Choctaw Mayor Randy Ross was recently inducted into the Oklahoma Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame at the annual banquet in the Jim Thorpe Museum in Oklahoma City.
At the ceremony Ross was honored with the Outstanding American Award.
The Outstanding American honor is given to former wrestlers who are highly successful and use the disciplines learned in wrestling in their profession.
Ross was a member of two state championship teams for the Bombers and wrestled collegiately at the University of Central Oklahoma, where he earned All-America honors in 1973 as team captain.
Ross was UCO’s first All-American, and former wrestling coach Jim Rogers credits him with establishing the tradition of tough, hard-nosed wrestlers for which the university has become well known.
“Randy was my first recruit at UCO and also the first All-American. I’ve no doubt that if not for injuries, he would have been a multi-time All-American and very possibly a national champion,” Rogers said, during an introduction speech at the recent banquet.
“In fact, one injury he suffered in the Oklahoma Open was so severe, I feared for his life and his ability to ever compete again or maybe to even have a normal life. While he went on to compete later, he was never really the same. It’s difficult to be effective when you don’t have feeling in your arms.”
A volunteer coach in the Choctaw and Midwest City school districts for many years, Ross started officiating wrestling in 1977 and spent 27 years in the profession. He worked 26 Oklahoma State Wrestling Tournaments, called two NAIA National Tournaments that were hosted at UCO and was named one of the top five officials in the state for 10 consecutive years.
Ross has achieved a plethora of accolades during his professional career.
For the last 13 years Ross has served as Mayor of Choctaw, and was named the Oklahoma State Mayor of the Year in 2012. He is one of only 56 members of the Oklahoma Accounting Hall of Fame, is a member of the Executive Board of the UCO Foundation and also serves on the Oklahoma Municipal Board of Directors.
He has also received the UCO Distinguished Alumni Award, UCO Family of the Year Award and Choctaw-Nicoma Park Light on Learning Community Partner Award, while writing many tax laws for the State of Oklahoma.
“Randy could be inducted on either his officiating or the outstanding American Award. It is fitting the latter, because he is certainly an outstanding America,” said Jones.
Ross was quick to credit his success to the support of a loving family, and also the mentorship of a stellar group of coaches.
“Like all wrestlers, we had coaches that impacted our lives, I am no different and I had four very special ones. Coach George Ivie, at Monroney Junior High, made me tougher than I thought I could be, coach Jim Kinyon, at Midwest City High, gave me skills, made me mentally tough and believed in me, coach Bill Luttrell, at Midwest City, gave me a skill that made a difference in my career and a special friendship, and coach Jim Rogers, at Central State (now the University of Central Oklahoma), gave me the opportunity to compete at a higher level and got me there,” said Ross, who also thanked everyone who had an impact on his life.
“This is the first point I want to make, each of you made a mark in my life and made a difference no matter how small it was , don’t ever think that what you do doesn’t make a difference—because it does.”
Ross was honored to know that his name will now be beside legends of the sport at the National Hall of Fame in Stillwater, and despite all of his success he credits his wrestling foundation with making him capable.
“I have had many awards, honors and a great career. I can truly say it would not have happened had it not been for the lessons I learned in a wrestling room. I have been called in different organizations chairman, president, mayor and other titles. These titles come and go but the one thing that never changes is that ‘I am a wrestler’ I learned the discipline necessary to study for and pass the CPA exam from wrestling, I learned to persevere through difficult times, through tragedies, through the highs and lows of life, to take that next step from the lessons I learned from the sport of wrestling,” said Ross.
“My successes in life and my career are founded on the lessons this great sport of wrestling gave me. In my career, I have fought the battles in board rooms, managed the tough political campaigns, weathered the insults from fans as I officiated matches, and of course a coach or two might have had choice comments but wrestling gave the tools to mentally and physically handle whatever was tossed at me.”
Six other outstanding former wrestlers were honored for their contributions to the sport at the Oct. 8 banquet. Those former wrestlers were Mark Kirk and Jack Spates who were chosen for the Lifetime Service to Wrestling Award, Chance Leonard who was presented the Medal of Courage honor, Doug Chesbro, Corey Clayton and Tim Johnson.