The National Wrestling Hall of Fame in Stillwater, Okla., has announced the recent induction of Gila Valley resident Dr. Charles “Neil” DeWitt into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. At a banquet held at Arizona State University on Nov. 6, DeWitt and six other inductees were honored for their lifelong service to the sport of wrestling. The National Wrestling Hall of Fame honors inductees from all levels of amateur wrestling including scholastic, collegiate and Olympic competition.
DeWitt was recognized for his outstanding contributions to the sport of wrestling as a competitor, referee, coach, tournament official, author and administrator, with almost 50 years of contributions to amateur wrestling.
As a competitor, DeWitt was a standout athlete in high school in football, wrestling and track, capturing two Arizona State Heavyweight Championships at Holbrook High School. Although DeWitt attended college on a full scholarship for football, he also competed in wrestling and track at the college level. In 1968, after winning the Arizona State Freestyle Championship, he competed in the USA Olympic trials in the 225-pound weight class. A serious back injury in those trials essentially ended his competitive career. While in college, DeWitt began refereeing high school wrestling, which he continued for a total of nine years, being named the Arizona Wrestling Official of the Year in 1982.
DeWitt began his coaching career at Thatcher High School in 1971, coaching football, wrestling and track for a total of 11 years in various Arizona high schools. He started three different high school wrestling programs at Thatcher High School, Show Low High School and at Pima Junior/Senior High School. He captured multiple Arizona State High School Championship and runner-up titles as a coach, in both football and wrestling. In 1979, DeWitt was selected to serve as the head coach of the USA Olympic Development Wrestling Team, directing their completions in Asia that year.
DeWitt was twice selected to coach the North Wrestling Squad in the Arizona All-Star Games, as well as being selected as the Arizona Coach of the Year in 1976 and 1979. He served as the head coach of several USA All-Star wrestling teams against international teams from throughout the world. In 1998, the Arizona All-Star Games Wrestling Meet was dedicated in his honor for his service to Arizona wrestling. That same year, he was also honored by USA Wrestling magazine as Arizona Man of the Year. He served as the Arizona State Wrestling Tournament director for nine years. DeWitt was inducted into the Arizona Wrestling Hall of Fame in 1996.
During DeWitt’s 35-year career in education, he spent 28 years serving as a public school administrator in basically every leadership position, including athletic director, assistant principal, principal, assistant superintendent and district superintendent of schools. Locally, he served as the principal of Pima Junior/Senior High School from 1991 to 1999. He served in numerous state leadership roles as well during his career, most notably as president of the Arizona Interscholastic Association Executive Board that governs the high school activity programs at all high schools in Arizona. Notable in his school leadership career, DeWitt was principal of the only high school in the United States that was named as a National Center for Excellence in Education in consecutive years. Also while principal, his high school was named as one of Arizona’s A-Plus High Schools.
DeWitt, who holds a doctorate in educational leadership, is the author of many books and CD collections in the field of education, including ones for teachers, coaches, athletic administrators and school administrators. He has authored school safety manuals, curriculum guides and instructional handbooks for students and teachers. His works also include books featuring collections of tips and guides on parenting skills.
Neil DeWitt and his wife, Barbara, who has taught at Dorothy Stinson Elementary School in the Safford School District for a number of years, live in Lone Star on the old Montierth Homestead, which they call home, where Neil, who is now retired from his work in education, plays with his grandkids, gardens and raises pecans.