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MorrisJohnson

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  1. Wishing you a speedy and complete recovery Brother Jay the Historian! Your knowlege and clarity on the history of our sport, especially as exemplified by "The History of Collegiate Wrestling", as well as your always thoughtful postings on the forum here are an absolute treasure! No mater how many near-sighted AD's look to balance their budgets by red-lining wrestling programs, a good healthy reading or re-reading the H.O.C.W. always leaves me feeling optimistic about our sport and the indrividuals who represent the best of it. Thank you Brother Historian, for your great mind, great memory and the great work that you have contributed to us all. We can't wait for pt. II, so listen to your Medical Team, take all of the rest you require, start feeling good, and come back to us. You are in our prayers and We need you Brother.
  2. Don't have a great story to tell regarding the great (and grueling) Tbilisi tournement and tour except to second Brother Dziedzic's contention that it was the toughest and greatest US tour and tourney in the world at that time. As others have mentioned before, the reason that Tbilisi was a trip through Hades in a singlet was because of the structure of the meet- one "Soviet" pool with pretty much ALL of the best USSR wrestlers in the previous 4-6 years on one side, and an "international" pool with only one or (at max) two USSR wrestlers, along with any and all wrestlers entering from pretty much every country, including the US team members around the globe. To the best of my recollection, even if a foreign team such as the US team, entered two guys in the same weight class, they were not separated, and both wrestled in the international pool. During the year that I was on the team,(1986?) we had both Dave Schultz, Kenny Monday Eddie Urbano and John Guira all in the same bracket (!) , as well as Jim Scheer, Melvin Douglas, and Wayne Catan in the same bracket. This made for some serious grueling matches, along with the fact that the rules stipulated that only ONE USSR wrestler could be eligible for a medal, with the other medals in the weight going to the highest placing foreign competitor, regarless of actual placement. Add this to the fact that we had a dual meet with primarily Georgian wrestlers in the primative town of Gori (Stalin's birthplace) two days before the tourney and duals against Armenia in and Russia in Leningrad two and three days after the tournament, ate subsistance level meals in most towns and took about 20 plane flights/hops on notorious Aeroflot Airlines throughout the entire tour, and you can imagine what a physiological and psychological challenge it was for every member of the team! In spite of the great hospitality that the vast majority of USSR citizens greeted us with, we were repeatedly warned by our Soviet hosts and interpreters to be wary of pickpockets, muggers, con men, and bogus money traders. Some of us thought that these warnings were simply elements of psychological warfare that the Soviet's were dishing out to add to there competitive edge [although Dave Schultz wisly pointed out during a team discussion about this, "the USSR was already far and away the best team in the world at that point, why would they need to resort to trickery or "mind-games" to win when they were pretty adept at proving their dominance on the mat? Good point Brother Dave] . In spite of this wisdom, a number of us were the victims of con games (usually regarding $$ changing) or just plain robbery during the tour, typically from our own carelessness. I was an unfortunant example of ignoring the rule "Never allow any other country's individuals to enter your room if you are along in the room". My roommate, Steve Bedryszki, was out cutting weight the day prior to the first weigh-in for the tournament. As fate would have it, two Soviet wrestlers came knocking at my door looking to trade shoes, clothes, what have you. Instead of politely asking them to come back at a better time (it was about 9:00 PM) I foolishly invited the guys into our room. The guys immediately spread out to different corners of the room, making it nearly impossible to watch both guys at once. They asked about various items of clothes, bags, shoes, etc. By the time the guys left, we had only made a couple of trades (US baseball hats for Russian Fur Chopkas, and shirts for shirt deals to the best of my recollection). When they left, I couldn't shake the feeling that I had been conned, and sure enough, after an inspection of my stuff, I realized that i was missing 2 Midlands T-shirts, a pair of Asics wrestling shoes and, most importantly, a very nice watch that my wife had given me for our wedding the