Famous Olympic Wrestlers

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Re: Famous Olympic Wrestlers

Postby sticksb » Fri Apr 15, 2016 9:18 pm

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Your compilations are indeed wonderful Harry . Just including Dan as he deserves to be mentioned .
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Re: Famous Olympic Wrestlers

Postby Harry Hayfield » Sat Apr 16, 2016 2:03 pm

The 1988 Olympics in Seoul, South Korea generated a lot of discussion, whether it was animal rights activists slamming the Koreans for lighting the Olympic cauldron AFTER the doves of peace had been released (and not the other way around as Los Angeles had done) or a certain member of the Canadian team being found out after winning the gold medal in the Men's 100m. Thankfully because this deals with wrestling, neither of those two events will be mentioned, but what will be mentioned are the exploits of John Smith (not a non descript Briton) but the gold medallist in the Men's 62kg freestyle wrestling competition from the United States).

John was born in the town of Del City, Oklahoma and had plenty of practice from a young age. His older brother, younger brother and his nephews were all wrestlers themselves and my word, did it show. In his high school career, he had a 105-5 record (winning a state medal each year, placing 2nd as a freshmen, 3rd as a sophomore, and a 2x state champion winning it his junior and senior year). When he went to college at Oklahoma State, there was no stopping him. He was USA Junior Freestyle champion in 1985, Senior Freestyle Champion in 1986, Pan American Champion in 1987, and was Senior Freestyle Champion in Olympic year and having proven himself by spades, off he went to Korea as part of the US team.

And once he got there, he carried on in much the same fashion beating József Orbán (HUN), Simeon Shterev (BUL), Marian Skubacz (POL), Mika Lehto (FIN), Giovanni Schillaci (ITA) and Avirmediin Enkhee (MGL) and after beating Stepan Sarkisyan (URS) in the final won the gold medal without losing a single match on the way, but did he rest on his laurels after that? Of course not!

In 1989, he retained his Senior Freestyle title and kept it until 1992 as he did his FILA Senior World Freestyle title (until the same year) and in 1990 won the Goodwill Games title as well. Well, after that there was only one possible future course and in 1991, became the head wrestling coach at Oklahoma State until his retirement in 2010 where he had a record of 281-42-4 (setting a new Oklahoma state record) and if that wasn't praise enough, he even had a move named after him "The John Smith Single" and who better than the man himself to show you how it is done

[video]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6zPF7zKfN94[/video]
"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 » Fri Apr 22, 2016 12:44 pm

By 1992, the Olympics were starting to become the modern sporting event we know today. Barcelona, host of those Games, conducted the first ever night time opening ceremony (all opening ceremonies up to that point had been held in the afternoon), it also saw the first (and so far, only) attempt to light the Olympic cauldron with the person lighting it, not connected in any shape or form to the cauldron when Antonio Rebollo, an archer who had won a silver and a bronze medal at the Los Angeles and Seoul Paralympics, shot a flaming arrow from the stadium floor to the Olympic cauldron (and if you think that sounds impressive, just look at the video)

[video]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gmRf41SVHS4[/video]

but it was only the first Games post the dissolution of the Soviet Union and that caused a bit of a headache for the IOC, so they came up with a novel suggestion and that was to allow the Commonwealth of Independent States (as the Soviet Union was known) as a Unified Team and so (in accordance with Olympic customs) they marched into the Olympic stadium as "Equipo Unificado" and amongst their members was a man who was on his way to a rather unique treble without moving location as Aleksandr Karelin had won a gold medal for the Soviet Union in the Men's 130kg Freestyle Wrestling competition in 1992, won the same medal for the Unified Team in 1992 and would win the same medal again for Russia in 1996.

When he was born in Novosibirsk in Siberia in 1967, boy, was he a bouncing bundle of joy. When he was weighed, he was already 12lbs in weight. This gave a clue as to his sporting choices, because by the time he was 14 and started wrestling properly, he'd already tried boxing, weightlifting, volleyball, basketball and skiing! But wrestling was his call, and for the first six years of his wrestling career he was undefeated in any of his bouts, and when he was in 1987, he just shrugged it off and then racked up a thirteen year run of wins that ended in the millennium.

And the reason for these wins? His own personal move called "The Karelin Lift" which was described as "where facing the opponent who was lying flat on the mat to keep from being thrown, Karelin hoisted his opponents into the air and slammed them violently to the mat" and awarded him five points per time (and when you actually see the move, your immediate thought is "Ouch!")

[video]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FpOfnUkkXtc[/video]

Needless to say with that move in his arsenal, is it any wonder he had such a good track record. But even he had injuries to deal with including a broken leg at the age of 15 (where having learned about this accident his mother burned his wrestling uniform and forbade him to wrestle!), two broken arms, a concussion, ten broken ribs, and a torn pec muscle just months before the Atlanta Olympics (which he won another gold medal!)

He retired from wrestling in the millennium after winning his first silver medal at the Sydney Olympics where controversy abounded and all on the subject of "Did his hands break?" and when you consider it took the judges a full minute and a half to review the decision, you can see why some people believe he retired out of spite.

