George “Doppy” Doherty and his younger brother Richard “Dick” Doherty began their illustrious wrestling careers long before stepping onto the mat and representing Amityville High School. Growing up in the Doherty household, which consisted of 8 children, including 5 boys, likely meant that there was some grappling taking place prior to lacing up their own wrestling shoes. But, it wasn’t until the mid to late 1940’s that both of their wrestling careers and their dedication to the sport really took off.
Doppy wrestled for Hall of Fame coaches Lonnie Kittle and Joe Valla at Amityville High School from 1945 to 1949 where he amassed a winning record and captured two Long Island Championships. In addition, he won a New York State AAU Freestyle wrestling championship as well. Upon graduation from high school, Doppy took his wrestling prowess to the state of Pennsylvania where he attended Millersville State Teachers College. While there, under the tutelage of legendary coach Ted Rupp, he posted a career record of 30 wins and only 2 losses, including 13 victories by pin. He would go on to win three Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference Championships as well as an AAU Mid Atlantic Freestyle championship in 1951. Following the completion of his collegiate career in 1953, Doppy received the Theodore H. Rupp award for the most outstanding wrestler at Millersville, and in 2003, he was inducted into the Millersville University Hall of Fame. His nominating sponsor expressed his praise for Doppy by writing “He was by any standard the first “big time” wrestler that Millersville ever had. His record speaks for itself, but more than that he was a great leader and a fine example of sportsmanship throughout his career. In those four years (1949-1953) George was chiefly responsible for bringing Millersville into national prominence as a wrestling powerhouse.”
Dick Doherty, like his older brother Doppy, wrestled from 1946 to 1950 at Amityville High School for coaches Lonnie Kittle and Joe Valla as well. And, like his brother, he compiled a winning record during a high school career that was capped off by taking second place in the Long Island Championships. Dick was also instrumental in helping to lead the Amityville wrestling team to two consecutive runner-up finishes in the Suffolk County Championships in 1949 and 1950. After finishing high school in 1950, Dick enlisted in the United States Navy where he spent the next few years serving his country before eventually attending Millersville State Teachers College in Pennsylvania. While at Millersville, he competed for coach Rupp, whose teams compiled an overall record of 29 wins, 7 losses and 1 tie. He ended his career at Millersville College having placed twice in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference Championships. But, it wasn’t until after graduating college that Dick Doherty truly made his mark in the wrestling world as a coach and mentor to many student athletes. Together, he and his brother Doppy would start the wrestling program at Berner High School in 1963 while teachers in the Massapequa School District. Dick would eventually assume the responsibility of the head-coaching job at Berner following the unfortunate and untimely death of Doppy in 1974 at the age of 44.
This selfless coaching duo dedicated a big part of their lives to the sport of wrestling and helped mold many athletes to become men. While Doppy and Dicky were incredible athletes in their own right, their real gift was their ability to inspire so many ordinary athletes to greatness. They had this uncanny ability of being able to recognize potential and cultivate it. And, it was because of this ability to build self-esteem, that so many young men were made to believe in themselves and excel, not only in the sport of wrestling but also in life. This dedication, motivation and love for the sport of wrestling enabled them to amass an impressive list of coaching achievements. Together, they coached Berner High School Wrestling from 1963 to 1982 for a combined total of 19 years, and during this time period they produced 2 New York State Champs, 10 New York State Place-Winners, 10 Nassau County Champions, including 2 outstanding wrestlers and 36 Nassau County Place-Winners. They won an impressive 18 High School Tournament Championships and compiled a combined overall dual meet record of 182 wins, 56 losses and 2 ties. In addition, Dick was runner-up in the voting for the Nassau County Coach of the Year Award in 1981, and both he and Doppy were recipients of the prestigious Legends of Nassau County Wrestling Award in 1992 and 1994 respectively. The Doherty brothers were also posthumously inducted into the New York State Wrestling Hall of Fame in 1996.
On behalf of the Doherty Family, we would like to thank the Friends of Long Island Wrestling for honoring Doppy and Dick and for consideration of a Lifetime Service to Wrestling Award, which would ensure their rightful, permanent place in the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.