Joe Corso, 2019 Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame Inductee

joe corso

The love of the sport began in the 1960’s and continues on for Joe Corso and, like fine wine, it seems to only get better with age.

From a state championship, to a successful college career and then an unbelievable ten-year run as a national freestyle champion, Corso has topped that off with coaching successes that continues on.

The Corso era of wrestling began at West Des Moines Valley where he won a 112 pound championship as a senior after finishing 2nd at state as junior at 107 pounds.

It was during his college career Corso believes he really came into his own. “I spent my first three years cutting weight to 118 pounds. My
senior year I went up a weight and it made a huge difference. I concentrated on technique and mental toughness and it all came together
for me.”

The transition resulted in Corso winning the Big Ten 126 pound championship and being named the 1975 outstanding wrestler of the tournament. Corso went on to place third in the NCAA championship as a senior for Purdue that year.

“It was then that I realized my head hadn’t been on right...I needed to stay mentally tough,” Corso recalled. “That resulted in me wrestling with confidence and I knew I wasn’t done with wrestling because I knew I could get better. It was not an ego thing.”

Better indeed, Corso went on to be a ten-time national freestyle champion, third in the World Championships of 1979 and 1979 Pan-American Games champion. Corso was also on the 1976 Olympic team and an alternate in 1984.

While staying active in wrestling Corso also was an assistant wrestling coach at Purdue, the University of Minnesota and Indiana University. From there he transitioned into intermittent stints for the famous Sunkist program. During that time he also coached four years as a head high school coach with two of his teams taking first and second at the state tournament. He also was the coach for the Gator Wrestling Club women’s program from 2005-12. He returned to the Sunkist Club in 2012 where he continues as coach/recruiter.

Ever the competitor, Corso says he has few regrets. “I just wish i could do it over again. It was fun, it was a lot of work. I learned if you keep an open mind, stay mentally tough and minimize your mistakes, you can continue to get better.”

Corso was inducted in the Hall of Fame in 2019 along with Don Buzzard, Jessie Whitmer and Dr. Gary Steffensmeier.


joe corso

1991 FILA Veteran's World Champion, Cali, Columbia
1984 2nd alternate, USA Olympic Team
1979 World championships, bronze medalist 125.5 lbs
1979 Pan American gold medal 125.5 lbs
1976 USA Olympic Team Member, Montreal, Canada
1975 NCAA bronze medalist 126 lbs
1975 Big Ten champion 126 lbs
Ten-time national freestyle champion 125.5 lbs
1971 Iowa HS state champion (AAA) 112 lbs

COACHING RECORD partial listing
2012-Present Women's & Men’s Freestyle coach Sunkist Kids Wrestling Club
2005-2012 Gator Woman’s Wrestling Club coach
1984-2005 Sunkist Kids Freestyle coach
1991-93 Brophy College Preparatory H.S. coach
1981-84 Asst. wrestling coach Indiana University
1978-80 Asst. wrestling coach University of Minnesota
2007 Inducted into the Indiana wrestling hall of fame
2006 USA Wrestling silver coaches’ certification
2006 Louisiana State High School 2nd place team 1990-2006 USA
Wrestled/Coached as either head or assistant of seven senior women’s world teams