Who are the toughest wrestlers of all time?

Page 4 of 4
April 10, 2012

Danny Hodge is one of the ring's toughest men.

The legendary Dan Hodge is a great example of all that we’ve covered here. Hodge was an undefeated, three-time NCAA National Wrestling Champion in the ’50s back when freshmen were ineligible to compete. Hodge represented the USA at two Olympic games and never lost a college match nor did he give up a single point to an opponent his senior year. After his amateur wrestling career ended, Hodge decided to take up boxing and with a few months Dan won the United States Golden Gloves Heavyweight boxing championship without any significant formal training. Hodge almost went to his third Olympic Games in 1960 as the USA’s light heavyweight boxing representative. The heavyweight that year was a guy named Cassius Clay AKA Muhammad Ali. However, Dan turned pro in the world of sports-entertainment.

I have never laid eyes on any sports entertainer that could handle Danny Hodge in Dan’s prime. None. There have been better entertainers, better talkers, guys who sold more tickets and PPVs, but no one on a physical or mentally tough level ever compared to Hodge. In a legit fight, Hodge ruled his domain.

What separates the toughest men in the business from others? A skill set that’s debilitating along with physical and mental toughness have to be on a rather short list. 

One story illustrates that point. Dan Hodge fell asleep driving his car on a road trip late one night in Louisiana and crashed his car. Dan broke his neck and was in the car when it submerged into a river. Through his physical and mental toughness, Hodge used his fist to break out the driver’s side window, used his other hand to hold his broken neck in place, exited the car and swam to the surface of the river and then walked up an embankment to wave down a passing trucker to give Dan assistance.

The will to survive and the competitive nature to be the absolute best are two of the qualities that every “tough guy” that I’ve ever known possesses. It’s either in one’s DNA or it isn’t.

By the way, Dan Hodge is the only other man to be able to close the wooden head and create a face on Ed “Strangler” Lewis’ car spring-loaded publicity prop. That wooden head now resides in the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in Stillwater, Okla.

Click here to order J.R.'s famous BBQ sauce on WWE Shop and follow the WWE Hall of Famer on Twitter.

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