Eddie Urbano, 150-pound titlewinner at the 1985 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships for Arizona State, died Aug. 25 in Tucson, Ariz. He was 50 years old.
The Arizona Daily Star reported his death was an apparent suicide.
A Tucson native, Edward A. Urbano was a two-time Arizona state champ for Sunnyside High School in 1979 and 1980. He then won two NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association) titles at Pima Community College in Tucson in 1981 and 1982. Urbano then entered Arizona State, where he was a two-time Pac 10 (now Pac 12) conference champion.
As a Sun Devil, Urbano was also a two-time NCAA All-American, placing third in the 150-pound bracket at the 1984 NCAAs. The following year, he won the national title at that weight, becoming only the second NCAA wrestling champ in Arizona State history, nearly two decades after Curley Culp won the heavyweight title at the 1967 NCAAs.
In three years at Arizona State, Urbano compiled a career record of 105-17-1, putting him 17th on the Sun Devils’ all-time wins list. His 52 dual-meet victories ranks 11th in the ASU record books.
Urbano’s involvement in wrestling didn’t end when he completed his career at Arizona State. He competed in freestyle, and was runner-up at the 1988 U.S. Olympic Trials at 68 kg/149.5 lbs. He also served as a teacher and wrestling coach at various schools throughout Arizona, most recently at Florence High School last year.
Urbano’s wrestling accomplishments earned him a place on Sports Illustrated magazine’s “50 Greatest Sports Figures” of the 20th century for the state of Arizona.
“The Sun Devil Nation and wrestling community at large is greatly saddened by the sudden death of Eddie Urbano,” said Arizona State head wrestling coach Shawn Charles. “Eddie was an outstanding wrestler, a great coach, and an awesome friend. He will be greatly missed.”
“Eddie was a special type of guy,” said Bobby Douglas, who was the Sun Devils wrestling coach when Urbano competed at Arizona State. “He was a great athlete and a real kind-hearted individual. I have nothing but a tremendous amount of grief for what’s happened. It’s hard for me to verbalize about Eddie. He will be missed more now than what people could imagine. He did a lot of good and he’s a great example to a lot of minority and poor kids and kids that came from tough backgrounds.”
Gary Bohay, a teammate of Urbano’s at Arizona State, said of his friend, “Wrestling was his life and he just worked so hard to be successful. He was a huge competitor and a wrestling junkie. His NCAA championship really catapulted ASU to national prominence.”
Mike Davies, another teammate who roomed with Urbano at Arizona State, said, “When you talk about ASU wrestling and wrestling in Arizona, you have to mention Eddie Urbano. We lost one of our greats and one of our leaders.”
Urbano’s high school coach, Don Kostreich, said, “He was a coach’s dream. Eddie always had that smile on his face. I don’t know if anyone I ever had worked harder than he did. In my book, he was a great person. Forget wrestling. He was a friend.”
Services were held Sept. 9 in Tucson.
A memorial fund was established for Eddie Urbano at Wells Fargo Bank, #1459188015.
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