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#1 StanDziedzic

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Posted 28 June 2011 - 07:25 AM

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."

#2 HurricaneWrestling

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Posted 29 June 2011 - 02:16 AM

LOL! Excellent story - kudos to you and your teammates, sir.
.

#3 MorrisJohnson

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Posted 16 July 2011 - 06:11 PM

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. :)

#4 StanDziedzic

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Posted 17 July 2011 - 02:31 AM

Morris,
Your story is a great one and I for one enjoyed it. Your description of Ivan Yarygin and his response to your dilemma is descriptive and more importantly instructive. It captures some of the values or benefits of cultural exchanges.
It is unfortunate the Tbilisi tournament no longer exists. It was an arena where the fans scored the match better than the officials and mostly held them to account. Sort of like the current international protest procedure without the big screen!

#5 Ray_Brinzer

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Posted 17 July 2011 - 05:32 AM

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 unfortuant 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 16 when we let some Yugoslav guys into our room in Austria to trade; our room was then burgled during competition. I was with a friend when he got taken on a money-changing scam in Bulgaria, too... picked up a nice little slight-of-hand trick from it. You learn a lot from travel. Overall those were cheap lessons, given how useful it is to be able to recognize questionable situations.

#6 StanDziedzic

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Posted 18 July 2011 - 01:12 AM

Ray,
You slight-of-hand story reminds me of an incident in the 80s in Bucharest.
I was coach of a team comprised mostly of our most promising young talent--Sherrs, Metzger, Capone, Davis--as I remember. As custom had it during the days of communism and centralized exchange rates, we traded currency mostly on the streets where we received market rates.
I'd just traded some $$ for some Leu and was walking away when from the corner of my eye I saw someone speed past and tackle the guy I just trade w. It was Pete Capone. Pete looked up @ me and said: "check your money," as the guy quivered and shielded himself thinking Pete was going to pummel him. I looked and sure enough in was one Leu rolled w/ a bundle of blank paper.
As the guy pleaded w/ Pete for mercy, he gave back the dollars and scampered away. A lesson learned!

#7 Ohio_Wrestling_Admin

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Posted 22 July 2011 - 01:50 AM

Love the stories guys. I have a question for you- during these Tbilisi trips, how biased was the officiating from what I assume were Russian officials? Could you get a fair shake for the most part or was it as you envision the Soviet Era mentality to be (win at all costs)?

#8 StanDziedzic

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Posted 22 July 2011 - 06:03 AM

In the early trips to the USSR, the officiating was particularly biased, more so in the duals and less so @ the Tbilisi Tournament where there was a FILA delegate to oversee the event and the fans generally respected good wrestling. What's more, the event depended on the intern'l teams returning each year.
Eventually as the Russians returned each spring for the World Cup in Toledo and 3 duals in the US, they began to understand that it was best for everyone to have as level of a playing field as possible. (Though history cautions me that a losing coach never feels the level playing field was leaning in his favor!)
Though there was one incident @ the Tbilisi Tournament that did provoke my reaction: After a local official cheated Greg Gibson and raised his Soviet opponent's hand, I instructed Greg to sit in the chair and I went out to the center-of-the-mat and defiantly sat down. As the 10 thousand or so fans began to jeer, the official--a much bigger official--approached to remove me, I'd spin and threaten to kick him and the crowd jeers grew louder. Soon the commotion caught the attention of the FILA delegate and he came onto the mat and asked what was the problem. I told him this as..ole just cheated my wrestler and I was not going to leave until it was rectified. The delegate reviewed the match, changed the call and Gibson was declared the victor.
For the remainder of the tournament occasionally I'd sense someone staring at me. As I looked, there he was, the official giving me the evil-eye. My immediate response was to give him the intern'lly recognized Italian-Elbow-Gesture, but since he was a bit bigger I thought it was best to just mosey over closer to Gibson.

#9 fadzaev2

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Posted 28 December 2011 - 07:28 AM

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. :)


Morris....I'm a huge Dave Schultz fan, and I consider Stan Dziedzic to be one of the greatest freestyle coaches the U.S. has ever had, but I have to say that I think I have the tape of the Tblisi tournament when Schultz pinned Magamedov, and I think Dave pinned him with an illegal full nelson that he disguised/covered up very well with his own body. In fact, it's evident on the tape as he walks off the mat....just his behavior and mannerisms, that that is what he did. I think I got the tape from Joe Wells, and I think we even discussed it. Stan would probably know. Actually, I'm sure I still have the tape in my library.

#10 StanDziedzic

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Posted 29 December 2011 - 07:33 AM

I don't believe I was the coach on the trip when Dave pinned Magamedov in Tbilisi. This is not to say that Dave and I didn't have philosophical discussion regarding the limits of certain maneuvers. It would be ironic, though, if Dave used a hold that extended the boundaries against a Soviet in Tbilisi, where the Russians most certainly controlled the environment. Think out-foxing the Fox!
Dave-perhaps as well as anyone-was a master at the art of pressure. On many occasions I advised Dave to be careful of the unintended consequences.

