Ben Lewis had pretty much forgotten about ever getting inducted into the Greater Flint Area Sports Hall of Fame.
“Quite honestly, I thought I was forgotten,” Lewis said. “It’s been over 50 years since I graduated from Fenton.”
But Lewis is a wrestler, so as any quality wrestler knows, you should never give up. And, finally, Lewis has earned his time.
Lewis is one of 2022 members being inducted during Saturday’s banquet held at the Genesys Banquet Center in Grand Blanc.
“I’m very happy. I’m very honored to be considered and selected,” Lewis said. “It’s quite an honor that I’m still remembered by some people, and that they felt my accomplishments were good enough to be in the Hall of Fame.”
Lewis was a wrestler, football, track and baseball athlete. But of those four sports it was wrestling where he made his biggest mark.
He was a member of Fenton’s first varsity wrestling team, being coached by Duane Wolfert. He lettered all four years and competed in the state meet twice at heavyweight. He took third at the state meet his junior season and was a state champion his senior year.
Back then, there were no weight restrictions for heavyweight wrestlers, and Lewis had to face 395-pound Chris Taylor to earn his individual championship.
He continued his wrestling career at Michigan State University, earning a Big Ten individual championship, twice. He finished fifth at the Division I NCAA Championships in 1971.
He also was a strong prep football player. He played center his sophomore season and then moved to guard on offense and tackle on defense in his final two seasons. The Tigers finished 26-1 during the three seasons he was a varsity player. He earned All-State honors in 1967 and was the 1967 WFDF Genesee County Player of the Year.
“Sports taught me how to work with other people and how to deal with difficult situations,” Lewis said. “Sports makes you a better person.
“All of my accomplishments wouldn’t have happened without my teammates, my coaches, the people and the community supporting me.”
Lewis is also a member of Fenton High School’s Athletic Hall of Fame. He was inducted in 2009, the second class inducted into the Hall.
Lewis felt honored to have the coaches he did. Ken Wegner was the varsity football coach while Wolfert was the wrestling coach.
“I remember the work ethic they instilled in me and everybody,” Lewis said.
“We had a winning football team and the wrestling program came from nothing to being one of the top teams in the state by my senior year. I was fortunate to be able to be put in those programs with the two coaches I had. They influenced a lot of people.”