Class of 2017
Southern Illinois Edwardsville
Booker Benford became familiar with the sport of wrestling as a young man. His father Forrest Benford was a 3 time state finalist and a State Champion in 1958 for Rock Island High School. His brother LaRock was an All-State wrestler for North Chicago High School. His brothers, Forrest, Craig, and Britt were All-State wrestlers at Central HS in Providence, Rhode Island.
Booker lived on the Great Lakes Naval base and he attended North Chicago High School for two and a half years. While at North Chicago HS, he wrestled for IWCOA Hall of Fame Coach Amos Jones.
Booker and his family then moved to Rhode Island where he attended Central High School in Providence. Booker while wrestling for coach Dave Hansen would win two Rhode Island State Championships and in addition he won the New England Championships in 1981. During his high school career, Booker would amass a 110 and 9 record.
Upon his high school graduation, Booker then attended Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville where he would be mentored by Olympian and IWCOA Hall of Fame coach Larry Kristoff. There Booker would leave an indelible mark. Booker still holds the all-time career wins record at SIUE with 161 victories. He also holds the single season win record with 53 wins in the 1985 season. Booker was a Division II All-American four times, winning titles in 1984 and 1985.
Booker was also a Division I All-American in 1984 and again in 1985. His SIUE teams won the NCAA DII team championships in 1984 and 1985.
In addition to these outstanding accomplishments, Booker won two Ken Kraft Midlands Titles. While representing the United States, he was a two-time Canada Cup Champion and he placed 3rd in the Don Koloff in Sofia Bulgaria and 3rd at the Cerro Pelado in Camaguey, Cuba. Booker was an alternate for the 1988 and the 1992 USA Olympic teams.