#11 quanon

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Posted 29 December 2011 - 08:11 AM

Morris....I'm a huge Dave Schultz fan, and I consider Stan Dziedzic to be one of the greatest freestyle coaches the U.S. has ever had, but I have to say that I think I have the tape of the Tblisi tournament when Schultz pinned Magamedov, and I think Dave pinned him with an illegal full nelson that he disguised/covered up very well with his own body. In fact, it's evident on the tape as he walks off the mat....just his behavior and mannerisms, that that is what he did. I think I got the tape from Joe Wells, and I think we even discussed it. Stan would probably know. Actually, I'm sure I still have the tape in my library.



Is this video posted on the internet anywhere? I'd really like to see it.

#12 fadzaev2

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Posted 29 December 2011 - 11:41 AM

I don't believe I was the coach on the trip when Dave pinned Magamedov in Tbilisi. This is not to say that Dave and I didn't have philosophical discussion regarding the limits of certain maneuvers. It would be ironic, though, if Dave used a hold that extended the boundaries against a Soviet in Tbilisi, where the Russians most certainly controlled the environment. Think out-foxing the Fox!
Dave-perhaps as well as anyone-was a master at the art of pressure. On many occasions I advised Dave to be careful of the unintended consequences.


Here ya go......this is close to the same version I have in my library.....I don't think I have the blank spot though.....I think Al Bevilaqua and Joe Wells were the coaches on this trip...I hear Al, and see Joe later......I see a full nelson, which transitions into a half, then double legs in to a fall. At the 3:30 mark on th video you can see Dave allude to the full nelson.....the fox outsmarting the fox :O).



#13 quanon

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Posted 29 December 2011 - 02:20 PM

Yes, you're right, the fall is legal, but the turn before it is not, because it is a full nelson with the legs in. Full nelsons have to be run from the side, without legs.

Unless the rules were different then?

How many times did Schultz win this tournament? I think I remember reading that he placed at Tblisi while he was still in high school.

#14 gimpeltf

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Posted 29 December 2011 - 03:18 PM

I might look at it again later but are you sure it was a full nelson and not an overhead double arm bar?

The pressure didn't seem to be on the neck bending the chin to the chest as much as getting the elbows high above the head. And it seemed in the quick look that the turn itself happened when he released his one arm.

#15 StanDziedzic

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Posted 30 December 2011 - 12:38 AM

A few things to consider or examine.
1. The thought of an illegal hold escaping notice of a cadre of Soviet referees and 12,000 thousand of the most educated [biased of course to their countryman] fans in the world--all attentively watching [it was the finals]--seems very, very remote. At the least, the Soviets would've protested the match and demanded a review.
2. Most likely, one of the 2 hands is Magamedov's, the other is Dave's. Dave often would grasp his opponents far wrist [one-on-one]and then w/ his near 1/2 nelson hand grab his opponents far wrist. This produced pressure similar to full-nelson, yet technically it was not a full nelson. This put the onus on the referees to make a determination as to the intent as opposed to the legality of the hold.

#16 quanon

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Posted 30 December 2011 - 08:07 AM

A few things to consider or examine.
1. The thought of an illegal hold escaping notice of a cadre of Soviet referees and 12,000 thousand of the most educated [biased of course to their countryman] fans in the world--all attentively watching [it was the finals]--seems very, very remote. At the least, the Soviets would've protested the match and demanded a review.





This is true, but mistakes happen. In the world finals 2 years ago, Tsargush set up a takedown against Goudarzi by pulling one of the Iranian's singlet straps over his head to the opposite side. Goudarzi just snapped the strap back over his head and into place on his way back to the center. And formal video review was possible at that time.

2. Most likely, one of the 2 hands is Magamedov's, the other is Dave's. Dave often would grasp his opponents far wrist [one-on-one]and then w/ his near 1/2 nelson hand grab his opponents far wrist. This produced pressure similar to full-nelson, yet technically it was not a full nelson. This put the onus on the referees to make a determination as to the intent as opposed to the legality of the hold.



Magomedov's arms and hands are stretched far above his head. The move occurs from 1:40 to 2:00 in the video above. It begins as a 3/4 nelson on the left side, but after Magomedov exposed his unaffected right arm, Dave forced it above Magomedov's head. It might have been legal, but it appears that Dave's hands were touching behind the neck (around 1:50). The pressure was immense.

In any case, this kind of intricate matwork has vanished from freestyle for the moment.

#17 StanDziedzic

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Posted 30 December 2011 - 08:52 AM

I've seen coaches miss chances to throw the sponge [including the example you give], but I've never seen 12,000 Tbilisi fans, the entire Soviet coaching staff and officials corp make such a mistake. All of them must have thought it was legal at the time.




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