Monday, April 2, 2012

Dave Schultz

David Leslie Schultz (June 6, 1959 – January 26, 1996) was an Olympic and world champion freestyle wrestler. His high school wrestling records had qualified him to compete on his first U.S. international team in the Tblisi Tournament in Soviet Georgia, considered by many in the wrestling community as the "toughest tournament in the world." Schultz earned a silver medal and was the highest-placing American at the tournament. Due to the timing of Tblisi, Schultz failed to qualify for the California State Championships, but his coach Ed Hart successfully petitioned the state coaches association to allow him to compete. Wrestling two weight classes above his normal division, Schultz pinned all his opponents in the state championships but the last, whom he defeated 12-1 in the final match. Later that year he won his first national title by winning the U.S. National Open Greco-Roman Championships and won the award for most falls in the least amount of time. Schultz's senior year is considered by most experts as the most successful senior year in U.S. high school wrestling history.

In college Schultz was a three-time NCAA All-American, first at Oklahoma State University and then twice at the University of Oklahoma. In 1982, he was the 167-pound weight class NCAA Champion defeating Mike Sheets from Oklahoma State University in the finals by criteria tie-breaker in overtime.

Dave Schultz would go on to win 10 Senior National titles (eight in Freestyle and two in Greco-Roman) over a 19 year span, at three weight divisions: 149.9 lb, 163 lb and 180.5 lb. In international competition, Schultz won a 1983 World Championship and then a 1984 Olympic gold medal. He won four World Cup and two Pan American Games titles, and is the only American ever to win the prestigious tournament in Tbilisi, Georgia twice. In all, he was a seven-time World and Olympic medalist. Together, Dave and his brother Mark Schultz, along with the Banach brothers, were the first American brothers to each win gold medals in the same Olympics, and likewise the only American brothers to win World and Olympic Championships.

At various times, he also served as an assistant coach at the University of Oklahoma, Stanford University, and the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Schultz trained renowned professional wrestler and 1996 Olympic Gold Medalist Kurt Angle to be a wrestler.

Training for another Olympic bid and coaching the private Team Foxcatcher squad in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania, Dave Schultz was shot and killed on January 26, 1996, by the team's sponsor, John E. du Pont. A member of the Du Pont family, du Pont had exhibited bizarre and threatening behavior preceding the murder. At the trial, neither the prosecution nor the defense suggested a motivation for the crime. A jury rejected du Pont's request to be found not guilty by reason of insanity, and he was found guilty but mentally ill. Du Pont was sentenced by Judge Patricia Jenkins to 13–30 years incarceration and died in jail on December 9, 2010. Schultz's father, Philip, told the New York Times that "the fact that he's officially gone is almost a moot point. I did forgive the man for what he did. I never forgave the act."

Schultz was 36 at the time of his death. His body was cremated. Schultz's surviving family included his wife, Nancy; his son, Alexander; his daughter, Danielle; all his siblings; and both parents. In 1997, he was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame as a Distinguished Member.

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