The National Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum is located in Stillwater, Okla. Those who are inducted into the Hall of Fame come from throughout the United States.
One of the most recent inductees is from Colorado and has ties with the family of nephew Gordon Wagner, who lives in Delta.
Julius "Hans" Wagner entered the Colorado Chapter of the Wrestling Hall of Fame on May 11 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Colorado Springs. Wagner received his place in the Wrestling Hall of Fame posthumously. An automobile accident took the life of Wagner, his brother Frank and friend Merle Curtis when their station wagon collided with an oil truck on a remote road in Wyoming. Wagner's wife, Josephine, was critically injured but survived. The accident occurred as the group was returning from a fishing trip in the Pinedale, Wyo. area.
Wagner was an athlete in more than one sport and coached multiple sports as well. His committment to the sport of wrestling earned him the prestigious placement in the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in Stillwater.
As stated in the National Wrestling Hall of Fame Colorado Chapter ceremony booklet, the mission of the Colorado Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, as an extension of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, is to preserve the heritage of the sport of wrestling, celebrate achievement and encourage the advancement of the sport in Colorado.
The men and women honored by the Hall of Fame include those who have demonstrated a lifetime service to the sport — coaches, officials, and contributors.
From the first banquet in 1999 to the present, the Colorado Chapter has honored the most deserving contributors to the sport of wrestling in Colorado.
There are many individuals who deserve to be honored by this organization. Any person may nominate individuals for award consideration. The board of directors selects the award recipients.
Julius "Hans" Wagner was more than a one-sport athlete at Westcliffe High School. He was outstanding as a wrestler but also excelled in football and in track.
Wagner went on to excel in wrestling and track at Colorado A&M (now Colorado State University) earning all-conference honors in each sport. He was a two-time league champion in wrestling with the Rams.
While competing in track at A&M, Wagner set a conference record in the shot put.
Wagner's talents were also evident on the gridiron where he earned all-league honors as a tackle for the Rams. He became the team captain and was a member of the Rams football team that traveled to Hawaii for a playoff game after winning a conference championship in 1925.
The accolades for Wagner can be measured in volumes. His talents were unbelievable at times and his worth to Colorado A&M (Colorado State University) immeasurable.
Wagner was the first "subsidized player" in college football in Colorado.
As reported in a news article by Denver Post sports editor Jack Carberry, in 1923 Wagner, the 'middle' of three brothers, enrolled at Colorado A&M and completed successful seasons in football and wrestling. There was great promise for Wagner in the years to come.
The summer of 1923 almost changed Wagner's life when a farming accident to his brother Ernest threatened his career in education and athletics. Wagner's father would need Hans to remain on the farm to help with everyday responsibilities after Ernest's accident.
Fort Collins' businessman Harry Dimmit, owner of the Campus Shop and one of the Aggies' staunchest supportors, got together with friend Bruce Thornton in an effort to resolve the situation. Subsidization of athletes, as it has always been, was a ticklish subject that Aggies' head coach Harry Hughes would not tolerate. Dimmit and Thornton arranged a secret meeting with Wagner's father and made him a proposition. Allow Hans to return to school and a top-notched hired man would be paid $40 and found by Dimmit and Thornton.
The plan worked and the rest is noted in history books.
John Hirn, the author of Aggies to Rams, The History of Football at Colorado State University spent long hours in compiling data that truly paints a fascinating description of transition from the old to the new Aggies' football era. In that work, published in 2009, there are numerous references to Julius "Hans" Wagner and his contributions to Aggies' history.
Hirn, writing for the Ram Alumni Athletes Association, speaks of Wagner's 38 years of service on the campus of CSU in a Monthly Features article entitled Julius "Hans" Wagner to be inducted into the national Wrestling Hall of Fame.
In the article, Hirn introduces Wagner as one of the finest wrestlers in school history and a legendary wrestling coach at CSU between 1927 and 1956. Wagner was honored with the first-ever Heritage Lifetime Service Award for his dedication to wrestling in Colorado. His daughter, Diana Friel, accepted the award for the Wagner family.
Hirn's capsulation of Wagner's success was a lengthy one. As a coach, his teams won or tied 23 conference titles during his 29-year career as head coach of wrestling. He integrated the sport in 1938, took his first team to the NCAA national tournament in 1939 and coached the only CSU wrestler to win a national championship, Gene Grenard, in 1940.
Wagner's 1940 wrestling team finished fourth in the nation at the NCAA tournament that year, the highest national wrestling team finish in school history.
Wagner also coached CSU legends Tuffy Mullison, Fum McGraw, Dan Sniff and Ron Day to All-American seasons, served as the president of the American Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association in 1950, was a member of the NCAA National Wrestling Rules Committee and helped bring the NCAA Tournament to the Colorado A&M campus in 1949 and 1952. He posted a 100-43-3 (.707) record as head coach of Aggie wrestling before his retirement in January 1956.
Away from wrestling, Wagner served as assistant coach of track, assistant coach of football and head coach of football during his tenure at CSU. He reached all-conference honors in football and track as a student-athlete and is a charter member of the CSU Sports Hall of Fame along with being honored in the Helms Amateur Hall of Fame for Wrestling.
Upon retirement, Wagner put his engineering degree to good use when he became the director of construction on the Colorado State University campus from 1956 to 1960.
Wagner coached several notable athletes including Jack Christianson who played eight seasons for the NFL's Detroit Lions.
Other athletes of interest include Fum McGraw, Harold Broughton, Jim Coan, Glenn Morris, Jim David, Dale Dodrill, and Gary Glick. Arnold ("Torgy") Torgerson (former Delta High School coach) delivered Wagner's acceptance speech in Colorado Springs.
Gordon Wagner wanted this story told because his uncle was more than just an athlete who had made it big as an athlete and an educator. "This story needed to be told because of the way "Hans" Wagner did things and his unwavering committment to the sport of wrestling."blog comments powered by Disqus