Rulon Gardner is a Greco-Roman wrestler from Afton, Wyoming. He was raised on a farm and there learned a strong work ethic. He was a standout three sport athlete in High School and went on to become a National Junior College heavyweight wrestling champion and an All American at University of Nebraska-Lincoln. In the 2000 Olympic games, he shocked the world in a match that became known as the “Miracle on the Mat.” In the Gold Medal match, he went up against Alexander Karelin from the country formerly known as the Evil Empire - Russia. Karelin had not been defeated in 13 years – YEARS! No wrestler had even scored a point against him in the last 6 years. That is an astonishing record. Well, needless to say at this point, Gardner pulled off one of the greatest upsets in Olympic history. The odds against him were probably greater than those faced by the 1980 USA Hockey team. I don’t know about all of you, but I get a pretty big kick out of any victory against the Evil Empire, even post-Glasnost and Perestroika, but an upset as grand as this one is really worthy of note. Please take a few minutes to watch the video. Go Rulon!
In 2001, Rulon added a World Championship to his Olympic Gold Medal making him the only American in history to win both titles in Greco-Roman wrestling.
Rulon has also proven to be a pretty tough guy to kill, surviving several bad mishaps including a plane crash and snowmobile accident. He came back to win Olympic Bronze in the 2004 games after those harrowing experiences.