This year is a very exciting one for sports fans: 2020 is an Olympic year, with the best athletes each country has to offer gathering in Tokyo this summer to measure their worth. This year’s Summer Olympics will be even more exciting, considering that the organizers have included five new Olympic sports into its roster: aside from the return of baseball and softball to the competition, the viewers will have the chance to enjoy newcomers like surfing, sports climbing, and skateboarding. And it has quite a few things for the fans of wrestling, too: 288 wrestlers from all over the world will compete in freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling at the competition.
To honour the performers of this noble sport at the 2020 Summer Olympics, let’s take a look at three professional wrestlers who have competed in the Olympics in the past.
Kurt Angle started wrestling at the age of seven, and this sport has become his passion as well as his career. As a high school senior, he won the 1987 Pennsylvania State Wrestling Championship. While in college, he was a two-time National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I champion, and a three-time NCAA Division I All-American. In 1995, he won a gold medal at the FILA Wrestling World Championships in Atlanta. Despite suffering severe injuries, Angle won the 1996 Olympic Trials, then spent five months rehabilitating. He was ultimately able to compete, winning the gold medal in the 90-100kg (198–220 lb) category, defeating the Iranian athlete Abbas Jadidi.
Angle was offered a contract by the WWF in 1986 but initially refused, considering that he would be unwilling to lose any matches on purpose. Then he reconsidered after watching the WWE’s Monday Night Raw, convinced especially by Stone Cold Steve Austin’s talent as an entertainer. He went on to win the WWE Championship, WWE’s World Heavyweight Championship, the WCW Championship, the TNA World Heavyweight Championship and the IGF’s IWGP Heavyweight Championship before retiring in April last year, currently working as a backstage producer for WWE.
Charles Betts, better known by his stage names Chad Gable, Shorty Gable, and Shorty G) was a prolific amateur wrestler during his high school years, becoming the state high school champion. He successfully competed in the 2012 Olympic Trials in the 84 kg category, competing in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London where he was ultimately eliminated by the Cuban athlete Pablo Shorey.
He signed a contract with WWE in 2013, where – with his teammate, Jason Jordan – won the NXT Tag Team Championship and the SmackDown Tag Team Championship before disbanding in 2017.
Ronda Rousey made waves during her time with the UFC, where she defended her UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion title six times. After losing her title to Holly Holm in 2015, Rousey retired from MMA. A long-time pro wrestling fan – especially of the “Four Horsewomen” – she successfully transitioned to the WWE, signing a full-time contract with the promotion in 2018.
Before UFC and WWE, Rousey was an Olympic judoka. She began practicing judo at the age of 11 (she broke her mother’s wrist at the age of 13), and at the age of 17, she became the youngest judoka to qualify for the 2004 Summer Olympics held in Athens, Greece. She lost back then but didn’t give up: she competed in the 2008 edition of the Summer Olympics hosted by China and won a bronze medal in the 70 kg category, becoming the first American ever to win an Olympic medal in history.