August 20, 2016
Bob went on to West Point, where he became an All-American in football—a very rare thing, as West Pointers are expected to know how to read and write, unlike football players at other universities in America. He remained undefeated in college wrestling. He then went on to serve in Vietnam, ending his military career as a general. I never saw him after graduation until eleven years ago, when we all went back for a fiftieth reunion.
When I was in the Nam I had asked for him, but he had already been sent back Stateside. Another schoolmate and close friend, Gerry Wynn, also a great athlete, had just been killed in An Loc province. He was a captain. I spoke about him at the reunion.
Somewhere along the line Bob got married and raised a family while serving his country. He sent his boy Mike to Blair, where he excelled in the sports his father had. Mike then went to Wall Street and became a very rich man. When I first heard about it, I could not have been more proud—it’s what America is all about. I was a good all-around athlete and a good wrestler, whereas Bob was a great athlete and a great wrestler. I turned a great fortune into a modest one, while Mike turned his good genes into a large fortune.
Mike Novogratz started a medal fund in 2009 to help wrestlers continue wrestling, as the sport has been in decline for years. Like other low-profile sports that are not state-assisted in America, wrestlers have to do with far less. Now at least they have the motivation to win medals from Mike’s initiative, wrestling being probably the last true amateur sport in the world. And my father had, in some small way, started it all. I am not surprised. Everything he touched turned good, and nothing I can think of is better than the Novogratz family. Score one for the good guys.