[video]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MCVG_7KKymE[/video]

After his retirement, he was named as the greatest Greco-Roman wrestler of the 20th century, and since 1992 an annual wrestling competition is held in his honour, and just to prove that these things are in the family, his son Ivan (born in 1994) now also competes as a super heavyweight Greco-Roman wrestler
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Re: Famous Olympic Wrestlers

Postby Harry Hayfield » Sat Apr 23, 2016 5:50 pm

Atlanta in Georgia hosted the centennial Olympics in 1996 and celebrated a century of the modern Olympics and just as they did in those first Olympics in Athens, the best wrestlers in the world all gathered for a chance at Olympic gold. Of course, as the Games were hosted in America any home gold was cheered from the rooftops and the heavier the athlete, the more likely they were to revered by all and sundry, so when an American won the 100kg class, as you can imagine he became a bit of an overnight success. His name:

[video]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HH35youXIls[/video]

Kurt Angle, yes that is his genuine given name, was born in December 1968 in Mount Lebanon, Pennsylvania (a state that we already know has a good wrestling tradition) and started wrestling at the age of seven, and must have been doing pretty well for himself as not only did he get a varsity letter in wrestling, but also football as well and so attended the Clarion University of Pennsylvania where he continued to wrestle and became a multiple champion in the ranks of the NCAA. After college, he carried on wrestling and won a gold medal at the World Championships in 1995 that allowed a chance to go to the Olympics the following year, however his preparations were cut short by the murder of Dave Schultz (who I have mentioned before) and he resigned from the team of the convicted killer and joined the Dave Schultz wrestling team in memory of him.

Then, during the actual trails for the Olympics, disaster struck in the form of two fractured cervical vertebrae, two herniated discs and four pulled muscles. But he refused to let this stop him and he qualified, however by the time the Games came around he was having several pain reducing injections into his neck. And yet despite all that in the five bouts that he competed in, he only conceded two points with the final being a real humdinger of a bout.

[video]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ntPMYdMm3II[/video]

After his gold medal win, he was approached by the World Wrestling Federation but refused their offer of a contract, but did endorse OSTRIM (an ostrich meat based foodstuff) but the lure of wrestling was never too far away and in October of his Olympic win, he commentated on a match as part of the Extreme Championship Wrestling federation. What he saw shocked him, and he promised to sue the owner if the footage was shown in such a way as t give people the impression he endorsed that federation. Two years later, after a guest appearance at the National Wrestling Alliance's 50th anniversary battle royal, he signed for the WWF and made his debut in November 1999 on an eight year contract and after that wrestled for the Total Non-Stop Action Wrestling federation from 2006 - 2016 and now wrestles on the independent circuit for Revolution Pro Wrestling at a bout scheduled for June 12th this year where he will go up against a new member of the WWE Zack Sabre Jr in Bethnal Green, London.

Outside the wrestling ring, post the Olympics, he has appeared in a number of films including "Pain and Gain" and "Sharknado 2" as well as appearing in an edition of "The Weakest Link", "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" and "Duck Dynasty" .
"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 » Sat Apr 23, 2016 7:09 pm

^Nice write-ups on Karelin & Angle, two of my favorite amateur wrestlers! :)
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Re: Famous Olympic Wrestlers

Postby Harry Hayfield » Mon Apr 25, 2016 2:52 pm

The Sydney Olympics held in the millennium were dubbed "The Millennial Olympics" due to the fact they were the first of the third millennium and as such new stars were appearing in the Olympic hall of fames, so it seems fair to mention the person who defeated one Olympic hero to become one themselves. Rulon Gardner, who you saw beating Aleksandr Karelin in his profile.

Rulon was born in Alton in Wyoming in 1971, and is the son of Reed and Virginia Gardner (and can also claim direct descendance to Archibald Gardner (the founder of Star Valley in Wyoming) and having grown up on a dairy farm, it was the hard labour that working on that farm required that he believes led to his great strength. He attended the Star Valley High School and managed to win sport letters in football, wrestling and athletics and as well as excelling on the mat, he also placed second in the senior competition for the shot put. After high school he went to Ricks College and then the University of Nebraska, Lincoln where he placed fourth in the 275lb weight class in the 1993 NCAA wrestling championships and earned All American honours.

We know what happened at the 2000 Olympics, but what you may not know is what happened afterwards and the answer is, he nearly died., twice. The first occasion was in 2002 when he went snowmobiling with some friends in the mountains surrounding Star Valley during which he became separated from the group and ended up falling into the Salt river with the snowmobile and although he managed to clamber out of the river he remained stranded for the next 18 hours. When he was eventually rescued, he was experiencing hypothermia and severe frostbite and led
loss of his middle toe on his right foot (which he keeps in formaldehyde in a jar in his refrigerator).

