Famous Olympic Wrestlers

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Re: Famous Olympic Wrestlers

Postby Harry Hayfield » Fri Mar 25, 2016 8:41 pm

The 1964 Olympic Games were a milestone for the Olympic movement as they were the first to held in Asia and, represented by the Olympic Flame being lit by a person who was in Hiroshima on the day of the nuclear attack on the city, these Olympics were seen as the first attempts to bring the sporting world together. And as per usual, the wrestling mat was seen as the central location where East and West met in sporting rivalry and it's where Sweden had another moment of Greco-Roman glory.

Pelle Svensson (or to give him his full name "Per Oskar "Pelle" Svensson) was born in the town of Sollefteå on the eastern coast of the country in 1943 and started wrestling at the age of 12 entering competitions for Sundsvalls AIK and Heby BK wrestling clubs. He won his first national title in 1962 (in the 100kg class), the following year he finished fourth in the world championships and fuelled by his progress he entered the 1964 Olympics in the Men's 97kg Greco Roman class and came away with a silver medal (having been beaten by Boyan Radev of Bulgaria in the final). After those Games he won the gold at the European Champs in 1969 and 1970, with three bronze medals in the run up (1966, 1967 and 1968).

After he hung up his singlet, Pelle moved from one high powered envrioment to another, as he became a lawyer (bringing a whole new meaning to the expression "approach the bench). With cases under his belt such as Johanfallet (against a murderer in the case of a disappeared boy), Åmselemorden (about a multiple killer) and even Bombmannen (a case involving a serial bomber). he certainly became just as well know as when he was a wrestler, but after he suffered a burnout, he only took occasional cases. Currently aged 73 Svensson is married and has three children and lives in a small village not far from where he was born.
"Great heavens, what is there to adulate in me? Am I particularly intelligent, or remarkably studious, or excruciatingly witty, or unusually accomplished, or exceptionally virtuous?"
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Re: Famous Olympic Wrestlers

Postby Harry Hayfield » Sun Apr 10, 2016 8:49 am

The 1968 Games held in Mexico City were perhaps most famous for the so called "Black Power" salute given by Tommie Smith (USA) and John Carlos (USA) at the medal ceremony for the Men's 200m on October 16th 1968.

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However, on the wrestling mat, an even more important feat of history was made when someone not only won two silvers in the same competition, but in two different disciplines of that competition. That person was Daniel Robin (FRA) and his achievement was to win a silver medal in the 78kg freestyle class and a silver medal in the 78kg Greco-Roman class as well at the same Games (something that had not been achieved up to that point in time). However, all we know about him is that he was born in the town of Bron, in the Rhone Valley, in 1943, and won the gold medal in the 1967 World Wrestling Championships where he beat Guram Sagaradze (RUS) in the final, but apart from that I cannot find anything else, but that's never stopped me in the past and this time I can go straight to the source. You see, M. Robin now lives in Montreal, Canada (and how do I know this with complete authority you may ask?) because on the website of the United World Wrestling organisation (established in 1905 by the Deutsche Athleten-Verband) who are the people who in effect run the qualification processes for the Olympic wrestling competition is a link to M. Robin's details including a postal address and e-mail! Therefore, I would like to seek permission to either postally write (with the caveat that any answers will take a month to get back) or e-mail M. Robin and ask him to recall his double Olympic medal win in both competitions and seek permission to post his replies here (or indeed ask him to join and allow him to recall his memories at his own pace)?
"Great heavens, what is there to adulate in me? Am I particularly intelligent, or remarkably studious, or excruciatingly witty, or unusually accomplished, or exceptionally virtuous?"
(The Duke of Dunstable, Patience by Gilbert and Sullivan)
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Re: Famous Olympic Wrestlers

Postby peter yates » Sun Apr 10, 2016 1:31 pm

HI HARRY,
WONDERFUL YOU HAVE BEEN ABLE TO TRACK DOWN MR. ROBIN. PLEASE DO GO AHEAD AND CONTACT HIM FOR ANY INFORMATION HE CARES TO SHARE AND ALSO WITH AN INVITE TO JOIN THE FORUM OR WRITE SOMETHING FOR US.THIS IS A VERY INTERESTING SERIES YOU HAVE BEEN SUBMITTING. THANK YOU.
REGARDS, PETER.
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Re: Famous Olympic Wrestlers

