The dominant figure at last weekend's Virginia Duals wrestling meet at the Hampton Coliseum was a short, stoop-shouldered man pacing around in a Russian fur hat. He was Arizona State coach Bobby Douglas, and though he's not widely known to the general public, there are several reasons why he's a notable to American wrestlers:
?He wrestled in two Olympics at 138� pounds, was captain of the U.S. wrestling team at the 1968 Games in Mexico City and defeated a young rival named Dan Gable once in the Olympic trials and twice in qualifying bouts for the U.S. world team.
?In 1973, at the age of 30, he became the first black head coach of a major college wrestling team when he was hired at the University of California, Santa Barbara—he took over at Arizona State the next year—and last fall he became the first black inducted into the Wrestling Hall of Fame in Stillwater, Okla.
?He has written three books on wrestling technique and is one of the sport's foremost historians, having read, he says, "every book written on wrestling in English, and even one in French." He has traced his own roots to the wrestling-rich Nubian culture of the Sudan.
?In Tempe, Ariz., he has built the Sunkist Kids—a club whose members range in age from early teens to early 30's—into six-time national freestyle champions. He has coached several U.S. national teams in international competition and will be an assistant coach of the 1988 U.S. Olympic team.
?He wears that hat—made of otter fur, he says—which he acquired from a Soviet wrestler, former 198-pound world champion Sanasar Oganisyan, at a World Cup meet in Mongolia last November. In exchange Douglas gave Oganisyan a Walkman, a gym bag, wrestling shoes and two pairs of jeans.
As if all that weren't enough, Douglas's surprising Sun Devils came to Virginia unbeaten, untied and ranked first in the nation. The Sun Devils had knocked off traditional powers Iowa (coached by Gable) and Oklahoma on successive nights in December and then had won the prestigious Las Vegas Invitational. "We've let it be known that there's a new kid on the block," said Douglas before leaving for Hampton.
But the Virginia Duals can be rough on new kids. The meet is the most rigorous test of team strength in college wrestling, and this year's field included 13 Top 20 teams and every NCAA championship contender except Iowa and Oklahoma State. "They call this tournament the meat grinder," said Gary Abbott, editor of Wrestling Masters magazine. "Teams come here for four matches in two days and really get beat up."
After three rounds in the grinder, Arizona State had defeated unranked VMI 47-0, seventh-ranked Wisconsin 25-10 and sixth-ranked Northern Iowa 20-13 to reach Saturday night's final against defending NCAA champ Iowa State, the preseason choice for No. 1.
Iowa State was near full strength for the first time this season. Crippled by injuries to five starters in December, the Cyclones had been upset by Wisconsin, had placed seventh at Las Vegas and had fallen to fifth in the national rankings. Their lineup on Saturday night included freshman Dan Knight, a four-time Iowa high school champ, at 118 pounds, and two defending NCAA champions—Tim Krieger at 150 and Eric Voelker at l90.