Giani Reaches Wrestling’s Pinnacle in National Hall of Fame
has finally climbed the only mountain he had yet to scale, reaching
wrestling’s pinnacle – the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. It was
recently announced the 68 year old coach will be inducted as a
Distinguished Member in wrestling’s temple, one of only a small handful
of high school coaches ever to reach the hallowed shrine.
began his brilliant career as a junior in the fall of 1951 at what was
then called R.L. Simpson High School (currently Huntington Town Hall),
has covered himself in glory through a six decade career that has seen
him rise from the sport’s lowest level to the U.S. freestyle Olympic
team to a record breaking coach known throughout the country as a
workaholic who will accept nothing short of the best effort from his
wrestlers and himself.
“Lou Giani is
the premier high school wrestling coach in America today so it is only
fitting and proper that he be included among the sport’s legends in the
Hall of Fame,” said Andy Marlow, Roslyn High School’s mat coach.
“He’s still making history long after many of his opponents have packed
it in and quit trying to beat him.”
As a Distinguished Member he will join
an elite group of the sport’s greatest heroes, with most coming from the
Midwest, traditionally wrestling’s hotbed.
The Huntington mat coach was first
nominated for the Hall of Fame in April 1987 – almost sixteen years ago,
a wait that frustrated his supporters. He recently received a morning
phone call from Myron Roderick, executive director of the
National Wrestling Hall of Fame, and heard that the long wait was over.
The selection committee had voted Giani in.
induction will take place on June 7 on the campus of Oklahoma State
University in Stillwater, where the mat shrine is located.
Born in Manhattan to strict immigrant
parents, Giani attended Catholic school where sports and physical
education did not exist. Even moving to Huntington as a ninth grader
did nothing immediately to advance his future career. His new school
had a full phys ed and sports program and he quickly learned that
athletics were fun. But, his parents saw no value in sports because of
their life experience. There were no athletes in the family tree and
the threat of injury terrified them
After two years of begging and cajoling,
Giani finally convinced his parents that athletics were an intricate
part of education. After they signed the consent forms he played
football, wrestled and ran track in his junior year. He ultimately
became a world class athlete.
Giani has previously referred to the
possibility of Hall of Fame membership as the “icing on the cake,”
adding “it would be a tremendous honor.” His nomination garnered
support from fellow coaches, college coaches, two U.S. senators as well
as congressmen, state legislators, former wrestlers and college
competitive career included winning the 1953 Suffolk County
championship, the 1959 Pan Am Games gold medal, capturing several
matches in the 1960 Rome Summer Olympic Games, and winning the Senior
Metropolitan Championships ten times in five different weight classes.
As a coach he has been even more
brilliant in a career that includes nearly 400 dual meet victories and
one of the highest winning percentages in history. To date, his teams
have won 99 tournaments and he has coached a record shattering 22 state
championships. Four of his squads won public school state titles and
four others finished the season ranked first in the state by the New
York Sportswriters’ Association.
His list of Huntington state champions
includes his son Lou Giani, Jr. (1973), Charlie Gadson
(1973), Jeff Thomas (1974-75), Mike Rosenbauer (1976),
Paul Widerman (1977-78), Mike Thomas (1978), Billy Gaffney
(1980), Kieran Mock (1982), Gene McNeil (1984, 86),
Mark Billups (1985), Drew Jackson (1986), Brian Fischenich
(1992), Jim Amira (1994), Dawid Rechul (1998), Pat
Flynn (2000, 02), Jack Piana (2000), Steven Palacios
(2002) and Stephon Sair (2002).
Giani has rode to success on the back of
a simple philosophy. “It wasn’t long before I figured out that if I
worked harder than everyone else, I could gain the edge,” he has said.
“That concept has been my driving force throughout my athletic and
His teaching career in Huntington
followed nineteen years of employment with Grumman, where he rose to
group leader and worked on the lunar escape module (LEM) program that
allowed man to travel from the Apollo spaceship to the moon and back to
the capsule for the journey back to Earth.
Married to Rosemarie Giani and
the proud father of three children, he earned his bachelor’s degree from
C.W. Post and his master’s from Adelphi. Even after hip replacement
surgery in recent years, he continues to put a premium on fitness.
another interest and essential part of my life,” he has said. “>From
the first day that I entered the athletic arena, to this very day, I
have maintained a good level of fitness by working out at least three or
four times a week. My goal is to maintain my quality of life,” Giani
America’s shrine to the sport of
wrestling, the National Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum, is a focal
point for the past, the present and the future. Giani will be enshrined
in the Hall’s Honors Court, which trumpets the legends of great
athletes, coaches and contributors.
The museum features an array of
sculptures, photographs, banners, plaques, medals, trophies, uniforms
and other memorabilia. As visitors enter the building, their eyes are
caught by the classic green marble sculpture, “The Wrestlers,” weighing
more than three-quarters of a ton.
statue, an exact copy of the classic by Cephisodotus, which presides in
the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy, is the only one if its size ever
created in green marble.