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Ex-Sooner wrestler, Air Force coach, Olympian Wayne Baughman goes On The Mat

In the early 1960s, Oklahoma's Wayne Baughman controls an unidentified rival
In the early 1960s, Oklahoma's Wayne Baughman controls an unidentified rival
Photo from "Takedown" 1970s book about University of Oklahoma wrestling, from author's collection

Wayne Baughman, one of the all-time great wrestlers and coaches, will be the guest this week for the “On The Mat” show for Wednesday, August 27, the weekly broadcast announced via email Tuesday.

A native of Oklahoma, Baughman was introduced to wrestling by his high school football coach, who insisted his athletes participate in a second sport. He burst onto the national scene as a wrestler at University of Oklahoma, where he was a three-time NCAA finalist, winning the 191-pound title at the 1962 NCAAs by defeating cross-state rival Joe James of Oklahoma State. (In a 2013 "Amateur Wrestling News" interview, Baughman described his opponent James as “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 made a name for himself in international competition, as a 16-time national champion who qualified for eight World teams and three Olympic teams. He was also the head wrestling coach of the men’s freestyle team at the 1976 Montreal Olympics… and was long-time head coach at the US Air Force Academy.

If that weren’t enough, Baughman is immortalized in bronze in an Air Force statue in downtown Oklahoma City.

On the Mat" is a presentation of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame Dan Gable Museum. The show can be heard live on the Internet at or locally in Northeast Iowa each Wednesday from 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. Central on AM 1650, The Fan.

For those outside Iowa, a podcast of the show is available on

Listeners are invited to e-mail with any questions or comments about the show.

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