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Growing up in Chicago, Ray Gunkel participated in many athletic activities before settling on wrestling as his main sport.

While attending Purdue University, Gunkel was a three-year starter on both the football and wrestling teams, and served as captain of the mat team, as well. He was a two-time All-American wrestler for the Boilermakers and also claimed two AAU national championships in the heavyweight class.

Turning professional in 1950, he quickly became a top attraction, with legendary ex-heavyweight boxing champion Jack Dempsey serving as his manager for a period of time.

Combining his clean-cut good looks and personality with superb wrestling skills, Ray was a big star all around the nation and particularly in the South, where he held numerous titles. He also was a highly-successful promoter with the All-South Wrestling Alliance.

He died of a heart attack on August 1, 1972.

Ray Gunkel
2008 Hall of Fame Inductee
“On the Mat” is a weekly wrestling radio program that airs every Wednesday night. The broadcast can be heard live from 6-7 p.m. Central Standard Time. The Dan Gable International Wrestling Institute and Museum in Waterloo, Iowa, hosts the show.

“On the Mat” can be heard live on the Internet at www.kcnzam.com or locally in Northeast Iowa on 1650, The Fan. Feel free to e-mail radio@wrestlingmuseum.org with questions or comments about the show.

Click here for archived shows.
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