One of the most scientific, if not the most scientific wrestler of all time. Danny Hodge
dominated the World Junior Title of the National Wrestling Alliance for much of the 1960s and
into the 1970’s. He won the title seven times. As an amateur, Hodge was undefeated at Perry
High School in Perry, Oklahoma. He went to the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki at the age of 19,
the youngest ever to make the U.S. Team. Hodge came in 5th place in the freestyle
Hodge won three NCAA Wrestling Championships and three Big Seven Titles while in
college at the University of Oklahoma. He went undefeated for three years between 1955 and
‘57. Danny was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated on April 1, 1957 and four pages
were dedicated to his story. In the April 8th edition of the magazine, Hodge was announced as
having pinned four of five opponents, leading Oklahoma to win the 27th annual NCAA
wrestling championships at Pittsburgh. Hodge also won his third straight 177-pound title.
Hodge won three national freestyle titles and took the 1956 Olympics Silver Medal in
Rather then going into professional wrestling, Hodge began training to be a boxer. He
won the Golden Gloves National Heavyweight Title in 1959. Across the National AP Wire were
the promotions of a Dan Hodge-Nino Valdes boxing match in Wichita, Kansas on April 28,
1959 under matchmaker Billy Colbert. Hodge was billed as being from Wichita. He decided
after gaining a favorable enough record, to quit boxing and turn to professional wrestling.
Hodge called the legendary Leroy McGuirk and scheduled to make his wrestling debut.
In what was first billed in the Daily Oklahoman as being for the “Light Heavyweight Pro
Wrestling Championship,” Hodge challenged Angelo Savoldi for the fourth time. The match
was for the World Junior Heavyweight Title. The date was July 22, 1960 in Oklahoma City’s
Stockyards Coliseum. Talk was about their last confrontation, a special boxing bout, which
ended when William Hodge, Danny’s Father, stabbed Savoldi with a knife. 6,000 fans came
out to witness Hodge capture his first World Junior Title in two-of-three-falls. Angelo won the
first, but Hodge came back to win the second and third straight and win the match. A week
later, Hodge again defeated Savoldi at Oklahoma City. He won the first and third falls to end
the bout and strengthened his claim as the junior champion.
On August 12, 1960, Hodge faced the challenge of Tony Morelli at the Stockyards
Coliseum in Oklahoma City. With the first and third falls, Hodge retained. On January 12,
1961, Hodge defeated NWA North American Champion, Nikita Mulkovich in an Amarillo non-
title, two-straight fall match. The first ended with three drop kicks in 18-seconds. Mulkovich
was disqualified for removing his boot and smashing Hodge with it in the second.
Hodge was accompanied by “Strangler” Ed Lewis on several tours in 1963. He met Hiro
Matsuda in defense of his NWA World Junior Crown on Tampa in November 1964. Danny had
been originally supposed to meet Matsuda several weeks earlier, but was forced to bow out
after suffering an infection in his knee. Don Curtis subbed for him, and Hodge was forced to
watch from ringside. Matsuda attacked Hodge and further kept Hodge from wrestling,
probably a bad move on his part for one particular reason. If Hodge couldn’t wrestle, he
couldn’t defend his claim to the title. When the two finally met, it was a two-of-three-falls
match. Matsuda ended up winning the bloody bout, and preyed on Hodge’s leg several times
throughout. The final fall came by pinfall. Some thought that Matsuda should have been
disqualified in the final fall of the match, and thus, Hodge should have remained the
titleholder. But that wasn’t the case on that night.
Hodge regained the title in January 1965 at the Civic Center Arena in Tulsa. He also
traded the Junior Title with the likes of Lorenzo Parente and Sputnik Monroe. In early March
1976, he won his seventh NWA Title.
He fell asleep at the wheel on March 15, 1976 near Monroe, Louisiana and suffered a
He was lucky that he was able to walk again. Hodge was named in May 1999 to the Lou
Thesz/ George Tragos Hall of Fame at the International Wrestling Institute and Museum in
As an amateur wrestler, boxer and pro wrestling champion, Danny Hodge has seen it all.
Many of his fans would have liked to have seen him capture the NWA World Heavyweight Title
as they knew that he could grapple with anyone in the world. From the mammoth beasts to
the technically sound.
-A seven-time NWA World Junior Heavyweight Champion
-Defeated Angelo Savoldi (1960)
-Defeated Hiro Matsuda (1965)
-Defeated Lorenzo Parente (1966)
-Defeated Joe McCarthy (1966)
-Defeated Sputnik Monroe (1970)
-Defeated Dr. X (1972)
-Defeated Hiro Matsuda (1976)
-Co-holder of the JWA International Tag Team Title (1969) w/ Wilbur Snyder
|Danny Hodge Wrestling History
Legends of Pro Wrestling