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Mike Chapman to receive the Order of Merit from National Wrestling Hall of Fame



STILLWATER, OKLA. - Mike Chapman of Newton, Iowa has been elected to receive the Order of Merit from the National Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum.

The Order of Merit is presented to an individual who has made significant contribution to the advancement of wrestling, other than success as an athlete or coach. The winner is selected by a vote of the Distinguished Members of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.

Chapman, a professional journalist with a passion for wrestling, has been a leader within the sport for decades with a focus on the promotion of the sport. His involvement has been at many levels, including as a publisher, author, historian, publicist and speaker. Gifted as a writer and communicator, Chapman has used those skills to tell the stories of wrestling's heroes and bring the excitement and drama of the sport to millions of people worldwide.

Chapman was born and raised in Waterloo, Iowa, hometown of Dan Gable and a wrestling hotbed. His interest and passion for the sport learned at an early age helped guide the rest of his life.

Chapman had a 35-year career as a journalist and reached the top of his profession. He held sports editor positions at the Dixon Telegraph (Ill.), Iowa City Press Citizen (Iowa), The Coloradoan (Colo.) and the Cedar Rapids Gazette (Iowa), as well as serving as Editor for the Voice of the Hawkeyes, a newspaper covering the Univ. of Iowa athletics. Chapman was also the Managing Editor of the Daily Sentinel (Ill.), Executive Editor of the Sauk Valley Newspapers (Ill.) and the Publisher of the Newton Daily News (Iowa).

For two years (1986-88), Chapman served as Director of Communications for USA Wrestling, the national governing body for amateur wrestling in the United States.

Throughout his professional journey, on his own time, Chapman was involved writing and communicating about wrestling, using all of his skills in a variety of mediums.

He became the most prolific author about wrestling in history, penning 13 books about the sport. Each book was meticulously researched. The books told in rich language the personal stories of wrestling heroes, with a dramatic presentation that described the intensity and excitement of the sport. Chapman's respect for wrestling is evident in each book, as he takes efforts to explain the values that the sport teaches.

The books that he authored with wrestling as a theme were: Two Guys Named Dan in 1976; From Gotch To Gable: A History of Iowa Wrestling, in 1981; Toughest Men in Sports in 1982; Nick and the Cyclones, in 1988; The New Breed: Living Iowa Wrestling, in 1985, (co-author with Lou Banach); The Encyclopedia of American Wrestling, in 1988; Gotch: World's Greatest Wrestler, in 1989; Fighting Back, The Bob Steenlage Story, in 1993; GOTCH: An American Hero, in 1999; Wrestling Tough in 2005; Achilles: Son of Peleus, Scourge of Troy in 2005; Legends of the Mat in 2006 and The Sport of Lincoln.

In 1993, Mike created W.I.N. Magazine, a wrestling newspaper dedicated to covering all levels of the sport. The magazine was immediately recognized for its depth of coverage, outstanding columnists and timely delivery. He has since sold it but is still a columnist for the paper. While at W.I.N. Magazine, Chapman created the Dan Hodge Trophy, given each year to the top collegiate wrestler in the nation. The Hodge Trophy has been called "the Heisman Trophy of wrestling," and has become one of the most coveted honors in the sport.

He was the creator of the International Wrestling Institute and Museum, which opened in Newton, Iowa, in 1998 and had over 40,000 fans visit before moving to Waterloo, Iowa, in 2007. The museum is now named in the honor of wrestling legend Dan Gable and housed in his hometown. Visitors to the museum are impressed with the large variety and detail of the exhibits, which are displayed in an entertaining and educational way.

He also created the WIN Memorabilia Show, an annual showcase of wrestling memorabilia, products and services, which has been held annually during the week of the NCAA Div. I Wrestling Championships for 18 years. Numerous past wrestling champions make appearances at the show to meet with fans, bringing the history of the sport to life for new generations. Chapman also developed the Museum Show, which has appeared at nearly 100 wrestling tournaments.

Among the ways that Chapman has helped promote wrestling is through the development and marketing of posters. Among the dozen posters which he has produced are "America Needs Wrestling," which lists 40 famous men who have wrestled, "Train Like A Madman" with Alexander Karelin, "Train Like A Madman 2" with Tom and Terry Brands and "Making History" with Pat Smith. Chapman has also produced two feature length videos about wrestling, and has created three different wrestling card sets.

Mike has given speeches on wrestling history to hundreds of groups, offering a stirring and passionate presentation about man's oldest sport. Considered one of the nation's experts on wrestling, he has appeared on numerous radio talk shows to talk about the sport, and has been interviewed by many national and regional television networks on the topic.

Mike has won many awards in journalism. He has been named National Wrestling Writer of the Year five times and was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2002 by the Cauliflower Alley Club, an organization of former boxers, wrestlers and movie actors. He is a member of four halls of fame recognizing his efforts involving wrestling. He was co-winner (with wife Bev) of the Impact of Year award by WIN magazine in 1988.

Mike did not wrestle in high school but wrestled three years in the U.S. Navy, and has also competed in judo, sombo, weightlifting contests and even several races. He once bench pressed 440 pounds weighing 202 and won the Iowa State Masters Bench Press contest (over age 55) in 2001.

Wrestling is not his only passion. He has also written a novel called Lowell Park, about Ronald Reagan as a lifeguard at age 22 in Lowell Park, and biographies of three movie stars from the past - Herman Brix, Glenn Morris and Tom Tyler. His book Iowans of Impact has biographical chapters of 25 famous Iowans, from Herbert Hoover to John Wayne to Frank Gotch and Bob Feller and Dan Gable. Because of his interest in Tarzan, Chapman received the Golden Lion Award, given annually to a person who has helped further the worldwide popularity of Tarzan.

Chapman has been honored by the wrestling community to recognize his lifelong service to wrestling, based upon his detailed knowledge of the sport, his creativity in marketing and his passion for telling the stories of its heroes.
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