Class of 1979
2013 Hall of Fame
Growing up in rural Pleasant Plain was easily the catalyst for Mike to become an athlete later on in life. Throughout his childhood he heard stories of the athletic exploits of Pleasant Plain athletes including Jerry and Bill Fall, Don Howland, the Lovinsí family, Dwayne Bodley, Bruce Goodwin, Dennis, Dan, and Don Cleaver, and his older brothers Kenny and David to name a few. These former greats helped him realize coming from a small town did not detract from success.
His parents, Robert and Lois Holcomb had been athletes in their own right with awards in baseball, softball, golf, and bowling. Robert worked extremely hard and long hours at his job at the Cincinnati Milacron, while Lois taught piano lessons, worked as a church secretary and for a couple of years was the activities director at a retirement home. Mike said some of his fondest memories were at the retirement home. He laughs when telling of how the retireeís there taught him to play chess, checkers, poker, and gave him lessons on life.
Mikewas the youngest of four boys this also helped tremendously in shaping him into an athlete. Living in the shadows of Kenny and Davidís successes drove him to better himself. The family always attended each otherís athletic events. No matter how busy mom and dad were, they always made it to the boyís events.
When Mike was 12 he was introduced to wrestling by a man from Goshen named Tuffy Truesdale. It was not Tuffy who taught him to wrestle, but his bear. Tuffy had bought a farm in Pleasant Plain and Mike and David would go to the farm to help work out with the bears. The bears were traveling wrestling bears. Mike mostly worked with a bear named "Something Else". Theyboth were about the same size of 220 pounds. Tuffy had a bear there named "Victor" who was a 600 lb. black bear. Thankfully Victor was very gentle and during down time Mike and Victor would nap on the mat together.
David who was two years older than Mike began to push him between junior high and high school. They began running together. According to Mike," it was more like David running and me trying to follow and then David laughing at me when I stopped and threw up." David pushed himself and Mike tried to follow along. As Mike would put it, "David worked harder than anybody I had ever seen in my life." Mike said that in high school David taught him everything he knew about wrestling and literally made him into a state champion. Mike was a heavyweight wrestler and David had taught him to do moves only middle and light weight wrestlers did. It was strange watching a 230 lb heavyweight warming up by doing splits and straddle splits.
Pleasant Plain is what gave Mike the physical strength that was much superior to most his opponents in football, wrestling, and track. He and David bailed hay all summer long for various farmers around town, but one became their fulltime summer employer. Larry Mohrfield, (the owner of L&M Animal Farms) hired David and Mike to bale hay. Soon they would move into a different position. Larry had a cedar shaving business for small animals and he received large shipments of eight foot cedar logs that had to be hydraulically split and cross stacked to dry. Mike and David fit the bill for that work assignment and they both did it throughout their high school summers. Mike said "Moving those logs gave you a different kind of strength that other athletes did not have. They might bench press or squat more, but on the mat their strength never compared."
Mike said that some of his fondest high school memories were playing football, wrestling, and running track with David for his freshman and sophomore years.
Mike Excelled at sports at Goshen. In football Mike was 2nd team all-state his senior year, Co-Outstanding offensive and defensive player for the Clermont County League, and 1st team all-district. He credits Mark Slagle for helping him the summer before his junior year. "Mark drove me to Loveland for or five times a week and we worked out at coach Denny Drenninís house and Mark set a great example of hard work leadership."
In wrestling, Mike qualified for the state meet 3 times and ended up having a 53-1 record for his junior and senior year. As a junior he lost in the semiís at the state and ended up third and went 30-0 to win the state meet as a senior. The young man he defeated in the finals was over 100 pounds heavier than him.
In track, Mike attended the state meet his junior and senior year in the shot put and discus. "According to him, he sadly still holds the shot put record at Goshen." He said "someone please break it soon." He enjoyed his senior year when he ran the 100, 200, and 400 relay. He laughed and said, "It was fun having the lead when I ran the third leg because no one going to get around me because my upper body took up three lanes."
There were several key people at Goshen who influenced him. Coach Rise, Brockman, Mohler and Schmidbauer encouraged and pushed him to better himself. He said "Mr. Brockman was the toughest coach I have ever had and made me get into incredible shape." Mr. Disque and Mr. McClung were his most influential teachers. Mikeís senior year, Mr. Disque drove him to Chicago where he competed and finished second in the High School National Wrestling Championships. Other people who always supported and stood with him were his friends Becky Bickel and Billy Tedrick. He said both of their families were like extensions of his own and he will never forget the times at their houses.
One of Mikeís best friends is Ted Creamer who is also from Pleasant Plain. Mike said, "Ted is the only one I knew crazy enough to do the midnight runs, lifts, cycling rides, truck pushing, or any other insane workout with me we could come up with." After high school, Ted was the person who continually pushed me to improve.
Mike went to Miami University on a football/wrestling scholarship. After one year he concentrated fully on wrestling where he became a two time all-American in wrestling. His senior year he was 43-2. He was 1984 senior athlete of the year. Mike is also a member of MiamiUniversity's Hall of Fame.
In 1984 Mike went on to become a member of the 1984 Olympic Wrestling Team. He continued to wrestle and compete internationally for several years.
Duringhis wrestling completion time he coached at various universities, including; Miami Univeristy, Grand Valley State University, Ferris State University, and Lock Haven State University. He also coached for the International Olympic Committee.
At ripe old age of 37, Mike took on another athletic event. He began competing in Judo and within 3 months won his first international tournament, the American/Canadian International Tournament. He was also the Americaís Cup International Tournament champion.
In 1985, Mike married Collene Shangle and they have eleven children after twenty-seven years of marriage. His children are Kaleb, Rebecca, Christopher, Luke, John, Elizabeth, Joseph, Angela, Emily, Michaela, and Zuriel. The couple lived in Grand Rapids Michigan for eleven years and for eight of those years they lived and did ministry within the inner or central city. They tutored and mentored the inner city youth and tried to give them positive role models.
In 1995 Mike and Collene moved back to Ohio because Mike had not finished his degree at Miami. He had dropped his classes his senior year at Miami to compete in the Olympic trials. He returned after 11 years to fulfill his promise to his mother that he would finish his degree at Miami. He finished his degree in 1997 after going to Miami full time for two years, since he had to take a lot more classes because of the time off. Mike said "Itís amazing how much smarter you get going back to college at 34, married, working full-time with four kids, and taking full time classes". He said "I admit it. The first time through Miami I was an athlete student, not a student athlete, now I am just a student."
Mike has continued his education with a Masterís degree in Education from Wright State University and a Licensure program in Educational Administration from Xavier University.
Mike was the director of "Holcomb Special Education Tutoring Services" since 2000. He tutored/taught students with severe emotional disturbances. He worked with several local school districts throughout that time. He currently runs a credit recovery/special education unit for Lynchburg Clays Local Schools.
When asked, what is the greatest thing to ever happen in your life, he said "The greatest thing was receiving Jesus Christ in my heart as Lord and Savior and probably the second greatest thing was holding my newborn children in my arms and looking into their eyes."
Nominated by Mark Slagle
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