His name was Dave Schultz. In the world of wrestling, “Schultz” is synonymous with excellence. For years the club bearing his name supported some of the greatest wrestlers in America, from Kurt Angle (1996 Olympic Gold Medalist) to Brandon Slay (2000 Olympic Gold Medalist). The Dave Schultz Invitational brings together the toughest and most skilled wrestlers into a single tournament that is as grueling and difficult to win as it is prestigious. The man who inspired the club and the tournament was already a living legend by the time he had won the Olympic gold medal in 1984.
Now, 20 years after Schultz’s death, director Bennett Miller (who also helmed “Moneyball” and “Capote”) has brought together a star-studded cast to breathe life into the story of Dave Schultz and his younger brother Mark, who also won a gold medal at the 1984 Olympics. Based on Mark’s autobiography, the film tells the story of the most accomplished wrestling brother pair in history and how one of the richest men in America, John du Pont, cut short the life of a man the wrestling community celebrated as much for his sportsmanship and good will as his mountaintop achievements.
The story behind Dave Schultz’s death, and the Foxcatcher training center where Schultz coached at the time of his murder, is one of the most bizarre in sports history. It includes standout talents (Dave and Mark), a benefactor turned villain (John du Pont) and obsession (from mental illness to Olympic glory). Whether the film can capture the heart and emotion behind each of the main characters in the story remains to be seen, but if the movie is half as good as the trailer above, the wrestling community will likely be happy — and movie watchers thrilled.
**Note: For wrestlers young and old who have never had the benefit of taking pointers from Dave Schultz on one of the most grueling sports man ever created, check out this five-part series on YouTube where Dave put on a clinic at UPenn, only about a month before his death. The audio is terrible, but if you can stomach it, you’ll walk away with some of the moves, defenses and approaches to the sport that led the Schultz brothers to wrestling glory.**
A former college wrestler, Taekwondo black-belt, and wannabe boxer, Paul Navarro (aka Fight Like Sugar) is now a full-time lawyer, part-time fight scribe, and high school wrestling coach.