Remember to check earlier entries in the Factgrinder story stream for a richer discussion of amateur wrestling's various divisions and classifications.
You may have noticed that sometimes wrestlers in MMA use their resumes to barrage readers with a string of achievements and awards longer than the title of a Habsberg aristocrat. This curriculum vitae carpet bombing usually aims to mislead. After all, if a wrestler claims an endless litany of important sounding credentials, then he's naturally one of the preeminent matmen of his generation...right?
Dan Henderson turns this convention on its head. His wrestling resume adopts the "more is better" approach, but what is meant to dazzle with quantity, ironically obscures the true significance of a remarkable wrestling career. Hendo gives us a forest when a few trees would do the trick. Below I've taken Hendo's list of wrestling accomplishments supplied by his UFC profile, and explained the relative importance of each.
Hendo's UFC Wrestling Resume
1992 and 1996 United States Olympic Greco-Roman Wrestling team member
Well these are the big ones. I'll go into detail as to the particular significance of making a U.S. Greco Olympic team below. Pay attention to the dates as they provide some insight into just how long Hendo has been around. In his 1992 Olympic appearance, Dan competed directly against three European countries which no longer exist. Think about that for a second. Russia did not compete in the Olympics as an autonomous country until 1996. In 1992, they hadn't yet invented Turkmenistan.
1988 USA Junior Freestyle champion
The FILA Junior age group accommodates 18-20 year olds. A U.S. national championship at this competition level is a heck of an accomplishment. However, sitting next to two berths on Olympic team, a junior national title looks pretty insignificant. We should notice that this is a freestyle, not a Greco championship, and probably the apogee of Henderson's wrestling career in a wrestling style involving leg attacks.
1988 USA Junior Greco-Roman champion
The same as above, only Greco, not freestyle.
3-time USA Senior Greco-Roman champion
For most anyone else these three championships alone would constitute a fantastically successful Greco-Roman career. I've written earlier that a U.S. national championship in an Olympic style alone should be enough to claim status as a "world class wrestler". Once again, we need to keep in mind that Dan made two Olympic teams. To make an Olympic team one must win the Olympic trials, and the Olympic trials are almost invariably tougher tournaments than mere national championships.
3-time USA University Greco-Roman champion
National University championships are nice things to have. In earlier Factgrinders I've analogized the relationship between Senior championships and University championships to pro wrestling's WWE championship and Intercontinental championship. When you think of the Ultimate Warrior, the first thing that comes to mind is not his reign as the Intercontinental champion, if you catch my drift.
1990 USA FILA Junior World Greco-Roman champion
I would have included this just below the Olympic teams entry. Some describe the FILA Junior World Championship as the second toughest championship in the world next to the Senior World Championships/Olympics. While this is almost always not true, a Junior World Championship comes with great prestige, and usually portends big things in the future of the champion wrestler's international career.
1990 Amateur Wrestling News Freshman All-American
Here, we have a random NCAA accomplishment on the list. I'll discuss Hendo's collegiate career below. Inclusion on the AWN Freshman All-American team, while a huge deal for most wrestlers, probably does not merit a place on Hendo's resume.
1990-91 U.S. Olympic Festival champion
I have not a clue what this is. The U.S. Olympic Festival championship does not exist anymore and has not for a while. I will go out on a limb and speculate that while these championships sound impressive, the reality involves more sizzle than steak.
1991 and 1993-94 University Nationals champion
Um...I think these were already included above. Weird
1993-94 U.S. Nationals champion
Dan has already listed national championships in three different age groups, and two different styles of wrestling. To go and list two more national championships, absent of any further description, offers nothing but confusion. Was this even a national championship in wrestling? Who the hell knows?
The Factgrinder version of Dan Henderson's Wrestling Career
If I had the job of compiling elegant and accurate wrestling resumes for UFC profiles, I would include the following entries for Hendo.
- Two time U.S. Olympian in Greco-Roman wrestling.
- Two time U.S. world team member in Greco-Roman wrestling.
- Junior World Champion in Greco-Roman wrestling
- 2000 Pan American Champion in Greco-Roman wrestling.