Borlaug: Iowa Wrestler Who Saved A Billion Lives

Iowa Farm Scene

NCAA Wrestling Championships were held in Des Moines last week; World Food Prize hero Norman Borlaug was part of the conversation.

Published on: March 29, 2013

When Borlaug was alive he used to talk about the determination and grit he learned on the mat as a wrestler, says Quinn. Borlaug's high school wrestling coach, Dave Bartelma, constantly told Norman Borlaug and his Cresco High teammates to "never give up." That character trait is one of the things Borlaug learned from wrestling -- the work ethic, persistence and perseverance -- and it carried Borlaug through life as he developed new, high yielding wheat and helped the people of India, Pakistan and Mexico to feed themselves by using better seeds and improved farming practices.

Borlaug is regarded as one of the greatest agricultural scientists and humanitarians in the history of mankind

Quinn says if Borlaug's message could be presented to the International Olympic Committee as well as the Olympic committees of individual countries, an argument could be made that dropping wrestling as an Olympic sport would be an insult and a sign of disrespect to the memory of Norman Borlaug, the man who did so much to ensure that there would be food to feed hundreds of millions of hungry people.

It would be a travesty for the Olympic Committee to drop the sport that taught Borlaug the personal character which enabled him to work hard and persist in his endeavors until he made the scientific discoveries that led to his food production accomplishments. Also, when you tour the Hall of Laureates, you'll learn that Borlaug never gave up as he worked through various obstacles including those that were man-made by governments, bureaucracies and politics.

Hopefully, Quinn and other fans of wrestling and of Norman Borlaug will get their wish and wrestling will be retained as an Olympic Sport. Perhaps, with Quinn's persistence and the help of other people, the message will be presented to the Olympic Committee and they will pay heed to Borlaug's accomplishments as a wrestler who went on with true grit and determination to advance science and alleviate human suffering. Maybe the powers who run the Olympics can be convinced to keep wrestling an Olympic sport as a tribute to the memory of Norman Borlaug—who started out as a farm boy from northeast Iowa and was an athlete who loved the sport of wrestling.