Amateur Wrestling Career
Angle started amateur wrestling at the age of seven. He attended Mt. Lebanon High School, where he won varsity letters in football and wrestling and was an All-State linebacker. He went undefeated on the freshman wrestling team at Canon-McMillan High and qualified for the state wrestling tournament his sophomore year. Angle also placed third in the state wrestling tournament as a junior and was the 1987 Pennsylvania State Wrestling Champion as a senior.
Upon graduating from high school, Angle attended the Clarion University of Pennsylvania, where he continued to wrestle at an amateur level. He was a two-time National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I champion, national runner-up in 1991, and a three-time NCAA Division I All-American. In addition, Angle was the 1987 USA Junior Freestyle champion, a two-time USA Senior Freestyle champion, and the 1988 USA International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles Junior World Freestyle champion.
After graduating from college, Angle continued to wrestle. In 1995, he won a gold medal at the FILA Wrestling World Championships in Atlanta, Georgia. Following this victory, Angle began preparing for the 1996 Summer Olympics under Dave Schultz at the Pennsylvanian Foxcatcher Club, training between eight and ten hours a day. In January 1996, not long after Angle began training at the club, Schultz was murdered by John Eleuthère du Pont, the sponsor of Schultz’s team of Olympic prospectives. As a result, Angle quit du Pont’s team, searched for new sponsors, and joined the Dave Schultz Wrestling Club in Schultz’s memory.
Angle faced further hardships while taking part in the 1996 Olympic Trials, when he suffered a severe neck injury, fracturing two of his cervical vertebrae, herniating two discs, and pulling four muscles. Nonetheless, Angle won the trials and then spent the subsequent five months resting and rehabilitating. By the Olympics, Angle was able to compete, albeit with several pain-reducing injections in his neck. In the fall of 1996, Angle stated that he temporarily became addicted to the analgesic Vicodin after injuring his neck. He won his gold medal in the heavyweight (90–100 kg; 198–220 lb) weight class despite his injury, defeating the Iranian Abbas Jadidi by officials’ decision after the competitors wrestled to an eight-minute, one-one draw. The bout saw Jadidi earn a point after two minutes and 42 seconds by turning Angle, and Angle earning a point of his own with a takedown after three minutes and four seconds. The officials’ decision was protested by Jadidi. Angle dedicated the victory to Schultz’s honor.
In April 2011, Angle revealed that he was planning a comeback to amateur wrestling for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. In April 2012, he announced he was unable to make the trials for the US team due to a knee injury, though he held an honorary title as team manager. A parody of these efforts entitled “Olympic Trials With Kurt Angle” appeared on the website Funny or Die.
In 2016, Angle was announced as an inductee into the International Sports Hall of Fame for his amateur wrestling accomplishments.