College wrestling fans can gain incredible insights into what the sport was once like by watching film of a great match… then getting the personal perspective of one of the men on the mat.
Readers of Jim Kalin’s “On the Mat with YouTube” column in the Oct. 15 issue of Amateur Wrestling News get that one-two punch for the 1962 NCAA 191-pound finals match between Oklahoma’s Wayne Baughman and Oklahoma State’s Joe James, with a link to the match film posted on YouTube, and the half-a-century-later analysis from Baughman (who also contributes to the publication).
Right from the start, Kalin draws the reader in by sharing an incident involving the Oklahoma Sooners as they traveled to Stillwater for the 1962 NCAA championships that provides insight into Baughman --and his college coach, Port Robertson -- that sets the stage for the eventual title bout between the two wrestlers from the fierce cross-state rival wrestling programs in Gallagher Hall (now Gallagher-Iba Arena), the Oklahoma State gym.
Although the story is told from the perspective of Baughman – in 1962, a junior who had lost in the 177-pound finals the year before to Oklahoma State’s Bob Johnson – Kalin also paints a word picture of Joe James, a Chicago native who was the first African-American to be a starter for the Cowboys. (It was only five years earlier, at the 1957 NCAAs, that Iowa’s Simon Roberts became the first black to win a national title.)
Ask most fans of the era about James, and it’s his physique – not his color – that they’ll mention. At 6’ 3” and 220 pounds, James looked to be carved from a block of granite, all the more obvious back then, as he (as well as Baughman) usually competed in trunks and tights, stripped to the waist. In the article, Baughman provided some historical perspective, saying, “(James) was a giant version of Lee Kemp,” referring to the great University of Wisconsin champ of the 1970s who was also known for his impressive musculature. (Baughman had nothing to be ashamed of, physique-wise; he served as the model for a nearly-nude Air Force statue in downtown Oklahoma City in the early 1960s.)
Baughman then provides his description of his match with James, rich with detail, as if it happened just last year, not 51 years ago. It makes for compelling reading… especially when the reader can also see the action in surprisingly clear footage (in black-and-white, with no sound), thanks to YouTube.
About the photo: This image shows Wayne Baughman (left) and Joe James as they looked in the 191-pound finals at the 1962 NCAAs, showcasing their muscular physiques. They were among the last college wrestlers to compete bare-chested; just a couple years later, the NCAA banned shirtless wrestling.
Can’t get enough of Joe James? Check out his photo album at the NCAA Heavyweight Champs Yahoo group (he went on to win the unlimited title for the Cowboys at the 1964 NCAAs). And, learn more about him and the other Cowboy big guys who won NCAA titles in an InterMat Rewind feature on Oklahoma State’s heavyweight legacy.
Want to know more about Wayne Baughman posing for the statue? Check out this article in The Oklahoman newspaper.
Want to see more of the 1962 NCAA finals? Film of the entire championship round – all ten matches – is available online; watch it on YouTube... take a look at College Wrestling Examiner’s photo-album of some of the great wrestlers of the 1962 NCAAs, including Baughman and James... and read about it at College Wrestling Examiner. The video opens with the 157-pound title match between James’ teammate Phil Kinyon (a physical specimen in his own right) and unheralded Jack Flasche of Northern Colorado in what wrestling historian Jay Hammond considers to be the third greatest NCAA finals upset, behind Dan Gable-Larry Owings in 1970, and Brent Metcalf-Darrion Caldwell in 2009.
And, take a look at College Wrestling Examiner’s photo-album of some of the great wrestlers of the 1962 NCAAs, including Baughman and James.
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