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NCAA wrestling champion, NFL Hall of Famer Curley Culp dies at age 75

By Will Edmonds, Arizona State Athletics | Nov. 29, 2021, 10:21 a.m. (ET)

TEMPE - Sun Devil Nation lost one of its best Saturday morning. Curley Culp - whose name sits in the Arizona State HOF, Pro Football HOF, Chiefs HOF, and Arizona Sports HOF - died the morning of Nov. 27, as announced by his wife, Collette Bloom Culp, via Curley's personal twitter page. He was 75 years old. Culp had a 13-year NFL career (1968-81) that included a Super Bowl IV crown with Kansas City, six Pro Bowl selections, and five All-Pro honors while also collecting the NFL Defensive Player of the Year accolade in '75.

Curley Cup was born on March 10, 1946 to Fran and Octavia Culp in Yuma, Arizona. He was the youngest of 13 children, and had a twin sister, Shirley.

Culp competed at ASU from 1965-1968 and was an absolute tank as a two-sport athlete between the Sun Devils' football and wrestling programs. Culp's collegiate wrestling career featured him amassing an 84-11-1 record and earning three Western Athletic Conference championships on top of his NCAA heavyweight title. His heavyweight crown earned Sun Devil Wrestling its first ever NCAA individual title. During his championship run, Culp won the Gorriaran Award for scoring the most falls at the Division I championships. As described by Frank Paquin, the Lehigh wrestler that Culp defeated in the second round of the tournament, "Culp's strategy was just to get his hands on his opponent and destroy him with his strength."

As good of a player as Culp was on the mat, he was somehow even better on the gridiron and is widely regarded as the best nose tackle to ever play the game. Under legendary Arizona State football coach Frank Kush, Culp played nose guard on a team that allowed opponents an average of only 79.8 yards per game. He won All-America honors in football as well as wrestling, and was even an All-American for his offensive and defensive play. He went on to earn 68.5 sacks, force 14 fumbles and collect 10 fumble recoveries in his professional career. The Sporting News named Culp to the All-Century teams for both Houston and Kansas City. In 2008, Culp was inducted into the Chiefs Hall of Fame, and he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Aug. 3, 2013.

Culp was inducted into the Arizona State University Sports Hall of Fame at its inception in 1975, and was named Greatest Athlete in the history of Arizona during the state's centennial in 2006.

Culp is a member of the Kansas City Chiefs 25-Year All-Time Team, and in March 2008 was inducted into the Chiefs Hall of Fame.

Aside from his Pro Football Hall of Fame and ASU Hall of Fame enshrinements, Culp has been welcomed into a number of other halls of fame, including the Arizona High School Hall of Fame, the National High School Sports Hall of Fame, the Arizona Wrestling Hall of Fame, and the Arizona Sports Hall of Fame. He also appears in the Kansas City Chiefs Ring of Honor and the Arizona State Ring of Honor.

Curley Culp was named the No. 3 athlete in Sports Illustrated magazine's "50 Greatest Sports Figures" of Arizona list in 1999, and ranked sixth in The Arizona Republic's "Athletes of the Century" list that same year.