Arthur O. Kraft
Kraft is one of only five Northwestern wrestlers to win a national title. He was a two-time All-America selection and captained the squad in 1959 and 1960.
"He had an intense desire to succeed," says Ken Kraft, Art's younger brother who joined NU's Hall of Fame in 2003. "That more than anything else made him a national champion. He was an extremely hard trainer, committed to the task. We never thought anyone would out-condition him."
Ken Kraft was not simply an avid supporter of his older brother; he was also Art's coach. "Our particular relationship was awfully good," Ken Kraft says. "We grew up together. He was always my older brother and my older Big Brother."
But Art spent time in the service, so when he enrolled at Northwestern in 1957 as a freshman, his younger brother was already a senior, three years ahead of him in school. "I was the veteran now, so to speak," Ken Kraft says.
Whether it was Art's talent, Ken's coaching, or a combination of both, success was the end product. The elder Kraft achieved All-America status in 1959 with a strong finish at nationals. He was derailed in his title bid on a one-point loss to the eventual champion in the semifinals and ended up placing fourth. Back in 1959, only the top four wrestlers from each weight class were considered All-Americans. The following season, 1960, Art Kraft won the national title in the 157-pound class. Art Kraft's title marks the only time in history that a brother coached another brother to the NCAA crown.
The elder Kraft served as an assistant coach while completing his master's degree work. Next, he taught and coached wrestling at Niles East High School and then at Wheeling High School. He started as the wrestling coach at Triton College in the mid-1960s and stayed for almost 20 years. There, Kraft was named Coach of the Year three times; he also coached a national championship team and many individual champions. Today, a physical fitness complex at Triton has been named in Art Kraft's memory. Two awards are also in his name: the Art Kraft Spirit Award for NU wrestlers and the Midlands Champion of Champions Award. He is also a member of the Illinois Wrestling Hall of Fame and the National Junior College Hall of Fame.
Kraft passed away in 1985.