Postby DannyBoy » Sun Apr 10, 2016 8:57 pm

Sounds good Harry and I say go about contacting Mr. Robin however whatever way you think is best. I look forward to seeing if you received a reply from him. Good work Harry! :)
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Re: Famous Olympic Wrestlers

Postby Harry Hayfield » Mon Apr 11, 2016 1:40 pm

The Munich Olympics of 1972 will forever be remembered for the tragic events that happened on September 5th when 11 Israel athletes were kidnapped (and subsequently killed) by five armed terrorists and as two of the victims were members of the wrestling team (Eliezer Halfin and Mark Slavin) it makes a great deal of sense to mention them (and think of what could have been if they had not been killed)

Eliezer was born in Riga, the capital of modern day Latvia, and was a mechanic by trade. He moved to Israel in 1969 aged 21 and became a formal citizen in February 1972. He was a lightweight wrestler and a member of the Hapoel Tel Aviv club. In the 1971 championships he placed second in his weight class and although finishing third the following year qualified for the Olympics in Munich. In the first round against Ali Şahin of Turkey he lost the match on points, but won the the second round against Jagrup Singh of India but lost the third round against József Rusznyák of Hungary and as a result was knocked out of the competition with eight penalty points.

Mark was born in Minsk, now the capital of Belarus (or Byelorussia / White Russia) and entered wrestling as a means of self defence against racist attacks on him. Winning the Soviet Greco Roman championship in 1971, he moved to Israel in May of 1972 and joined the same club as Eliezer and qualified for the Olympics on the same team. Sadly for him, even though he was expected to medal he was killed before his competition started and therefore never made what would have been his Olympic debut.
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Re: Famous Olympic Wrestlers

Postby Harry Hayfield » Tue Apr 12, 2016 2:41 pm

There have been a large number of famous Olympic brothers over the years. At the last Olympics in London, Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee won the gold and bronze medals in the Men's Triathlon event, at the first games John and Sumner Paine became the first brothers even to win an Olympic gold medal in the military pistol and free pistol shooting and at the 1976 Olympics held in Montreal, Canada the Peterson Brothers became the first brothers to win the same colour medals at more than one Olympics.

John and Ben Peterson were born in Wisconsin and attended Cumberland High School and so when they went their separate ways (John to the University of Wisconsin Stout and Ben to the University of Iowa) you can imagine that it must have been exceptionally difficult for them, but they did because thanks to their skills on the wrestling mat they both qualified for the 1972 Olympics where Ben won the gold medal in the 90kg class and John won the silver medal in the 82kg class. Four years later and both brothers qualified again and sought to do as well as (or better) than they had in 1972. John faced competition in the form of Anthony Shacklady (GBR), André Bouchoule (FRA), Adolf Seger (GER W), István Kovács (HUN), Viktor Novozhilov (RUS)and Mehmet Uzun (TUR) before facing Seger in the final. John won the gold medal on a score of 14-4 in his favour improving on his 1972 haul.

Ben faced Stelică Morcov (ROU), Shukri Akhmedov (BUL), Yoshiaki Yatsu (JPN), Bárbaro Morgan (CUB), Paweł Kurczewski (POL) and Horst Stottmeister (GER E) on his way to the final where he faced his first round opponent again however unlike 1972 and his brother he lost 4-7 and claimed the silver medal (reversing the scores in 1972).

John now lives in Cumberland, Wisconsin and his brother in Barron County in the state and are members of their respective university's hall of fame.

