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Thread: Kurt Angle making one last Olympic bid

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    Default Kurt Angle making one last Olympic bid

    The Olympic gold medalist walks in from the rain. What’s left of his hair is flecked with gray. He trudges up the stairs of a ratty building, ducks to get into the low-ceilinged gym, sits on a mat and laces up his Asics wrestling shoes.


    Kurt Angle, on his gold medal-winning performance at the 1996 Olympics: "I feel I missed the whole ride."
    At age 43 — six years older than the oldest American wrestler to have medaled in the Olympics — this is not what you would expect Kurt Angle to do.

    What’s he got to prove? Nearly a year of intense Olympic training for the impossibly slim chance at making the U.S. freestyle wrestling team. And if he makes the team for the 2012 Summer Olympics, what’s the chance this old man can actually medal in London? It’s been nearly 16 years since Angle walked off the wrestling mat in Atlanta a gold medalist, having tied an Iranian heavyweight then won by judges’ decision. He hasn’t competed in an amateur wrestling match since.

    Instead, life’s taken him elsewhere: to a short-lived career as a Pittsburgh sportscaster. To Hollywood, where he’s acted in a handful of feature films. To business ventures, from a company that sold ostrich meat to his current health food and supplement company. To a pro wrestling career that made him millions and made him famous, but that also exploited his painful divorce for part of its carnival act, transforming Kurt Angle the wrestler into Kurt Angle the entertainer.

    Listen to that final part: Kurt Angle isn’t who he once was. And listen close, because that’s the point here. Deep down, Angle has lost the hard-won wrestling identity that first brought him to the world’s biggest stage. That’s it, right there. That’s what’s driving him to build his body back up, to find college wrestling teams to spar with him when he’s traveling on the pro-wrestling circuit, to aim for the impossible.

    What Kurt Angle is doing in this empty gym in this old coal-mining town is nothing short of reclaiming the man he once was.


    Angle shows off his 1996 gold medal to former Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole.

    “It’s this crisis in his mind, thinking, ‘I’m not Kurt Angle anymore; I’m Kurt Angle, this character on TV,’” says David Hawk, Angle’s manager and close friend. “But Kurt Angle was real once ...

    “He needs to prove it not to the world but to himself,” Hawk continued. “He wants to regain his youth, prove he’s still there and still has it.”

    And so on this dreary afternoon, in between pro wrestling shows for Total Nonstop Action Wrestling and business engagements with his Pittsburgh-based company, Angle Foods, the gold medalist stretches out his beat-up body. Pro wrestling is not an activity for someone looking for eternal youth. There have been the dramatic jumps from the top rope, the crowd-pleasing broken chairs, the body slams and headlocks that have worn this body down. There have also been the two neck surgeries and the five times Angle has broken his neck — the first one during the 1996 Olympic trials, when he fractured two of his cervical vertebrae and herniated two of his discs yet still won gold five months later.

    All this, plus his advanced age, make Angle’s Olympic comeback the most improbable of storylines for London.

    Yet in the Olympics, the most improbable stories are the ones that most capture our hearts. The 1980 Miracle on Ice. The amazing feats of the ageless Dara Torres. The stunning eight gold medals of Michael Phelps in Beijing. The Greco-Roman wrestler Rulon Gardner, beating the unbeatable Russian back in Sydney.

    And if Angle makes the U.S. team at the Olympic wrestling trials in April, his improbable comeback will be the next Olympic story that speaks to us: to focusing on a dream despite being enveloped by tragedy; to getting a second chance at repairing a blemished reputation; and, ultimately, to understanding what’s important in life.

    And then chasing after it. Before time runs out.

    “Do I still have a shot? Yeah, but it’s a long shot,” Angle says in his gravelly voice. “These guys are younger, quicker, but I might be smarter ... When I show up at the trials, people will say, ‘Holy (crap), he showed up.’ If I do well, it’ll be, ‘Holy (crap), he did well.’ They’re going to respect me.”

    Then Kurt Angle shrugs his massive shoulders.

    “A lot of people,” he admits, “think it is a gimmick.”

    This, Kurt Angle says, is not a gimmick. This, he insists, is no PR stunt.

    In the wrestling community, though, he’s having a tough time winning over doubters. USA Wrestling is insisting he come to their Colorado headquarters before the Olympic trials; the coach wants to see if Angle is for real. Others already count him out.

