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Ed Banach

Sport: Wrestling

Born: February 6, 1960

Town: Sussex

Edward Joseph Banach was born February 6, 1960 in Sussex County. Ed and his fraternal twin, Lou, went into foster care along with the rest of their siblings after a fire destroyed their boyhood home and their mother suffered a nervous breakdown. They were ultimately adopted, along with an older brother, Steve, by the Tooley family of Monatgue, also in Sussex County. The Tooleys moved across the border to Port Jervis, NY, where the three boys became football stars and championship wrestlers. They fashioned a home gym from heavy iron parts they found along the railroad tracks near their house.

Steve got a scholarship to Clemson. Ed and Lou were recruited by Dan Gable to the University of Iowa, where they quickly became the stars of the Hawkeye grappling squad. Ed was nicknamed “The Horse.” He was immensely strong and yet lightning-quick. He was known for his violent pins. Ed was the division-I freestyle champion three times at Iowa and was named Big 10 Athlete of the Year as a senior in 1983. He was a Big Ten champion and All-American all four years at Iowa and set the school record for career pins, with 73.

In 1984, Ed and Lou entered the Olympics, with Lou wrestling a weight division above Ed, who was in the 198-pound class. Ed suffered a concussion during the competition but made it to the finals, where he defeated Akira Ota, 15–3. Lou also won gold as a light heavyweight. They were the first twins to win wrestling gold, but not the first brothers. Earlier in the competition, Dave and Mark Schultz each won gold medals. Dave Schultz was the wrestler murdered by John DuPont.

After the Olympics, Ed took an assistant coaching job at Iowa State. In 1987, he suffered another concussion in practice—by his own estimate, at least the 45th of his career. This one was different, however. He suffered from constant migraine headaches for more than a year. Any thought of a return to Olympic glory was gone. Ed kept coaching and also running clinics, but continued to suffer from post-concussion syndrome.

In 2002, Ed was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.


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