With this summers Olympic games drawing to a close I thought I would write something relevant to the subject. Kurt Angle is the ONLY Olympic Gold medalist to ever go on to professional wrestling. The Iron Sheik has claimed for many years that he is also a gold medal winner but this is a fabrication. However you can't do anything but love the Iron Sheik so we have to let that one slide. Many other Olympians have entered the world of pro wrestling. Some have had major success but others have had very little luck in the squared circle. Today I am going to take a look at some of the most memorable characters with an Olympic background.
Mark Henry qualified for the 1992 Olympics but is more remembered for captaining Team USA in Atlanta 1996. Henry suffered a back injury and finished 14th. Henry was soon snapped up (by the then) WWF soon after and made his first appearance at Summerslam 96. Henry dubbed the world's strongest man was later put in the Nation of Domination faction along side The Rock and Owen Hart.
In the last 16 years Mark Henry has won many titles including the World Heavyweight Championship last year. Henry is one of the longest contracted individuals on the WWE roster and is one of the most successful of the Olympians.
Kurt Angle won gold in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics in the Mens Freestyle Wrestling event. While competing during this event Angle was suffering from 2 herniated discs and fracturing of the cervical vertebrae. Kurt Angle would go on to win the event even with these severe injuries. Angle would go on to be the only Olympic Gold Medalist in history when he debuted in the 1999 Survivor Series event.
Angle dominated the WWE for 7 years having legendary feuds and matches with Stone Cold Steve Austin, Chris Benoit, The Rock, Triple H, Shawn Michaels, The Undertaker, Brock Lesnar and even got a win over Hulk Hogan in 2002.
Angle made the transition from amateur wrestling to pro wrestling with the quickest of ease. Angle is one of the greatest wrestlers to ever live and is definitely worthy of a WWE Hall of Fame induction. Angle now wrestles for TNA Impact Wrestling. Angle was going to try out for this years USA Olympic Wrestling team but had to pull out due to a knee injury.
Jorge Gonzalez competed in the 1988 Olympic games, playing for the Argentinean basketball team. Gonzalez was the tallest basketball player to ever play professionally at a staggering 7 foot 6 inches. Gonzalez was soon snapped up by the Atlanta Hawks owned by Ted Turner. It was only a matter of time he was wrestling for Turners WCW as El Gigante. Although Gonzalez was very limited at best with pro wrestling skills, he was still a great attraction and when he jumped over to the WWF in 1993 he made a huge debut (or one of gigantic proportions even) at the Royal Rumble.
Gonzalez's feud with The Undertaker in 1993 was one of the biggest talking points in 1993. It was the first time The Undertaker had an opponent who could dwarf and dominate him. However the matches did not deliver the goods and Gonzalez was gone by the autumn of that year.
Ken Patera was a power lifter and shot putter who competed in the 1968 and 1972 Olympic games. Ken Patera was also a worlds strongest man competitor who made the jump to pro wrestling in the late 70's. He would take part in many different tests of strength against guys like Mr Universe Tony Atlas involving bending iron bars and even blowing up hot water bottles until they popped.
Patera made a splash in the WWF during the rock 'n wrestling era during the 80's. However he will always be remembered for his actions outside the ring during his time spent there. When a Mcdonalds restaurant refused to serve him and Masso Saito (another fellow Olympian turned pro wrestler) Patera responded by throwing a boulder through the restaurant window. Patera would serve jail time after this incident.
Danny Hodge is an old schooler from the N.W.A who was a renowned amateur wrestler and boxer from Oklahoma. He competed in the the 1952 and 1956 Olympic team and brought a Silver medal back from the 1956 games. Hodge was involved in a bizarre feud during the 60 in which his father stepped into the ring and stabbed his opponent with a pen knife.
Not only just a great hand in the ring but Danny Hodge is still ranked even to this day as being one of the real legit tough guys in the sport. Jim Ross recently shared a story about how Hodge punched through the window of a submerged car in order to escape. Hodge (even to this day) can crush apples and bend pliers using only his bare hands.
BAD NEWS BROWN
Alan Coage was an American Judo bronze medalist in the 1976 olympic games. He would later become Bad News Brown/ Bad News Allen in Stampede wrestling and the WWF. He would go on to have many great feuds with Owen Hart, Bret Hart and Rowdy Roddy Piper.
There are a whole lot of similarities between Bad News Brown and Stone Cold Steve Austin. The black attire, the bald head, smash mouth style and the no nonsense attitude would make Steve Austin vs Bad News Brown a great fantasy warfare. Bad News Brown hated everybody and I can never recall seeing one tag match where he didnt say to hell with the rest of the team and storm off.
AND ONE MORE...
THE IRON SHEIK
Although he claims to be a gold medal winner the Iron Sheik never struck gold or managed to win anything at the Olympic games. However the Sheik was a tremendous athlete who did participate at a national level and done his country proud on many occasions.
The Iron Sheik would later become the WWF champion after ending Bob Backlunds four year run at the top. Hulk Hogan would beat the Iron Sheik in 1984 for the strap to begin the roller coaster that was Hulkamania. The Sheik is more famous nowadays for his outlandish outbursts on the internet where he threatens to anally rape his past wrestling foes. Sheik is also world renowned for his love of hard drugs and beer. The stories of the Sheiks party antics are the stuff of legend.
Enjoy the rest of the games.
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