Aug. 29, 2012
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Former University of Michigan wrestling standout and two-time NCAA champion Dave Porter (1966-68) passed away on Saturday (Aug. 25) in Grand Ledge, Mich., at the age of 66. Porter, who had been in poor health in recent years, was also a two-year Michigan football letterwinner as a defensive tackle.
Among the most decorated wrestlers in Michigan program history, Porter was a two-time NCAA heavyweight champion (1966, '68) and three-time NCAA All-American, placing third as a junior. He captured his first title in dominant fashion, using three takedowns and two near falls to defeat Minnesota State-Moorhead's Bob Billberg, 15-4, and become the program's eighth individual NCAA champion.
A native of Lansing, Mich., Porter enjoyed several notable wins and rivalries against his hometown Michigan State Spartans. In his junior season, with U-M trailing by eight points with two matches remaining in the regular-season dual finale against No. 1-ranked MSU, Porter pinned the Spartans' Jeff Richardson in the last match to seal Michigan's 16-14 upset victory. He was immediately preceded in victory by teammate Pete Cornell at 190 pounds; Cornell was killed on July 26 in a cycling accident.
Two of Porter's three career losses came in his senior season to Michigan State's Jeff Smith, who defeated Porter in the regular-season dual meet and the Big Ten Championships heavyweight final. Porter earned his revenge at the NCAA Championships, however, routing Smith 7-1 in the semifinal round. He went on to defeat Oregon State's Jess Lewis, 5-4, in the championship match. Trailing in the third period, Porter earned a reversal and sealed the decision with a late takedown. It was the only loss that Lewis suffered in his career.
Porter pinned his way to back-to-back Big Ten heavyweight titles (1966, '67) and was honored as the tournament's most outstanding wrestler as a junior. He represented Michigan at the first two NWCA All-Star Classic competitions (1967, '68) and served as U-M team captain in his senior campaign. Over his three seasons, he contributed to a 29-3 Michigan dual record and three top-10 NCAA finishes, including a runner-up showing in 1967.
Porter posted a sterling 51-3 career record, including a perfect 17-0 mark as a sophomore, and registered 37 career falls. His .944 career winning percentage has stood as the Michigan program standard for 44 years.
On the gridiron, Porter played defensive tackle during the 1966 and 1967 seasons, compiling 46 career tackles, four pass breakups and two fumble recoveries. After appearing in the North-South Shrine Game, he was drafted by the Cleveland Browns in the 1968 NFL Draft but tore a tendon and never played in an NFL game.
After his Michigan graduation, Porter accepted a teaching and coaching position at Grand Ledge High School, where he remained until his retirement in 2005.
Porter was inducted into the prestigious Michigan Hall of Honor in 1985 and is a member of the Michigan chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame (inducted 2010) and Michigan Wrestling Association Hall of Fame (1986).
A memorial service will be held at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 5, at Holihan-Atkin Funeral Home in Grand Ledge, Mich. Visitation will precede the service from 3-6 p.m. For more information, please visit the Holihan-Atkin website.
Contact: Leah Howard (734) 763-4423