Aleksandr Karelin in 2013
|Born||19 September 1967 (age 47)
|Height||1.93 m (6 ft 4 in)|
|Weight||130 kg (290 lb)|
|Coached by||Viktor Kuznetsov|
Aleksandr Aleksandrovich Karelin (Russian: Александр Александрович Карелин; born 19 September 1967) is a Hero of the Russian Federation and retired Greco-Roman wrestler for the Soviet Union and Russia. Nicknamed the "Russian Bear", "Russian King Kong", "Alexander the Great" and "The Experiment", he is considered the greatest Greco-Roman wrestler of all time. Karelin won gold medals at the 1988, 1992 and 1996, and a silver medal in the 2000 Olympic Games. His wrestling record is 887 wins and two losses. Karelin was the national flag bearer at three consecutive Olympics: in 1988 for the Soviet Union, in 1992 for the Unified Team, and in 1996 for Russia.
Karelin was born as a 6.8 kg (15 lb) baby. He began training in 1981, under Viktor Kuznetsov, who remained his coach through his entire career. Nicknamed the "Russian Bear," "Alexander the Great" and "The Experiment", Karelin went undefeated for the first time from 1982 to 1987 and second time from 1987 to 2000. In 1985 he came to international competitions and won a junior world title. He had his first loss (0–1) at the USSR championships in 1987, to the reigning champion Igor Rastorotskii; he defeated Rastorotskii at the next USSR championships while recovering from a flu and a recent concussion. In the first four years of his international sporting career, Karelin won almost 100 international bouts, three Olympic games, three European championships, and three world championships without a single loss.
In the 1988 Olympic final Karelin was losing to Rangel Gerovski, but with 15 seconds left managed to execute his favorite Karelin Lift and won. At the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta, Karelin faced American Matt Ghaffari for the gold medal. Karelin had come off a shoulder surgery and looked vulnerable against a strong Ghaffari, who was able to repel Karelin's efforts to lift and slam him, forcing Karelin to use all of his skill and experience to defend a 1–0 lead.
After going 13 years undefeated in international competition and six years without giving up a point, he lost 0–1 to Rulon Gardner of the United States in the final of the Sydney Olympics. Karelin had previously beaten Gardner in 1997. The win was controversial at the time as it took 90 seconds to review, and is still an element of contention today since the broken-hands clinch rule had only been put in a few months earlier. According to The Slate, "Karelin’s icy gulag death stare during the medal ceremony is one of the most terrifying sights in Olympic history". Karelin retired from competitions in 2000.
Karelin was revered for his extraordinary strength and unprecedented success in international competition. He competed at the heaviest weight class of his day, 130 kg (286 lb). His conditioning and quickness combined with his dominance of the sport, led to him being known as "The Experiment". When asked why he thought he was called that, Karelin noted that others don't understand because "I train every day of my life as they have never trained a day in theirs". His coach convinced him to wrestle at the age of 13 and Karelin trained by running through thigh deep snow for 2 hours at a clip and rowing a boat on Siberian lakes until his hands bled.
Karelin was famous for his reverse body lift, the Karelin Lift, where facing the opponent who was lying flat on the mat to keep from being thrown, Karelin hoisted his opponents into the air and slammed them violently to the mat. This devastatingly effective maneuver, when properly executed, awarded Karelin 5 points per throw, the maximum awarded in Greco-Roman wrestling. The throw had long been in use by lighter wrestlers but not by heavyweights -- because of the immense strength required. Karelin's ability to perform this throw against elite opponents weighing as much as 130 kg amazed other participants and observers of the sport.
