Kurt Angle Opens Up About Addiction, Olympics, Returning to WWE
Former WWE Champion and Olympic Gold Medalist Kurt Angle isn’t returning to WWE after all. At least not any time soon, according to a very candid interview with Sports Illustrated.
“I had a talk with WWE,” Kurt said in the interview. “It’s confidential. I will not be returning for the draft. Possibly in the future, most likely next year, but that is not a guarantee. It was a loose conversation but I will be in touch with Triple H [Paul Levesque] in the future.”
However, WWE wasn’t the only thing on Angle’s mind, as he recounted what it was like to win an Olympic Gold Medal in 1996.
“I really thought I won, and I immediately thought, ‘Sh–, I’m going to have to do this for four more years.’ I wasn’t going to quit until I won the gold. That was my mindset – I’m not done until I win. So when he raised his hand, the first thing I said is, ‘Sh–, four more years.’”
Angle and his opponent, Iranian wrestler Abbas Jadidi, wrestled to a 1-1 tie in a match to determine the 1996 Olympic gold medal. An Olympic official stood in between both men, holding both by their wrist, and Angle was unaware that Jadidi lifted up his own arm–which the referee instantaneously pulled back down before announcing Angle as the winner.
“His hand got dropped and my hand was raised, and I said, ‘I’m done. Thank you, Lord. I’m done,’” said Angle. “It was so fast. I was shocked, and it was like falling into depression and coming out of it in three seconds.”
With the notoriety of his Olympic win, Kurt drew attention from WWE, eventually making his debut at the Survivor Series 1999 pay-per-view. Over the course of his pro wrestling career, which spanned across several promotions including WWE, TNA and New Japan Pro Wrestling, Kurt amassed 13 world championships and 21 total championships.
Unfortunately, his career also brought a host of substance abuse problems.
“I treat the battle with addiction the same way I treated my Olympic gold medal,” he explained. “I realize I’m not going to overcome my addiction overnight, just like I knew I wasn’t going to win the gold medal overnight. It is one day at a time, which is the same way I trained. Every day I trained was important, and I treated every day like it was my last training session. Now, I treat my addiction like I treated my training.”
Kurt would go on to add, “Every day is important to stay clean–not only for me, but also for my family. If I make the wrong move, I’m dead and my kids are fatherless. That’s helped me stay clean, and I’ve been really blessed not to have any triggers. None of that has happened to me. I really believe that God gave me the work ethic and the ability to have a strong will. That doesn’t mean I can’t fall–I fell into it. I got addicted and was really messed up, but to stay out of addiction takes as much hard work as I did with the Olympics. That’s what I do–I work hard and stay clean each day.”
Here’s hoping the best for Kurt. If you want to read the full interview, head on over to SportsIllustrated.com. It’s a long read, but definitely worth it. Kurt Angle has been through a lot, and it puts many of his struggles into perspective, while also adding to the respect I already carry for the guy. Just a terrific read centered on one of the best professional wrestlers of all-time.
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