May 29, 2012
TEMPE -- The Arizona State University wrestling program hosted its first annual Champion's Dinner last weekend and the event turned out to be very successful for the Sun Devil program.
The dinner, held at the Adobe Restaurant at the Arizona Biltmore Resort, helped gather the Sun Devil wrestling community in an effort to round up support for the program and to give a chance to let former and current Sun Devil wrestlers mingle.
Current Sun Devil head coach Shawn Charles founded the event and thought it was a good starting point to build support.
"We are doing whatever we can to get our alumni connected to our wrestling program," Charles said. "We are trying to push our program to have the resources we need to have a successful program."
A total of about 150 guests showed up to the event and the turnout was satisfying to Charles.
"Every one of our national champions was here," Charles said. "A lot of our boosters and alums that have really supported us throughout the years showed up as well. I'm really excited for this whole thing."
The program's rich tradition was evident as wrestlers from Curley Culp to Anthony Robles were on hand.
Culp, ASU's first-ever national champion, is already a big supporter of the event
"This event is very awesome in a sense," Culp said. "The recognition of the former champions will hopefully serve as motivation for future champions at Arizona State University."
Robles, one of the two most recent Sun Devil national champions, likes the buzz the event could potentially create.
"It's a good way to draw some more people in and help support the program," Robles said.
Bubba Jenkins, last year's other national champion, flew all the way from Florida to come to the event.
"I was told there was going to be a dinner and that they wanted me to be there because it wouldn't be right to have a Champion's Dinner without all of the champions," Jenkins said. "Anything with Arizona State, I'm happy to do."
Four awards were handed out at the dinner to reward those closest to the Sun Devil program.
Tom Daniel received the Legacy Award while Bobby Douglas received the Sun Devil Warrior Spirit Award. Culp received the Standard of Excellence Award and Art Martori won the Lifetime Distinguished Service Award.
Martori, the current president of USA Wrestling, famously helped save the Sun Devil wrestling program after the 2007-2008 season and received a warm welcome from the Sun Devil faithful upon introduction.
Douglas, the legendary ex-Sun Devil coach, credits Martori for bringing the Sun Devil program back from the ashes and back onto the map.
"Art Martori is responsible for our success today and is bringing this Sun Devil crew together and we will start to see results," Douglas said.
Coach Charles is hoping the introduction of this event to Sun Devil wrestling truly is a game changer.
"I'm hoping this is the lightning bolt to get the spark back in our program," Charles said.