The Gre­co-Roman wrestler glo­ri­fied Rus­sia on the mat, win­ning hun­dreds of spec­tac­u­lar vic­to­ries.

Alexan­der Kare­lin began train­ing in Gre­co-Roman wrestling at the age of 13 — then his height was 178 cm, weight 78 kg. He trained in his native Novosi­birsk — in a sec­tion at the Elec­tri­cal Engi­neer­ing Insti­tute. Karelin’s first coach, Vik­tor Kuznetsov, became his only men­tor for his entire sports life.

Young Karelin

Triumph in sports and Olympic victories

In 1988, despite a con­cus­sion and high tem­per­a­ture, Kare­lin became the USSR cham­pi­on for the first time. He defeat­ed the leader of the USSR nation­al team, two-time world cham­pi­on Igor Ros­torot­sky.

Kare­lin achieved incred­i­ble suc­cess in Gre­co-Roman wrestling:

  • 3‑time Olympic cham­pi­on
  • 9‑time world cham­pi­on
  • 12-time Euro­pean cham­pi­on
  • 13-time Russ­ian cham­pi­on

At the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, Kare­lin defeat­ed Matt Ghaf­fari in the final — after the defeat, the Amer­i­can cried. Not every­one knew, but Kare­lin went to the Olympics with­out ful­ly recov­er­ing from a torn pec­toralis major mus­cle. He received this injury in March 1996 at the Euro­pean Cham­pi­onships in a fight with Dmit­ry Debelko.

Fight with a Japanese wrestler and career as a deputy

Dur­ing his wrestling career, Kare­lin won more than 800 vic­to­ries. He even fought with Japan­ese wrestler Aki­ra Mae­da — under mixed rules. It is believed that Kare­lin won with­out a sin­gle blow, and the leg­endary vic­to­ry is sur­round­ed by myths.

Many com­pare the fight between Kare­lin and Mae­da with mixed mar­tial arts, which were pop­u­lar­ized lat­er. But Kare­lin him­self does not rec­og­nize MMA as a sport and is indig­nant that there you can fin­ish off your oppo­nent on the ground.

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After fin­ish­ing his career, Kare­lin became a deputy. He left an incred­i­ble mark on the sport — to this day, Alexan­der is con­sid­ered one of the best wrestlers in his­to­ry. And the exam­ple of a Russ­ian hero — strong, restrained and well-man­nered.

Just think about it, Kare­lin has foot size 51! At the begin­ning of his career, he trad­ed wrestling shoes of his size from rivals from oth­er coun­tries. And I got my first pair when I joined the nation­al team — and that was only the third time.