Wrestled For: Southern Illinois University (1953-1957)
Coached For: Missouri School for the Blind (1962-2009)
Deke Edwards is one of the best wrestlers ever to come out of St. Louis. His achievements are more impressive because he was blinded by a hunting accident that occurred when he was 11 years old.
Edwards wrestled in high school at the Missouri school for the Blind. He wrestled against guys who could see him. He couldn’t see them but as soon as he touched them it didn’t matter. In high school, he had 77 matches and won 75 of them. He won 58 of the matches by pinning his opponent. He finished second in state his sophomore year and was a Missouri State Champion his junior and senior year.
After graduation, he enrolled in Southern Illinois University at Carbondale where he again excelled on the mat. Deke Edwards recorded a 45-6 record for the wrestling team from 1957-1961. Edwards wrestled in the 130-pound weight class as a freshman and finished third at the conference meet, his only loss that year. He finished in first place in conference his sophomore, junior, and senior years. During that time, team was 23-3-1. He was team captain his senior year.
The only dual meets the team lost during his four years at SIU were to Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. The team was consistently ranked in the top 10 and achieved a number two ranking at one time.
In 1962, Deke was hired by the Missouri School for the Blind as a mathematics teacher and assistant wrestling coach. In 1975, he became the head coach after Al Eberhardt retired. He taught for more than 30 years. When he retired from teaching, he still coached wrestling. In all, he coached wrestling there for 47 years.
As one of the founding members of United States Association of Blind Athletes (USABA), Deke assisted in the creation of USABA’s first constitution and first wrestling handbook for the blind. He competed as a USABA athlete for 8 years before serving on the board of USABA’s state organization for 36 years.
Deke Edwards has accumulated many awards and honors over the years. In 1980, he was elected to the Missouri Wrestling Hall of Fame. In 1982, he became the sixth wrestler inducted into the Missouri Hall of Fame. In 1994, he was elected to the Greater St. Louis Area Athletic Association Hall of Fame. In 2005, he received a lifetime achievement award from the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. In 2019, he was inducted into the Southern Illinois University at Carbondale Saluki Hall of Fame. He is also a member of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame for his lifetime of service to the sport.