1988 Thomas L. Ruffing 2  Milwaukee.gifThomas Ruffing has served amateur wrestling well. He has been involved in high school wrestling since 1959 when he became wrestling coach at Milwaukee Custer. Two years later, after transferring to Milwaukee South, he continued his involvement in wrestling. He remained coach at Milwaukee South for 25 years, retiring in 1987.

Thomas Ruffing graduated from Milwaukee Pulaski High School in 1953 and Marquette University in 1957. Milwaukee Custer High School needed a wrestling coach and Ruffing had a Physical Education minor. Ruffing had never wrestled, but wanted to coach. He agreed to the wrestling coach position. While at Milwaukee South High School, Ruffing held the assistant coach position for one year before assuming the head coach job. He remained head coach from 1963 until 1979. At this time, he assumed the assistant coach position again until his retirement in 1987.

During this career as wrestling coach, Ruffing achieved over 150 dual meet victories and under his leadership his teams have won the conference championship 3 times. In addition to winning numerous regional team championships, Ruffing sent at least 40 wrestlers to the WIAA state meet and three won individual state championships.

Ruffing has been a member of Wisconsin's Amateur Athletic Union for 25 years and is was president of the State AAU Wrestling, a position he held for several years. Ruffing has helped organize many of the AAU tournaments to help young wrestlers improve their skills outside of the regular season. He has been involved in the organization and administration of state AAU and Junior Olympic wrestling meets since 1962.

After Ruffing retired, he admits he misses the team spirit. He stated, "I always stressed the basics and conditioning and tried to impart enthusiasm to the kids. I hope my wrestlers enjoyed the sport because I loved coaching them." It is apparent that Ruffing's team members did enjoy the sport. Four of his former wrestlers have followed Ruffing's long-time example and became coaches themselves. One of his former wrestlers, Wayne Stapleford, is also a member of the George Martin Hall of Fame. Stapleford has stated that "Mr. Ruffing has truly been a leading and stabilizing force for wrestling in the Milwaukee area".