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Joe Henson passed away at the age of 90.

Date: 5/8/12


Henson Founder, Olympic Medalist and Captain in the U.S. Navy passed away at the age of 90.

May 4, 2012 - Olympic bronze medalist Josiah Henson passed away on April 4th, 2012 at age 90 at Saint Francis Hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Captain Henson's legend has remained a quiet one because the man himself does not seek attention.

Captain Henson founded Brute's parent company, Henson Company, in 1967. The Henson Company began as the first mail order business. Today, Henson manufactures and distributes top quality products and apparel for Brute Wrestling, NeuEdge Sportswear (including Softball, Baseball, Basketball, Field Hockey, Lacrosse and Volleyball) and Henson Rowing. Henson Company distributes their lines through sporting goods dealers, amateur and professional athletic clubs and teams and other buyers worldwide.

Joe served his country and the sport of wrestling with honor and will be deeply missed by Brute. He was a tireless promoter of the sport deeply involved in the Amateur Athletic Union, Sullivan Award Committee, International Sports Committee, World Taekwondo Federation, U.S. Information Agency (USIA) with a Special commendation from President Ronald Reagan.

Mr. Henson’s funeral was on Saturday, April 7th in Tulsa. An additional service is being held at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD.

Josiah Henson

A champion collegiate and international wrestler, one of the world’s best international wrestling referees and leader in the U.S. wrestling community for half a century. Those credits belong to no other than Josiah Henson.

A two-time EIWA champion, Henson went undefeated for three years while competing for the U.S. Naval Academy during World War II when no NCAA Championships were held. He then became one of the nation’s best freestyle wrestlers, winning a bronze medal at 139 pounds in the 1952 Olympic Games in Helsinki. He was also the 1952 AAU national champion, competing for the Armed Forces team.

After his competitive career ended, Henson set his sights on officiating on the international level. In 1956, he became the first American to qualify as a FILA international referee and work at the Olympic Games in Melbourne. In 1968 in Mexico City, he became the first American to work as a mat chairman in the Olympics. He also produced the first English translation of the FILA International Wrestling Rules.

Henson’s leadership roles in the wrestling community include serving as chairman of U.S. wrestling within the U.S. Olympic Committee in 1964 and 1968; Chef de Mission of the 1967 Pan American Games; and president of the AAU.

In 1963, he became only the second American to receive the FILA Gold Star. He was also named the 1958 Man of the Year by Amateur Wrestling News. Elected to the Helms Hall of Fame and the AAU Wresting Hall of Fame, he also received the FILA Centennial Award. In 2003, Wrestling USA magazine presented him with its Master of Wrestling Award.

In addition to his wrestling honors, Henson completed a distinguished career as a captain in the U.S. Navy. A pilot with more than 400 carrier landings from 1941 to 1969, he is a decorated war veteran honored with a Presidential Commendation. 

As an extraordinary athlete, official and contributor to the advancement of the sport, Josiah Henson is honored as a Distinguished Member of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.

Remembering Captain Josiah Henson

Education and Military Career
• 1945 graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy, where he was a Trustee from 1973-1980.
• Undefeated during collegiate competition.
• Captain, U.S. Navy (Pilot). Retired after 25 years service

• Bronze medalist in Freestyle wrestling at the 1952 Olympics.
• FILA International wrestling referee, judge and jury member at XVI, XVII, XVIII, XIX Summer Games in 1956, 1960, 1964, 1968.
• Official participant in every Summer Olympic Games since 1952 (except boycotted 1980 Moscow Games).
• International Federation (IF) Delegate and Acting IF President ("A" credential), at XXIV and XXV Olympic Games.
• First American to beat a Soviet athlete in a combat sport.

Pan American Games
• Chef de Mission, U.S. Delegation, IX Pan American Games 1979.
• Special Assistant to U.S.O.C. President at V and VI Pan American Games 1967.
• IF Delegate ("A" Credential), XI Pan American Games in Havana, Cuba (1991) and IF Special Representative for X Pan American Games in Indianapolis, Indiana (1987)

U.S. Olympic Committee
• USOC House of Delegates/Board of Directors. Member for XVII, XIX, XX and XXIII Olympiads.
• Wrestling Sport Committee 1960 -1976.
• Chairman of the U.S. Olympic Wrestling Committee 1964-68.
• Amateur Wrestling "Man of the Year" 1967.

Athletic Organizations
• Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) President 1980-1984, Vice President 1976-1980 (During this period AAU was with National Governing body (NGB) for eight Olympic sports).
• Sullivan Award Committee Chairman.
• Member, International Sports Committee, U.S. Information Agency (USIA) (Special commendation from President Ronald Reagan) (1980-88).
• Senior Vice President and Executive Council Member, World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) (1977 to date). 

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