1997 Bob Downing  Sun Prairie.gifBob Downing was born and raised on a farm outside of Fort Atkinson, WI. He started wrestling as a high school sophomore, the first year of the wrestling program at Fort Atkinson High School. He qualified for the state tournament at 103 lbs. While in high school he won 8 letters; 2 in football, 3 in wrestling and 3 in baseball. Bob graduated in 1959 and went to LaCrosse College. This was also the first year of the wrestling program there.
He lettered 4 years in 155-177 lbs. and was the first LaCrosse wrestler to qualify for the Nationals, at 167 lbs. He took fifth place there in 1962. Bob also lettered in baseball 2 years at LaCrosse.
Bob came to Sun Prairie High School (Badger Conference) in 1963 and started the varsity wrestling program. He coached for 14 years, compiling a 99-73-3 record, with 18 state qualifiers. His best teams finished 4th and 6th at the state tournament.
Bob held several positions in the WWCA, including secretary for 8 years, which was at the time that the Hall of Fame was being developed. He was in charge of the breakfast held at the State Tournament for those eight years, including the first Hall of Fame banquet.
Bob became very involved in the international style of wrestling in 1969 as a coach and referee. Sun Prairie hosted many freestyle tournaments and international teams during the 70's. Bob's teams continued to improve as his numbers grew (50 to 70 team members), but they could not beat Stoughton, coached by LaVerne Pieper, in a dual meet. Bob retired from coaching in 1977. The following year Sun Prairie moved to the Big Eight Conference, defeating Stoughton after 15 years of competition.
In 1975, Bob earned his International Officiating License and was required to work at least 20 freestyle and Greco competitions per year to maintain his ranking. He set a goal to work at the Olympics as an official, so he gave up his coaching job to gain experience as an official. By 1978 Bob had gained the highest level as an international official, FILA I Exceptional. He worked two Pan Am games, one world championship and three World Cups, Traveling to Europe, Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and throughout the United States. He was selected to be the Head Official for many competitions in 1979, including USA Greco Roman Mat Official for the world championships and the final Olympic trials. He was fitted by the Russian delegation for the official uniform of the 1980 Olympics, but when the United States failed to participate, Bob's goal was not realized.
He has cut back on world travel since then, but has continued to officiate at the high school and college levels. He has been selected to work at several state and National College tournaments, including NCAA level II, III and NAIA. He also officiates high school volleyball and now as assistant coach.