Former OU wrestler and National Wrestling Hall of Famer Danny Hodge died Dec. 24 at 88, with his passing later being announced Saturday.
Hodge, a native of Perry, Oklahoma, came to OU in 1955 and went 46-0 in his career as a Sooner. He won three national championships in Norman and is the namesake of the Hodge Trophy, which is the college wrestling equivalent to the Heisman Trophy. He went from Oklahoma to win three national freestyle championships and a silver medal from the 1956 Melbourne Olympics.
"We are deeply saddened by the loss of Danny Hodge, a true giant in the sport of wrestling," OU athletics director Joe Castiglione said in a statement. "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. His mindset of what makes a champion was timeless. ... I was so honored to get to know him a little over the years. It was always special to have him on campus."
In 1957, Hodge became the only wrestler ever featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine, and in 1978 he became a charter member of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. He never gave up a takedown during his OU career and is one of just two college wrestlers to win three NCAA titles by fall.
"Our hearts are heavy with the passing of our own Danny Hodge," OU head wrestling coach Lou Rosselli said in a statement. "His impact on OU wrestling and on the entire wrestling world will always be felt and appreciated. We extend our deepest condolences to his family and friends. His legacy will forever be treasured at the University of Oklahoma."