Wrestling at the 1996 Summer Olympics Men’s Freestyle 100 KG

Kurt Angle doesn’t recall much about the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, but he will never forget the moment of profound emotional suffering he experienced there.

After regulation and overtime, Angle and the Iranian Abbas Jadidi were deadlocked at one point each in the 100-pound final. Wrestling lasted for a total of eight minutes. They both received the same number of passivity calls, so the winner had to be decided by the judges.

After some thought, the referee positioned himself in the centre of the mat, between the two grapplers. He had each athlete’s wrist in his hand, preparing to announce the winner to the Georgia World Congress Center audience and the competitors.

Wrestling at the 1996 Summer Olympics Men's Freestyle 100 KG

At age 51, Angle says he rarely watches sports on television, so he probably hasn’t seen the match replay. However, he vividly recalls seeing Jadidi’s left arm rise out of the corner of his eye.

The Iranian, it turns out, was only raising his own arm. A split second later, the referee silenced Jadidi. He helped Angle’s right arm up. A tearful wrestler.

I was upset, and then I was told I won; I was a mess of emotions the whole time,” Angle recalled. I had a very strange time. My lack of experience left me feeling helpless. To me, it was like reliving my father’s death. I suffered that much heartache. Then, suddenly, you come out on top.”

As soon as he realised he had won, Angle got down on his knees and prayed for two specific persons. David, Angle’s father, died at the young age of 16 in a construction accident. The second is the wrestling champion of 1984, Dave Schultz, whose coach, John du Pont, was killed just six months before the Olympics.

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Wrestling at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta

After winning a gold medal in wrestling at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, Angle went on to have a successful professional wrestling career spanning two decades, during which he won the WWE world heavyweight championship.

If the referee had kept Jadidi’s arm in the air, things might have turned out differently. Angle knew that if he won gold at the Olympics, it would be his final competition ever. If the punishment was mild, he could keep competing well into his 30s, possibly even in the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Despite facing insurmountable obstacles, Angle finally made it to the Peach State.

Angle lost Schultz, fractured his neck in the U.S. Open, and had 12 shots of novocaine five minutes before each match at the Olympic Trials so that he wouldn’t feel the agony and lose concentration. After some time, Angle became dependent on painkillers.

When du Pont shot and killed Schultz, Angle, a fellow member of the Foxcatcher club, was present. Although he was not contacted, Angle said he enjoyed the 2014 picture “Foxcatcher” despite some instances of “dramatic licence.”

Angle: “I really don’t want to say this, but without Team Foxcatcher I’m not sure I would have won my gold medal.” Without Dave Schultz, I doubt I would have had the same opportunities that allowed me to succeed.

Before Locking it Up in a Safe, Angle Gave his Gold Medal to Thousands of individuals.

“The gold was tarnishing,” Angle remarked. In elementary school, a young student took my medal by the ribbon and began twirling it rapidly. When he let off, it slammed into the wall. My prized gold medal has a large ding in it. My last visit to a primary school with it was that one.

Angle, at 42 years old, said he was training for the 2012 Olympic Trials. After injuring his knee, he decided not to go.

Angle explained, “But I trained hard for it,” adding that he continued to make appearances with Total Nonstop Action Wrestling throughout the process. Truthfully, had I tried out, I would not have been chosen for the squad. For me, the top three spots were the prize. The [thrill of] competitiveness passed me by.

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Final Words

This meant that the Olympic final was Angle’s final fight ever. His arm was raised for the final time as a freestyle wrestler.

Sobbing after his match that night in Atlanta, Angle stated, “All I wanted to do was win a world championship and an Olympic gold medal, and I won both.” “If death came to me tonight, I’d go out as the happiest man on Earth.”