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YouTube Gold: Rulon Gardner’s Massive Upset Of Aleksandr Karelin

One of the epic sports triumphs of the 20th century

Titan Games 2003
SAN JOSE, CA - FEBRUARY 15: Rulon Gardner of the United States (blue) wrestles Georgi Tsurtsumia of Kazakhstan (red) during the freestyle wrestling event of the Titan Games on February 15, 2003 at the San Jose Event Center in San Jose, California.
Photo by David Madison/Getty Images

Rulon Gardner’s 2000 Olympic victory over heavyweight Aleksandr Karelin was one of the greatest upsets in sports history.

We don't follow all that closely, but Karelin is probably still the greatest wrestler of all time. He was a three-time gold medalist and kind of terrifying.

This is a guy who reportedly trained by running up and down the stairs of his apartment building - carrying his refrigerator.

No one took Karelin out. No one.

Until Gardner.

A native of Wyoming, Gardner grew up on a dairy farm and did physical labor his entire life, which comes in handy when you’re up against a guy who trains with refrigerators.

No one gave him a chance. But he more than held his own against the greatest wrestler of all time, who later said he just really could never get a grip on the massive Gardner.

His life since the Tokyo Games hasn’t all been great. He got lost on a snowmobile trip and fell into the Salt River. He nearly died and lost a toe to frostbite. He’s had some significant financial setbacks.

Still, if anyone ever had one shining moment, if you will, it was Gardner. Watch the end of this clip as about five guys try to dogpile him.

They can’t bring him down, anymore than Karelin could.

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