro Football that would be the Minnesota Vikings, Pro Hockey – New York Rangers, and in Pro Baseball the World Champions LA Dodgers. Not much of an NBA guy, but have always loved the Philadelphia 76’s since the days of Dr. J…


What are your hobbies other than wrestling?

Don’t really have any hobbies, I just watch a lot of sports to be honest, both college and pros. I don’t have time for any hobbies 😊.


How good does it make you feel to give back to the sport?

I didn’t give enough back enough to the sport, I gained way more out from it then I have given back. That is very much a regret I still have in life, I know that I could have coached kids up, but think I left with a bad taste in my mouth and never really embraced what the sport did for me, for it totally made me who I am today.


How has wrestling shaped you as a person to this day?

That you can’t quit on anything. The Impossible is Possible. Physical size does not matter in any sport, its the size of the heart, soul, and values you are given and how you channel them. Two things helped shape me into the person I am today; the sport of wrestling and my military time. I would not be where I am at today without either one of those. I would say wrestling gave me the don’t quit attitude in a one-on-one situation. The thought that it’s only you, yourself, and I out there that can either win or lose, you can’t blame anyone else when you walk off that mat. The military provided me with the pride I think we all need to have in life, you have to take pride in what you do every single day both personally and professionally and give 110% in any task.


What do you do now?

After doing 9 years in the US Air Force as an Intelligence Analyst at Offutt Air Force Base in Omaha, I decided this was the place for me to stay and raise a family. I was midwestern born and raised and wanted my kids to have the same. Plus it was not far away from Iowa City so I can continue to watch my Hawks and go back and forth to live events. For the last 21 years I have had the pleasure to work in the I/T Industry and currently am a Sales Representative for our Maintenance Division and have loved all 21 years of being with this company.


Are you still involved with wrestling?

I kind of walked away from the sport for many years and then got back into it 10 years ago and became a wrestling official in Nebraska and did some kids tournaments in Iowa as well. Didn’t like the direction the sport was going to be honest. Parents were not good and it started to reflect on their kids. I officiated for 3 years and decided that was not for me. I got tired of telling coaches and parents to settle down and let their kids learn the sport and have fun. Don’t get me wrong I am competitive as they come, but I felt they were really taking the fun out of the sport for their kids and I didn’t want any part of it.


Any advice for upcoming wrestlers?

In this sport you are in control of almost everything. How you carry yourself on and off the mat, how much work you want to put into the sport, it takes more than just regular practice. Many workouts, I remember doing early before school started, to not only keep my weight in check, but to stay in shape and be ready for those last two minutes of the 3rd period. Last, but not least, it’s never over and the sky is the limit. Don’t let anyone tell you, “You Can’t.” I don’t believe that one bit. It’s mano vs mano and it’s the person that is the most prepared physically and mentally, period. Any given match is up for grabs, trust me. I proved it 4 times in a row February 23-25, 1983. Physically I was not the best, but mentally I felt I was ready in every match I went out there for.


Any chance we see you wrestle again at an Old Timer’s tournament?

Man I would have loved a tournament 5-10 years ago. It’s been 35 years since I last stepped onto a mat. I still watch a lot of college meets and if I have a buddy that has a son wrestling I love to go watch them. The passion for wrestling is so much more different than any other sport I have played. Never lost the passion and desire to go shake hands again. I would love to look at someone in the eye, and go at it again and thinking about it makes the hair on my arms stand up again.


Would you like to give a shout out to anyone you wrestled with, against, coached, etc.?

To every teammate that I ever had in that wrestling room. I wrestled with some great guys that I am still very good friends with today and they all truly made me better and they were always in my corner in the good and bad times. I had such good times hanging out with these guys and we were so close as a team, each of my 4 years in High School. Whether it was just hanging out, going to a movie, or chasing girls, I feel we truly loved each other and had each other’s back.


Do you have anything to add? Funny/interesting stories? Trivia? Etc.

I have a couple of different ones.  First one was in my history class on that Tuesday afternoon after that championship weekend and my school principal came to the room and pulled me out of class. Not everyday you get pulled out by your principal, so I was a little nervous. We went to his office and he then put his speaker phone and it was Coach Dan Gable and a few wrestlers offering me congratulations and told me to keep working hard. Barry Davis was one of them and those guys gave me so much encouragement. It totally blew me away, I was not expecting anything like that, but I know my HS principal at the time Barry Monahan had something to do with it, and I am forever grateful.

Last one I would tell you and not many people remember this one… It is a good trivia question for those closest to me. In the Championship match in 1983, I wrestled in the finals vs. a guy named Charlie Luther from Semco-Gilman and believe it or not, the next year in 1984, my first round match was against…….you guessed it….Charlie Luther again…I came in at 23-6 and he was 22-3 and I ended up beating him again 4-2. It was such a tough match and found it bizarre that we had to go at it again, after being in the finals the year prior.

{ 9 comments… add one }
  • Matt Rial December 20, 2020, 9:08 am

    Great story!
    PinDox is awesome, keep it up!

  • Mary Jo Laughery December 21, 2020, 10:13 pm

    Kelly, I read every single word you wrote, and I relived those exciting matches. Your life could be a movie for sure. You have made a good life for yourself and your family and held on to your principles you learned from wrestling.

  • Pat moran December 22, 2020, 8:58 am

    I remember our sophomore year and thinking Kelly was making history. Although I went to WG I always respected him and the way he attacked every match. Not sure if it will ever be repeated in today’s world but always like the underdog story especially when the good guys win. Glad to call you my friend.

  • Martha Dsvis December 22, 2020, 12:31 pm

    Hi Kelly Quite a story I’m sure you feel pride as you should. You was 6th grade when we moved here. Glad we include you & Casey into our lives. Your wrestling was an exciting feature for Keith & I to attend. So good to have known you and applaud you for your accomplishments.

  • Bill Troshynski December 23, 2020, 8:31 am

    I never really knew all of the details of how that championship run went for you. Great story. Thanks!!

  • Chad Elliott December 23, 2020, 11:16 pm

    Loved this story. I remember listening to the match on the radio in Mrs. Blass’s third grade class.
    It is probably why I chose to wrestle from from fourth grad through highschool.
    Thanks Kelly!

  • Jennie Artist December 24, 2020, 7:05 pm

    Great story! Mike and I enjoyed the article and discovering your life story. Wish we had found out years ago that you didn’t live far from us (Glenwood, Iowa).

  • Bob O’Connor January 28, 2021, 11:04 pm

    I would have to say that my match with Kelly was my most memorable match also, but not in a good way. I remember getting totally beat in overtime and coming off the mat and someone told me at least you have next year. I just said no I don’t because I quit. I didn’t quit, but looking back all these years it’s good to see my opponent had a good time. 😀. Kelly thanks for the awesome story.

  • Barry Webber February 4, 2021, 10:53 am

    I was looking up the stats on Mark Artist today and ran across your story. I wish I had known sooner in regards to this story. I entered the U.S. Air Force in 1981 and traveled around a lot until taking an early out on Dec 4th, 1992. I think my thoughts about wrestling is truly a daily pattern for me. I did some take down tournaments in Portland, OR. in my early 40’s and did quite well, should have used that strategy of taking down letting up in High School, might have4 won better. God Bless All! Guthrie Center Class of 1978.

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