Even after the officials' decision, required when any wrestling
match ends in a tie, there was confusion. Iranian Abbas Jadidi
tried to raise his own hand, as if to say the result was
obvious, but his huge forearm was yanked down by the referee,
who instead lifted American Kurt Angle's. Both athletes keened
in disbelief, and each circled the mat in his individual and
contrary welter of emotions. Neither knew what to think.
Well, Jadidi did, more or less: I've been robbed. But Angle was
so overwhelmed by his victory that nothing could restore his
equilibrium. He laughed, he sobbed. He fell to the mat, he cried
some more. "If I died tonight," he said, all 220 pounds of him,
"I'd be so happy it would be incredible."
Angle's opposing emotions were understandable. His triumph was
backlit by tragedy, and anything good he would do in wrestling
would always call out the ghosts. His father's, for one. But
especially Dave Schultz's. Schultz, that bearded wild man who
had been Angle's patron saint all those hard years, another
person who would never see him on a medal stand.
Angle trained under Schultz at the ill-fated Foxcatcher club in
Pennsylvania. The two had a long history. Angle could still
remember the day he first came under Schultz's charismatic
influence. "Ninth grade, in Chicago," he said, recalling some
long-ago clinic. "What I remember, he had a lot of hair and he
scared me very much."
Despite all that, Angle became a disciple, studying Schultz,
adoring him. "I can tell you everything about Dave's life that
you'd want to know," Angle said. It was easy to come under
Schultz's sway; many did. And in Schultz's career, Angle saw
possibilities for his own. Schultz had won the 1983 world
championship and then a 1984 Olympic gold medal. That level of
performance was one more thing Angle hoped to imitate.
Of course, like Angle's father, David, a crane operator who died
after a construction accident in 1985, Schultz was gone.
Eccentric multimillionaire John E. du Pont, the organizer of
Team Foxcatcher, stands accused of murdering him. All that's
left of the relationship between Angle and his idol is the Dave
Schultz Wrestling Club, a team founded by Schultz's widow,
Nancy. Angle, who could have received better financial backing
from another team, didn't hesitate to join her.
But Schultz and Angle's father were gone, and suddenly he didn't
understand life's give-and-take. After the awards ceremony Angle
put his hands over his face. It was all so very confusing for
him. "To tell you the truth," the gold medal winner said, "I
don't feel very good right now."