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StanDziedzic

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Everything posted by StanDziedzic

  1. I did nto know Rick well, but @ the final Olympic Wrestle-offs in 1976 I had a few lbs to cut and was going into the tunnel between the bldgs to run. Rick was also preparing to lose a few lbs or maybe more than a few. He introduced himself and then pulled out a bottle of whisky from his bag and offered me a swig. He said, it is much easier to cut weight if you heat up from both the inside and outside. I declined, but I remember well the battle between Don Behm and Rick for the team. Among the best matches ever!
  2. The following is a wrestling anecdote from my book: "Each winter the U.S. sent a team to Tbilisi, the capital of the Republic of Georgia, for a tournament followed by three dual meets. In exchange, the USSR National Team traveled to the United States each spring for the World Cup and a series of three dual meets here. On several occasions in the Soviet Union there were hints of restrictions. One such incident that comes to mind occurred during my second trip as a competitor. Most of our U.S. teams had at least one wrestler who was a member of Athletes in Action’s (AIA) team. The AIA is a ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ. They utilize the platform of sport to extend Christ’s message to the world. And what more fertile audience than an atheistic state whose propaganda discouraged any religious worship? More importantly, because the U.S. wrestlers were guests of the Soviet sports minister, the team was subjected to far less scrutiny than in the normally intrusive customs process. The AIA athletes knew this, of course, and used the opportunity to smuggle in a few cases of Bibles translated into Russian. On this particular trip John Peterson, an Olympic champion and AIA member, was part of our team at eighty-two kilograms while I was in the seventy-four-kilogram weight class. Following a night in Moscow, the team flew to Tbilisi on Aeroflot. The next day, after our morning practice, we returned to our hotel. Shortly afterwards two KGB agents—a euphemism for thugs—grabbed my arms and guided me to a private room. The setting was surreal. Like a scene in a spy novel, the lights glared in my face as they began to interrogate me. Meanwhile, on the desk behind them was a small black-and-white TV showing Midnight Cowboy with Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman, dubbed into Russian. It might sound more captivating if I could say that the sweat poured down my forehead and my heart raced as my emotionless interrogators glared at me. But in reality it took all of my restraint not to laugh. As the agents questioned me regarding the dispensing of Bibles, I realized they had mistaken me for John Peterson. Irritated but not afraid, I did not try to reason with the interrogators. Instead, without divulging who may have passed out the Bibles, I told them, “Check my room. I assure you, you won’t find any Bibles.” As I suspected they might, they soon released me, warning, “You will remain under scrutiny.” No kidding! That they would risk the negative international press by detaining a member of a visiting sports team, was highly improbable. So, no one was allowed into my room for the remainder of my stay in the USSR. As if I would be naive enough to trade anything in my room. We were, of course, aware that our rooms were most likely bugged. When we arrived, the first item of business was to keep Big Brother busy. It was common practice to designate someone on the team to mention to his roommate that the radio, a lamp, or, if there were one, the TV was not working. Of course we would not report it to any of the hotel employees, including the security women parked at the elevator twenty-four/seven. If a repairman responded unannounced to fix the supposedly broken item, we knew our rooms were bugged. This game was something to amuse us over dinner. This night at dinner the team had plenty of amusement. Our team leader, who had no prior experience traveling within the Soviet Union and was unaware that a few team members had smuggled in a few boxes of Bibles, was still in a state of shock. I think he may have feared the Russians would banish me to a Siberian prison camp on his watch. Of course, I could not let the opportunity pass. First thing at dinner that evening, in comments meant to be overheard by our team leader, I reminded John Peterson that he owed me since “one more cigarette burn and I was giving you up.” At that moment, we all laughed, even the team leader."
  3. I think the aphorism of "a rising tide lifts all boats" is fitting for Penn State. Cael building a competitive progam is a good thing. Penn State has for decades been somewhat insular [and under performing for the level of talent] and PA High School coaches in many cases have been a bit parochial. In their mind, the sun rises in Easton and sets in Washington. When in reality it rises in Tehran and sets in Grozny. How many world or Olympic gold medals have PSU wrestlers won? Hopefully Cael will retain more of PA's talent, develop them to their full potential, and broaden their horizon. I anxiously await PSU's 1st gold medalist. It is 40 years past due.
  4. Where to start? My first thought after hearing that John DuPont had passed away in prison was one of due justice, which quickly turned to quilt that I found some sort of comfort is someone's death. Yet some acts are just too evil to forget. DuPont--evil and feeble DuPont--shooting defenseless Dave Schultz is one of those. Now about Dave: I 1st met Dave @ the '76 pre-wrestle-off Olympic training camp @ N. Ill. Dave--the consummate student of wrestling--was a H.S. Sr. and had volunteered to wash the mats in order to watch and learn. After practice a few days into the camp, Dave mustered up enough courage to ask me, "would you go a TD or 2 w/ me." The last thing I wanted to do was go a few TDs w/ a H.S. wrestler after the punishing practice coach Baughman and Gable had just put us through. Nonetheless I obliged Dave. After we wrestled, Dave peppered me w/ questions. Like feeding a stray dog, Dave would return and ask me to wrestle regularly--which was the beginning of our bond. As US National coach--'78 to '84--I had the privilege of coaching Dave @ the '83 World C. & '84 Olympics, so I watched him develop. The '83 World Championship was Dave's 1st. Until the '83 Worlds, Dave was generally second to Lee Kemp, our 1st US wrestler to win multiple World titles. In Kiev [not a hospitable environment for an American to wrestle Magomadov URS], Dave rose to the challenge and won the title on his first attempt. Dave eventually became the most technically knowledgeable and popular worldwide of our US wrestlers. He is missed.
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