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Champion wrestler's legacy lives on through international tournament in Colorado Springs

November 3, 2017 Updated: November 4, 2017 at 4:16 am
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Nearly 22 years after his death, Dave Schultz’s reach and influence remain as strong as ever.

Just make a visit to the tournament named in his honor, the Dave Schultz Memorial, held each year at the Olympic Training Center.

“All these years later, and people are still telling stories about Dave,” said his widow Nancy during action Friday. “Dave was great at blending with cultures and understanding each other as human beings. Dave loved going to all the different countries and play ambassador. He spoke Russian fluently. It’s great to continue that camaraderie between foreign countries and wrestling.”

In 1999, USA Wrestling and the Dave Schultz Wrestling Foundation created the tournament as a way to honor one of the legends of American wrestling and continue a legacy of welcoming the international delegation for competition and friendship.

It’s one of the longest consecutive annual international sports event held in Colorado Springs.

On Friday, three-time world champion Adeline Gray made a big return to the mat, winning her third Dave Schultz title in her first competition since competing in the 2016 Rio Games, shutting down Tamyra Mensah 8-0 in the 76 kg finals. Gray was one of six Americans to win gold medals in women’s freestyle, joined on the podium by Victoria Anthony (50 kg), Lauren Louive (59 kg), Kayla Miracle (62), Forrest Molinari (65) and Julia Salata (68).

The tournament wraps up at 3 p.m. Saturday with men’s freestyle finals.

'“Dave Schultz is our country’s hero, and he was such a unique person, a great wrestler and great friend to so many people,” said Steve Fraser, who won Olympic gold in Greco-Roman at the 1984 Los Angeles Games, and later was joined by Schultz, who won his in freestyle. “He was down to earth and a student of the game. Obviously, everyone really cherishes the fact that we have his name on this tournament.”

Schultz, who won 10 senior national titles, died Jan. 26, 1996 at the age of 36 when he was shot and killed by millionaire John du Pont, who had brought his family to du Pont estate that later became the site of Foxcatcher Farm, a top-of-the-line training facility in Newtown Square, Pa.

The Schultz story has been told twice, first in the 2014 movie Foxcatcher, then in a Netflix documentary, Team Foxcatcher, which premiered in 2016.

Looking around at the contingent of wrestlers at this weekend’s Schultz Memorial, it’s clear to see that very few, if any, ever saw Schultz wrestle live. All they have are highlights and YouTube videos.

One wrestler in particular has seen his fill of vintage Dave Schultz highlights. For good reason.

“I was around the set for the movie, and they wanted to use me as (rival) Kenny Monday,” said Ellis Coleman, a member of the U.S. Army’s World Class Athlete Program who reached the 2012 London Olympics in Greco-Roman. “I watched a lot of his matches to see how he and Kenny wrestled. I didn’t get the role, but it was awesome to be on the set. I did get to show (lead actor) Mark Ruffalo what to do. I learned who Dave was as a person and athlete, and this tournament has much more meaning to me now.”

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