previous year! I was going to just blow it off, but the more I thought about it the more pissed I was (my roomie Bedryszki laughing at me for being an E-Z mark didn't help matters). :oops: The next morning I told our team translator and guide, who was very concerned and said he would look into the matter. After weigh-ins, our guide comes over to me with none other than the Soviet Head Coach, the great Ivan Yarigan! If you ever had a chance to meet Yarigan prior to his untimely and tragic death, you probably remember his fearsome scowl. It was the kind of look that could make a bull rinocerous piss down his own leg, and it was exactly the look that he had on his face as I was explaining to him what had happened the previous night. He asked me to come with him and we walked over to were the majority of the Soviet wrestlers were seated after weigh-ins. He asked me to point out the guys who were in my room. While I felt uncomfortable ratting out two guys in front of their whole team, I did recognize both guys (who were sitting kind of hunched over and trying to look as inconspicous as possible) and pointed them out to Coach Yarigan. He said he would handle it, and appologized for his wrestlers behavior. Sure enough, when I returned to my room after the end of the 1st session, my shirts, shoes and watch were sitting folded in a neat stack on my dresser, along with a box of candy and a signed note of apology from the great Yarigan himself! I have the note to this day, the candy didn't make it past midnight however. I am very sorry that the wrestlers of today no longer have the opportunity to wrestle on the Tblisi tournament and tour. It was truely one of the most spectacular wresling tournaments on the planet in it's day and, as Coach Dziedzic said, was the venue of some of the very best wrestling meets in the world, you could count on it year after year. During my trip, the highlight was watching Dave Schultz in the finals literally break the great USSR world champ Mogamedov to the point of tears as Dave pinned him with an arm-bar and half combo that made MY shoulders and neck hurt just watching Dave crank it! Great, great wrestling and one of the highlights of my career. It was, in fact, one of the main reasons that, although I was primarily a greco man, I continued to wrestle both styles until 1987, to keep my dream and desire to be selected for the Tiblisi Team alive. It was an honor and a privlege when this dream finally came true. :)
  3. Thanks Brother Keith for the clarification (and the great additional story about Sanders.) That really sounds like Rick from the many stories that Buck would tell about him, on our long van trips back in the 80's. As is the case with many an "urban legend" tale, usually some percentage of the story has been "polished up" a bit in the interest of good storytelling. I always hope that the ones that I hear are mostly true though. Adds to the "That's Incredible!" factor! Thanks again for the clarification.
  4. Brother Jay, Now that I am a couple of months away from the 1/2 century mark, I certainly could be getting some facts/details incorrect, but I am pretty sure I am repeating this story the way Buck told it to me. Of course Buck may have had some of the details wrong as well, but I take him at his word regarding the core facts. One way to get some clarity would be to see if Davis and Sanders ever wrestled in the finals of the AAU or USWF nationals when it was held in OK. Any idea if that matchup ever took place?
  5. My favorite Rick Sanders story was told to me by my 1st college coach, Buck Deadrich. Apparently Rick was wrestling in the finals of the AAU nationals, which were being held in Stillwater (I think, perhaps Edmund,OK) back in the late 60's or early 70's. Buck said that back then, Oklahoma was "the last and tightest notch in the bible belt" and people who looked like Sanders - long hair, shaggy beard, peace button on his jacket, etc, were not fully "appreciated" in OK. Anyway, Rick's opponent in the finals was the great Gene Davis, who was both an OK St. alumn as well as a clean-cut member of the tough Athletes in Action-Campus Crusade for Christ wrestling club. Clearly Gene was coming in as the fan favorite. When it was time for their match, Davis walked out into the spot-light, and the PA annoucer said something to the effect of "Now wrestling in the 114 lb final, wrestling for the Lord- Mr. Gene Davis!" while the crowd cheered long and loud. As the noise died down a bit, but before the PA annoucer could say anything else, Sanders ran out onto the mat, droped to his knees and shouted "...AND WRESTLING FOR THE DEVIL..RICK SANDERS!!!" Buck said there was a slight, stunned pause, before the crowd rained booo's down on Sanders, who promptly pinned Davis in the 1st period!
