By David Hunt, KUSA-TV/KTVD-TV
In 1960, Oliver Dean Lahr graduated from Denver North High School as a decorated three-sport athlete in football, wrestling and track. During his senior year, he was named Quarterback of the All-City team and wrestled his way to an undefeated season before capturing a State Championship.
Lahr accepted a full scholarship to play football at the University of Colorado and he did so with the intention of proving himself both athletically and academically. As a member of the Buffaloes’ football program, he was awarded the prestigious Adolph Coors Scholarship as a sophomore, but ended up leaving the football team to concentrate on his passion for wrestling.
His choice to wrestle proved to be the right one as he became the first Three-Time All- America for the Buffs from 1962-64. During his sophomore year, Lahr lost only four matches — three by one point to the defending national champion and one to an earlier national champion whom he wrestled in the heavyweight division. Those were the only four matches he lost in collegiate competition. His three-year dual meet record, in fact, was 42-2, the two losses both logged in his sophomore year.
In 1963, Lahr became the first wrestler in CU history at 171 pounds to win an NCAA title, a feat he duplicated in 1964. He also finished 4th in the 1963 World meet at Sofia, Bulgaria, after winning five matches and losing just one to the 1960 Olympic champion from Turkey. His 1964 NCAA title at 177 pounds earned him MVP honors in the National Championships as he led CU to a fourth-place finish, the school’s highest finish ever. Lahr was selected as the tournament’s Outstanding Wrestler, the first-ever from Colorado, and was named Outstanding Wrestler in the nation by the National Coaches Clinic. He also was the first wrestler to receive CU’s Outstanding Senior Athlete Award.
In June of 1964, just two months before the Olympic Trials, Lahr tore his anterior cruciate ligament in his right leg but was determined to compete nevertheless. He not only competed, but won his weight class and was named Most Outstanding Wrestler at the Trials. Unfortunately, injuries suffered at the Trials to his left hip and left knee kept him from competing in the Tokyo Olympics.
After an 18-month layoff and extensive rehabilitation of his injuries, Lahr won his second National AAU title and competed for the 1966 U.S. Team at the World Championships in Toledo where he won matches with the Russian and Austrian, drew 2-2 with the three-time world champion from Iran, and lost 1-0 to the Turkish contender at 191.5 pounds.
Dean and his wife, Beverly, continue to give back to Denver North. In 2000, celebrating his induction into the CU Athletic Hall of Fame, they matched all scholarship contributions during the 40th reunion for the Denver North Class of 1960. In 2001, they created an endowment for students of the school that has since put three North High seniors through four years of college.
Today, the couple own and operate the Interamerican Woods in Honduras, which they started in 1978 to distribute Pitch Pine wood used for a variety of everyday products.
Lahr accepted a full scholarship to play football at the University of Colorado and he did so with the intention of proving himself both athletically and academically.