Awesome Men in History: Danny Hodge

Before we launch into Awesome Men In History, I want you to think about all the tough guys you’ve ever met. That uncle who tries to crush your hand whenever he shakes it. Those guys in middle school who developed early and were always asking people to arm wrestle or play mercy. The weird kid in your fraternity who wore Affliction t-shirts every day and claimed to be studying Brazilian Ju-jitsu.

Yeah, well, today’s entry would do to them what Showgirls did to Elizabeth Berkeley’s career. His name is Danny Hodge. He’s 79 years old, and the reason he’s alive today is because Death is waiting for his bones to knit before setting foot on Hodge’s doorstep again.

Danny Hodge was born in Perry, Oklahoma in 1932, and was kicking asses before he knew what to call them. This continued into high school, where he got involved in amateur wrestling and won State at 165 pounds. In college, Hodge had a wrestling record of 46-0, and was never taken down from a standing position. Think about that. Not only did he beat 46 guys, pinning 37 of them, they didn’t even score any points on him. Keep that in mind the next time you show off the beer can pyramid in your room like it’s some kind of accomplishment.

But it doesn’t end there. Hodge competed in the Olympics twice before trying his hand, no pun intended, at boxing. He became a Chicago Golden Gloves champion at heavyweight, with an amateur boxing record of 17-0. His professional record was 7-0, with a rumored eighth win somewhere in there. You couldn’t escape the guy. On the ground or standing, he’d make you cry like Chris Brown singing “Man In the Mirror.”

All that aside, Hodge is really famous for three things. The first is being a genuinely nice person who was good to his wife and didn’t run dogfights or start trouble in strip clubs or any of the other boneheadery you see from modern athletes who couldn’t kick half of Hodge’s ass if the other half helped them.

The second is crushing apples and pliers with his hands, which he can still do in his twilight years; he gave a live demonstration during the 2006 NCAA Wrestling Championships. He credits the freaky killing strength in his hands to being born with double tendons, and probably used the word “dagummit” at least six times in his explanation because that’s how he talks. Yes, he can even kill you with humility.

The third is breaking his neck in a car accident that left his vehicle submerged in a lake. Hodge survived by kicking out the back windshield and holding his neck in place with one hand while dog-paddling to shore with the other. The mind reels. If a rumor started that Hodge literally ate lightning and shat thunder, I would believe it without question.

By this point, it should be clear why Danny Hodge is a man worth remembering. I could go on for days about what a beating-you-up machine Hodge is, but I’ll end by letting him demonstrate why he should be respected. And feared.

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About Dave Kiefaber Dave Kiefaber is a Baltimore-based writer who regularly contributes to Adfreak and the Gettysburg Times. His personal website is at