Olympic champion wrestler Dave Schultz was known as “Pudge” in wrestling circles. He was a bit chubby in his youth. In fact, Dave’s friend Steve Holt stated in an article that Dave was a complete jerk with no well defined muscles when he was in high school. He states that Dave would often be mistaken for a scorer or a coach.

Steve first puts Dave into a weekend tournament that Steve was wrestling during his high school years. Steve states, “I noticed this fat, chubby first-year kid sitting in the bleachers watching me during every round. He was looking at me and studying me like a scientist does with a white lab rat in a maze. I think he did!” I was even taking notes!”

According to Jim Humphrey, a former Indiana University head coach, “he didn’t look like an athlete, with his sloping shoulders, shuffling walk, and pigeon toes. He wasn’t particularly fast.”

So what sets Dave “Pudge” Schultz apart from other fighters? How did he become so dominant?

Mentors Wanted

Young Dave Schultz became a fan of wrestling. He couldn’t get enough. He wanted to learn the best techniques he could and looked for ways to get extra practice time.

For example, Chris Horpel met Dave when Horpel was already an NCAA All-American wrestler for Stanford. Dave, 14, walked up from Palo Alto High and asked Horpel, 21, to wrestle him. Horpel agreed, hoping to get rid of Dave after a few sessions. To his surprise, Dave kept coming back.

according to a Sports Illustrated article titled “Brothers and Brawlers,” “Dave, dyslexic as a child, had started fighting in seventh grade on the advice of a teacher who thought it would help him build his self-confidence. He did that and more. For his high school student Freshman year at Palo Alto High, Dave was a wrestling fanatic. He wore his t-shirt under his school clothes and his wrestling shoes everywhere. He trained up to three times a day. After his training at school high school, he was riding his bike a few miles down the road so he could practice with the Stanford wrestling team, whose coach, Joe DeMeo, was taking him 30 miles north to Skyline College for a session with a club called the Peninsula Grapplers.


Dave Schultz was not a wrestling prodigy. He was dominating from the start. He took time and dedication.

Dave Schultz had dyslexia and was teased and teased by other kids. When Dave first stepped onto the wrestling mat in seventh grade, he was clumsy and uncoordinated. He didn’t even make the varsity and while fighting JV he only won half of his matches. Many kids would have given up and found a new sport or hobby, but not Dave. He was determined and within two years he was ranked the second best fighter in the world for his age group.

I’ve already noticed that Dave Schultz practiced a lot. He put in more hours on the mat than most fighters would be willing to do. He walked across campus with his wrestling shoes tied around his neck. He carried a huge copy of an illustrated wrestling guide in his backpack.

He didn’t get his driver’s license at age 16 because he didn’t want to spend time taking the class. He had a girlfriend for a short time during his senior year of high school, but he dumped her after she suggested that he should spend more time with her and less time fighting.

Focus on technique

Dave Schultz studied wrestling, analyzing techniques and breaking down each move. For Dave, wrestling was like a game of chess. He knew that he would not always be stronger than an opponent, but he could outthink him. in a Sports Illustrated The article Dave states, “Guys have certain tactics and I study them. Then I try to do what pisses them off best.”

Schultz has been universally praised for being one of the best technicians the sport of wrestling has ever had. He was considered by many to be wrestling’s greatest technician and a master strategist. His knowledge of wrestling was enormous.

Bill Scherr, 1988 Olympic gold medalist and friend states, “Dave possessed many unique qualities that gave him the drive and ability to become the best technical wrestler in the United States. First, Dave was as competitive as any athlete I’ve ever seen. ever met.” He didn’t like being beaten. He was consumed with being the best and he believed that learning more and better technique was the key to achieving that goal. Second, Dave had a tremendous mind. While we were on the National Team together, Dave got into chess and soon had us all playing. And I don’t remember him losing.”

Schultz watched videotapes of his matches and those of his competitors. He always had a notebook with him and wrote down the techniques and things he needed to work on.

He learned freestyle and Greco-Roman techniques in addition to his school wrestling even when he was in high school.