Needless to say that had an impact on his career and although he qualified for and competed in the 2004 Olympics in Athens, he only won a bronze medal and so after the match, he placed his shoes in the middle of the mat as a symbol of retirement from competitive wrestling. After those Games, he gained a massive 210lbs in weight (474 lbs) and as a result entered reality television as a contestant on the 11th series of "The Biggest Loser". During that season he lost 173lbs (36.5%) but withdrew for "personal reasons" before the end of the show

[video]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kn00bTWiWbU[/video]

Three years later, another accident occurred when Gardner and two other men survived a crash when a light aircraft he was traveling in crashed into Lake Powell in Utah and had to swim for an hour in 44 °F water to reach shore, and then spent the night without shelter but thankfully none of them were injured seriously but in 2008 was back involved with sports as an analyst for NBC at the Beijing Olympics offering his opinions on the wrestling competition. Although he tried to qualify for the London Games in 2012, he was unable to make the weight but I dare say he will hold those memories of winning Olympic gold in the first games of the third millennium forever.
"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 » Mon Apr 25, 2016 6:36 pm

As controversial as it may have been, Rulon Gardner's victory over Aleksandr Karelin in the gold medal match at the 2000 Olympic Games was a great one for him. I've been sorry to see his weight issues over the last few years. When I saw him on commentary at the 2008 Olympic Games (though it may have been on commentary for one of the NCAA Championships), I was pretty shocked to see how much weight he'd put on. He regained weight after appearing on 'The Biggest Loser', so hope he can get his weight issues under control one of these days, sooner rather than later. By the by, Rulon Gardner competed in a single MMA match back on New Year's Eve 2004 in Pride FC against 1992 Olympic gold medalist judoka Hidehiko Yoshida. It wasn't the most exciting fight, but Gardner won by decision.
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Re: Famous Olympic Wrestlers

Postby peter yates » Mon Apr 25, 2016 10:40 pm

HI HARRY,
JUST WANT TO THANKS AGAIN FOR PUTTING TOGETHER THIS SERIES ON THE GREAT COMBAT SPORT OF WRESTLING. THOROUGHLY ENJOYABLE. THANKS ALSO TO DANNY FOR ADDED COMMENTARY.
REGARDS, PETER.
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Re: Famous Olympic Wrestlers

Postby Harry Hayfield » Fri Apr 29, 2016 7:31 pm

There were a lot of people saying that Atlanta really should not have hosted the centennial Olympics and that that honour should have gone to Athens, however in 2004, Athens hosted the Games again and as the announcer said during the opening ceremony "Olympics, welcome home!". When the wrestlers started competiting in their competition, Athens proved that as well as history you can have progress and so on August 23rd 2004, Iryna Merleni made Olympic history as the first woman to receive a wrestling gold medal.

Irini Merleni-Mykulchyn was born in 1982 in the town of Kamianets-Podilskyi in the Ukraine and from the millennium was setting her sights firmly on becoming an Olympic champion and with three gold medals in the world championships in 2000, 2001 and 2003 it seemed logical that a gold in Athens was bound to happen. Indeed during her matches she only conceded two points in the four matches that saw her win the gold medal. After that she won two silver medals in the world championships that followed the Games, and won the gold medal in the University Games in 2005.

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Re: Famous Olympic Wrestlers

Postby Harry Hayfield » Wed May 04, 2016 10:33 pm

The 2008 Olympics held in Beijing, China were the first to be held in the country and as you might expect China had a field day, however this meant that countries with a long tradition in sports had to give way to the upstart and nowhere was this more evident than on the wrestling mat where (in a state quite unthinkable in 1996) the United States only won one gold medal.

Henry Cejudo was born in Los Angeles in 1987 and after winning two state championships in Arizona and two in Colorado, was awarded the ASICS National High School Wrestler of the Year title in 2006 (also becoming the first high schooler to win U.S. Nationals since USA Wrestling's formation as the sport's national body in 1983) and when he won the Pan American Championships in March 2008, well, Beijing destined and so he entered the 121lb class. In his first round match, against Bulgaria's Radoslav Velikov, Henry lost the first period, 2-1, and was forced to win both of the remaining periods to win the match, In the quarterfinals, Henry faced Georgian wrestler Besarion Gochashvilli and again lost the first period, but bounced back to win the last two periods to advance and in the semifinals, Henry again was forced to win the last two periods but did so for the third time in the tournament, defeating Azerbaijani wrestler Namig Sevdimov to advance to the gold medal match. For the gold medal match, Cejudo faced Japanese wrestler Tomohiro Matsunaga and, for the first time in the tournament, was able to win the first two periods which secured the gold medal.

After that he disappeared for a bit, but then in 2012 bounced back with an intention to qualify for the London Olympics, but just like Kurt Angle the competition had moved on and retired from the sport in the time honoured tradition of taking off his wrestling shoes and placing one on the mat and throwing the other into the crowd. He then moved into MMA and has made regular appearances in the UFC, the most recent being at UFC 197 in Las Vegas where he recorded his first loss in his three year career and so far has not appeared in the octagon but with Adrian, his nephew, a two-time Colorado State Champion in wrestling who is currently committed to Iowa State, don't rule out a member of the Cejudo family taking home an Olympic gold in the future

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