Japanese Wrestlers of the 1960s Helped OSU Remain the Dominant Program of the Era

Originally published at: https://pistolsfiringblog.com/japanese-wrestlers-of-the-1960s-helped-osu-remain-the-dominant-program-of-the-era/

A handful of Japanese wrestlers had a huge impact on OSU wrestling and the sport in general.

Great article.
I arrived at OSU one year after YoJo Utake finished his Cowboy wrestling so I missed out seeing him wrestle for OSU. But I heard all about him from my former high school classmate in Chicago who had a wrestling scholarship at OSU starting in 1966. The kid won the 1966 Illinois High School state championship which coach Roderick attended. Roderick then arranged for YoJo to live with the kid’s family in his Chicago suburb home so that he could train in the basement of the house with Yojo every day during the summer before heading to OSU. I remember my friend telling me that he was absolutely shocked that this great legend of wrestling did not shower on a daily basis in spite of the sweat from the workouts.
This article related to racial issues is important because racism was even worse back in the 1960’s than it is now. For example, one day probably in 1968 it was the last day of the spring semester and my parents were to arrive in Stillwater to pick me up to travel back home to Chicago. I was walking down the street after class with a Japanese wrestler on the team who had transferred from Garden City junior college in Kansas. My parents later that night were upset with me for being friends with someone from Japan because my uncle had fought as a Marine against the Japanese in WW2. Even though this was 23 years after the war ended, the Japanese were still hated by some Americans. So I think that it was very courageous of Myron Roderick to bring in Japanese wrestlers when he did, especially since racism was so strong at that time, especially in Oklahoma and in the OSU athletic department as evidenced by a previous story I once told on this blog about my family accidentally walking into the head football coach’s newly built house thinking it was the model home to tour and we met the coach’s wife. We told her about some great players from the Chicago suburbs that they might want to take a look at for recruiting and she was interested in sharing that with her husband until we mentioned that the great players were black. She replied, “we can’t have that kind of trouble down here.” Her husband did not last long as head football coach but OSU finally started becoming good in football after they started recruiting black players. Myron Roderick also recruited black wrestlers which makes for another story at another time.


We just got another! Thanks, Seth: Rin Sakamoto Commits to Oklahoma State - Owrestle

Thanks for that story. I’m surprised and shocked actually that Mr Uetake didn’t shower on a daily basis. Being half Japanese myself and having lived in Japan 20 years, and of course with a Japanese mother, the average Japanese is anal about bathing on a daily basis. I guess Uetake-san was just so focused on his goals…maybe he thought the odor motivated him to work harder! :slight_smile: