GJ’s Brooks going into wrestling Hall of Fame
Kevin Brooks is more than willing to do whatever he can to support wrestling.
He does so much, he’s becoming known as the community’s biggest fan. He’s being recognized for it as well.
The CEO of eight Big O Tires stores on the Western Slope will be inducted April 24 into the Colorado Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame at the Air Force Academy.
Brooks is being recognized as an Outstanding American for his contributions to the sport.
“It was a really cool surprise when I found out,” Brooks said. “My wrestling coach at Montrose told me I was nominated. I found out later he is presenting the award.”
That coach, John Thompson, was a wrestling official for more than 20 years.
Brooks wrestled for Thompson from 1972-76. The Indians won the Class AAA state team title in 1975.
Although Brooks never won an individual state title, he’s never forgotten the impact the sport made on him.
Brooks started the Tiger Paws Wrestling Club in 2001 with the intent to get children involved in the sport, keep them in school and get an education. There are 100 children in the club each year, Brooks said. Although it is a feeder program into Grand Junction High School, the club is open to any child in Mesa County. There are a couple of youngsters from Olathe in the club.
“I think there are a lot of good things going on in the valley now,” Brooks said. “Cole Allison is one of the best things ever to happen to Grand Junction (High School). Brian Rush is doing tremendous things at Palisade. Central has had some good years and there are some good kids out at Fruita.”
As CEO of Big O Tires, he gives a $1,000 scholarship to a Grand Junction High School senior wrestler going to college.
He has also made significant contributions to the rebirth of the Mesa State College program.
Brooks was on the selection committee that recommended the hiring of Mesa coach Chuck Pipher.
“What he’s done for wrestling is huge,” Pipher said. “It’s amazing. His Big O stores have really sponsored the NWCA (National Wrestling Coaches Association), not just his stores, but across Colorado and the nation.”
Brooks helped bring in national wrestling icons Dan Gable and Cael Sanderson for fundraiser dinners for Mesa’s program.
“He’s our biggest supporter as far as our program goes,” Pipher said. “It would be tough to do without what he’s done. He has a passion for the sport. Every community needs guys like Kevin Brooks.”