When Mike Houck arrived in Kolbotn, Norway to compete in the 1985 World Championships, he knew that the odds were stacked against him. His 98 kg weight class included three former champions and no American wrestler had ever won a gold medal in World Greco-Roman competition. But the odds makers didn’t control his destiny, he did.
When the final buzzer sounded in his gold medal match against defending World champion Igor Kanygin of Russia, Houck had changed history. The USA had its first Greco-Roman World gold medal.
Houck won three USA Wrestling national Greco-Roman titles and one AAU title. He competed on three U.S. World teams, and made two World Cup appearances. He barely missed competing in the Olympic Games, finishing second in the trials in both 1984 and 1988.
As a collegian, he won two Christian College heavyweight national championships for Maranatha Baptist Bible College and his coach, Olympic gold medalist Ben Peterson.
Although he retired from competition in 1988, he didn’t stay away from wrestling for very long. In 1990, he was named the national Greco-Roman Coach by USA Wrestling. For the next five years, he worked with America’s best competitors and was instrumental in developing the U.S. Olympic Training Center resident athlete program. Under his tenure, the United States finished in the top 10 in the world four out of five years, won the Greco-Roman competition in the Pan American Games for the first time ever and brought home six World or Olympic medals, capped by Dennis Hall’s 1995 World championship.
Houck was named Sportsman of the Year for 1985 by the United States Olympic Committee and was nominated for the Sullivan Award.
For blazing the trail and establishing a new level of performance for our nation in Greco-Roman competition, Mike Houck is honored as a Distinguished Member of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.
1981 World Team Member (Oslo, Norway) 198 lbs
1983 World Team Member (Kiev, Soviet Union) 198 lbs
1985 World Team Member (Kobaltn, Norway) 198 lbs, World Champion