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National Wrestling Hall of Fame announces Mario Lopez as Outstanding American in its Class of 2022

by Jack Carnefix, National Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum

The National Wrestling Hall of Fame announced on Wednesday that Mario Lopez will be honored as the organization’s Outstanding American for 2022.

The Outstanding American award is presented to those individuals who have used the disciplines of wrestling 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.

Lopez wrestled for Chula Vista High School, finishing second in the San Diego section and seventh in the California Interscholastic Federation state tournament as a senior in one-class California in 1991.

“It is a great honor to be inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame,” said Lopez. “I am grateful to be introduced to the sport at an early age. Wrestling taught me the importance of hard work and staying focused. You cannot rely on a team, it's all on you to succeed.”

He joins the Class of 2022 with Distinguished Members Clarissa Chun, Sara McMann, Andy Rein and Jake Varner, Meritorious Official Tom Clark, Order of Merit recipient Mike Moyer, and Medal of Courage recipient Melissa Simmons, who were announced on October 27. Click for Release

The induction ceremony will be held at the 45th Honors Weekend on June 3-4, 2022 in Stillwater, Oklahoma. For more information on Honors Weekend, please telephone (405) 377-5243.

“We are looking forward to honoring Mario Lopez, who is proud of his wrestling background,” said Lee Roy Smith, Executive Director of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. “Mario has stated many times how his training and competitive experiences in the sport have helped him succeed in his professional career and fueled his desire to maintain a healthy lifestyle.”

Actor, New York Times Best-Selling author, producer, host, and two-time Emmy winner, Lopez’s prolific career has made him one of the most sought-after personalities in entertainment today. He currently hosts NBC’s “Access Hollywood” and “Access Daily” as well as the national radio show “On with Mario.”

He has said that wrestling taught him that there are no shortcuts and you have to be disciplined and consistent while working hard, staying focused and doing the right thing. Lopez says that what worked in wrestling has been instrumental throughout his life.

Lopez began wrestling under Mexican Olympian Gabriel Ruiz and his high school coach was Bill Virchis, who not only coached Chula Vista to a Metro League Championship but also was one of the founding fathers of Chicano theatre and one of the most important performing arts educators in San Diego County.

Lopez had aspirations of wrestling in college, noting that he had an interest in Arizona State then coached by Bobby Douglas, a Distinguished Member of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. He also has said that idols growing up included John Smith and Dan Gable, both Distinguished Members of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.

He has continued his love of wrestling with his son, Nico, noting that Nico is learning that wrestling is tough and that you win some and lose some, but you always learn.

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