Robert Edward "Bobby" Douglas (born March 27, 1942) is a retired American freestyle wrestler and coach. He competed as a featherweight at the 1964 and 1968 Olympics and placed fourth in 1964. He won a silver and a bronze medal at the 1966 and 1970 world championships, respectively, and retired later in 1970. After that Douglas coached several U.S Olympic teams, is one of only four collegiate coaches to win more than 400 dual meets, and he won an NCAA team national title at Arizona State. His coaching accomplishments include: 13 NCAA champions, 110 All-America performances and 68 conference titles.
Douglas added to his legacy by coaching Cael Sanderson to a gold medal in the 185-pound weight class at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece. Douglas was named the 2004 USA Wrestling Freestyle Coach of the Year. In January 2005, Douglas was honored with the Edward Clark Gallagher Award, which is presented annually to the Oklahoma State University wrestling alumnus who exemplifies the spirit and leadership eminent in the tradition of champions. He also received the 2005 Iowa State Alumni Association Impact Award.
In 1968, Douglas defeated Dan Gable 11–1 in a freestyle wrestling match during the Olympic Trials in Ames, Iowa, 11–1, while Gable's only defeat in folkstyle wrestling in high school and college came in the NCAA finals of his senior year at Iowa State in 1970 to Larry Owings. Douglas was inducted into the NAIS Hall of Fame in 1985, the Arizona Wrestling Hall of Fame in 1999, the Dan Brands Hall of Fame in 2002, and the Ovac Hall of Fame in 2004. In his career, he has coached many Olympians who placed in the top three in the world. He coached the Iowa State wrestling team for many years before stepping down in favor of Cael Sanderson in 2006.
As a competitor, Douglas captured five national championships and a pair of U.S. Olympic Trials titles. He had a fourth-place featherweight finish at the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo and captained the U.S. Olympic freestyle team at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. He won a silver and a bronze medal at the 1966 and 1970 world championships, respectively, and placed fourth in 1969. He was named the USA’s outstanding wrestler in 1970, the year he retired. He accumulated a career record of 303–17–7 (.953) from his high school days through his World Championship competition.
Born in poverty, Douglas rose to the top of the wrestling world. Though Douglas is often credited with being the first black Ohio high school state titlist, when he captured the 112-pound weight class crown at Bridgeport High School, the first black Ohio wrestler to whom that honor rightly belongs was actually a 145-pound senior from John Adams named Ludie Graddy, who beat Euclid's Bill Murphy, 4–3, in the state championship match in 1958.
After transferring from West Liberty State College to Oklahoma State, Douglas won the Big Eight Conference 147-pound crown. The Cowboys never lost a dual meet with Douglas in the lineup, and captured a pair of conference championships and the 1964 NCAA team title.
In 1987, Douglas was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, following his enshrinement into the NAIA Wrestling Hall of Fame in 1985. Douglas is also a member of the Ohio Hall of Fame, and in 1999 was inducted into the Arizona State Hall of Fame. He is a proud supporter of the Jason Foundation, a nationally recognized leader in youth suicide awareness and prevention.
Douglas has written several books on wrestling technique: Takedown I, Takedown II, Pinning and Olympic Technique, Take It To The Mat, Wrestling Skills and Drills, and The Last Takedown. He is one of a handful of gold certified U.S. coaches.
He earned a bachelor's degree from Oklahoma State in 1967 and a master's degree from ASU in 1981, where he was admitted to the doctoral program. Douglas and his wife, Jackie, have one son, Bobby Douglas Jr., and reside in Ames.
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