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National Wrestling Hall of Fame highlights families in new book and display

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Updated: February 7, 2011

The National Wrestling Hall of Fame & Museum is proud to announce its plans for an educational outreach program on the American Wrestling Family Experience. Family Ties: An American Wrestling Tradition will feature an exhibit, book, and forum at this year’s NCAA Fan Fest in Philadelphia , Pennsylvania .

Both are set for release in March and will explore the connection between wrestling and family. Fathers and mothers, husbands and wives, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, officials and international superstars are examined in the display and the book.

“This educational outreach exhibit illustrates the achievements of America ’s most accomplished wrestling families,” said Lee Roy Smith, executive director of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame & Museum. “It entices young families to consider the many benefits of engaging in this family-friendly sport.”

The book and exhibit will document over 130 families that meet the established criteria. Immediate family members had to be an NCAA Division I All-American, Senior World Team member, or an Olympic Team member to be considered.

The book is a compilation of stories written by several prominent wrestling authors. Twenty-two wrestling historians contributed to the research for the book. Each chapter provides insight into wrestling as it relates to family.

“Families are the lifeblood of wrestling,” said Craig Sesker , communications manager at USA Wrestling and one the authors of the book. “Some of the best wrestlers in American history have had brothers who achieved similar success on the mat. Having the strong support system a family provides is essential in excelling in such a grueling, demanding sport.”

The National Wrestling Hall of Fame will sponsor a presentation on Family Ties at the Lincoln Financial Field during the NCAA Wrestling Fan Fest on Thursday, March 17 at 4:30 p.m. Many of the family members featured in the exhibit will be on hand for an autograph session, as well as a select few who will participate in a forum about the American Wrestling Family Experience.

Many of the stories in the book are about unique wrestling families. Dan Gable , head coach of 15 NCAA team titles during his tenure at the University of Iowa from 1977 through 1997, had two sets of identical twins (Tom and Terry Brands and Troy and Terry Steiner) in his line-up during his 1990-91 and 1991-92 seasons.

The Hawkeye program, winner of 23 NCAA team titles in the past 35 years, relied heavily on brothers for its success. The Streichers (Doug and Kent), Zadicks (Bill and Mike), Ukers (Joe, Ben and Mike), Kistlers (Marty, Harlan and Lindley), Eustices (Luke and Ty), Fulsaases (Ryan and Randy) and the Trizzinos (Scott and Mark) are just a few of the brothers to wrestle at Iowa .

Ed and Lou Banach were instrumental in Iowa ’s early success at the NCAA tournament. Ed won NCAA titles in 1980, 1981, and 1983. Lou won titles in 1981 and 1983. Both won gold medals at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles .

“The Banachs were very influential on the growth of our program,” said Gable. “They really came in at a time that helped generate enthusiasm and excitement and were just what I was trying to represent as a coach.”

The book and display, however, are not exclusive to wrestlers. Stories about mothers and sisters are prominent in the book.

Ann Peery Ritter, daughter of Rex Peery, and sister of Hugh and Ed Peery, discusses her experience in a prominent wrestling family. Rex Peery won three NCAA titles for Oklahoma State (1933-35) and coached his sons to three NCAA titles each at Pittsburgh (Hugh from 1952-1954 and Ed from 1955-1957).

“I came along 10 years after Ed was born and it was a challenge being the baby girl in the family,” recalls Ann. “Hugh would try to be my protector, but I was the one that Ed would pick on as a sparring partner wrestling on our living room rug. That carpet was pretty much in shreds by the time the boys went off to college.”

And then there is Louella Carr. She had 16 children, nine of them boys. Six of her sons wrestled at the NCAA Division I level and five earned All-American honors. Jimmy Carr made the 1972 Olympic Team at the age of 17. Nate Carr won three NCAA titles for Iowa State before winning a bronze medal at the 1988 Olympics.

The book will available prior to the NCAA wrestling tournament by calling the National Wrestling Hall of Fame at (405) 377-5243 or the National Wrestling Hall of Fame Dan Gable Museum at (319) 233-0745. It will also be available online at www.wrestlinghalloffame.org or www.wrestlingmuseum.org.

Contact the National Wrestling Hall of Fame & Museum for a list of family members who meet the criteria for the book and the exhibit.

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