    “Kurt Angle doesn’t have the ability to wrestle at the peak that he would need to wrestle at to make a team, let alone compete with the champions of the world,” says Scott Casber, an announcer for USA Wrestling and owner of Takedown Wrestling Radio. “He just doesn’t have it. I don’t think it’s because he’s 43 years old. I think it’s because his body is worn out from pro wrestling. You don’t take chair shots, you don’t take jumps off the top rope in a steel ring and expect your body to hold up very long.”

    Why would he do this, then, if he doesn’t have a chance? Casber believes it’s to generate publicity for the Kurt Angle brand, pure and simple. And there’s little Angle can do, short of a stunning performance at April’s trials, that would convince anyone otherwise.


    Kurt Angle wrestles Wilfredo Morales Suarez of Cuba in their 100kg Olympic preliminary match in Atlanta in July 1996.
    Yet this is a man who has never been fazed by doubters. And he’s been able to overlook, or at least compartmentalize, the worst that life can bring.

    Like in high school, when Angle’s father died in a construction accident two days before the biggest football game of Angle’s career. Or in college, when Angle was the No. 1 ranked wrestler in the country, and his grandmother died three days before the NCAA tournament. Or a few months before the 1996 Olympic trials, when Angle’s coach, Dave Schultz, was murdered. Or the day before Angle’s heavily promoted 60-minute “Iron Man” show against WWE superstar Brock Lesnar, when Angle’s sister died of a heroin overdose.

    He did what he had to do after those tragedies. He played in the football game; he won the Olympic trials. So someone doubting his motivations? Someone believing Angle has no more a chance of making the 2012 Olympics than the Armenian basketball team has of beating the Americans? Those doubters, they’re small potatoes for Angle.

    “God has really shown me how to stay focused in these really horrible times of turmoil,” Angle says. “I think that I’ve used that as motivation. You can either step out of it, go beyond your expectations, or curl up into a shell and say, you know what? This happened, and this is my excuse. I’m not that kind of guy.”

    But there’s something else he’s after, too, in these Olympics. His legacy has been tarnished. Two DUI arrests last year, for one. Then the report that he failed his medicals before attempting to fight his first mixed martial arts fight in the UFC, which many interpreted as failing a drug test. (Angle says he never heard why he failed his medicals, but it couldn’t have been from a drug test; however, Angle never fought in the UFC.) And then the repeated accusations of performance-enhancing drug use — something Angle admits to, but says it was done with a doctor’s prescription, and says he hasn’t taken PEDs in six years. And the WWE drug test he failed in 2005? That was only because his legal prescription had expired, Angle says.

    “As far as being clean, I would not go to the Olympic trials and put myself in jeopardy to get tested positive," Angle says. “All I have to do is show up, take the drug test, it’ll show there’s nothing in my system.”

    Angle’s training partner walks into the gym. The two begin to grapple. They grab at each other’s legs, necks, chests. Angle practices takedowns. He practices defense. He practices staying in control in the standing position and the down position. Soon, sweat is dripping off his bald head.

    Angle admits he’s not as quick as he used to be. Not as strong, either. In 1996, Angle was using a repertoire of more than 100 attacks. But he never went in with a game plan. Now he’s focusing on just a handful of solid attacks. He’ll play good defense. He’ll set the tone, keep matches at his own pace. He doesn’t think his opponents are taking him seriously, but Angle knows how he’s been feeling in recent weeks of training: As good as he’s felt since the Atlanta Games.

    It may not be a pretty style, being more defensive, but he thinks he might just be able to win at the trials and make this team.

    And if he makes it to London, there’s one other thing he’ll be shooting for other than a second gold medal: He wants to soak in it. Which is one part of Angle’s Olympic youth that he’s still trying to regain.

    “In ’96, I didn’t really enjoy it — I was relieved when it was over. I feel I missed the whole ride. Because I don’t remember anything. I want to experience it, to enjoy it. Back then it was more a job to me. I put pressure on myself. I didn’t enjoy any aspect of it. I was so focused, I don’t remember anything about it. Nothing. I don’t even remember the podium.”

    This time, it’ll be different.

