Four distinguished Iowans were inducted into the Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame Foundation in Cresco. The induction ceremonies and banquet were held April 13 at 6 p.m. at the Cresco Country Club.
Those enshrined were Eric Voelker of Dallas Center-Grimes, Peter Bush from Davenport; and Algona brothers Dave and Paul Martin. Each of the four native Iowans not only had excellent prep and collegiate careers on the mat but has created a superlative legacy of giving back to the sport.
With the new inductees, the elite mat fraternity created in 1970 grows to 92 members.
Brief profiles of this year’s class follows:
Eric Voelker, Dallas Center-Grimes – Starting in grade school programs in Mason City run by Herb Krieger, Eric’s progression in the sport is a tribute to sheer determination. He was a four-year letter winner at Dallas Center-Grimes high school and a two-time state qualifier, for Hall of Fame coach Andy Davidson. Plagued by injuries during his prep career he still managed to help the Mustangs to the state title in 1984 and finished third as a senior in 1985. Twice he was named the Mustangs’ most dedicated wrestler.
In spite of not winning an IHSAA state title he had distinguished himself was an outstanding free-style wrestler, earning two Iowa titles and placing third in the junior nationals. He went on to Iowa State where he earned three Big 8 titles and was twice named to the conference’s All-Academic team. Moreover he was a three-time All-American winning NCAA individual titles in
1987 and 1989, sandwiching a third-place finish in between. As a middle school teacher and coach he has encouraged youth at that level and in summer camps.
Peter Bush, Assumption, Davenport – He pioneered Assumption’s rise in wrestling by becoming the school’s first ever state champion in 1979, going undefeated, after taking runner-up as a junior with only one loss. He then continued on to a brilliant collegiate and freestyle career before returning to his alma mater as a coach. He had state and national AAU freestyle and Greco-Roman titles to his credit. Following his senior season he was selected first team on the USA Dream Team while winning the USWF Freestyle Nationals. At the University of Iowa he was a four-year starter on national championship teams. A three-time Big 10 champion he wore gold in the NCAA in 1982 at 190 lbs. In a long list of achievements some notable highlights included: winning the Senior U.S. Open nationals in 1983, the same year he was an Olympic Sports Festival national champion and a bronze medalist at the Pan-American games. He was a member of the U.S. team that toured Europe in 1985, winning at 90 kg. He helped Assumption continue a winning tradition for two seasons as an assistant before being named head coach in 2007. The Knights were third in the traditional state meet in 2008 and fourth this past season.
In the state team duals, his team was fourth in 2008 and third in 2009.
David Martin, Algona – Wrestling genes run strong and true for Martin. He was a two time state champion for his legendary father Leon “Champ”
Martin at Algona in 1965 and 1966. Wrestling at Iowa State, he was a member of two NCAA Championship squads in 1969 and 1970, contributing to both titles with a runner-up finish in 1969 and a title at 158 in 1970. He went on to coach YMCA wrestling in the early 1970s and hosted wrestling camps. In 1975 he was named assistant wrestling coach at Oklahoma State University, where the Cowboys won two Big 8 titles (1975, 1978) and was an NCAA runner-up (1977). In 1992 he became Interim Head Coach at the university and directed the team to a Big 8 Championship and second in the NCAA. He also served as ESPN’s television color analyst for the Oklahoma State meets and the Oklahoma State High School Championships, as well as radio analysis for the Olympic Wrestling Festival. Later as a senior Associate Athletic Director at the Oklahoma State he championed the sport at a national level. He was the chairman of the NCAA Rules Committee, 2000-02, and under his leadership landmark legislation was enacted to protect the health of athletes with regard to weight issues. He also led negotiations to change national television coverage of the NCAA Tournament from tape-delay to live coverage.
Paul Martin, Algona – Steeped in family tradition, he continued his family’s rich tradition in wrestling and is the third member to be inducted. He was a three time state champion at Algona under Coach Dale Bahr collecting titles at 132, 138 and 155 pounds from 1971 through 1973. Paul’s dominance in the sport is evidence by a 90-0 record in his championship years. His father, Leon “Champ” Martin was the assistant coach on those teams. He was a four year starter at Oklahoma State, where he was a three-time Big
8 Conference champion and a three-time NCAA All-American, with two third place finishes and a runner-up to his credit. From 1979 to 1983 he was a full-time assistant to Coach Tommy Chesbro and the Cowboys were NCAA runners-up in 1980 and 1983. The duo started and conducted the nationally famous Cowboy Wrestling camps for 10 years. In the fall of 1984, Mr. Martin entered the Law School at the University of Oklahoma and graduated in 1987. For one year his practice was in Stillwater before moving to Ponca City, OK, where he has practiced law for the last 21 years.
The Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame was established in 1970 to honor native Iowans who have made major contributions to amateur wrestling as an athlete, coach, official or contributor. Inducted members are permanently displayed with picture and profile at the Welcome Center and Chamber of Commerce building in Cresco.
Members of the Hall of fame selection committee are Chairperson Dave Harty, Clive; Don Gooder, Cresco; Dan Gable, Iowa City; Jim Gibbons, Perry; Chuck Yagla, Waterloo and Jim Miller, Waverly. Nominations from the wrestling community and fans in Iowa are welcomed by the committee. Nomination forms can be obtained from any of the committee members.