Wrestling legend Dan Gable explained to Joe Rogan that losing his final match in college was exactly what he needed to succeed in the. rest of his career. Gable, who had an undefeated high school wrestling career and went 117-1 at Iowa State University, lost to Larry Owings in 1970. After that defeat, Gable went on to win gold medals at the 1971 world championships and 1972 Olympics.
“Nobody thought I was going to lose, except for one guy, one guy actually said, ‘I can beat him,’ but he forgot to tell me,” Gable told Rogan during a March 2021 appearance on The Joe Rogan Experience podcast. “I took him for granted. I always went through routines, warming up, getting ready mentally. We weighed in five hours before a match. From then on you ate and drank a little bit and focus, focus, rest, focus, focus.”
Gable told Rogan on the JRE podcast, “It haunts me. But guess what? I needed that loss. I really did. That loss took me to unbelievable heights I that I would have never had without that loss.”
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Gable Told Rogan, ‘I Didn’t Realize That There Was Somebody Who Actually Thought He Could Beat Me’
Gable said before the national final match that he would lose to Owings he was doing an interview with ABC’s Wide World of Sport. “I wasn’t a talker. At that time off the mat I couldn’t talk to anyone,” Gable told Rogan. “They put a mic in front of me … just say this, ‘I’m Dan Gable, come watch me next week on Wide World of Sport, as I finished my career 182-0,’ and I hadn’t wrestled the match yet. I was supposed to say that. You think I could say that? Hell no I couldn’t stay that. I kept stuttering and couldn’t say it and they kept redoing it. Finally after about 15 takes they wrote it out on big cards, so I took about seven takes with that one. I think I got it done in about 22 takes. It wasn’t good either.”
Gable said, “I turned and I’m on deck. … I always warmed up for a good 45 minutes to an hour, so I hit a quick warmup and went out there for that match and I didn’t realize that there was somebody who actually thought he could beat me. … The only time in my life that within a minute into the match I could hear the crowd. A minute into the match, I could feel how I felt, and I was feeling tired and weak. I never knew how you felt in a wrestling match until it was over. … But I didn’t show it, because I didn’t think about it. The one time I didn’t prepare, and a guy thinking he could with ya and he could, you take on everything. You take on way more than just your opponent.”
Gable said he had to talk himself through the match, but he “kept feeling how tired” he was and “kept hearing the crowd,” because he didn’t warm up. “I wasn’t focusing on the match,” he said. Gable said he probably warmed up for 10 minutes instead of his usual 45 minutes.
“I still thought I was still ready,” Gable said. “It was something out of my control. But I did talk my way in. I got ahead, but then I got real far behind. I was behind by six points and then I got ahead by two or three points. And that was right toward the end of the match and then there was a flurry, could’ve went either way, but the referee went his way and that’s the way it is.”
Gable lost to Owings 13-11 in that national college finals match. After his wrestling career, Gable, an Iowa native, coached the University of Iowa wrestling team from 1976 to 1997 and was an Olympic coach three times. He won 15 NCAA titles as a coach.
Gable Also Opened Up to Rogan About the Murder of His Sister
Gable’s sister, Diane Gable, was murdered in 1964 in Waterloo, Iowa, when she was 19, according to the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier. Dan Gable was 15 at the time. According to the newspaper, Diane Gable was stabbed to death in her home by a 16-year-old neighbor.
Gable told Rogan he had just won his first state championship in high school wrestling. “He had walked to school with me a couple weeks before that and said something, if I would have communicated, it might have saved her life, just because she probably would have never let the guy into her house,” Gable said. “He just said like, ‘Boy you’ve got a hot sister.’ He was kind of my age, one year older than me, but my sister was four years older than me. She had a boyfriend and she was living at home. … I actually was going to come home and say something to her, but when I got home I got distracted and thought, ‘it’s just boy talk.'”
Gable said after the killer, John T. Kyle, died in prison in 2011, Gable learned Kyle had told a counselor he repented. “He said, ‘I feel bad about killing Diane Gable.’ He had been rehabbed somewhat and he said the reason why, ‘I knew I was going to kill somebody, but she was such a nice girl.’ … They told me that, and I cried for an hour and it got a lot out of me. But, as bad as my dad felt, my mom felt, and I felt probably, it kind of got rid of a lot of hatred when he admitted she was such a nice girl he shouldn’t have done it. … It helped me, because even though I cried for an hour, the stuff you build up inside you sometimes, you don’t know what it’s going to take too get it out of you. And I think that really helped me with my situation. You always feel a little guilty. Maybe you could have saved her life.”
Gable added, “It’s been something I’ve based my whole life on too, just communication. … Sometimes my wife tells me I’m telling her too much. Anything that crops up, I need to go home and I need to have a conversation with somebody that I like and love. And to be able to see whether I’m doing the right thing or I’m not doing the right thing.”