Pittsburgh Superstars: Kurt Angle, wrestling

It’s safe to say he’s likely the only Pittsburgh native to win a gold medal while having a broken neck.

Mount Lebanon native Kurt Angle beat his Iranian wrestler competitor to stand atop the podium in Atlanta in 1996.

“It was very emotional. I was crying, I couldn’t stop crying,” Angle said. “I kept thinking about my mother, I kept thinking about my dad who passed away when I was 16.”

Reflecting on his time preparing for the Olympic Games, he stressed how much work it took to get to that point.

“People have no idea,” Angle said. “I know that everyone knows Olympians trains hard, but I can remember training for the Olympics and the training is grueling.  The mental torment and worrying about every possible thing that can go wrong.”

Angle was able to handle that pressure. His gold winning match was intense and close. He said his most vivid memory was at the end, when the referee first raised his Iranian opponent’s arm signaling victory.

“I thought I lost, and my whole world just fell down on me and fell on top of me,” Angle said.  “The next second, he raised my hand and lowered the Iranians. So, it was like the worst feeling in the world to the best feeling in the world. So, I hugged the referee.”

Angle said his children love looking at Dad’s golden prize.

“They love looking at my gold medal, they love talking about their Dad winning the gold medal, they have a sense of pride in that,” Angle said. “And now I can watch the Olympics and enjoy it.  It’s stress free.  You’re able to watch and not have to study tape and get yourself worked up.”

Channel 11 Sports Director Alby Oxenreiter asked Angle what winning a gold medal has meant to him in his life.

“It’s who I am, it’s what I’m about.  That’s what I will always be,” Angle said. “The WWE and everything that I did there, that was just icing on the cake, but for me the gold medal was what I set out to do in my life, and that the one thing I wanted to. It makes me very proud that I was able to do it.”

Comments on this article