Audio Interview: Matt Ghaffari
STILLWATER, Okla. - Three Olympians and a two-time NCAA wrestling champion will be inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame at its annual Honors Weekend celebration scheduled for May 31 - June 1, 2013 in Stillwater.
Distinguished Members selected for the Class of 2013 include Melvin Douglas, Dan Chandler, Matt Ghaffari and Ron Gray.
"This class of inductees for 2013 represents not only a standard of excellence achieved in the three styles of wrestling (folkstyle, freestyle and Greco-Roman) contested in the United States, but also includes those who have taken lessons learned from the sport to excel in other walks of life," said Lee Roy Smith, Executive Director of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. "This group of inductees defines what it means when we say that America Needs Wrestling."
Melvin Douglas claimed NCAA Division I collegiate wrestling titles in 1985 and '86 while attending the University of Oklahoma. He went on to earn medals in three different World Championships, including a World Title in 1993. Douglas, from Mesa, Ariz., also represented the United States in freestyle wrestling at the Olympic Games in 1996 and 2000.
Dan Chandler, from Minneapolis, Minn., claimed an amazing 12 National Greco-Roman championships as a competitor and was a member of three U.S. Olympic Greco-Roman Teams in 1976, 1980, and 1984 at 180.5 pounds. He has served as the Minnesota Storm Greco-Roman Club coach since 1978, guiding four of his wrestlers to five Olympic Greco-Roman medals. As head coach of the 2000 U.S. Olympic Greco-Roman Team, Chandler led the team to one of its strongest U.S. Olympic performances in history with three medals.
Matt Ghaffari excelled in Greco-Roman wrestling, representing the United States at the 1992 and 1996 Summer Olympic Games in the super heavyweight division. The Avon Lake, Ohio resident claimed a silver medal at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and captured silver medals at the World Greco-Roman Championships in 1991 and 1998, and a bronze medal in 1995. He won World Cup championships in 1991, '92, '94 and '95, and was Pan American Games champion in 1991 and 1995.
Ron Gray was a two-time NCAA Division I wrestling champion for Iowa State University at 147 lbs., with a collegiate record of 53-2-1. After earning runner-up honors in 1957, Gray won NCAA championships for the Cyclones the next two years, earning the tournament's Outstanding Wrestler award in 1959. Gray served as head wrestling coach at Franklin & Marshall from 1965-1971, and at Kent State from 1971-1996. He is a resident of Kent, Ohio.
The Medal of Courage, given to a wrestler who has overcome insurmountable challenges, is being awarded to Matt Hamill of New York Mills, N.Y. Hamill was born deaf in Loveland, Ohio in 1976. As a youth, he was introduced to the sport of wrestling by his stepfather who was the Loveland High School wrestling coach. Hamill competed one year at Purdue University before transferring to Rochester Institute of Technology, where he won NCAA Division III wrestling titles at three different weight classes in 1997, 1998 and 1999. Hamill went on to a successful career in Mixed Martial Arts.
Pat Fitzgerald, of Edmond, Okla., will receive the Lifetime Achievement for Officials as a result of his work in collegiate wrestling. Fitzgerald served as an official at 21 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships, including 13 NCAA championship final matches.
John Dustin will receive the Order of Merit for his contributions to the advancement of wrestling. Dustin has been either a coach or administrator for the sport of wrestling since 1962. Over a period of five decades, Dustin, who makes his home in Portland, Ore., contributed to the sport as a coach, official, and National Governing Body administrator. He was also the manager of wrestling competition at the FILA World Freestyle Championships in 1995 and at the Sydney Olympics in 2000.
The National Wrestling Hall of Fame will honor two recipients with the Outstanding American Award in 2013. This award demonstrates wrestling's pride in those who have used the disciplines of the sport to launch notable careers in other walks of life, such as science and technology, business and industry, government and the military, and the arts and humanities.
This year's winners are John Bardis of Alpharetta, Ga. and Joshua Harris of New York City.
Bardis began wrestling in Illinois where he was a state runner-up and a national junior Greco-Roman champion in high school. He finished third at the Greco-Roman Olympic Trials in 1976. Bardis studied and wrestled at the University of Wisconsin and at the University of Arizona where he was an NCAA Division I Wrestling Championship qualifier. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in Business. Bardis served as Team Leader for the U.S. Greco-Roman Wrestling Team for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and was Team Leader for the only U.S. Greco-Roman team to win the World Team Title in 2007.
Professionally, Bardis is the founder of MedAssets MDAS. He currently serves as its Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer. MedAssets is the nation's largest cost and supply chain management company for hospitals in the US healthcare industry, as well as the largest revenue cycle technology company in the United States.
Harris started wrestling at the Bethesda Boys Club in Washington, D.C., where he competed in the Beltway League while in high school. He wrestled at 118 pounds for the University of Pennsylvania in 1982 and 1983, graduating with honors with a bachelor's degree in economics from the Wharton School of Business. He earned an MBA from the Harvard Business School where he graduated as a Baker Scholar.
Today, Harris is a Managing Partner of Apollo Management, L.P. which he co-founded in 1990. In October of 2001, Harris and his partners purchased the Philadelphia 76ers basketball team. As managing owner of the team, he is also a member of the NBA Board of Governors. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a member of The Federal Reserve Bank of New York Investors Advisory Committee on Financial Markets.
For more information about the enshrinement festivities or to schedule an interview with inductees from the Class of 2013, please contact Krista Graff at (405) 377-5243 or firstname.lastname@example.org.