Stop by the WIN Expo in Tulsa and Meet the Legends of Wrestling – WIN Magazine

by Mike Chapman

It was 1991 when my wife Bev and I came up with an idea that we hoped would appeal to fans attending the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships. Now, 32 years later, the grand experiment is turning out to be more powerful than we ever imagined.

What I’m talking about is the VIN Memorabilia Show, now called the VIN Fan Expo. It will be held March 16-18 between tournament seasons in Tulsa, and approximately 20,000 fans are expected to stream into the beautiful Tulsa Convention Center over three days.

It’s a far cry from what began that cold March weekend in Iowa City in 1991, largely due to the efforts of Brian Van Kelly, publisher of WIN and a tireless champion for wrestling at various levels.

Over the years, I was going to NCAA tournaments (my first was in 1966) and meeting friends between sessions for some good conversation and food was always a struggle. We’ll try to find a place big enough to hold about a dozen of us. But it seemed that thousands of other fans were looking for the same type of place to congregate, and many such places were difficult if not impossible to get in the door.

And most weren’t as family-friendly as those with youths hoping to introduce a new generation to the grandeur of collegiate wrestling.

So, I came up with the idea of ​​renting a space at the Holiday Inn in downtown Iowa City. I was able to find some exhibitors who were willing to invest time and a little money in the new venture, and I brought in two very special guests who I hoped would attract some fans. With us that first year were Dan Hodge, the legendary three-time undefeated NCAA champion from Oklahoma, and Verne Gagne, the two-time NCAA champion from Minnesota and four-time Big Ten champion for the first time.

Both had tremendous careers in the professional ranks as well, and they became huge hits with fans who found us. Apparently, there were only 600 or so in that first year.

One of the main attractions was my vast collection of memorabilia, which included rare trading cards dating back to 1898, rarely seen NCAA events from the early 1930s, and several books I had written, including my first “Two Guys”. Named” was also included. Dan”, about Hodge & Gable.

The event grew steadily each year and the long list of celebrities included many of the biggest names in the history of the sport. Among those who graced us with their presence were Olympic champions Bill Smith, Doug Blubaugh, Yojiro Uteke, Dan Gable, Dave Schultz, Ben and John Peterson, Ed and Lou Banach, Bruce Baumgartner and Kurt Angle, world champions Lee Kemp and Lloyd Keizer was involved. UFC sensation Randy Couture, and heroes such as Wayne Baughman, Russ Camilleri, Stanley and Joe Henson, Wade Shiels, Greg Strobel, Dale Anderson, and Carlton Hasselrig.

this year, we are excited to have two of the most intriguing wrestlers I have ever known as our special guests: Karran Jacobs and John Hanrahan. They’ll be at our table with Bev and me to chat with fans and share their remarkable stories.

Karan Jacobs

Curran Jacobs was captain of the 2012 Michigan State team and holds a master’s degree in Theater Arts. He has appeared in several films and is the star and director of a new documentary called “For the Love of Catch”. It traces the development of wrestling in America to the earliest days, New Salem, Ill. From Abe Lincoln’s iconic match in the U.S. to the Frank Gotch era in Iowa, and the way the catch-as-catch-can submission wrestling style changed into the forms we now know as scholastic, freestyle, BJJ, and even Pro is known as “wrestling”.

Dan Gable, Tom and Terry Brands, Mark Johnson, Randy Couture and Dan Severn are among the many stars to appear in the documentary. It’s a fascinating journey through the grand history of our sport. It has become a huge hit on various streaming platforms.

Curran has won several major catch wrestling tournaments including the World United Catch Wrestling Championship in 2018. He’s also the star of a new movie called “Silent Night in Algona,” the true story of a German prisoner of war camp. Small Iowa town in 1944. It is also getting rave reviews.

In 2020, John Hanrahan wrote a book titled “Wrestling with Angels” with the subtitle, stating that it is “a true story of addiction, revival, hope, fashion, training celebrities and man’s oldest sport.”

John Hanrahan

I wrote about the book in a previous column. It was shocking, sometimes scary, and ultimately uplifting. I just couldn’t put it down and read it in two days. John was a two-time All-American at Penn State and a UWW Veteran World Champion. Competing in a televised match, she was discovered by a prominent agent and became a world famous model. It was this wild modeling lifestyle that took her to the very edge and into a fierce battle for survival.

John bounced back with the help and support of his wife, Kirsten, and became a well-established celebrity fitness trainer. He also founded a non-profit group called Recovering Angels to assist addicts and their families on the road to recovery.

He has appeared on national TV shows to discuss his book, including Fox & Friends, CBN’s Faith Nation, and FloSports’ Bader Show. He has also been featured on The Brian Kilmeade Radio Show, The Big Talker Network’s Recovering Hope and The Rescuers Radio Show with Art Brooks, as well as several podcasts.

Click here to read Chapman’s ‘Wrestling with Angels’ book review

He was a guest on the Coffee Hour show, which features notable Penn State alumni, and was even a speaker at the International NDE (Near Death Experience) Summit. A major Hollywood agent has expressed interest in the book-to-film project.

Curran and John will both be at our table on Friday and Saturday to talk with fans and present their DVDs and books for sale. And we’ll also have several of my books for sale.

We hope you’ll see Curran, John, Bev and me to help us put an exclamation mark on this long journey that began in 1991!

(Mike Chapman is the founder of WIN Magazine, the Dan Hodge Trophy, the National Hall of Fame Dan Gable Museum, the author of 30 books, and was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2007.) Ann

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