Former National Champion Tab Thacker Passes Away
A three-time All-American and four-time Atlantic Coast Conference champion from 1981-84, Thacker won the NCAA championship at heavyweight as a senior in 1984, finishing the season with a perfect 31-0 record.
He finished his career with a 92-11-1 mark and ranks second in NC State history with an .889 winning percentage and 54 pins. He wanks fourth with 92 career victories. Thacker finished eighth at the NCAA Championships to earn All-America honors as a sophomore in 1982 and sixth in 1983 before winning the national championship as a senior in 1984.
“He was a great kid,” former NC State wrestling coach Bob Guzzo said. “He was very polite to everyone, very team-oriented, and well-liked and respected by his teammates.”
A well-rounded athlete who played football and basketball coming out of
At 6-foot-4 and more than 400 pounds, Thacker’s size made a lasting impression on those who saw him wrestle, but his size made most people underrate Thacker’s athleticism and his wrestling skills.
“People said he won because he was bigger than everyone else,” Guzzo said. “Well, he didn’t win as a freshman and he was bigger than everyone then. He didn’t win as a sophomore. People don’t realize how hard Tab worked to improve his technique. I was very fortunate to have Hachiro Oishi working with me then, and he was really good at upper-body and throwing technique. He worked with Tab on his throws. He really developed his upper body and became very adroit at his throwing technique.
“People didn’t realize how light on his feet he was. He played basketball all the time, and he was a really good basketball player. He was also incredibly strong. We lifted weights with the football team at the time, and he was way stronger than anyone on the football team.”
Following his wrestling career, Thacker went on to a career in motion pictures, making his film debut in “City Heat” with Clint Eastwood and Burt Reynolds in 1984. He later appeared in “Wildcats” with Goldie Hawn in 1986, “Police Academy 4” in 1987, “Police Academy 5” in 1988, and “Identity Crisis” in 1989.
Thacker left the film industry after that and opened and operated several night clubs in
Thacker developed diabetes several years ago, and the disease became progressively worse with the passage of time. He had a foot amputated several years ago, and lost both legs in the last few months.
“Even after he lost his foot, he was really upbeat,” Guzzo said. “It’s a shame someone has to go that young, but he led a really good life. I remember he told me that even after he lost his foot. He won a national championship in wrestling, appeared in several movies, and he owned several successful businesses. He was a very upbeat person and a real joy to be around.”