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Wrestling Hall of Fame Distinguished Member Mickey Martin, 78, passes away

By National Wrestling Hall of Fame | July 08, 2020, 1:57 p.m. (ET)

Photos courtesy of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.

STILLWATER, Okla. – Mickey Martin, a Distinguished Member inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2014, passed away on Monday, at the age of 78.

“We are saddened to learn of Mickey Martin’s passing and send our most sincere condolences to his family, friends, teammates and the many student-athletes he taught and coached during his career,” said Lee Roy Smith, Executive Director. “Mickey and his father, Wayne, are both folkstyle wrestling legends and Distinguished Members of the Hall of Fame. They are the only father and son duo in history to win the Outstanding Wrestler award at the NCAA Division I Championships.

“Mickey is considered one of the greatest technicians the sport of wrestling has ever known,” he added. “There are many champions from the state of Oklahoma and around the country, including myself and my brothers John, Pat and Mark, who were taught the art of riding, turning and pinning opponents thanks to his mastery of teaching and coaching.”

When he arrived at the University of Oklahoma, Mickey Martin was known as the son of a Sooner wrestling legend. By the time he left, he had created a legacy of his own.

As a high school senior, Martin won the 130-pound Oklahoma state wrestling championship in 1959, competing for legendary Tulsa Central High School. Following in his father’s footsteps, he attended the University of Oklahoma.

Competing in the 130-pound class for the entirety of his collegiate career, Martin turned in an impressive campaign for the Sooners as a sophomore in 1961, placing third at both the Big Eight tournament and the NCAA tournament. As a junior, he won his first Big Eight championship and his first NCAA title.

In 1963, Martin wrestled his way into the history books. In December of that year, he broke his collarbone and missed most of the season, but the injury did not prevent the Sooner superstar from winning the Big Eight and NCAA championships for the second year in a row. For his feat, he was voted Outstanding Wrestler at the NCAA tournament, joining his father, Wayne Martin, also a Distinguished Member, as the only father - son combination to win the Outstanding Wrestler award. Mickey finished his collegiate career with a 42-6 overall record.

Martin’s 1963 NCAA title was especially important as it powered Oklahoma to an NCAA team championship over runner-up Iowa State. His victory in the finals was a thrilling 12-8 win over eventual Olympian and Hall of Famer Bobby Douglas of West Liberty State.

After college, Martin turned his focus toward instructing young wrestlers in the sport. He spent two seasons as head coach of then NCAA Division II South Dakota State University, finishing ninth in the 1976 NCAA tournament and eighth in 1977. In two years, he compiled a record of 21-6-1 and coached two individual national champions.

As a high school coach for more than 25 years, Martin mentored athletes in high schools all over the state of Oklahoma with stints at Norman, McAlester, Lawton Eisenhower, Capitol Hill in Oklahoma City, East Central and Hale in Tulsa, and Del City. He coached three state championship teams and finished as runners-up six times. In all, he coached 31 individual high school state champions.

National Wrestling Hall of Fame & Museum
America’s shrine to the sport of wrestling, the National Wrestling Hall of Fame & Museum was founded as a nonprofit organization in 1976 to honor the sport of wrestling, preserve its history, recognize extraordinary individual achievements, and inspire future generations. The National Wrestling Hall of Fame has museums in Stillwater, Oklahoma, and Waterloo, Iowa. The Stillwater, Oklahoma, location reopened in June 2016 following a $3.8 million renovation and now features interactive exhibits and electronic kiosks, as well as the opportunity to watch NCAA Championship matches from the 1930s to present day. It also has the John T. Vaughan Hall of Honors where the greatest names in wrestling are recognized, including iconic granite plaques presented to Distinguished Members since the Hall of Fame opened in 1976. The museum has the largest collection of wrestling artifacts and memorabilia in the world, including the most collegiate and Olympic wrestling uniforms. Wrestling truly is for everyone and the diversity and accessibility of the sport continues to be highlighted through exhibits featuring females, African-Americans, Asian Americans, Native Americans, and Latino Americans. There is also a library featuring historical documents, including NCAA guides and results, as well as books on the sport. For more information about the Hall of Fame, please visit www.NWHOF.org.