U.S. star Patricia Saunders among nine to be inducted into FILA Hall of Fame in Istanbul, Turkey

By National Wrestling Hall of Fame | Sept. 08, 2011, 8:25 a.m. (ET)
STILLWATER, Okla. -- Four-time World Champion Patricia Saunders will become the first American woman inducted into the International Wrestling Hall of Fame, the Federation International de Luttes Associees (FILA), the international Olympic governing body for the sport of wrestling, announced Tuesday.

Saunders, who is the most successful American women's freestyle wrestler ever, won World gold medals in 1992, '96, '98 and '99, as well as a World silver medal in 1993. She retired from competition shortly before the sport gained inclusion in the Olympic Games.

Saunders joins eight other individuals who have achieved extraordinary success as a wrestler, official, or leader at the highest levels of international competition.

"On behalf of the FILA Hall of Fame Commission, I am proud to announce that nine candidates were selected to be inducted into the International Wrestling Hall of Fame" said Stan Dziedzic, Vice President of FILA and head of its Hall of Fame Commission. "The seven wrestlers from this class represent an astonishing 36 total Olympic and World medals, including 17 individual World titles and five Olympic gold medals."

The induction banquet will be held on Sept. 11 as part of the activities at the 2011 Freestyle and Greco-Roman World Wrestling Championships in Istanbul, Turkey,

"This year's class provides a glimpse into the rich Turkish wrestling history," said Dziedzic.

The nine individuals slated for induction are:

Men's Freestyle

Huseyin Akbas, Turkey, (World Champion 1954, '57, '59, '62. World Bronze 1961. Olympic Silver 1964 and Bronze 1956.)

Ibrahim Javadi, Iran, (World Champion 1969, '70, '71, '73. Olympic Bronze 1972)

Hamit Kaplan, Turkey (World Champion Freestyle 1957. World Silver 1959 - Freestyle, 1961 - Greco-Roman. World Bronze 1955, '58, '63 - Greco-Roman and 1963 Freestyle. Olympic Champion 1956, Olympic Silver 1960, Olympic Bronze 1964)

Women's Freestyle

Patricia Saunders, USA, (World Champion 1992, '96, '98, '99. World Silver 1993)

Greco-Roman

Kazim Ayvaz, Turkey (World Champion 1958, '62. Olympic Champion 1964)

Mithat Bayrak, Turkey (Olympic Champion 1956, '60)

Teyfik Kis, Turkey (World Champion 1962, '63. World Silver 1966. Olympic Champion 1960)

Official

Stefan Kazarian, Armenia

Leader

Dr. Mohammed Tavakol, Iran