Dan Gable recently spoke with WrestleZone Managing Editor Bill Pritchard while promoting the new film The Last Champion, available now on digital platforms. Gable’s week not only started with the release of the new film, but he also received the Presidential Medal Of Freedom from Donald Trump on Monday afternoon. Gable spoke about what the honor meant to him, and hopes that the recognition of his life’s work leads to more wrestlers being honored for their achievements.
“I’ve heard about this award but I never really thought about it more than most people, but all of the sudden, I’m a recipient. The thing that was really great about it was, we’ve got some really great people in our sport and our sport is a great sport, the sport of wrestling, but nobody’s really ever received this award. So, I’m the first one and I think it’ll really open the door for a lot of people in the future that have put in a lifetime of work as well. For me, it was like I didn’t have to step on the mat and battle for this award,” Gable said, “but I kinda did my whole life and this is something that you get for doing that. I’m pretty proud of it.”
Gable, a legendary amateur wrestler and collegiate coach, plays a role on-screen as well as behind the scenes of The Last Champion. He explained how he was brought on to the project and said it was after the movie had wrapped, but his knowledge of the sport and recommendation of a former wrestler resulted in reshoots that helped make the movie more authentic for the wrestling scenes.
“We’ve had quite a few wrestling movies out there, but we don’t call this a ‘wrestling movie.’ It just so happens that the sport that’s involved in this movie is [amateur] wrestling, so it’s one of these things where I didn’t even know about the movie [at first] but the producer was a wrestler and his family was involved in the sport, Glenn Withrow. I get a call, and it’s interesting because he asked me if I would be interested in having a role in this movie,” Gable said, “but he said it was already done. What had happened was they had a former wrestler of mine that was in the area come in and look at the wrestling part of it to make sure they were good and [authentic] to the sport and to help the movie. When they got done looking at the wrestling part—and it’s a major part, but it’s not the storyline—the wrestler looked at him and said, ‘Whoa… I think you need some help there. It’s not as good as it can be.’ And so the guy goes, ‘Well, do you want to help me, help us out here?’ and [the wrestler] said, ‘No. Why don’t you call this guy named Dan Gable?’”
“And so, he called me and of course he knew me—I think the guy there probably could have helped him just as much—but that brought me into the movie and he actually gave me a part, changed a couple of things to make it happen. We changed and re-shot all of the wrestling scenes, or at least most of them,” Gable said, “and we made them into pretty good wrestling scenes. It’s pretty spectacular, not phony from a standpoint of ‘nobody does that move’. Actually, the move at the end is, ‘Whoa! Where’d that come from?’ They brought in me, they brought in Olympic Champion Randy Lewis, announcer Jason Bryant and we re-called the match, so the wrestling is more proper now.”
Check out our full interview with Dan Gable at the top of this post; The Last Champion is now available for rental or purchase on digital platforms including Amazon.