FCAW Board Member
Athletes in Action
NAIA All-American; USA Olympic Champion
Olympic Champion John Peterson comes to the FCAW Leadership Board as a committed member of Athletes in Action since 1973. Hailing from the tiny farm community of Comstock in northwestern Wisconsin, John won three conference titles and NAIA All-American honors for the University of Wisconsin at Stout. But only then did his wrestling career blossom. During his senior year, John dropped by Iowa State to join his brother Ben and his team in preparing for the 1971 Pan American trials. John began to think of a long-shot bid for the World Championships, although at 177 pounds John had met only grief in cutting to the international 163-pound class. An off-the-cuff discussion with Dan Gable proved to be the turning point. "Don't cut all that weight," the Cyclone star told John. "You can wrestle and win at 180.5 pounds." With his faith now bolstered by wrestling confidence, John began to succeed. He made the World team that summer, and again in 1973, 1978, and 1979 -- winning bronze and silver medals the latter two years.
In the Olympics of 1972, Gable and Wayne Wells won (as expected), but Ben also took gold at 198 pounds and John won six matches in a row to capture the silver. While winning three National AAU titles and three World Cups, John blended his wrestling interests with his deep and abiding faith, as a coach and a competitor for Athletes in Action. He spent three of seven AIA years in Europe, and lived in Vienna, Austria, for five more years as a Campus Crusade for Christ staff member.
The 1976 Games in Montreal provided the ultimate wrestling achievement for John. A closing victory over Mahmet Uzun of Turkey captured the gold medal. John's brother Ben, collected the silver at 198. John's story is not only one of athletic success, but one of a positive influence on the lives of young athletes.