Four legendary wrestlers – Frank Bettucci, Joe Gonzales, Sammie Henson, and Greg Johnson – will be welcomed into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame & Museum as Distinguished Members of the Class of 2015, the Stillwater, Okla.-based facility announced Friday.
The four honorees – along with Outstanding American Mike Golic, Order of Merit recipient Dr. David “Doc” Bennett, Medal of Courage recipient Mike Powell, and Lifetime Achievement for an Official Kenny Ritchie – will be inducted into the Hall of Fame during Honors Weekend on June 5-6, 2015.
“This class of inductees for 2015 is an exceptional group of individuals who have left their mark on all levels of wrestling in this country,” said Lee Roy Smith, Executive Director of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. “We are excited to honor them because of how they have enriched the sport of wrestling’s heritage and how their legacies will continue to awaken, nurture, and empower lives of excellence, service and leadership for generations to come.”
Bettucci wrestled for Cornell University in the early 1950s, where he was a three-time EIWA (Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association) champion and 1953 NCAA titlewinner at 149 pounds, also earning Outstanding Wrestler honors. He also saw success in freestyle as a two-time AAU National Champion, member of the 1956 Olympic team, and alternate to the 1960 Olympic team. Following his freestyle career, Bettucci served as an assistant coach at Cornell. He is a member of the New York State Wrestling Hall of Fame, Cornell University Athletic Hall of Fame and Eastern Intercollegiate Hall of Fame.
Gonzales competed for East Los Angeles College, University of Oklahoma, and Cal State-Bakersfield, earning a California Junior College state title, as well as NCAA Division I and Division II titles. He has set and currently holds the single-season NCAA record of 528 takedowns. He is a five-time U.S. World Team member, five-time U.S. Open Freestyle champion, three-time World Cup champion, a 1982 World Games bronze medalist and 1982 Tbilisi champion, as well as member of the 1984 US Olympic team.
Henson wrestled for Clemson University and the University of Missouri, winning two NCAA championships. In international competition, he was a Junior World Greco-Roman champion, Senior World Freestyle champion, Senior World Freestyle bronze medalist, as well as silver medalist at the 2000 Sydney Olympics in freestyle. As a coach, Henson has assisted numerous top college programs, and, in fact is now in his first season as head coach at West Virginia University.
Johnson is one of the most decorated wrestlers in Michigan State history, winning three Big Ten conference crowns and three straight NCAA titles (1970-72) at 118 pounds, becoming the first three-time national champ from the Big Ten. His coaching career included positions at Clarion State, University of Utah, University of Illinois and Alfred State Junior College. He was a charter member of the Michigan Wrestling Hall of Fame in 1978 and a member of the Michigan State University Athletics Hall of Fame in 2014. Johnson died of a rare blood disorder at age 52 in 2001.
According to the Hall of Fame, “a Distinguished Member can be a wrestler who has achieved extraordinary success in national and/or international competition, a coach who has demonstrated great leadership in the profession and has compiled an outstanding record, a contributor whose long-term activities have substantially enhanced the development and advancement of the sport, or a combination of the above qualifications.”
Fans may learn more about Honors Weekend 2015 and the Hall of Fame Class of 2015 inductions by visiting the National Wrestling Hall of Fame website.