Mixed martial arts
On 21 February 1999 Aleksandr Karelin defeated Akira Maeda in a professional wrestling contest that drew a gate of $1 million. The match gained widespread media coverage, including mentions in The New York Times and Sports Illustrated. The match took place in the Maeda-owned professional wrestling organization RINGS. Though widely considered to have been a shoot style pro-wrestling contest, the match is counted as an official mixed martial arts (MMA) match in Sherdog's record database.
|Professional record breakdown|
|1 match||1 win||0 losses|
|Win||1–0||Akira Maeda||Decision (Unanimous)||Rings: Final Capture||February 21, 1999||3||5:00||Japan|
Karelin graduated from the Novosibirsk Institute of Transportation and then from Siberian Academy of Physical Culture. In 1998 he defended a PhD and in 2002 a habilitation in pedagogy. Between 1995 and 1999 he worked at the Russian customs police and retired in the rank of Colonel. Upon invitation from Vladimir Putin, in 1999 he began his political career. He joined the United Russia party and was elected to the State Duma as a representative of the Novosibirsk Oblast in 1999 and 2003. In 2007 he was elected to the Duma as a representative of the Stavropol Krai. He is a member of Duma's committee on international affairs.
Karelin is married to Olga Karelina, they have two sons, Denis and Ivan, and one daughter, Vasilisa.
Legacy and awards
Karelin was named as the greatest Greco-Roman wrestler of the 20th century by the International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles (FILA); in 2003 he became one of the first ten inductees to the FILA International Wrestling Hall of Fame. He was also included in the 25 best world athletes of the 20th century. Since 1992, an annual wrestling competition is held in Novosibirsk in his honor.
- Карелин Александр Александрович. Russian Wrestling Federation
- "Aleksandr Karelin, Wrestler, Law-maker and More". Voice of Russia. 25 March 2009.
- "Forget the Russian Bear: Meet Russian King Kong". Los Angeles Times. 24 July 1996.
- Greco-Roman wrestling. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
- "Karelin loses first-ever international match". Summer Olympics 2000 (Static.espn.go.com). 27 September 2000. Archived from the original on 21 September 2011.
- "Alexander Karelin" in The World's Five Greatest Athletes No One Knows. drjudd.ne
- In 1987 he lost to Igor Rastorotskii (1–0) and to Rulon Gardner in 2000 (1–0)
- Великий борец России. Wrest39.ru. 14 June 2013.
- Alexander Karelin: The Meanest Man in the World. Bleacherreport.com 27 December 2008.
- Badass of the Week. Alexander Karelin. Badassoftheweek.com. 25 March 2009.
- Jack McCallum (27 September 2000) Unheralded American slays Russian wrestling legend. Sports Illustrated.
- The Sporting News, Miracle on the mat – wrestler Rulon Gardner wins the gold medal in the Olympics, 9 October 2000
- "Miracle on the Mat". CNN Sports Illustrated. 27 September 2000. Archived from the original on 17 October 2000.
- Frank Lawlor (2 August 1992). "Siberian Heavyweight Gives Other Wrestlers The Chills His Monster Image Also Interests Hollywood". Philadelphia Media Network. Archived from the original on 8 February 2014.
- Edward McClelland (21 February 2014) Silver medal face: The saddest-looking second-place finishers in Olympic history. Slate.com.
- Alexander Karelin – Chronology. sports.jrank.org
- "The Biggest Winner". Joe Posnanski. Archived from the original on 8 February 2014.
- Dawidoff, Nicholas (13 May 1991) A Bruiser and a Thinker: Soviet Greco-Roman wrestler Alexander Karelin is a rare combination of massive physique and imposing intellect. Sports Illustrated
- "Aleksandr Karelin VS Akira Maeda". YouTube. 4 August 2012. Archived from the original on 8 February 2014.
- "Alexander "The Experiment" Karelin MMA Stats, Pictures, News, Videos, Biography". Sherdog. Archived from the original on 8 February 2014.
- Aleksandr Karelin. sports-reference.com
- Karelin, Alexander Alexandrovich. Karelin.ru.
Media related to Aleksandr Karelin at Wikimedia Commons
|Flagbearer for Soviet Union / Unified Team / Russia