"May our friends always be our friends. May God turn our enemies into friends. If he cannot turn their hearts, let him turn their ankles, so that we may know them by their limping." That is an old Irish proverb that one of Lehigh's finest wrestlers Harold Masem wanted included in his program writeup.
"The greatest memories of my life are from my wrestling experience," he says. "It is a great honor, an unexpected honor. So I am very proud of the fact that I was elected."
Quiet, polite and humble. Those are the characteristics you feel when talking to Harold Masem these days. But, during his wrestling career at Lehigh, on the mat, Harold was anything but quiet.
Lehigh's fifth national champion, Masem compiled a 35-4 career record competing at three weights. Three of his four losses came in national competition. He had two undefeated dual meet seasons, 1939 and 1940.
Masem won his NCAA title in 1940 at 145 lbs., defeating defending runnerup Bill Combs of Michigan in overtime. The previous year Masem finished fourth at Nationals despite a broken hand. He did not earn All-American status because the NCAA only recognized the top three finishers during that era as All-Americans.
On the eastern level, Masem was just as dominating. He is one of only 14 Lehigh wrestlers to have won an EIWA title at least three times. Masem was victorious in 1938 at 135 lbs., in 1939 at 145 Ibs., and in 1940 at 155 Ibs. He was the first EIWA wrestler--and one of two ever to do so--to win three straight league titles at three different weight classes.
Masem's success contributed greatly to the team's success. He was captain of the 1940 squad which placed fourth in the nation. With Masem as a major contributor the season before, Lehigh finished second in the country for the school's highest-ever finish.
During that 1940 season, Masem finished 14-0 with five falls. For his career he earned 15 falls. At the time of induction, his 20-1 dual meet record was seventh in Lehigh's record book for dual meet winning pct (95.23) while his overall winning percentage (89.74) was the 10th best.
A member of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity, Masem and his wife Marjorie live in Minneapolis, Minnesota. They have three children, Mathias, Laura and Melanie.