Kristjan Palusalu

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Kristjan Palusalu
Foto ja negatiiv, ESM F 416-4-B6256.jpg
Personal information
Born March 10, 1908
Varemurru, Saulepi Parish, Lääne County, Russian Empire
Died July 17, 1987
Tallinn

Kristjan Palusalu (until 1935 Kristjan Trossmann, 10 March [O.S. 26 February] 1908 – 17 July 1987) was an Estonian heavyweight wrestler and Olympic winner. Palusalu became the first and only wrestler in Olympic history ever to win both the Greco-Roman and freestyle heavy weight events.[1]

Born in Varemurru village, Saulepi Parish, Lääne County (now Matsi village, Varbla Parish, Pärnu County), Palusalu is best remembered for winning two gold medals at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin. He was given the honor of carrying the Estonian flag to the olympic stadium. The triumph was celebrated across Estonia with Palusalu and other Estonian athletes touring the country by rail giving speeches. A third of the inhabitants of Tallinn turned out to greet him and the Estonian government granted him a farm.[2]

After the Soviet Union occupied Estonia in 1940, Palusalu was sent to hard labour in Kotlas, Russia in 1941. He tried to escape with other prisoners but was captured after a few days. He was then sentenced to death together with his fellow fugitives but was given the chance to go to the front line to fight against Finland in the Continuation War. He deserted to the Finnish side in Northern Karelia, northwest of Lake Onega. According to one Finnish soldier, Mr. Suuperko, Palusalu and his friends shouted "Finnish boys do not shoot Estonians", when they crossed the lines. Palusalu was soon recognized by a person in the Finnish army, who had sports background (Heikki Savolainen).[3]

He was imprisoned but then was allowed to return to his homeland, which was then under German occupation. After the return of the Soviet army in 1945 he was arrested again, but was later allowed to work as trainer and referee, he also participate some competition in Estonia.[4] He was not forgotten by the Estonian people. As one of the most popular sportsmen in Estonia throughout history, Kristjan Palusalu is one of the few who have become synonymous with the Estonian nation itself.[5]

Legacy[edit]

The international Kristjan Palusalu Memorial in Greco-Roman wrestling is held in Estonia from 1988.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Frucht, Richard (2005). Eastern Europe: an introduction to the people, lands, and culture, Volume 1. ABC-CLIO. p. 97. ISBN 978-1-57607-800-6. 
  2. ^ Daimar Lell, Kalle Voolaid. "Every Nation Has Her Own Olympics: The Estonian Example". la84foundation.org. Retrieved December 20, 2011. 
  3. ^ Helsingin Sanomat newspaper 13th May 2007
  4. ^ et:Kristjan Palusalu#Edaspidi
  5. ^ Kändler, Tiit; Küllike Lengi-Cooper (2002). A hundred great Estonians of the 20th century. Estonian Encyclopaedia Publishers. p. 97. ISBN 978-9985-70-103-4.