Legendary collegiate and professional wrestler Danny Hodge has passed away at the age of 88.
Stacy Ewy Wilson, Hodge's granddaughter, shared the news on Facebook this morning, writing the following:
Danny Hodge, my amazing Grandfather, passed away on Christmas Eve. To say I am heartbroken is an understatement. This man was my hero....my everything! I have so many great memories and am so truly blessed God gave us such a wonderful man to lead our family. I have never met anyone more thankful, humble and kind than my grandfather.
Christmas was his favorite time of year! This year while we are hurting...Grandpa is experiencing the ultimate Christmas with our God. I have no doubt that he will receive his “job well done”.
I love each of you and appreciate all of your kind words. You are welcome to share your memories or photo
As Grandpa ALWAYS said... God Bless You!
(Donations can be made in his memory to the Perry Wrestling Moment Park.)
Hodge was an acclaimed collegiate wrestler at the University of Oklahoma, where he went a perfect 46-0. For three consecutive years from 1955-1957, he won the Big Seven Conference and NCAA Championships at 177 pounds. He remains the only amateur wrestler to grace the cover of Sports Illustrated.
He transitioned to the world of professional wrestling, debuting in 1959 after being trained by Leroy McGuirk and Ed "Strangler" Lewis. Hodge held the NWA World Junior Heavyweight Champion eight times for a cumulative total of over ten years. In 2007, he was inducted into the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame. In 2005 and 2012 he appeared on WWE RAW to honour fellow Oklahoma wrestling native Jim Ross. The AEW announcer, along with other industry greats shared their sadness over the news.
Hard to believe that my boyhood hero, riding partner, and mentor, the great #DannyHodge has passed away.— Jim Ross (@JRsBBQ) December 26, 2020
Danny was the best wrestler, amateur and pro, I’ve ever been around. #RIPCHAMP pic.twitter.com/JDPAFZNNS7
I’ve just seen the saddening news from my friend @Fgbrisco that the legendary Danny Hodge has passed away. Please take the time to google this incredible man and his career both in Wrestling and Boxing. I always loved talking to him. My deepest condolences to his family. pic.twitter.com/NToh6LuGnc— William Regal (@RealKingRegal) December 26, 2020
Very saddened to learn of the loss of Danny Hodge. I always absolutely loved spending time with him and sitting under his learning tree. From speaking to him you’d never know all that he accomplished. Please do yourself a favor and look it up. Truly legendary. Rest in power. pic.twitter.com/aoBmcIYtmG— Adam (Edge) Copeland (@EdgeRatedR) December 26, 2020
Hodge will be inducted into the International Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame as part of its inaugural class on August 28, 2021. The list of 24 honorees includes the likes of Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan, Andre the Giant, and Bruno Sammartino.
On behalf of Fightful, we send our deepest condolences to the family, friends, and fans of Danny Hodge.