June 10, 2003
NORMAN, Okla. - Former University of Oklahoma wrestler and wrestling head coach Port Robertson, who was associated with OU for more than 40 years in a variety of capacities, died Tuesday morning in Norman at the age of 88.
As an OU wrestler, Robertson won Big Six Conference titles at 165 pounds in 1935 and 1937, and earned All-America honors in 1935. He coached the Sooners from 1947-59 and again in 1962, leading OU to national titles in 1951, 1952 and 1957. His teams placed second nationally in 1953, 1956 and 1962, and third in 1958 and 1959. He directed the Sooners to nine conference championships, including eight consecutive Big Seven crowns. Robertson posted a .750 (88-27-7) career winning percentage as Oklahoma's coach.
"Port Robertson was one of the very first people I met after coming to campus and he immediately left an indelible impression on me. I consider it a great privilege to have known him and to have witnessed first-hand the powerful and positive influence he had on so many people through the years. He was truly revered," commented Oklahoma Director of Athletics Joe Castiglione.
"He wasn't just a legend in Sooner sports because of his success, which by the way was spectacular, he was a giant in Oklahoma Athletics because of his character and leadership skills. We will miss Port Robertson, for sure, but our program and countless people will never ever forget him."
Born in Harrah, Okla., and raised near Edmond, Robertson produced 15 individual national champions as OU's head coach.
In 1960, Robertson coached the United States Olympic freestyle wrestling team to three gold medals in eight weight classes in Rome, Italy. It marked one of the best U.S. showings in Olympic wrestling history.
Robertson, who earned a B.A. degree in history from OU and a master's in history from Michigan, also served at OU as freshman football coach, assistant professor of health, physical education and recreation, sponsor of the Varsity "O" Club, student counselor and assistant athletics director. He retired in 1985.
Prior to coming to OU, he had been a captain in the U.S. Army for five-and-a-half years during World War II. He fought in the invasion of Normandy and was awarded the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star.
Inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 1976 and into the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame in 1995, Robertson and his legacy will endure. Oklahoma's state-of-the art wrestling training center is named after the Sooner great.
A celebration service for Robertson will be held Saturday at 1 p.m. at First Christian Church in Norman.