The White House announced Friday that Gable will receive the nation’s highest civilian honor. The president awards such honors to “individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”
Gable, 72, is widely considered to be one of the greatest American wrestlers of all time. He attended Iowa State from 1967 to 1970 and was a two-time national champion and a one-time runner-up. He lost only one match in that span – the final match of his final season.
He won the gold medal at the 1972 Munich Games at the 68 kilogram freestyle. He beat Safer Sali, Klaus Rost, Stefanos Ioannidis, Kikuo Wada, Wlodzimierz Cieslak and Ruslan Ashuraliyev.
He also won a gold medal at the World Wrestling Championships in 1971.
After his career was over, he coached at the University of Iowa from 1976 to 1997. His Hawkeyes were 355-21-5 during his time as a coach. He coached 15 national champions and 21 conference champions. He also was the head coach of three U.S. Olympic teams and six world teams.
He is in the U.S. Wrestling Hall of Fame, the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame and the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.
“Gable has inspired thousands of athletes in Iowa, the United States, and the world. Today, Gable still resides in the Hawkeye State with his wife, Kathy. He is an author, motivational speaker, father, and grandfather,” the White House said in a statement.
Trump had given the Presidential Medal of Freedom to former college football coach Lou Holtz on Thursday.