Kyle Dake Finds the Balance of Brains and Brawn in ‘Four For Four’

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The ancient Greek philosopher Plato once wrote, He who is only an athlete is too crude, too vulgar, too much a savage. He who is a scholar only is too soft, to effeminate. The ideal citizen is the scholar athlete, the man of thought and the man of action.

Many fans of the Big Four sports in the United States may have never heard of Kyle Dake, but the Cornell University graduate is the embodiment of Plato’s philosophy.

Dake is a four time national wrestling champion and the only person in the history of the NCAA to win four national titles in four different weight classes, something American Olympian and world champion, Jordan Burroughs had not accomplished.

In the documetary, Four For Four, produced by Patrick Hadley and directed by Gregory Accetta, we follow the year long journey of Dake from Cornell University to the NCAA national title.

Dake won the NCAA title in 2010 at 141 lbs weight class, in 2011 he moved up to 149 lbs, then as a junior captured the 157 lbs title in dominate fashion. After three national titles, he moved up yet again to 165 lbs challenging and defeating David Taylor of Penn State, the 2012 Dan Hodge Trophy award winner. The Dan Hodge Trophy is wrestling’s equivalent to the Heisman Trophy.

“I was having a conversation with Rob Koll, in the September of Kyle’s senior year. I asked if anyone was following him for the season and he said, no, so I asked if I could get a crew to follow him. It started that day and in two weeks we had Greg Accetta, living with him for the entire season. He also wrestled and loves the sport. This is a great moment for sports history and not just wrestling,” said Hadley.

Dake was given a notebook by his parents to write down his goals and during his freshman year beginning to write down that he was going to be an NCAA Division I champion in his weight class and continued to do so for all four years. If he didn’t like his penmanship on the page, he would rip out the entire page and start all over again.

“(Wrestling is) Testing your ability and your mental strength. If you don’t let them break you, you win. If you let them break you, you lose. It’s a grown mental game. Most wrestler, college wrestlers understand that. They have experienced it, it’s tough to handle,” said Dake about competing.

Kyle Dake’s daily affirmation journal about winning the NCAA Division I Championship

What I absolutely loved was that this was a true documentary with the goal of telling Dake’s story. It did not create a fake rivalry between Dake and Taylor for added effect as both were friends off the mat and rivals in competition. It not only shows him as a champion, but as a team leader, motivating the Big Red as the also compete for the team national title.

On top of showing Dake’s journey, Hadley has announced that the film will donate $2 to the nonprofit USA Wrestling for every copy purchased.

“I want to use this film to inspire the next generation of wrestlers and give back to the sport I love. We all do need to help give back to the sport. I don’t care who you are, if you wrestled you benefited from the sport and it’s our role, especially if you had some success to give back to the next generation. Wrestling is not the most glamorous and it’s not easy. Movie costs $6.99 to buy it and we are giving $2 from each copy sold to USA Wrestling. I would like to see wrestlers supporting films about wrestling and wrestlers. It’s a pretty large sized community and it’s not easy to get everyone to do something, but if we sell 50,000 copies, that’s $100,000 going back to the sport,” said Hadley about the proceeds going to the sales of Dake’s documentary.

We are shown this young athlete’s life from the wrestling room, the weight room and to the hotel room leading up to the competition that would potentially make him a legend in one of the world’s oldest competitive sports.

The beauty of wrestling and to paraphrase Dake, is that wrestling teaches you how to fail, how to stand back up and to learn confidence in yourself. When you push past your limits, your mind follows you, creating personal growth.

Four For Four, is now available on VOD and at their website at

Four Four Four
  • Overall Score

The Verdict

Rarely do I give five star reviews, but when a true to form documentary follows an accurate journey of an IV League athlete winning four national titles in four years at four different weight classes without staging a falsified narrative; I must go with my heart and praise their delivery.

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