    “I’m doing this,” Kurt Angle says, “for me.”
    Wrestler Kurt Angle making final Olympic bid one to savor - News | FOX Sports on MSN


    Kurt Angles life just begs to be made into an oscar worthy film...

    War Angle!

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    I give the guy all the credit in the world and he is one of the best wrestlers in American history. He was actually voted the best freestyle wrestler to ever come out of the USA.

    But he will not even sniff the Olympic team at this point. Too much time has passed and Jake Varner is atop the class. Varner is a beast and I do not think Angle has a chance against him at this point.
    Dude, I’m a wrestler. I’m the best wrestler in MMA. Wrestling IS, was and always has been the most dominate form of mix martial art on the planet. That’s all there is to it. We all know it, some people want to fight it, some people want doubt it but wresters rule the MMA world. -
    Ben Askren

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    Pretty cool story. I don't watch pro wrestling, but I have seen him on the commercials, so I don't know much about him in that world. I do think it would be cool to see him make the team. America loves the comeback story, and with myself getting older I would follow the story to London. I am officially on the Kurt Angle bus.

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    Like in high school, when Angle’s father died in a construction accident two days before the biggest football game of Angle’s career. Or in college, when Angle was the No. 1 ranked wrestler in the country, and his grandmother died three days before the NCAA tournament. Or a few months before the 1996 Olympic trials, when Angle’s coach, Dave Schultz, was murdered. Or the day before Angle’s heavily promoted 60-minute “Iron Man” show against WWE superstar Brock Lesnar, when Angle’s sister died of a heroin overdose.
    wow that is some serious stuff right there. i watched angle wrestle for years i was there when he won the gold in atlanta hell i've even met the guy. this part of the article though.....i just had no idea. i have always respected that man for his accomplishments but i respect him on a completely different level now.


    move one's bowels to a chicken coop. Kill chickens and pick up feathers. They blow the whistle on for 10 ea on forums. Also bury the bones you find.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Masscore View Post
    I give the guy all the credit in the world and he is one of the best wrestlers in American history. He was actually voted the best freestyle wrestler to ever come out of the USA.

    But he will not even sniff the Olympic team at this point. Too much time has passed and Jake Varner is atop the class. Varner is a beast and I do not think Angle has a chance against him at this point.
    ^^sniff sniff, mr wrestling is killing our hopes wahh lol^^

    Quote Originally Posted by MIZJUDOZOU View Post
    Pretty cool story. I don't watch pro wrestling, but I have seen him on the commercials, so I don't know much about him in that world. I do think it would be cool to see him make the team. America loves the comeback story, and with myself getting older I would follow the story to London. I am officially on the Kurt Angle bus.
    Welcome aboard, and hopefully it stays on the road just long enough. Regarding him in wrestling, ahh man, you probably don't watch wrestling, but idk, maybe if you watch one of his matches against Chris Benoit, it would sum up his intensity and his wholesome entertainment value. It's kind of like an MMA exhibition match or something ala fedor vs mousasi/Aoki

    Quote Originally Posted by disposableassassin View Post
    wow that is some serious stuff right there. i watched angle wrestle for years i was there when he won the gold in atlanta hell i've even met the guy. this part of the article though.....i just had no idea. i have always respected that man for his accomplishments but i respect him on a completely different level now.
    Yea, I didn't know this either. It's crazy though because even through all that turmoil, he made sure the show went on. A little more reason to respect him.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Xtremo View Post
    ^^Welcome aboard, and hopefully it stays on the road just long enough. Regarding him in wrestling, ahh man, you probably don't watch wrestling, but idk, maybe if you watch one of his matches against Chris Benoit, it would sum up his intensity and his wholesome entertainment value. It's kind of like an MMA exhibition match or something ala fedor vs mousasi/Aoki
    .
    I have nothing against pro wrestling. I grew up watching it, and it was a great part of my growing up. When I got to college I started watching it again b/c of the rock, stone cold, shawn micheals, and tripple h and those guys. I haven't watched much since then. I would like to watch this new guy I have read about. His name is CMPunk and I hear he is pretty good.

