“I Didn’t Have a Choice”: Debilitated by His Broken Neck, Kurt Angle’s Last Resort Proved to Pay Off in 1996 Olympics

Published 09/20/2023, 1:00 PM EDT

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There are quite a few WWE wrestlers that have gotten their start in the Olympics. Kurt Steven Angle, one of the most respected WWE stars, happens to be one of them. He represented the United States of America in freestyle American wrestling at the 1996 Olympics. Apart from his skill in the ring, he’s also famous for winning a gold medal for America.

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He is one of the few pro wrestlers, alongside Chad Gable and Brock Lesnar, who were a part of the squad representing America at the Olympics over the years. However, not many know about the grave injury Angle had at that time. Recently he opened up about this injury, his last resort to deal with it, and how it helped him win the auspicious title.

Angle’s only shot at the gold

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The 54-year-old star was present on a recent episode of The Joe Rogan Experience podcast. There, he was talking about his Olympic career before he ventured into pro wrestling. While talking about his iconic victory which got America a gold medal, he decided to shed light on how difficult the journey was.

He said that he had suffered an injury which broke his neck. This happened during the first round of the US Olympic trials. Even though he was in excruciating pain he still played and went on to qualify at the trials. When he went to the doctor the next day for his symptoms, the news left him shocked. “He said, ‘You can’t wrestle anymore. You are done.’ I was devastated,” Angle said. According to him, there was severe damage to his vertebrae.

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The former Olympian decided to have a second opinion and went on to a different doctor. He faced the same news there. However, this time he was provided a solution as well. He was advised to have a doctor travel along with him and give him 12 injections of novocaine in his neck five minutes before each one of his matches. Although it was not supposed to heal him, it helped him bear the pain. “I didn’t have a choice it was no guarantee I was going to make the Olympic team in 2000 or 2004, this is my one time. This is my one shot,” Angle said.

But as luck was in his favor, the solution worked for him. He went on to win the medal for his country. However, his battle with his neck was not over yet.

Angle’s injury strikes again

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The face-off between Kurt Angle and Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 19 is considered an epic showdown. He was supposed to win the title that night. However, a whiplash injury made him give it up. After hitting Lesnar with a Turnbuckle, they were not able to make a proper landing. Due to this, he suffered another injury to his neck, where he fractured four of his vertebrae.

Due to this injury, he was not able to feel his arm and was in extreme pain. And so, he had to give up his title to The Beast Incarnate. Following the injury, he had to undergo surgery. But he made his comeback after a couple months at WWE Vengeance. Despite a rocky start to his career, Angle has made a pretty big name for himself in the wresting. Now, the retired pro wrestler can be seen on his newly released documentary ‘Angle’, where you can watch his story of determination and hard work.

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Do you think Angle’s sacrifice early on in his career was worth all that he has achieved so far?

Watch this story|Kurt Angle, Ronda Rousey, and many more: WWE stars who competed at the Olympics

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Written by:

Shaikh Aerajuddin

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One take at a time

Shaikh Aerajuddin is a WWE writer at EssentiallySports. With a Masters degree in Sports Science, Aeraj always carries a keen eye for detail and understands the various nuances of pro wrestling beyond the ring. Being a pro wrestling fan from his childhood, Aeraj now uses his analytical mind to tell a story in his articles for ES.
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Edited by:

Donna Eva

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