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Dan Gable, wrestling legend, to receive Presidential Medal of Freedom

Dan Gable

IOWA CITY, IA - APRIL 21: Dan Gable acknowledges the crowd after being introduced as part of the 1972 Olympic team during the finals of the US Wrestling Olympic Trials at Carver Hawkeye Arena on April 21, 2012 in Iowa City, Iowa. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

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Dan Gable, an Olympic champion and legendary U.S. wrestler, will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, the director of National Wrestling Hall of Fame Dan Gable Museum said, confirming reports.

“To get an award like this, it’s a lifetime achievement award, not only for what you did, but for what you continue to do,” Gable said Wednesday, according to the Des Moines Register, saying he was notified by written letter from the White House. “People are texting me and calling me, and they’re just like off the wall.”

Gable, now 71, won the 1972 Olympic 68kg title without surrendering a point. Before that, he went 181-1 between high school and college at Iowa State.

Later, he guided the University of Iowa to 15 national titles as a coach from 1976 through 1997.

Gable joins a long line of Olympians to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, including Jesse Owens, Muhammad Ali and Pat Summitt. In July, Jim Ryun, the first U.S. high schooler to break four minutes in the mile and an Olympic silver medalist, received the honor.

It is awarded “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,” according to the White House.

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