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Wisconsin and National Wrestling Hall of Fame

Wisconsin and National Wrestling Hall of Fame

Wisconsin and National Wrestling Hall of Fame

The George Martin Wrestling Hall of Fame – honoring Wisconsin wrestlers and the sport’s long and storied history in the state — is housed at the Woodside Wisconsin Dells Center.

Long-time Dells wrestling coach, Wayne “Stubby” Stapleford, is among the inductees whose name is on display at the new installation at the center, also called ‘the dome’ in Wisconsin Dells. Stapleford coached at Wisconsin Dells High School for 14 seasons before retiring in 2014.

The Wisconsin Wrestling Coaches Association and its Alumni Association installed the new display case in the lobby of the Woodside Center in December of 2015. The display contains plaques and digital biographies  of more than 240 wrestling coaches and contributors who represent more than 80 years of Wisconsin wrestling history.

Woodside Center is the first permanent home for the display since 1998 when a renovation at the UW Field House necessitated a mobile existence. The display is a permanent part of the continuing effort of the WWCA’s Alumni Association to preserve the history of the sport in Wisconsin. The location was made possible through the efforts and interest of Woodside Wisconsin Dells Center owner Damon Zumwalt and the director Chris Lechnir. Construction and materials were made possible through donation of contributors such as Dale Evans, Terry Shockley,  Tom Talbot, the Wisconsin Wrestling Coaches Association and the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.

Its purpose matches that of the George Martin Hall of Fame, which “is to pay tribute to those coaches, officials and contributors who represent the best qualities of what the sport of wrestling has to offer and who share those characteristics with young people day in and day out.”

The display can be seen in the lobby of the Woodside Center, which plays host to such wrestling events as the Dells Duals, the Dominate in the Dells, the Wisconsin State Freestyle/Greco and, new for 2015, the Asics National Kids Tournament.

The Hall of Fame, which inducted its first 18 members in 1977, is named for legendary University of Wisconsin wrestling coach George Martin — also known as “the Father of Wisconsin Wrestling.”

Martin assumed this role in 1935 and began a mission to convince parents and schools of the positive value of wrestling for the development of young men. In 1940 only four schools in Wisconsin had wrestling programs, but by 1964 more than 350 schools had initiated programs — as solid an indication as any that the efforts of Martin and his fellow coaches across the state were successful in their mission.

Many of those coaches including Stapleford are honored in the Hall of Fame and now, permanently, in the display at “the Dome.”


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