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Alexander Karelin

A Brilliant Career Ends

Finally, the impossible happened. Alexander Karelin lost a match. In one of the biggest upsets in Olympic history, American Rulon Gardner, a relative unknown, defeated Karelin 1-0 in the super-heavyweight finals at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia. In overtime, Gardner was able to wiggle free of Karelin's grasp, avoiding the dreaded reverse body lift and scoring the first point against the Russian in a decade. It was enough for the gold medal. Karelin earned silver; Russia was devastated. "Karelin lost," the country's main sports newspaper said in a front-page column. "The great and unbeatable champion, who had never stood on the second step of the medals podium, ascended to it yesterday as to a gallows."


1967 Born September 19 in Novobirsk, Siberia
1980 Takes up wrestling at age 13
1988 Wins Olympic gold medal in Seoul, South Korea; also wins European Championship
1989-91, 1993-95, 1998-99 Wins European and World Championships
1992 Wins Olympic gold medal in Barcelona, Spain; also wins European Championship
1996 Wins Olympic gold medal in Atlanta, Georgia; also wins European Championship
1997 Wins World Championship
1999 Elected to the State Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament
2000 Wins European Championship
2000 Wins Olympic silver medal in Sydney, Australia; also wins European Championship
2000 Retires from wrestling

Awards and Accomplishments

1985 Wins Espoir World Championship
1987 Wins World Cup Championship
1988 Wins European Championship
1988, 1992, 1996 Olympic gold medals
1989-91, 1993-95, 1998-99 Wins European and World Championships
1997 Wins World Championship
2000 Wins Olympic silver medal
2000 Wins European Championship
2003 One of the first 10 inductees into the new International Wrestling Hall of Fame

Alexander Karelin retired from wrestling in 2000 to devote himself full-time to his legislative responsibilities. He lives with his wife and three children in a mansion in Novobirsk, Siberia, his hometown. "Greco-Roman is an original Olympic sport," he once said. "I like the idea of being a classical man, of belonging to a classical tradition."

Additional topics

Famous Sports StarsWrestlingAlexander Karelin Biography - Siberian Childhood, A Terrifying Maneuver, A Political Career, A Brilliant Career Ends, Chronology