Fred Kemp may have looked like an easy mark for a street robbery. The 63-year-old stands 5’7″, and weighs in at 150 pounds.
Little did the alleged gunman know that Kemp wrestled for Hofstra University and has served as a volunteer mat coach at American University.
Kemp and his wife Julie were walking to their car after dinner in a restaurant in Boynton Beach, Fla. Thursday evening, when the robber, identified as Richard Nowling, 41, stuck a gun in his face.
Kemp pushed the guy away, but the thief started to pistol-whip the former wrestler in the head.
“He started to hit me, so I reacted from there,” Kemp told Sun-Sentinel Friday. “I got him out into the street and held his arm. I foot-sweeped him down and I was trying to get a hold of the gun. He banged me up a little bit but my main concern was the gun.”
Kemp then put the suspect into a rear naked choke hold. As Nowlin lost strength from the hold used in mixed martial arts (MMA) competition, Julie grabbed the gun. The two managed to keep the alleged robber under control until police arrived.
Nowling was arrested and charged with armed robbery and aggravated battery.
Kemp was a four-year starter at Hofstra, wrestling for head coach Bob Getchell. He qualified for the 1969 NCAAs in the 130-pound bracket. In 1970, Kemp lost a regular-season match to Iowa State’s Dan Gable by forfeit at 5:47, providing the legendary Cyclone his 165th victory.
Prior to college, Kemp wrestled at Carmel High School in New York, where won the NY State Section One Championships his junior and senior years and earned All State Honors in those years. In his four years as a starter, he lead his team to the League and County Championships and the Small School Championships his senior year. Kemp was inducted into the Carmel HS Athletic Hall of Fame in 2010.
Kemp, president of his own business consulting group, has also served as a volunteer assistant coach at American University the past four seasons.
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