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You Tube Gold: Rulon Gardner

An epic moment of Olympian greatness

Former Olympic gold and bronze medal wrestler Rulon Gardner is currently training at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. Gardner, who has already won an Olympic gold medal in 2000, and a bronze in 2004, said he wants to give it one more
American wrestler Rulon Gardner
Photo By Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post via Getty Images

The most famous upset in Olympic history is probably the US hockey team beating the Soviets in Lake Placid. The second greatest though might just be Rulon Gardner’s win over Soviet and Russian legend Aleksandr Karelin.

It’s hard to explain just how great a champion Karelin was. He was seen as invulnerable. The guy trained by running up and down apartment stairs while holding a refrigerator. When Gardner beat him, he hadn’t even given up a point in six years.

He was really seen as unbeatable.

Gardner, by contrast, was seen as something of a yokel, a big kid to be sure, but hardly someone who was going to beat the greatest wrestler of all time.

Yet he did, winning 1-0. After the shocking upset, Karelin said that Gardner was just so big that he could never really get a grip on him.

This isn’t a flashy video by any means but it was, and remains, one of the biggest upsets in sports history.