Former ASU wrestling, football great Curley Culp dies due to cancer, family announces
Curley Culp, who dominated on the football field and wrestling mat for Yuma High and Arizona State University and went on to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, died Saturday morning of pancreatic cancer, his family announced on social media outlets.
Culp was 75.
On behalf of our family and with a broken heart, I announce the passing of my husband, Curley Culp early this morning. We respectfully ask for privacy at this time.
Collette Bloom Culp
This account is now closed.
— Curley Culp (@CurleyCulp) November 27, 2021
ASU plans to have a moment of silence Saturday afternoon at Sun Devil Stadium before its game against the University of Arizona.
One of 13 children, Culp was born and raised in Yuma, where he won two state championships in wrestling. He chose to attend Arizona State over UCLA, partly because football coach ASU coach Frank Kush agreed to let Culp also wrestle.
Culp was successful at both. in 1967, he was the NCAA heavyweight wrestling champion and was named all-America as a nose tackle football.
He was drafted by Denver of the American Football League but never played a down for the team. After an attempt to move him to the offensive line failed, Culp was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs, where he became one of the most dominant nose tackles in NFL history and helped the Chiefs to a Super Bowl victory.
Culp played 14 seasons for the Chiefs, Oilers and Lions. He was chosen to the Pro Bowl six times and was named all-Pro once.
His final season was 1981 but he had to wait until 2013 to be selected to the hall of fame as a candidate nominated by the seniors committee.
In 1999, The Arizona Republic chose Culp as the sixth best athlete Arizona produced in that century.
''I think I liked wrestling even more than football,'' Culp said then. ''It's a team sport, but then it's not a team sport. When you're on the mat, whether you win, lose or draw, it is based on your performance. And often I was the turning point in whether the team won or lost.''
After retiring from football, Culp did post-graduate work on a degree in education, including receiving his master's degree. He settled in Austin, Texas and operated a transportation company.
Reach Kent Somers at Kent.Somers@gannett.com. Follow him on twitter @kentsomers.
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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Hall of Famer Curley Culp dies of cancer, family announces