Facebook Live video from the Jack VanBebber Statue unvailing.
Jack VanBebber was severely injured at age six after being thrown from a wagon and run over by the metal-rimmed wagon wheels. Doctors said he would never be able to do strenuous work and could possibly be crippled for life. He overcame these injuries and other hardships to become one of the most accomplished wrestlers in the history of amateur wrestling.
Following a stellar wrestling career at Perry High School, VanBebber continued his wrestling career at Oklahoma A&M. Attending school during the Great Depression, Jack was forced to work numerous jobs while attending classes and wrestling. That did not stop him from going undefeated, while winning three NCAA championships and four AAU titles during his time in school.
Jack VanBebber was crowned Olympic champion in the 1932 Olympics, but once again, it didn’t come easy. Jack had advanced to the finals, but due to an unknown schedule change, he was forced to run to the arena. Fortunately, he caught a ride for part of the trip; arriving just minutes before his match. This scare did not keep Jack from defeating a past Olympic champion to win the Olympic gold medal!
In 1950, VanBebber was selected as one of the 10 most outstanding amateur athletes in the Western Hemisphere for the first half of the 20th Century. In 1976, Jack was inducted as a charter member into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. In 1988, VanBebber was named to the all-time best amateur wrestling team by Amateur Wrestling News and in 2008; he was inducted into the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame.