WATERLOO — It’s one thing to read about the flood damage to the Dan Gable International Wrestling Institute and Museum, but it’s another thing altogether to witness it — and to smell it.
With the museum’s 10th annual “Super Weekend” under way in Waterloo, Iowa, fans — and writers — were allowed to wander through what once was a terrific exhibition of wrestling through the centuries.
The mustiness and the wet is impossible to describe; it must be smelled. Despite a dozen fans going, the muggy air outside made its way in, mixing with the stale air inside, a sad tonic of mildew, mold and broken dreams.
According to museum staff, the cleanup cost — ripping out damaged walls, furniture, carpet, gift shop merchandise — rang in at $60,000. And the museum was hardly the only place to suffer in Iowa. Others lost their homes as the various rivers across the state overflowed following torrential rainfall a few weeks back.
Museum staff believe that storm sewer backup is more to blame for the flooding at their location than the nearby Cedar River; buildings a block away barely got water in their basement, and others were destroyed.
An estimate Thursday pegged the repair cost to get the museum back up to what it was at around $250,000, which includes drywalling, a new furnace, and other parts of the building. That doesn’t include the replacement of display cases, merchandise or, perhaps most tragically, the priceless memorabilia and collectibles.
The induction ceremonies this weekend for the George Tragos/Lou Thesz Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame are traditionally the biggest fundraiser of the year for the museum, and are going ahead this weekend in a slightly modified format.
The six inductees this year are Roddy Piper, Abe Jacobs, Masa Saito, Leo Nomellini, Ray Gunkel, and Stu Hart. Piper, Jacobs, and Saito are attending and Bret Hart, Class of 2006, is accepting his father’s award. The daughter of Ray Gunkel is also planning to attend.
In addition, Wendi Weaver, the daughter of Penny Banner, will accept the Frank Gotch Award on behalf of her mother who passed away last month. Also being honored are Father Jason Sanderson, with the Lou Thesz Award and writers Greg Oliver and Steven Johnson with the Jim Melby Award.
The museum is soliciting donations to help in its recovery. Details for donating can be found at www.wrestlingmuseum.org.
TRAGOS/THESZ CLASS OF 2008 STORIES
- July 3, 2008: Melby Award winners deserving of honor
- June 28, 2008: Bret Hart’s speech from 2008 Tragos/Thesz Hall of Fame induction ceremony
- June 28, 2008: Piper, Saito, Jacobs enter Tragos/Thesz HOF
- June 27, 2008: Flood damage at Iowa HOF makes an impression
- June 27, 2008: How Ray Gunkel’s death changed wrestling
- June 20, 2008: Flood won’t stop Tragos/Thesz HOF ‘Super Weekend’
- June 14, 2008: Iowa wrestling museum flooded
- Tragos/Thesz Hall of Fame section in the Dan Gable Museum National Wrestling Hall of Fame