Before Carlton Haselrig was a first-team All-Pro offensive guard for the Pittsburgh Steelers, he was a six-time NCAA champion wrestler. He was so dominant on the mat that he was elected to the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2016, for which he received a Hall of Fame ring. According to KDKA Pittsburgh, the ring was stolen from Haselrig’s home two years ago, and now—in the wake of her husband’s recent death—she’s hoping the people of Pittsburgh can help her get it back.
“My husband didn’t want to make a big deal about it. He didn’t want to be in the media,” his widow Michelle told KDKA, explaining why he didn’t appeal to the public when the ring was stolen. But it was his Hall of Fame ring that made him most proud, she says, and she’d like to get it back to so she can pass it down to Carlton Jr., one of the couple’s five children.
Carlton Haselrig: ‘The Elvis of Wrestling’
“A lot of people know him from being a former Pittsburgh Steeler, of course,” Michelle told KDKA, but as successful as he was in the NFL, he was a legend in the wrestling world—“the Elvis of wrestling,” she says.
“He was the best [heavyweight] wrestler in the country, and one of the best in the world,” Kevin Emily told Heavy.com, Emily being the co-author of Haselrig’s 2019 autobiography, Giant Killer: The Carlton Haselrig Story.
The numbers back that up. According to the aforementioned National Wrestling Hall of Fame, the Johnstown, Pennsylvania native had a career record of 143-2-1 for the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, and once went 122 consecutive matches without a loss. Moreover, he won the NCAA Championship at the Division I, II and III levels three times each, an achievement that will never be matched.
Much like the NFL has instituted rules changes like the so-called Mel Blount rule and Hines Ward rule, the NCAA now has the “Haselrig rule,” which bars Division II and Division III champions from competing in Division I tournaments.
Haselrig used his wrestling success to get noticed by NFL scouts, and his hometown Pittsburgh Steelers went on to make him a 12th round pick in the 1989 NFL Draft.
“He was the steal of that draft,” Emily told Heavy.com, noting that Haselrig made first-team All-Pro four years later, helping Barry Foster to rush for a 1,690 yards in 1992. According to Emily, it was “pretty easy” for Haselrig to transition from wrestling to professional football, despite the fact that he never played college football.
“As a wrestler, he knew how to use leverage,” added Emily. “He knew how to use it to benefit him and to use it against his opponent. As strong as Carlton was and as good of a wrestler as he was, it was really simple for him to throw around these big [defensive linemen] because he would knock them off balance.”
National Wrestling Hall of Fame Distinguished Member
As for the stolen Wrestling Hall of Fame ring, Michelle Haselrig says there has been only one lead—a call from a local jeweler, Apryle’s Jewelers in Johnstown—who reported a white male trying to sell Haselrig’s ring. According to KDKA, the suspect was able to slip away when the police showed up, and so the ring—which says” National Wrestling Hall of Fame Distinguished Member” on it and has a white diamond in the middle—remains missing.
Michelle is hoping to have the ring returned to her—no questions asked, she says.
Carlton Haselrig died of liver failure in July at the age of 54. After his death his family donated his brain for CTE research, as per his wishes.
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