The Day an Olympic Wrestling Legend was Defeated | Strangest Moments

The Day an Olympic Wrestling Legend was Defeated | Strangest Moments

Greco-Roman Wrestling is not
for the meek or the mild. It’s contested by some
of the toughest, scariest men on the planet. And the toughest, scariest fighters
of all can be found competing in the Super Heavyweight division. Within that division, one man reigned supreme
for more than a decade. And this wasn’t simply
a case of being top dog. It was historic. It was utter domination. You can learn a lot about
a man from his nicknames. Russian Bear. Alexander the Great. The Experiment. Nobody simply hands you those names. You earn them. Going into the 2000
Olympic Games final, Russian Super Heavyweight Aleksandr
Karelin, standing at 1 metre 93cm and weighing 130kg,
hadn’t lost a bout for 13 years. His career record read 887 wins and one loss, 12 consecutive
European Championships, nine consecutive World Championships and gold medals
at the Olympic Games in Seoul… ..Barcelona… ..and Atlanta,
where a chest injury in the final meant he’d essentially won
the gold medal one-handed. But that was typical of Karelin. Two gladiators,
ladies and gentlemen! Superhuman feats are standard fare
for superhuman athletes. Nobody had even scored a point
against him for seven years. The biggest, baddest wrestlers
in the world were openly terrified of him. Most of them had lost the fight
before it had even begun. Karelin had one move in particular
that cemented his legend. Reverse body lifts
are practically unheard of in the Super Heavyweight division. Few had the strength
to execute them. For Karelin,
it became his trademark. Karelin was more than simply
a physical miracle. He also had the sharpest
wrestling mind in the world. His sports science PhD included a
thesis on how to defend the suplex. He was the strongest, the smartest, the most aggressive and the most
committed wrestler in the world. He was “a freak of nature”. His opponent in
the 2000 Olympic Games final was not from such impressive stock. Rulon Gardner,
a dairy farmer from Wyoming, had no pedigree
at all at international level. What he lacked in experience, he made up for
in strength and endurance. His huge, powerful frame had
developed during years of hard labour on the farm. And we’re not talking about
typical farmyard chores. One his favourite hobbies
was wrestling… with cows. Real cows. To stand any chance against
the unbreakable Karelin, Gardner would need to draw on all of
that cow-grappling experience. But Karelin had dealt with stronger,
better wrestlers than Gardner. The bout was expected
to be a procession. Greco-Roman Wrestling matches
are contested over two periods of three minutes each. If the scores are level,
or only one point apart, the bout goes into
a three-minute overtime period. Early in the first period, it didn’t
take long for Karelin’s first attempt at launching a reverse lift. But Gardner was a huge specimen. Even Alexander the Great
couldn’t get him off the floor. The scores were level
at the end of the first round. Karelin still hadn’t worked out
how to combat Gardner’s sheer size. The second period began in a clinch. The Russian inadvertently
released his lock. It was a huge mistake. After a careful check,
the referee signalled that Karelin had broken the clinch first and, according to a recent
change in the rules, that meant one point
was awarded to Gardner. 1-0. But the Team USA fans in the crowd
weren’t getting excited yet. This was Karelin, after all. The second period ended with
Gardner still leading by one point. Overtime was required. The onus was on
the Russian Bear to take control. He had three minutes to protect
his flawless record. Karelin’s big chance came when
Gardner took the par terre position. The scene was set for
a famous reverse lift. But Gardner wouldn’t budge. For the first time in 13 years, Karelin looked human. He had fought earlier in the day
and was visibly tired. But this was Karelin. Surely he could find
one last reserve of strength? Every attempt to throw Gardner
was proving to be futile and time was running out. In the last four seconds
of the bout, the unbreakable Karelin seemed
to be conceding defeat. Ladies and gentlemen,
the gold medal, Rulon Gardner of the
United States of America. It was unthinkable. Gardner could scarcely
believe what was happening. The undisputed champion
and greatest of all time had been dethroned by
a farm-boy from Wyoming. Stunned, Karelin departed the stage. He left his shoes on the mat, a symbol of his immediate
retirement from the sport. Gardner enjoyed his moment, briefly becoming
a celebrity in his homeland. He returned to
the Olympic Games in 2004, winning a bronze under the watchful
eye of his old adversary. But his career would
not reach such heights again. A Snowmobile accident, an air crash and bankruptcy followed his wrestling career. Karelin’s status as a Russian hero was untarnished by the silver medal. After having the highest possible
honours bestowed on him, he made a move into politics. What happened that night in Sydney
was one of the biggest upsets in the history of the Olympic Games. The strangest moments in sport
usually arrive without warning. Karelin versus Gardner
came out of nowhere. If it was a movie, it would be
mocked for being unrealistic… but it happened. The farmer from Wyoming toppled
the most dominant force ever seen on a wrestling mat, and nobody can ever
take that away from Rulon Gardner.