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"Great heavens, what is there to adulate in me? Am I particularly intelligent, or remarkably studious, or excruciatingly witty, or unusually accomplished, or exceptionally virtuous?"
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Re: Famous Olympic Wrestlers

Postby Harry Hayfield » Wed Apr 13, 2016 3:57 pm

The 1980 Olympics held in Moscow, were subject to an American inspired boycott that saw only four non Soviet / Warsaw Pact countries win medals in the wrestling competition. Thanks to the fact that information about wrestlers from the former Soviet Union is very thin on the ground (take for instance the Wikipedia entry for the winner of the heavyweight freestyle wrestling title which states:

Soslan Petrovich Andiyev (born 21 April 1952 in Vladikavkaz) is a former Ossetian born-Soviet wrestler (Freestyle) who has won two Olympic gold medals.


there is very little I can do except move on to the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles (which itself was subject to a boycott, when in the great traditions of the Cold War there was a great deal of tit for tat expulsions of diplomats from the East and the West, the Soviets and Warsaw Pact boycotted the Games in response to the American led boycott of their Games) which came as a bit of a blow to McDonald's who thought their "Win a free meal for every American gold medal" would be a right money-spinner and turned out to very nearly bankrupt the company.

In that competition, brothers came to the fore for example the Schultz brothers (who won the gold in the 74kg and 82kg class) and were featured in the movie "Foxcatcher" or the Banach brothers (who won the 90kg and 100kg class) and are now hailed in their native New Jersey as sporting legends. But the person I'm going to be profiling is the gold medal winner of the Men's 100kg class in Greco Roman wrestling, Jeff Blatnick.

Born in New York in 1957, he started his wrestling career in 1973, where he became state heavyweight champion in 1975. He was so good that he actually qualified for the 1980 Olympics, but thanks to the boycott never got to compete and that summer was employed as a bouncer at a pub in Wisconsin. The following year, though, he got news that might have ended his wrestling career there and then. He was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma (a type of blood cancer) that needed him to have his spleen and appendix removed. After treatment to hold the cancer in remission, he qualified for the Olympics in 1984 and won the gold medal after three matches (due to the reduced field). However, the cancer returned and he retired from the sport in 1985 before beating the cancer finally in 1986 and becoming a member of the commentary team for the 1988 Olympics in Seoul.

In the mid 1990's, he carried on his commentating career, this time as part of the recently launched UFC championship and during the coverage of the 17th edition of the competition, in 1998, was named commissioner of the franchise. As part of that role, he toured the country and changed preceptions of the sport to become the multi million dollar industry it is today. Sadly in 2012, after complications from heart surgery, he died and the shockwaves were felt through the MMA and wrestling communities and as a tribute the local park in his home town of Niskayuna is now called the Blatnick Park.

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"Great heavens, what is there to adulate in me? Am I particularly intelligent, or remarkably studious, or excruciatingly witty, or unusually accomplished, or exceptionally virtuous?"
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Re: Famous Olympic Wrestlers

Postby DannyBoy » Wed Apr 13, 2016 11:50 pm

More excellent write-ups Harry, good work! It's hard to believe it's been 3 & 1/2 years since Jeff Blatnick passed away.

Is Aleksandr Karelin coming up perhaps?
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Re: Famous Olympic Wrestlers

Postby sticksb » Fri Apr 15, 2016 8:42 pm

IMG_0001.jpg
IMG_0001.jpg (54.82 KiB) Viewed 2427 times
Dan Gable was the greatest Olympic free style wrestler in history . He was the best conditioned
wrestling machine who ever took the mat . He went on to become the most successful wrestling coach in history.
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Re: Famous Olympic Wrestlers

Postby Harry Hayfield » Fri Apr 15, 2016 9:12 pm

sticksb wrote:
IMG_0001.jpg
Dan Gable was the greatest Olympic free style wrestler in history . He was the best conditioned
wrestling machine who ever took the mat . He went on to become the most successful wrestling coach in history.


As with all lists, people will of course believe that other people need recognition and therefore I have no reason but to defer to Sticksb's knowledge in this subject. All I am doing is merely profiling wrestlers who have become famous as a result of their wrestling career and who information exists on (and over the next few days will be featuring some very famous ones indeed)
"Great heavens, what is there to adulate in me? Am I particularly intelligent, or remarkably studious, or excruciatingly witty, or unusually accomplished, or exceptionally virtuous?"
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