Finn Eriksen

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Finn Bjorn Eriksen.

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In Service to Country - New and Old

Finn Bjorn Eriksen, legendary Iowa wrestling coach, was born in Odder, a small village south of Aarhus, on the Jutland peninsula just after the turn of the last century. Although he finished academic high school his passion was gymnastics, which was quite popular at the time. In 1922, at the age of 17, Finn came to the U.S. and headed for Idaho with the intention of becoming a cowboy. However, he stopped off in Kimballton, Iowa, to work for awhile for his sponsor, Thorvald Muller. The small community grew on Finn, and when several friends suggested that he attend Grand View College in Des Moines to continue his gymnastics, Finn jumped at the idea. Grand View led him to what is now the University of Northern Iowa, gymnastics gave way to wrestling, and the rest is part of Iowa history. In April 1943 Eriksen accepted a commission in the U.S. Navy, reporting to its pre-flight school at Chapel Hill, North Carolina, as athletic director. Fledgling pilots were put through wrestling workouts as part of their endurance training. Later he was reassigned to the naval air station in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Here he was to keep the men physically fit, with drills in swimming, hand-to-hand combat, and, of course, wrestling.

  • Finn Bjorn Ericksen.