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Doug Blubaugh’s Incredible March to the 1960 Olympic Gold Medal

A look at one of the most incredible gold medal runs in wrestling history.

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With the Olympics coming up soon, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at one of Oklahoma State wrestling’s Olympic Gold Medal runs.

Just over 50 years ago, in 1960, Doug Blubaugh won an Olympic Gold medal. Every aspect of his run, from his matches to make the team, to his incredible Olympic Gold medal win, is the stuff of legends.

The two best wrestlers in the United States at 160.5 pounds in 1960 happened to be from Oklahoma State. Doug Blubaugh was originally from Ponca City and came to Oklahoma State in 1954. He was a three-time All-American for the Cowboys and a National Champion in 1957.

Phil Kinyon, who was a Stillwater native, had actually not started his career at Oklahoma State before the 1960 Olympic trials. He eventually became a three-time NCAA finalist and one-time champion in 1961, but his rivalry with Blubaugh for the spot on that 1960 Olympic team was one of the more remarkable series of matches ever.

The pair wrestled 13 times to decide the Olympic spot! This article from an August addition of the O’Colly breaks down the situation at their eighth and ninth matches. Each match had finished in a draw to this point.

August 1960 Edition of the O’Colly

The pair wrestled three more times with three more draws before wrestling a final time in Norman. Due to some issues with OU’s electrical system and AC they were forced to move the mats and wrestle outside. Blubaugh dove in for an early takedown and held on to win 1-0 and get the Olympic bid.

Blubaugh then went on to the Olympics where he matched up for Olympic Gold with Iran’s Emam-Ali Habibi. At the time Habibi was undefeated and widely considered the greatest wrestler in the world. After being down early, Blubaugh threw Habibi and pinned him. This gave Blubaugh the gold medal and resulted in him being named the World’s Most Outstanding Wrestler.

You can listen to Blubaugh’s Hall of Fame induction below.

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