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Disabled Oklahoma Wrestling Coach Honored

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The Oklahoma Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum honored seven Oklahomans Sunday evening. Larry Estep was among them. The Oklahoma Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum honored seven Oklahomans Sunday evening. Larry Estep was among them.
OKLAHOMA CITY -

The Oklahoma Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum honored seven Oklahomans Sunday evening. Larry Estep was among them.

“One year I was all state wrestling coach,” Estep said looking at a lifetime of memories spread out on his dining room table inside his Piedmont home. “Oh, I love it, I love to see all this stuff."

Each plague, picture and medal as important as the next, mostly highlighting his long career as a junior high school wrestling coach. A career nearly cut short, when after one year of coaching for Guthrie, he received his draft letter.

“I just kind of knew it was going to happen,” he remembered. “I'm not going to put anything against that, because that's what I think a person should do, serve for his country.”

He joined the army and fought in the Vietnam War.

“We were on a recon team and there were six of us out,” he said.

They were out scouting for the enemy when they came under fire. Estep hit twice in a mortar attack, leaving him paralyzed on his right side, unable to walk or talk. He received the Purple Heart and was discharged from the Army.

His doctors told him he would never teach or coach again. But he was determined to prove them wrong.

“I wanted to get better, I wanted to do things,” he said.

And he did, he got back to the mat in 1974, and started the Watonga wrestling program.

“We started off in 1974 and it was tough winning but those kids they stayed with me, they stay with me all the way,” Estep said.

That year was the beginning of a teaching and coaching career that spanned 34 years with many conference wins and other accolades along the way. Success he attributes to faith, friends and his family, especially his wife Sandy.

“That's the way I was raised with my mother and dad, never give up, do the best that you can do at everything you do,” he said.

Estep received the 2015 Medal of Courage and was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.

Also Sunday night, Rex Edgar, Butch Jacobsen, Mike Jones, Mark Leen and Larry Wilkey were honored with the Lifetime Service to Wrestling and Kelly Gregg took home the Outstanding American award. The ceremony was held at the Jim Thorpe Museum in Oklahoma City.

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