100 Replies to “The Day an Olympic Wrestling Legend was Defeated | Strangest Moments”

  1. What a great athlete. Alas, he didn't compete against Gardner only, but also against the ultimate unbeatable opponent. TIME!

  2. Im an American and as far as Im concerned, Karelin still has a perfect record. The point was 'won' on recent rule change on a dumb technicality that should never have existed anyway. Rulon laying around being huge vs an old yet aggressive Karelin does not constitute victory.
    I saw draw.

  3. That's not fair for me. Almost all the time, the fat American lain on the ground and yet won. Not nice to look at. No role model for me.

  4. Yeah he won for a stupid new rule and he didn't do nothing else. But he should be appreciated because just going on the mat with Karelin is really scaring. You could literally been killed

  5. Actually desi wrestling is trained in farms in India ….mainly cardio workout ……that's reason farmers are deadliest … term wrestling

  6. So basically he won not by pulling some stunts on Aleksandr but because Aleksandr let go of the clinch? Well, that isn't called defeating if you ask me!

  7. Do any of you dimwits know how wrestling works? "He only won because he was to fat to be lifted" umm how many takedowns did Kremlin make? Oh that's right 0..even so they still would have went into overtime had Gardner not been awarded that point

  8. Ну со старым бороться не проблема, попробовал бы с равным по возрасту. Вынесли бы на флаге.

  9. So basically he lost to himself because of a rule change. He could have always retired at such an old age and remain undefeated, correct me if im wrong but he was indeed retired undefeated and decided to return. You can't beat time

  10. Gardiner will forever be postered along the walls of every McDonalds in the USA. They refer to the infamous match as “the cheeseburger that no Russian could lift.” Gardiner trained like no other, day in and day out, at the table and he knew he could eat his way to victory eventually and make it into the history books.

  11. The narrator should get informed. Gardener left his shoes in 2004 Olympics. It was the end for him. What wrestling career do expect from a man who retired? So the facts about his air-crash and car accident following his 2004 Olympics have no bearing on his wrestling career, since he already retired.

  12. A change of the rules and letting go of the lock… Sorry, I am not impressed. This is as bad as technicalities can sometimes be.

  13. i think all over the world kids who want to make a carrier in wrestling 99.99% have their role model the russian bear Karelin over Gardner.

  14. Karelin fought from 1981 and at this Olympiad in 2000 he was already old for a wrestler. Moreover, on this day he overcame two of the world's top 10 wrestlers. Yes, and a new rule …

    Just the universe sent him a signal that it was time to leave a professional sport. 19 years in the fight, 13 years of an unbeatable series without defeats in professional sport, 887 wins is too much for one person.

  15. Im an american who doesnt care about wrestling and this made me mad. I cant even imagine how Russian fans felt

  16. Good for him. Except one is a wrestling hero and legend and the other is a pretty much forgotten one-hit wonder

  17. why is this so heroic or something he was just so fat that he he couldn't get thrown. Literally just had to lay down and wait for Alexander to slip up.

  18. Everybody: should’ve used a real cow

    Olympics channel: uses a grown man wearing a cow mask and wrestles with a farmer

  19. Sooo he didn’t really beat Alex, Alex beat himself because he let go of the clinch. It’s not like Gardner out wrestled him

  20. The Russian did not lose to skill or determination, cardio, He lost to fat. Same UFc fighters lost to Fat DC

  21. If they're classed by weight, why would lifting Gardner be any different than lifting any of his other opponents?

  22. …So Alexander wrestled earlier that day, had rules changed last minute DURING an event, and this counts against him? He should’ve gotten his fourth gold.

  23. Karelin was not defeated. It was just Gardner who didn't lose. Karelin is still the legend, never defeated. Respect!

  24. For those of you ragging on Gardner:

    Karelin had faced heavier men than Gardner. He was able to throw all of them. He couldn't throw Gardner once.

  25. Yea the russian guy had complete control in all scenes, totally won. US again @ pulling tricks…

  26. So many haters in the comments, what Gardner did was historic, if you don’t like it, go do it for yourself. As a wrestler, it’s unbelievable what he was able to do. It’s called DEFENSIVE wrestling

  27. So Greatest greco roman wrestler who ever lived was beat from a nontechnical slow fatso. What a shame lost for the great Alexander.

  28. So since Gardner only won by 1 point & they even went to overtime, what would'be happened if they hadn't changed that rule about the release & it stayed 0-0? Do they consider it a tie, or do they just have to keep going into overtime til someone scores a point? I personally think that persom would've been Karelin, but I just mean hypothetically if still it's 0-0 after overtime because at that point, where does it end

  29. Respect for Gardner for not being scared, at least not showing it, and fighting until the last second but he didnt win by himself,Karelin lost by doing a mistake and not following the stupid rules.

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