Danny Hodge: The giant Jr. Heavyweight
By JOHN F. MOLINARO -- SLAM! Wrestling
| Danny Hodge.
Danny Hodge sits on his porch in Perry, Oklahoma these days with his wife Dolores, content to take life easy. An accomplished woodcrafter, the 68-year-old Hodge spends his afternoons whittling out wrestling ornaments, trunks, toys and belt racks from a mounting woodpile.
The tranquility of life in Perry contrasts starkly to the world of pro wrestling he dominated as the perennial National Wrestling Alliance World Junior Heavyweight champion from 1960 to 1976. At 5' 10" and a mere 220 pounds, you would guess that Hodge hardly intimidated most wrestlers he worked with.
You'd be guessing wrong.
"(I was) smaller than everybody," Hodge admitted to SLAM! Wrestling over the phone recently. "But God gave me a lot of strength, a lot of stamina, a lot of conditioning. I had knowledge of holds, I could wrestle and I could fight so really I had five strikes against you when you stepped in the ring with me."
For close to 16 years, Hodge instilled the fear of God into everybody around him. Graced with a wiry, muscular build and lightning-quickness, Hodge was universally considered the toughest wrestler in the industry. As the legend of his toughness grew, one truth became a universal law that all wrestlers understood: You didn't mess with Hodge.
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What Is He Doing Now?
"What a thrill it's been, for me," said Danny Hodge.
Danny Hodge may just be the best wrestler to ever come out of the state of Oklahoma.
"Well wrestling was going to be my life when I didn't have a home," said Hodge. "And I'm staying at the fire station, so I could wrestle for Perry."
Hodge has made a tremendous life out of wrestling. He is the first wrestler in the state of Oklahoma to go undefeated and he has the highest pinning percentage in Oklahoma wrestling history with his unsurpassed 26 pins in a row. The man even has his own day. March 28 is Danny Hodge Day. Looks are deceiving, as i found out, Hodge can still crush an apple with one hand and take me down too!
"Now I can fight or I can wrestle, which ever way you wanna go you're gonna come out second, because I'm in shape," said Hodge. "You see what I'm sayin."
We see and I feel what you’re sayin Danny. Mr. Hodge now resides in Perry and is still active in the sport.
"There's good kids out there," said Hodge. "But I want everybody to go in a ring with a purpose, to believe in themselves. Now if you think I'm gonna treat you nice on the mat you're wrong."
It was too obvious that the word like was not going to fit in the description of how Danny Hodge felt about his craft.
"Had I not got in a wreck, broke my neck, I'd still be wrestling today, I love it that much," he said.
A lot of blood, sweat, and tears have gone into Danny’s life on the mat. When the 78-year old looks back it’s all a memory that can sometimes be emotional.
"Does Danny Hodge have any regrets," I asked.
" I don't think so," Hodge replied.
The Oklahoma great has a message to all wrestling fans out there.
"I would just like to thank each and every fan out there," he proclaimed. "Today and in years past if you were for me or you were against me even if their son of their daughter or thier friend is in wrestling I would like to see them win too, but there is just gonna be one of us and I would like that to be me."