LAS VEGAS, NV - MAY 23:  Chael Sonnen interacts with fans and media during the UFC press conference at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on May 23, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Chael Sonnen to be Inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame Class of 2016

The following press release has been issued regarding the first announced inductee to the National Wrestling Hall of Fame Class of 2016.

WATERLOO, Iowa—Wrestling’s most colorful Mixed Martial Artist will be recognized by the National Wrestling Hall of Fame Dan Gable Museum. Chael Sonnen will receive the George Tragos Award at the 2016 George Tragos/Lou Thesz Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame induction weekend on July 14-16.

All-access passes to the George Tragos/Lou Thesz Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame induction weekend are available for $100. They can be pre-ordered by contacting the Dan Gable Museum at or by calling (319) 233-0745.

The George Tragos Award is given to an exceptionally competitive wrestler who adapted his or her wrestling skills and competitive nature to excel in Mixed Martial Arts. Sonnen, who had successful tenures in wrestling and Mixed Martial Arts, currently works as an MMA analyst for ESPN.

“This could not have happened to a better guy,” said Sonnen. “It’s about time.”

Sonnen was an All-American at 190 pounds for the University of Oregon in 1998 and was a two-time Pac-10 conference runner-up. He also had a successful career in Greco-Roman wrestling, winning University National titles in 1999 and 2000 at 187.25 pounds. His overall MMA career record was 29-14-1 in the middleweight and light heavyweight divisions.

The former MMA star is on the Global Force Wrestling roster.

“Chael is one of the most dynamic figures in sports today,” said Gerald Brisco, president of the George Tragos/Lou Thesz Hall of Fame selection committee. “He is very deserving of this award.”

George Tragos, namesake of the award and the hall of fame, was one of the most feared submission wrestlers during the 1920s and 1930s. He wrestled and threw discus for the Greek Olympic team in 1920 and 1924. Tragos was also an AAU freestyle champion in 1919 at 158 pounds for the Gary, Indiana, YMCA. He worked with Don Faurot to revitalize the University of Missouri wrestling program in 1944.

The Class of 2016 includes two Distinguished Members (one living and one posthumous) along with recipients of the Lou Thesz Award, Jim Melby Award, Frank Gotch Award, and the George Tragos Award.

The Dan Gable Museum will release additional inductees and award winners in the coming weeks. A full schedule of events will be released on a later date.

2016 Hall of Fame induction class
George Tragos Award—Chael Sonnen
Lou Thesz Award—TBA
Jim Melby Award—TBA
Frank Gotch Award—TBA
Distinguished Member (living)—TBA
Distinguished Member (posthumous)—TBA