Humble and willing to learn

Dave Schultz learned Russian and other languages ​​so he could speak and learn from fighters from different nations. And, he willingly shared his technical knowledge with anyone. He was a great ambassador for the sport of wrestling. He had friends all over the world.

Two-time Olympic champion John Smith states: “He took the time to teach you techniques. He wouldn’t let you go until you understood. This is very unique in wrestling, because most athletes have their information. Dave Schultz wasn’t around here.”

Dave was willing to learn from fighters, even the seemingly less talented ones. He didn’t have a big ego. He was willing to learn a good technique from anyone. Information and knowledge were valuable to him. He was always picking everyone’s brains and asking other fighters about the moves.

Other obstacle fighters

Legendary wrestler Gene Mills, stated in a book, “I was an 88-pound ball of butter my freshman year of high school when I started wrestling in Wayne, New Jersey. Wrestling was the sport for me and I won the states in my last year”. and two NCAA championships at Syracuse University in 1979 and 1981. My father taught me my favorite move: the half nelson. on top. It worked very well for me “.

Colleges weren’t that interested in Gene even though he had been dominant in high school. Mills was small and claims he could only bench 100 pounds at the time. His former coach from Syracuse remembers Gene as a puny high school senior, and yet he took a chance on Mills, who would go on to become one of the greatest wrestlers America has ever seen.

A two-time NCAA champion, Gene set the NCAA Division I career pin record with 107 pins. That record stands to this day.

Gene was unable to wrestle in the 1980 Olympics due to the American boycott. Says Gene, “I wanted to break through to the Olympics and I knew I had to get down to 114.5 to reach my goal. It was hard for me, but I did it.”

Unfortunately, he was unable to wrestle in the Olympics, but won the prestigious Tbilisi Tournament in 1980, which was said to be more difficult than the Olympics at some point.

According to the article “Gene Mills: The Uncrowned King,” “Gene Mills accomplished what no other human has accomplished since the Russians’ renowned Tbilisi Tournament began in ’58. He had no bad grades, meaning he defeated all eight enemies by 12 or more”. more points. He pinned down seven of his victims.

HAS Sports Illustrated The article referred to Doug Blubaugh as “a stocky, haircut Olympic champion who wears thick, tortoiseshell-rimmed glasses.” In fact, some say that Doug Blubaugh was legally blind without his glasses. If you look at photos of Blubaugh, he may even seem a bit nerdy until you look closely at his body and see how muscular he was.

A fellow wrestler described Blubaugh as “intelligent, confident, kind, generous, and a Superman with Coke bottle glasses that allowed him to see the world a little differently than the rest of us.”

Doug Blubaugh was another humble and friendly man like Dave Schultz who turned out to be a great fighter and trainer. Blubaugh grew up on a farm with no electricity or running water and had poor eyesight, but it didn’t interfere with his desire to become a great fighter.

Three-time NCAA All-American Ken Chertow didn’t start out as a perfect fighter. It took time and practice for him to become so successful.

Chertow states, “When I started wrestling in high school, I quickly incorporated shadow drills into my training schedule. I was slow and chubby, so my shadow drill wasn’t very smooth, but I got steadily better every day.”

Olympic champion Kendall Cross may not have seemed all that imposing when he stepped onto the Oklahoma State campus. But after winning the 125.5-pound Olympic title in 1996, Sports Illustrated spoke with US wrestling coach Joe Seay, who had a few words to say about Cross. “He came to Oklahoma State 10 years ago as Gumby, no muscles. He became a champion.”

final thoughts

Maybe you are clumsy and uncoordinated. Maybe you are a little overweight. Maybe you are small. Maybe you are skinny. Maybe you’re not that strong. Maybe your vision is not so good. Perhaps you have had to overcome many adversities in your life. Maybe you don’t look imposing at all. But, Dave Schultz and other fighters have proven that with practice and determination it is possible to become a better fighter than you ever imagined.

Remember to seek out qualified mentors and teachers, spend plenty of time practicing, focus on perfecting your technique, be willing to listen and learn, and be humble and work hard. Then it is almost certain that you will become a successful fighter.

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