  6. Two of the most important contributors to whatever success I had in wrestling were my HS Coach-Gary Kreizenbeck @ Sacramento H.S. and Dave Schultz -Primary citizen of the wrestling universe. I went to a large inner-city, urban high school in Sacramento, CA. I had never really heard of wrestling until my middle-school baseball coach suggested that I go out for the wrestling to get in better shape for next season (for those who are innocent and unaware, getting in shape for next season is actually evil middle-school coach's secret code for carving off some of that lard, fatty:o: ). Well, after one season, I fell in love with the sport and never looked back. Since most of our guys were 1st year wrestlers, and most of our tournaments were 0-2 and bar-b-que, Coach K worried that we were getting knocked out so fast that we never had a chance to watch really good wrestlers compete, so he made a rule that we had to stay at the tourny until he said we could leave, which usually wasn't until after our weightclass finals. This was great as we got to see a lot of guys whom we would never get to observe unless we were wrestling against them. Even then it was hard to really observe someone who was headlocking you into oblivion, or blast doubling you across 2 mats! I was lucky enough to be able to watch Dave Schultz on occasion and it was truely a learning session, each and every match. Seeing how he made up for a seeming lack of strength by applying excruciating leverage to one particular joint, and never letting up on that joint until the guy either turned over or the body part turned purple and fell off! Just watching Dave taught me that one of the major aspects of the sport is to impose your will, not just on your opponent, but on the body part of your opponent that you wished to claim as your own. Even if you weren't the strongest guy in the world, you could pretty much overpower any body part of your opponent with focus, determination and a clear idea of where and why you want that part to go in a certain direction. This was a true revealation to me and introduced the concept of FOCUS into my wrestling ideology, something I never forgot. I was most impressed watching Dave at the HS state championship. That year it happened to be held in Sacramento, and coach got us in the tourney in exchange for being gofers-mopping mats, bringing coffee to the officials, etc. Dave had wrestled in Tblisi that year and missed the qualifiers for state. A committee of coaches decided that it wasn't fair for Dave to miss out on his senior year state championship, so they agreed to let him in where ever there was a hole, forfeit or bye at his weight or above. Well, the first open weight class was 167, just two weight classes over his usual weight class of 145. It goes without saying that Dave mowed through the field, with his closest match a 17-0 win over Rich Sykes :o , another hero of mine who was built like a smaller Brock Lesner. Rich went on to be a 2xAA. I learned here that when it comes to a battle between technique and muscle, technique usually wins! Fast forward 7 years or so, and I had been so very fortunate to have been able to watch Dave several dozen times over the years and even practice with him once or twice. I was a better wrestler by now, having won a Jr. World medal, made a world university team as well as US teams to Cuba, Romania and Germany. My folkstyle was getting a little stronger too, as I placed at the Midlands and had taken 2nd at the D2 nationals, with a generous portion of what I knew and used coming from those observations of and the rare but valuable private coaching sessions (in exchange for being the willing acceptee of Dave's artful meyhem). There was one story that I have shared here before, but will again at the risk of being redundant. This story took place during my senior year, while I was wrestling as a heavyweight at San Francisco State. We had a home dual meet against Stanford University, where Dave was the assistant coach. As I mentioned earlier, I was a D2 runner-up at heavyweight and ranked in the top 4 or 5 at heavyweight in AWN. I was also 2nd on the Olympic Greco ladder for the upcoming Olympic Trials that coming spring/summer. Dave had been doing ok himself, having just won his first world championship and had placed 3rd at 180.5 the previous year. I was not aware that prior to the match, Coach Chris Horpel of Stanford and Dave had gotten together with my coach and informed him that they had no heavyweight and would have to forfeit our match. Dave came up with the idea of he and I having a freestyle exhibition match that they could bill as "Battle of future Olympians" or some such. My coach agreed with the idea, but, thinking that he had a sense of humor, told Dave and Chris not to mention anything to me about it until we went out to shake hands! Coach then came over to me and said that Stanford had this great new transfer from Oregon, but he had to weigh