Rulon Gardner resides a quiet existence, valid the capability he likes it.
He is 48 now, sells insurance and has a 2nd job coaching wrestling at a Salt Lake City-condominium excessive college.
It’s been 20 years since Gardner, a 2,000-to-1 underdog, beat three-time gold medalist Aleksandr Karelin within the Greco Roman heavyweight final at the Sydney Games in one among the most interesting upsets in sports actions historical past.
His fable did no longer discontinuance there. No longer by a long shot.
“My existence,” he mentioned in an interview, “has been a roller coaster.”
Winning gold changed into the originate of a lumber that began with the farm boy from Wyoming changing into an prompt celeb.
Simply as he changed into easing support into his old existence, he changed into the controversy of the nation again when a harrowing snowmobiling outing left him with frostbite so severe it label him a toe and all feeling in his ft. From there adopted a motorcycle accident, an inconceivable comeback to make a choice bronze in 2004, a airplane break, weighing in topless at 474 pounds on “The Greatest Loser” truth show camouflage and losing tens of millions after getting taken in a trusty property scam.
All that and more are chronicled in “RULON,” a documentary coming soon on the Olympic Channel.
Adam Irving, the director, mentioned he changed into 18 at the time of the 2000 Olympics and unfamiliar with Gardner’s fable unless he changed into approached about making the film.
“I needed to have a examine up ‘Rulon Gardner,’” Irving mentioned. “Within 10 seconds of reading his Wikipedia page, I knew that it could presumably be laborious to debris up the film on memoir of his existence fable has so many dramatic moments you couldn’t create that stuff up.”
Karelin is in comparison with fictional superhuman Russian boxer Ivan Drago from “Rocky IV.” Ahead of meeting Gardner, the wrestler identified as the “Russian Undergo” obtained 887 of 888 fits and had no longer surrendered some extent in six years or been overwhelmed in 14. His patented recede changed into the the frightful reverse body protect wherein he would throw his opponent ft first over his head.
Gardner had under no circumstances done bigger than fifth in an world competition and struggled to gain past his semifinal opponent in Sydney. The media portrayed the gold-medal match as a coronation for Karelin as he headed into retirement.
“After I walked available, yeah, I changed into worried,” Gardner mentioned two a long time later. “Did I judge in myself? Yeah. Did I suspect I could maybe presumably beat him? No. Did I truly have a gamble? 100 p.c.”
The film captures the rapture of Gardner beating the field’s most interesting wrestler, but this isn’t valid an underdog fable. Not in all probability Olympic glory defines Gardner, but so make the shut to-death experiences and totally different miserable events that come his capability.
Gardner is the narrator, with comments from his broken-down coach and journalists who lined his fable. About a of the archived video, in particular photographs of the therapy for his frostbite, had under no circumstances been shown earlier than.
The opening shots have Gardner carrying a calf and knocking around an honest friend’s dairy farm shut to Logan, Utah. Gardner’s family no longer has the Wyoming dairy farm the build he grew up.
For the youngest of Reed and Virginia Gardner’s 9 youth, childhood changed into all about laborious work and chores. Amongst classmates he changed into an object of ridicule for being chubby and having a studying incapacity that build him at a fifth-grade reading stage when he graduated from excessive college. He had a contentious relationship along with his dad. His mother changed into a buffer between the 2 and a lasting source of cherish and beef up.
Wrestling supplied destroy out from the grind of farm existence, yet he did no longer create his excessive college’s varsity team unless his senior year. He left the University of Nebraska with a laborious-earned diploma in bodily education and started competing internationally in 1996.
The “Miracle on the Mat” changed into him into an American hero. He made the rounds on the controversy-show camouflage circuit, rubbed elbows with A-listers and accrued gigantic sums of cash thanks to endorsement deals.
Abominable luck and rotten resolution-making ensued, under no circumstances greater than in 2002 when he received separated from his snowmobiling occasion within the Wyoming desolate tract. He rode aimlessly as darkness fell, ended up in a shallow river and trudged by means of snow to a stand of bushes. Moist and without a blankets or meals, he spent the evening in sub-zero temperatures. Searchers found him the subsequent morning.
Probably his lowest point came when he filed for financial bother in 2012. A deal to make a scorching springs went rotten and Gardner changed into stuck owing nearly $3 million. He needed to promote his gold and bronze medals, which he has since recouped, and auctioned off totally different memorabilia.
No longer addressed within the documentary had been Gardner’s Mormon religion and his four failed marriages.
“Those are more or less private,” Gardner mentioned. “There are some belongings you don’t raise up.”
His lifelong warfare along with his weight changed into no longer off limits. Genuinely, or no longer it is an underlying theme, and a scene of him in his kitchen talking to his runt dogs is in particular though-provoking. He wouldn’t characterize his weight all by means of a up-to-the-minute interview, but the math indicates he’s over 400.
He mentioned he’s lost 30 pounds within the final month, thanks to working with a coach and reducing refined sugars and processed meals from his weight reduction map. He has mentioned his purpose is to gain support shut to his wrestling weight of 265.
“I truly have effectively over 150 pounds more to lose,” he mentioned.
Gardner bought scientific instruments earlier than becoming a member of an insurance agency in Payson, Utah, two years within the past. About the same time he changed into hired as head wrestling coach at Herriman (Utah) High Faculty.
It strikes him a runt droll, as a minimal he is long past by means of, that he is happily settled into an insurance career.
“It be all about mitigating possibility, making better decisions,” he mentioned. “Of us question me, ‘What make you learn about safety?’ I’m adore, ‘Let me characterize you some stories.’”
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