Kurt Angle was born on Dec. 9, 1968. He was involved in amateur wrestling in both high school and college and even went on to win a gold medal in the 1996 Olympics “with a freakin’ broken neck.” Before that though, he was a stand out wrestler in high school and college. In high school, Kurt went undefeated on his freshmen wrestling team and qualified for the state tournament in his sophomore year where he placed third. In college, he was a two-time National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I champion, national runner-up in 1991, and a 3-time NCAA Division I All-American. After graduating from college, Kurt continued to wrestle and in 1995, he won the gold medal in the World Championships for freestyle wrestling and on the heels of that victory, he began training for the 1996 Summer Olympics. He trained from eight to ten hours a day for the event. The man he was training under, Dave Schultz was murdered by John Eleuthère du Pont, the sponsor of Schultz's team of Olympic hopefuls.
Angle also suffered another setback while taking part in the trials for the Olympics. He suffered a severe neck injury, fracturing two of his cervical vertebrae and herniated two discs, along with pulling four muscles. Nonetheless, Angle won the trials and spent the remainder of the time prior to the Olympics, rehabilitating. He went on to win gold in the Men’s’ Freestyle 100kg division by an official’s decision. His opponent from Iran, Abbas Jadidi, protested the decision.
In October of that same year, after turning down a contract with the WWE, he was convinced to attend an ECW taping by Shane Douglas. During the show, the Sandman was lashed to a cross with barbed wire in a crucifixion angle and Angle stormed out of the arena and threatened to sue the company if they showed him at the match on television in the same broadcast as the match. He was afraid that the controversial imagery would ruin future job prospects. In October of 1998, he signed a five year contract with the WWE. In 1999, he made his official debut on the Survivor Series, nearly a year after he signed with the company. That was a very good year for Angle. In his rookie year he won he won the King of the Ring Tournament, the Intercontinental Title, the European Title and the WWE Championship by beating the Rock.
During the WCW Invasion angle, Kurt was on the WWE side and defeated Stone Cold Steve Austin for the WWE title. After losing the title back to Austin, Angle joined WCW and when WCW folded, Angle was back with the WWE and said that he was a double agent for the WWE during the Invasion angle. He later went on to Smackdown and feuded with Edge and lost a hair vs. hair match. In 2004, he began a feud with Eddie Guerrero until he was again troubled with neck injuries and had to take some time off from action. He became the General Manager of Smackdown until he was ready to return to action. He continued his feud with Guerrero. After that, he was in a feud with Shawn Michaels and they had a classic bout at Wrestlemania in 2005.
In 2006, he was released by the WWE and admitted to having an addiction to the painkiller Vicodin ever since breaking his neck in 1996. He was supposed to take some time off and it was thought that he would return to the WWE but immediately joined TNA where he once again enjoyed main event status. He has held numerous titles with TNA including the IWGP title out of Japan. Kurt Angle has defied all of the odds and his wrestling career probably should have ended with the broken neck before the 1996 Olympics. However, it didn’t and is still enjoying a lucrative professional wrestling career. Pound for pound one of the best in the game today? Oh, it’s true. It’s damn true.
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