In the spring of 1998, I was working for then WWF as head Coach of the Funking Dojo wrestling training camp in Stamford Connecticut. I received the list of trainees for the third wrestling training camp. On the list was Olympic Gold Medalist, Kurt Angle. “Hey what a thrill to coach an Olympic Gold Medalist!”
I had trained Jumbo Tsuruta, Olympic wrestler, Anton Geesink a Judo Gold Medalist, Mark Henry Olympic Weight Lifter and Giant Silva an Olympic Basketball Player. I believed that real wrestlers and real athletes are important to the credibility of professional wrestling. My father was an amateur wrestler from Indiana University and he had insisted that I compete in amateur athletics before turning pro.
My first opportunity to meet Kurt Angle came in the gym at Titan Tower. I was excited at the opportunity to meet him. Christian Cage, Steve Corino, Chris Daniels, Rhino, Giant Silva, Tiger Ali Sing, Taka Michinoku, Crash Holly and Kurt Angle were my students. It was easy to spot Kurt Angle, he had a big grin on his face.
Our routine was weights in the morning followed by in ring performance at the WWF studio in the afternoon. Kurt couldnâ€™t wait to get to the ring. He was happy to be there and loved training.
The first thing I told Kurt was that anything he did in amateur wrestling he could work into his professional wrestling career Kurt executes the best pro firemanâ€™s carriage in wrestling.
Kurt is an exceptional athlete. I was a fan and Coach of Kurt Angle and respected him for his accomplishments in amateur wrestling so you can imagine how good I felt after our first practice session when Kurt looked and me and said, â€œHey Coach, this sport, is hard work, and I love it.â€
These are the words of Kurt Angle, 1996 Gold Medalist and, “Blue Chipper,” in the WWF Funking Dojo.
“I promised myself two things:
1. I’d train harder than ever in the two years leading up to the Olympics.
2. I wouldn’t be afraid of failure or losing.
That was all that mattered to me. No more pressure. Just give my best!”
My hand was raised and victory was mine! I did it! And guess what? The emotional floodgates opened up and I cried!
I received my Gold Medal, our country’s national anthem providing the backdrop for my lifelong dream come true. I remember thinking that it was all worth it.
“But guess what? Even if I hadn’t won, it would’ve still been worth it.
I looked at my family and saw in their eyes overwhelming love and sense of achievement for what I had accomplished, and said to myself, “They make life worth living.” You see, winning isn’t the only thing. It really isn’t. It’s whether you’ve given it your best shot. And not just during the match but in preparation for it, too. Did you train as hard as you could?”
Tags: Kurt Angle, WWF