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Bruce Baumgartner - Perennial Champion

Famous Sports StarsWrestlingBruce Baumgartner Biography - Collegiate Wrestler, Perennial Champion, Athletic Honors, Chronology, Awards And Accomplishments - CONTACT INFORMATION

Perennial Champion

Armed with a master's degree from Oklahoma State, in 1984 Baumgartner moved to Pennsylvania where he settled into a paid position as a wrestling coach at Edinboro University. With limited funding from USA Wrestling, the New York Athletic Club, and an athletic shoe manufacturer, he continued to train and compete. By the time the Olympics came around in Seoul, South Korea, in 1988, Baumgartner had prevailed in a second and third World Cup in 1985 and 1986 respectively. He took a bronze at the 1987 World Championship, and a silver at the World Cup in 1988. Also in 1987 he won an unprecedented eighth consecutive Midlands Championship.

Winning everything—and winning all the time—Baumgartner's unbroken string of victories at the national freestyle championship would endure from 1980-96. For good measure he won gold medals at the World Superchampionships in Tokyo in 1985, at the Goodwill Games in Moscow in 1986, and at the Pan American Games in 1987. Although he missed the gold at Seoul, he returned from his second Olympic competition with a very respectable silver medal.

Most significant in the mid 1980s was his gold medal win at the World Championships in Budapest. There, Baumgartner prevailed over the Russian David Gobedjichvili and became the first American to win a gold medal at the World Amateur Heavyweight competition. Although the tables turned at the Seoul Olympics when Baumgartner settled for silver while Gobedjichvili took the gold, Baumgartner's revenge would come at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, where he defeated Gobedjichvili for the gold. Baumgartner, in fact, at Barcelona became the first American wrestler to win medals in three Olympic competitions.

In 1993 Baumgartner entered his fourteenth year of competition since winning the national finals for the first time. That year he won a gold medal for the second time at the World Amateur Heavyweight competition. He won his fifteenth national title in 1994 and took a gold medal in the World Championships again in 1995. That year he slowed his pace to undergo surgery to his left shoulder to repair a torn rotator cuff.

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