In a day and age where sports athletes are seemingly given free reign to do as they please, true sports heroes are few and far between.
I hadn’t seen one for a long time until I witnessed something that made me think that perhaps heroes aren’t gone; they’re just lying low.
When I was at the World of Wrestling Championships in Reno, Nev., I saw a man who looked like he was ninety if he was a day take time out of his schedule to give back to the kids.
I was walking the concourse when I stumbled onto a father trying to get a picture of his sons with a man I didn’t recognize.
The elderly gentleman had a drink in his hand and was trying to figure out what to do with it when I offered to hold it for him.
He posed for a picture with both of the boys — making them put their index fingers in the air in the “I’m number one sign” and holding their arms up like they were champions.
When the father was done taking his pictures they thanked the gentleman and made to walk away when he halted them and said, “each photo comes with a move, one for each of you. Do you want to learn a move?”
The boys eagerly nodded yes and the gentleman proceeded to show them each a move.
With that, he shook the boys hands, took his drink back from me and moved on.
Even without knowing who he was I was awed by his willingness to share with the youth of the next generation.
When I sat down and explained what I had seen to Melissa Hannan, who was my host for the trip, she told me the gentleman was Danny Hodge, former Olympian, and standout collegiate wrestler.
She explained that he takes time every year at the tournament and stands and talks to kids.
The man went 46-0 with 36 pins as a wrestler for University of Oklahoma and won a silver medal in the 1956 Olympics and yet every year he takes time to attend wrestling tournaments and give back to the youth of the program.
Greater than Superman, greater than Iron Man, Danny Hodge exemplifies what heroes are and what they should be. Heroes aren’t dead, they’re just doing what they do without looking for accolades.