Howard Harris (wrestler)

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Howard Harris
Personal information
Born (1958-02-09) February 9, 1958 (age 59)
Salem, Oregon
Education McNary High School
Oregon State University
Weight Weight Class: 190 ('77-'79)
Heavyweight: ('80)
College team Oregon State Beavers
Achievements and titles
Highest world ranking Awards and Highlights:[1][2] 1980 National Champion, Heavyweight
1980 NCAA Tournament Outstanding Wrestler
1980 Manuel Gorrarian Award
4 x NCAA All-American
3 x Pac-10 Champion
1976 OSAA AAA Wrestling Champion, 191 lbs.
1997 Oregon State Hall of Fame Inductee

Howard Harris (born February 9, 1958) is a former All-American wrestler at Oregon State University who won the 1980 NCAA wrestling heavyweight championship and was named the outstanding wrestler of the tournament.

High School[edit]

Harris attended McNary High School in Keizer, OR, winning the state team championship as a junior in 1975. He was undefeated that year until the state tournament finals when he had to forfeit due to an injury. In 1976, his senior year, McNary placed second in state but Harris won an individual state championship while being undefeated at 191 lbs.[3] He completed his high school wrestling career with a mark of 80-5. In addition to his wrestling talents he was an Oregon All-State football player, racking up a total of 1448 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns while leading McNary to its first state tournament berth.[2][dead link]


Harris is one of the greatest wrestlers in the history of Oregon State University. He was a four-time All-American at 190 lbs and heavyweight, and holds the school record for career wins (169) and single season pins (40, 1980). He won the NCAA Heavyweight championship in 1980 with a perfect record of 46-0 and is one of only five wrestlers to pin every opponent in the NCAA tournament.[4] His dominance at the NCAA tournament garnered him the Outstanding Wrestler Award, the first African-American to win the award.[5]

Many major college wrestling programs wanted to sign Harris after his dominant senior year of high school. The day before letters of intent could be signed he announced he would wrestle for Oklahoma. His high school coach, National Wrestling Hall of Fame inductee Jerry Lane, contacted Oregon State wrestling coach Dale Thomas, a two-time national coach of the year and National Wrestling Hall of Fame member himself. Thomas met with Harris that day and convinced Harris that staying in the state would give him an opportunity at a national championship and set him up for success once his college days were over.[6]


Harris was a member of the 1980 United States Olympic Team. However, the United States boycott of the 1980 Olympics in Moscow meant Harris couldn't compete. He did compete in the 1981 World Cup of Wrestling where he faced Olympic Champion Sanasar Ognesyan. Ognesyan got the best of Harris, winning by decision.[7]


Harris is married with four sons and one daughter. His son Major played Defensive End for the Portland State Vikings football team 2010-11.[8]


  1. ^ "Oregon State Wrestling History" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on July 9, 2008. 
  2. ^ a b "McNary High School Hall of Fame". 
  3. ^ "OSAA Wrestling Championships - Individual Champions through 2006" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on June 26, 2010. 
  4. ^ "Wrestling USA Magazine, Best of All Times". Archived from the original on June 25, 2011. 
  5. ^ "Oregon State University Sports Hall of Fame". Archived from the original on November 4, 2011. 
  6. ^ Jeff Welsch and George P. Edmonston Jr. Tales from Oregon State Sports. Sports Publishing LLC, 2003. p. 173-4.
  7. ^ "Sanasar Oganesyan v. Howard Harris, 1981 World Cup video". Archived from the original on November 10, 2010. 
  8. ^ "Major Harris has tall order to be best athlete in his own family". The Oregonian. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Jeff Welsch and George P. Edmonston Jr., "Tales from Oregon State Sports", 2003, ISBN 1-58261-706-6