Courtesy of Miranda Tomlinson, Arizona State Wrestling
TEMPE, Ariz.—Curley Culp was born on March 10, 1946, in Yuma, Ariz., and was an All-American in both wrestling and football at Arizona State University, where he competed from 1964 to 1967.
“While at ASU I had an opportunity to participate in two sports, football and wrestling,” Culp said. “Both sports helped me to develop my athletic skills to ensure the best possible transition to professional football. However, I am most thankful for the education I received in the class room.”
At Arizona State, Culp was a three-time Western Athletic Conference champion; two-time NCAA qualifier, and the 1967 NCAA Heavyweight Champion. En route to his victory, he pinned three of his four opponents, including Adams State’s Dominic Carollo in 51 seconds for the title.
“The opportunity to compete in two sports was part of the arrangement that made ASU the right choice,” Culp said. ”The skill set necessary to become a successful wrestler is transferable into the game of football. I was able to win several conference heavyweight titles, and was ultimately honored by becoming the first NCAA wrestling champion for the school in 1967.”
Through his championship season, he won 19 consecutive matches, pinning 15 of those opponents, and was the recipient of the Gorriaran Award, one of the most coveted individual honors awarded to any college wrestler.
Culp finished his career with a record of 84-9-4, and was the first Sun Devil wrestler to win an NCAA title. Currently, Culp sits at No. 2 in ASU’s career pins list with 42, or half of his overall win total.
“My advice to any student-athlete would be to follow your dreams and not let anyone or anything prevent you from following the path you choose. Also, always do your best to achieve success both in the classroom and in your chosen sport.”
After being selected in the second round of the 1968 NFL draft, by the Denver Broncos as the 31st overall pick, Culp was quickly traded to Kansas City to play defensive tackle, a position he held until 1974.
Culp guided the Chiefs to a Super Bowl win in 1970, before continuing his career with the Houston Oilers from 1974 to 1980. In 1975, he led the Oilers to its first winning season in eight years, and his performance earned him the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year and First-Team All-Pro honors following the season.
In 1981, Culp ended his 179-game career with the Detroit Lions, and in all was named to the first or second team All-AFC five times, and was on six Pro-Bowl winning teams.
In August of 2013, Curley Culp was indicted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
“I am truly honored and blessed to be inducted into the Professional Football Hall of Fame,” Culp said. “It gives me great joy and inspiration to be considered one of the best to have ever played professional football.”