They Came From Pennsylvania
Sports Illustrated once said that Wade Schalles was, "the most exciting wrestler to ever walk onto a wrestling mat". Amateur Wrestling News selected him as the best American middleweight of the 20th century. Dan Gable once called him, "the greatest pinner he's ever seen!" Those are just a few of the many accolades that the Hollidaysburg native has achieved in the past fifty years.
During his career, Mr Schalles became the first Pennsylvanian to be inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame and has been selected as Athlete of the Year, Coach of the Year, Man of the Year and Sportswriter of the Year by various national organizations.
He holds many national records including for defeating the most NCAA champions and pinning the most NCAA champions. He also holds the world record for defeating the most World Champions and pinning the most World Champions. In addition to these honors, he is also in the Guinness Book of World Records for having the most pins of any wrestler. Collegiately, Wade is the only NCAA Division I wrestler to pin over 100 opponents, a record that has stood for over five decades. He won four NCAA Championships during his college years with his collegiate record being 153-5-1 with 106 pins.
In addition to winning 15 national championships, Mr. Schalles, considered to be the father of Funk Wrestling was an All-American in five different combative disciplines...Judo, Sombo, Freestyle, Folkstyle and Greco-Roman Wrestling. Schalles was also named to the NCAA's 75th Anniversary Team as one of the top fifteen collegiate wrestlers of all-time and WIN Magazine and The National Wrestling Coaches Association annually present The Schalles Award to the top scholastic and collegiate pinners in America.
He also won The Gold Medal at both the World University Games, pinnning 6 of 6 opponents and Tbilisi International, pinning 5 of 6 opponents. In both events, he received the Outstanding Wrestler Award.
As a coach, he was the head coach and team Gold for The Pan American Games in Caracas, Venezuela and has coached several state, national, world and Olympic Champions.
Currently, he is one of the country's most popular columnists and his blog at wadeschalles.com has had over 2.5 million hits.
He wrote From Pins to Pen, which was recognized as the most popular and most widely read editorial column on wrestling during that time. In 2003, he was named National Sports Writer of the Year. His articles can also be read in WIN , Wrestling USA Magazine, The Predicament, Pennsylvania Wrestling Round-up, Intermat.com and Brute.com. Last fall, his first non-fiction book was published entitled Jacob's Cradle. It is the first book of a trilogy. The second one, Charlotte's Gaff is due out soon.
To read Wade's complete interview, check out the upcoming book release They Came From Blair County due out by the end of this year.
** Information for this article was obtained through a phone interview with Wade Schalles
**Photos are from the collection of Wade Schalles