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    Living in the same region as Angle his life has had plenty of ups and downs. He hasn't lead a life outside the ring that's good for the body. Weather it was from a failing marriage or what I don't know, but his actions are no where near the level when he won gold. I wish him well, but would side with a pr stunt over truly thinking he can even do well.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MIZJUDOZOU View Post
    I have nothing against pro wrestling. I grew up watching it, and it was a great part of my growing up. When I got to college I started watching it again b/c of the rock, stone cold, shawn micheals, and tripple h and those guys. I haven't watched much since then. I would like to watch this new guy I have read about. His name is CMPunk and I hear he is pretty good.
    Yea, CM Punk is pretty good. He has got like a Stone Cold persona going that will say whatever he wants, and his wrestling skills are very crisp and technical. He definitely is a self made megastar. Mostly with his genius and creativity.

    Quote Originally Posted by lwbrewer View Post
    Living in the same region as Angle his life has had plenty of ups and downs. He hasn't lead a life outside the ring that's good for the body. Weather it was from a failing marriage or what I don't know, but his actions are no where near the level when he won gold. I wish him well, but would side with a pr stunt over truly thinking he can even do well.
    Booo! :P Hopefully he proves you wrong!

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    Kurt Angle pulls out of U.S. Olympic wrestling trials - ESPN

    Kurt Angle has survived steel chairs, low blows and dastardly double-crosses in the choreographed world of pro wrestling.

    But Angle couldn't continue on the amateur circuit when his own body betrayed him with a series of injuries that ended his improbable run at making the U.S. team for the London Olympics.

    On Thursday, the former Olympic gold medalist and TNA Wrestling star backed out of next week's U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Iowa. The 43-year-old Angle was planning on competing for a spot on the U.S. freestyle team headed to the London Games this summer.

    Angle partially tore the MCL in his right knee during training on Monday to finish off the longshot bid. He also tore his right hamstring during a training session last month.

    "I feel like it was a waste of time," Angle said by phone Thursday. "Here I am, at the 11:30 hour, and I get the worst injury I've gotten in the last year. I've had four or five injuries, but I've worked around them. This one, I can't work around.

    "There's no way around it."

    Angle understood his bid at making the Olympics was viewed with wide-eyed skepticism.

    He never cared.

    Traveling around the globe for TNA Wrestling, Angle found the closest mat around to the professional ring and pushed himself during training.

    The 1996 220-pound freestyle wrestling gold medal winner in the Atlanta Games had scaled back his professional commitments for TNA and dedicated the last year to his Olympic dream.

    U.S. Olympic Team coach Zeke Jones advised Angle to withdraw from the U.S trials set for April 21-22 at the University of Iowa.

    "We have such incredible, awesome competition, that with my MCL injury, they would have torn me apart," Angle said.

    Angle said he will perform for TNA and wrestle Jeff Hardy at its Lockdown pay-per-view event on Sunday.

    "In amateur wrestling, I have no control over what's going to happen to me," he said. "My No. 1 priority is TNA Wrestling. With TNA, I can work around my injuries and still have a five-star match."

    He's the second high-profile wrestler this month to depart the trials. Cael Sanderson, the 32-year-old Penn State wrestling coach who won gold at the Athens Games eight years ago, said this week that he is also dropping plans to win a spot on the U.S. team.

    Angle said he planned to wrestle in Iowa with the hamstring injury, but the MCL was too much to overcome. He does not need surgery because the MCL was not completely torn.

    "My foot slipped on the mat and my knee turned inward," he said. "I knew right then I was done. I quit practice."

    Angle had to get back to the amateur basics, the style that made him a worldwide force in the 1990s that culminated with him on his knees as tears poured down his face when the referee awarded him an overtime decision over Iranian Abbas Jadidi in the 1996 gold-medal match.

    Angle had been smarter this time around, training fewer hours and days, and feeling less pressure than in '96 when it was gold medal or bust.

    Angle went from the amateur ranks to the WWE and became an instant star for the promotion. Angle was granted his release from his WWE contract in 2006 and signed later that year with TNA.

    His injuries ended his shot at making Olympic history. The oldest Olympic wrestler to medal was Chris Campbell, who won bronze at 37 at the 1992 Barcelona Games. Angle turned 43 on Dec. 9.

    "I really thought that I had a legitimate shot of at least making the team, or being an Olympic alternate," Angle said. "At 43, no one's ever done it. I had that opportunity.

    "I had that shot."

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    Wahh I wanted for him to compete

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