STILLWATER, Okla. – The National Wrestling Hall of Fame Class of 2018 inductees are Distinguished Members Stephen Abas, Lee Allen, Henry Cejudo and Kristie Davis, Meritorious Official Gary Kessel, Order of Merit recipient Nancy Schultz Vitangeli, Medal of Courage recipient Michael Martinez and Outstanding American honoree Randy Couture. Allen will be inducted posthumously as he passed away in 2012 at the age of 77.
The induction ceremony will be held at the 42nd Annual Honors Weekend on June 1-2, 2018 in Stillwater, Oklahoma.
Kristie Davis becomes only the second woman to be inducted as a Distinguished Member, joining four-time World Champion and women’s wrestling pioneer Tricia Saunders, who was inducted in 2006. The Tricia Saunders High School Excellence Award is presented annually to the nation’s most outstanding high school senior girls for their excellence in wrestling, scholastic achievement, citizenship, and community service.
“The Class of 2018 is an amazing group of people who have made a tremendous and extremely positive impact on our sport,” said Lee Roy Smith, Executive Director of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. “We are excited to be inducting our second female Distinguished Member, Kristie Davis, and to recognize Lee Allen, who played a significant role in the development and growth of women’s wrestling. We are so excited to honor another group that has not only contributed to our sport, but who embodies what wrestling can do to help you excel in life.”
Abas, Cejudo and Davis were chosen as Distinguished Members for the Modern Era while Allen was selected by the Veterans Committee. The Hall of Fame has inducted 188 Distinguished Members since it began in 1976.
Distinguished Members can be a wrestler who has achieved extraordinary success in national and/or international competition; a coach who has demonstrated great leadership in the profession and who has compiled an outstanding record; or a contributor whose long-term activities have substantially enhanced the development and advancement of the sport.
Henry Cejudo was 21 years old when he won a gold medal at the Olympics in 2008, becoming the youngest Olympic wrestling champion in United States history. Kyle Snyder broke Cejudo’s record in 2016 when he captured a gold medal at the Olympics as a 20 year old. Cejudo won the Pan American Championships three times, and competed in the World Championships in 2007. Cejudo was a two-time U.S. Open champion, who became the first high school wrestler to win the U.S. Nationals in freestyle since USA Wrestling became the sport’s national governing body in 1983. He won a pair of state high school championships in Arizona before moving to Colorado Springs, Colorado, to become a resident athlete at the U.S. Olympic Training Center. He won Colorado state high school championships as a junior and senior, and was named ASICS National High School Wrestler of the Year in 2006. Cejudo is currently competing in mixed martial arts and is the UFC’s No. 2 ranked flyweight.
Stephen Abas was a three-time NCAA Division I national champion and a four-time All-American for Fresno State University, winning titles in 1999, 2001 and 2002 after finishing fourth as a freshman in 1998. He won a silver medal at the Olympics in 2004 and competed in the World Championships in 2001 and 2003. He was also qualified for the World Championships in 2002, but the United States did not compete. Abas was named to the NCAA’s 75th Anniversary Wrestling Team in 2005 in the lightweight division, along with current Distinguished Members Tom Brands (2001), Dan Gable (1980), John Smith (1997) and Yojiro Uetake Obata (1980). He had a career college record of 144-4-0 and did not lose a match at 125 pounds. Abas concluded his college career with 95 consecutive wins, including a 35-0 record as a senior and a 34-0 record as a junior, while setting the school record for career wins with 144 wins and career winning percentage with 97.3 percent. He was named the Fresno State Male Athlete of the Year in 1999 and 2001, and is currently the freestyle coach at the Valley Region Training Center in Fresno, California.
Lee Allen was one of only four wrestlers to represent the United States at the Olympics in both freestyle and Greco-Roman, competing in freestyle in 1956 and finishing eighth in Greco-Roman in 1960. He was a member of the first United States team to compete in the World Championships, placing sixth in freestyle in 1961. Allen was a four-time undefeated Oregon state champion for Sandy High School in Sandy, Oregon, and competed in college at Portland State from 1952-54. Allen was the head coach of the 1980 Olympic Greco-Roman team, which did not compete in the Olympics in Moscow, Soviet Union, because of the U.S. government boycott of the Games. He was an assistant coach for the United States Greco-Roman team at the Olympics in 1972 and 1976. He was head coach of four United States Greco-Roman teams at the World Championships in 1973, 1977, 1978 and 1979. The 1979 team finished fourth with three individual medalists, which was one of the best Greco-Roman performances of the time period. Allen and his wife, Joan Fulp, were instrumental in the development and growth of women’s wrestling in California and the United States. He led the men’s wrestling program at Skyline College in California for 32 years while incorporating a women’s program. His San Francisco Peninsula Grapplers women's team won the senior national championships in 1997 and 1999. Allen was head coach of the women’s wrestling team at Menlo College in California from 2001 to 2010 where he coached both of his daughters, Sara Fulp-Allen Bahoura and Katherine Fulp-Allen Shai. Sara was the first three-time women’s college national champion, and an injury prevented her from competing as a senior to try and become the first four-time champion. Katherine was a World University champion and five-time national team member. Lee received the Lifetime Service to Wrestling award from the Oregon Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2011 and from the California Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2013. He is a member of the AAU Hall of Fame, the San Mateo County Sport Hall of Fame, Skyline College Hall of Fame, California Wrestling Hall of Fame and the Portland State University Hall of Fame.
Kristie Davis has won nine World medals which ties her with Bruce Baumgartner for the most World medals in United States history. The Albany, New York native holds the American records in women's freestyle for most world teams, most medals, and most finals appearances. Davis competed in 10 World Championships and was a seven-time finalist, winning gold medals in 2000 and 2003 and silver medals in 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999 and 2007. She captured bronze medals in 2002 and 2006. Davis helped the United States capture the World Championship team title in 1999, which is the first and only American women’s team to accomplish the feat. She was named Women's Wrestler of the Year by USA Wrestling five times (1998, 2000, 2002, 2006 and 2007), which is more than any other wrestler since the award began in 1993. Davis was a nine-time U.S. Open champion who competed in four Olympic Trials, placing second once and third twice. She was a four-time University Nationals champion, and won two Women’s Collegiate Wrestling Association national championships for Oklahoma City University. Davis also competed as Kristie Stenglein, which is her maiden name, and as Kristie Marano, which was her first married name. She was named co-head women’s wrestling coach at Emmanuel College in Franklin Springs, Georgia, on Monday, where she will be working alongside her husband, Link Davis.