in earlier in the afternoon because of a big final that he had to take. He was driving up with one of the assistant coaches and would definantly be there by match time, so I should stay warm and get ready for a war! Well, that got me juiced up and I went around the gym, stretching and shooting and hitting fake throws and such. I noticed Schultz in sweats, riding a stationary bike on his teams side, but I thought "thats just Schultz. He's always warming up in sweats and wrestling shoes!"By the time the 165 lber went out, there was still no Stanford beast, so I ambled back over to Coach and asked what the story was. He said they had just called in from a gas station and were about 20 min. away, so make sure I was warm he said, giving me a stern look. Finally the 190lbers were out shaking hands. I noticed that Dave had removed his sweats and was just stretching on the floor with one of his Stanford boys. I kept looking around the room, but didn't see anybody who looked like a heavyweight. The 190 match ended quickly with a fall, I stripped down, thinking that I had figured it out...I was getting a forfeit! Ha! I walked out onto the mat and here comes Dave at the same time. Odd. The PA guy was also announcing our international and national records too, which was real odd for a dual meet! What the heck? I looked back and my coach and teammates were laughing their heads off, as was the Stanford coaches and our AD. I smiled at Dave, and with only a bit of cracking in my voice said "Hey man, you wouldn't be the transfer from Oregon would you?" Dave just smiled some more and said "Lets have some fun Morris. Show these guys what freestyle is all about" :shock: . We shook hands and, as with most matches, the fear was quickly replaced by adrenalin. Dave took a quick outside single. I thought "Bad move man". I clamped down on a hard wizzer and prepared to hit him with my famous double over, hip toss. Somehow though, instead of my heel and calf catching his knee and thigh, sending him flying over my hip, Dave took a little step backwards and around to his right. The next thing I recall was my head, back and shoulders all hitting the mat at approximately the same time, with pretty remarkable force! After the ringing in my ears started to dissipate, to be replaced by the "oooohhhhs" and "aaahhhhhs" punctuated with the occasional "Oh my God!" or girlish scream. I checked my mouth to make sure that the girlish scream wasn't coming from my mouth, but it was pretty much locked shut from shock and awe! Dave hopped on top right away and I braced myself in my best gut wrench defense! I guess it was so good that Dave didn't want to even try and turn me with it, so he reached back and grabbed my left foot with his right hand. He cranked it up and over my shoulder with so much force, I really didn't feel much pain....until he crossfaced me with his left arm and drove my face from the mat to my right shoulder. I managed to open one eye and looked to my right side (Mr. Schultz didn't want me to look at my left side, and I thought it best to cooperate with his wishes from that point on. I noticed Dave's wrestling shoes and I recall thinking "Oh wow, Dave and I wear the same kind of wrestling shoes! It took a few minutes before I realized that I was looking at my own foot, planted nicely right next to my face! Well, at least I knew were to look for it after the match! Luckily for me, our AD was officiating this match as it was an exhibition. We went a few more minutes, with my AD stopping the match several times for potentially dangerous (I was wondering why he didn't do this right after the handshake! Time [FINALLY] ran out. I stayed until Daves hand was raised and started walking off the mat, looking for the nearest ice machine to crawl into!It was my 1st and only collegiate loss at my home gym, and I was too sore to even whisper the word "bummer!", much less say it out loud in front of Dave. Before I could step off the mat however, I felt this hairy, sinewy arm wrap itself around my neck and shoulders and who else but Dave Schultz was escorting me off the mat. And just like the Dave Schultz we all know and LOVE, he sat down next to me and told me I did a good job out there, and that I just need work on defending the single leg, and a better way to keep my balance on my once famous hip toss, and how he expected me to dominate at D2 nationals (I did) and the Olympic trials (took 3rd) so that he can say he had a close one against a CHAMPION, not some scrub that just fell off the onion truck! That was Dave. Who else could beat you like a rented mule and leave you feeling like you were just a move or two away? Who else could pound your head on the mat and reframe it into a small mistake that you make on your way to a potent offense? No one but Dave Schultz. We miss you man. Miss you and love you and for many many many of us, you are still just a heartbeat away.
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