Marty Willigan wrestled at the 137-lb class at Hofstra University
and finished 4th in the 1968 NCAA-I national tournament and
then runner up in 1969. The wrestler that defeated him was the
all-time wrestling great Dan Gable that never lost a match
in his collegiate career (he would lose in the 1970 championship
finals, but that was after Marty completed his career a season
Not too many wrestling fans were aware that wrestling at 137
pound class was Marty’s gamble. It was not his normal weight
class – but he wanted to face the best, and that meant facing
and defeating Dan Gable. And if Gable wrestled at 137 lbs,
so be it.
Bob Getchell, who coached Marty, urged him to wrestle at a
different weight class so that he would be a sure NCAA champion.
Marty refused – wanting only to face Gable and no one else.
Marty has been inducted into the Hofstra athletic hall of fame
for his wrestling exploits.