Welcome to Day 4 of WIN Magazine’s countdown to the 2023 Final...
ASICS becomes presenting sponsor of the Dan Hodge Trophy
The Dan Hodge Trophy, the top award in all of college wrestling, is getting even bigger. Since 1995, the trophy has been awarded at the conclusion of each season by WIN Magazine and Culture House to the nation’s top college wrestler. Culture House is a sports promotional company owned by Mike Chapman, who created the Hodge Trophy and WIN.
“We’re so excited to be a part of the Dan Hodge Trophy,” said Duncan, who has been with TW Promotions since 1972 and is CEO of the company based in Ronkonkoma, New York. “It really has developed into the top award in college wrestling and has tremendous name recognition.
“Nick and I and the ASICS organization want to get behind the award with creative marketing, and do what we can to reach an even broader audience. We want to enhance the brand name and help take it to a new level. We have several exciting plans we are anxious to put into operation.”
“This partnership will take the Dan Hodge Trophy to a whole new level,” said Chapman. “It has grown steadily in prominence through the years, to the point that it is often called ‘The Heisman Trophy of wrestling’.
“Wrestling has always been a sport that requires out-of-the box thinking when it comes to marketing and WIN and Culture House believe the Dan Hodge Trophy has been very successful in that regard. This partnership with ASICS will do even more.”
ASICS and TW Promotions already support a wide range of wrestling activities in the U.S. ASICS sponsors the USA Wrestling Junior & Cadet National Championships held annually in Fargo, N.D., one of the largest tournaments in the entire world.
The trophy is named in honor of Dan Hodge, the undefeated, three-time NCAA champion for Oklahoma University. Hodge won his three titles in 1955, ’56 and ’57, all at 177 pounds, and was one of the most respected wrestlers in American history. On April 1, 1957, he became the only wrestler to ever appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated.
Hodge is native of Perry, Oklahoma, and still lives there with his wife Dolores, his high school sweetheart. He makes appearances around the country to promote wrestling in various ways.
The Dan Hodge Trophy was created by Chapman to bring more media attention to the sport. Another high priority is to place emphasis on pinning and a dominating style of wrestling. Each year’s winner is announced the week following the NCAA Championships. The trophy is then presented to the winner at the team’s post-season banquet and again at halftime of a football game the following fall. Crowds of up to 93,000 have seen wrestlers hold the Dan Hodge Trophy aloft during a standing ovation from appreciative fans.
“We have also developed a new process of selecting the award similar to the way the Heisman Trophy balloting is handled,” said Van Kley. “We are putting together a panel of more than 40 wrestling media members, past collegiate coaches from the different parts of the country, wrestling dignitaries and all past Hodge winners. Each will submit a vote after the NCAAs are complete on their choice for the winner.”
Since its inception, the Dan Hodge Trophy has gained tremendous recognition as the top award in collegiate wrestling. It has been referred to by the Associated Press and various colleges as “the Heisman Trophy of wrestling and many of the nation’s top college wrestlers have said winning the Hodge Trophy is one of their goals.”
When Stephen Neal retired after a 10-year career in the NFL, the press release listed among his top honors the fact he had won the Dan Hodge Trophy in college.
The relationship with ASICS has special meaning to Chapman beyond just the Hodge Trophy.
“Personally, I had a long and wonderful friendship with Bill Farrell, the legendary founder of TW Promotions, and have such a high regard for what he, Neil and Nick have done with the company,” said Chapman. “Their commitment to amateur wresting at all levels is incomparable. I know Bill would be very proud of this new relationship.”
Farrell had a 50-year long career in sports marketing and was one of the most influential figures in wrestling history. Farrell was coach of the 1972 Olympic freestyle team and a member of numerous halls of fame. He died on June 9, 2012, at age 82 and his legacy was revered from coast to coast.
“This is just another way to remember the impact Bill Farrell has had on this great sport,” said Chapman.