Dave Schultz (wrestling)

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This article is about the amateur and Olympic wrestler. For other people named Dave Schultz see David Schultz
Dave Schultz
Born (1959-06-06)June 6, 1959
Palo Alto, California, U.S.
Died January 26, 1996(1996-01-26) (aged 36)
Newtown Square, Pennsylvania, U.S.
High school Palo Alto High School
State championships 1 (California)
College Oklahoma State University
University of Oklahoma
NCAA championships 1

David Leslie "Dave" Schultz (June 6, 1959 – January 26, 1996) was an American Olympic and world champion freestyle wrestler, a seven-time World and Olympic medalist. He coached individuals and teams at the college level and also privately. He was shot and killed by John Eleuthère du Pont, a millionaire philanthropist who sponsored the private Foxcatcher wrestling team at an amateur sports center known as Foxcatcher Farm he set up on his estate in Pennsylvania.

Dave and his brother Mark Schultz, also a wrestler, were noted for both winning gold at the same Olympics (1984). The Schultzes were the only brothers to win both World and Olympic championships. The Schultz brothers won more NCAA, U.S. Open, World, and Olympic titles than any American brother combination in history.

Early life[edit]

David Leslie Schultz was born in Palo Alto, California, to Dorothy Jean St. Germain (née Rich)[1] and Phillip Gary Schultz. He was the brother of Mark Schultz, and two half-siblings – Michael and Seana. Schultz was of half Ukrainian Jewish and half British descent.[2] His paternal grandparents were Estelle (Bernstein), a prominent paper company executive, and Maxwell L. Schultz, a business consultant.[2] He said in a video that he was a Christian by faith.[3]

As a young child, Dave was chubby (nicknamed "Pudge"), and was often bullied at school by classmates for his weight and appearance. He also suffered from dyslexia, which many of his teachers mistook for mental disabilities.

Schultz began wrestling in junior high school at David Starr Jordan Middle School in Palo Alto.[4] In 1977 as a senior at Palo Alto High School, he became state champion. That year he also won both his first national and international wrestling titles. As a high school senior he pinned 2-time NCAA champion and NCAA "Outstanding Wrestler" Chuck Yagla at the Great Plains Championships. His brother Mark started competing in sports in gymnastics, winning the Northern California All-Around Gymnastics Championships in his age group. In his junior year he switched to wrestling, and in his senior year won state.

Wrestling career[edit]

Schultz's high school wrestling records qualified him to compete on his first U.S. international team in the Tbilisi Tournament in Soviet Georgia, considered by many in the wrestling community as the "toughest tournament in the world." Schultz earned a silver medal and was the highest-placing American at the tournament. Due to the timing of Tbilisi, Schultz failed to qualify for the California State Championships, but his coach Ed Hart successfully petitioned the state coaches association to allow him to compete. Wrestling two weight classes above his normal division, Schultz pinned all his opponents in the state championships but the last, whom he defeated 12-1 in the final match. Later that year he won his first national title by winning the U.S. National Open Greco-Roman Championships and won the award for most falls in the least amount of time. Schultz's senior year is considered by most experts as the most successful senior year in U.S. high school wrestling history.

In college, Schultz was a three-time NCAA All-American, first at Oklahoma State University and then twice at the University of Oklahoma. In 1982, he was the 167-pound weight class NCAA Champion defeating Mike Sheets from Oklahoma State University in the finals by criteria tie-breaker in overtime. His career collegiate record was 91-8 (30-4) at Oklahoma State University, (61-4) at University of Oklahoma.

Dave Schultz won 10 Senior National titles (eight in Freestyle and two in Greco-Roman) over a 19-year span, at three weight divisions: 149.9 lb, 163 lb and 180.5 lb. In international competition, Schultz won a 1983 World Championship and a 1984 Olympic gold medal, competing with the United States team. He won four World Cup and two Pan American Games titles, and is the only American ever to twice win the prestigious tournament in Tbilisi, Georgia. In all, he was a seven-time World and Olympic medalist. Together, Dave and his brother Mark Schultz, along with the Banach brothers, were the first American brothers to each win gold medals in the same Olympics, and likewise the only American brothers to win both World and Olympic championships.

At various times, Schultz also served as an assistant coach at the University of Oklahoma, Stanford University, and the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Among many other top U.S. wrestlers, Schultz trained 1996 Olympic Gold Medalist Kurt Angle, who later became a renowned professional wrestler. In the 1990s, he worked as a coach for John Eleuthère du Pont's "Team Foxcatcher", who trained at a complex built on the duPont family farm in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania. Schultz would later suffer his fate there in 1996, murdered by a mentally-ill John du Pont.


Schultz trained at the Foxcatcher center while preparing for another Olympic bid, as well as coaching the wrestling team. On January 26, 1996, he was shot and killed by John Eleuthère du Pont, the owner of the center. Du Pont had exhibited bizarre and threatening behavior for an extended period preceding the murder.

Schultz was age 36 at the time of his death. His body was cremated. Schultz's surviving family included his wife Nancy, his son Alexander, his daughter Danielle, his siblings, and both parents.[5]

At the trial, neither the prosecution nor the defense suggested a motive for the crime. A jury rejected du Pont's plea of not guilty by reason of insanity; he was convicted as guilty and mentally ill. Du Pont was sentenced by Judge Patricia Jenkins to 13–30 years incarceration and died in prison on December 9, 2010. Schultz's father Philip told The New York Times that "the fact that he's officially gone is almost a moot point. I did forgive the man for what he did. I never forgave the act."[6]

The story of the events leading to his death are portrayed in the 2014 film Foxcatcher, with Dave being portrayed by Mark Ruffalo.


After Schultz's murder, 20 former Foxcatcher athletes were left without training or coaching resources six months before the 1996 Olympic Games. Schultz's widow founded the Dave Schultz Wrestling Club in March 1996 to sponsor the stranded wrestlers through the Olympics. The Club succeeded beyond the initial goal. It continued to train athletes in both men's and women's freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling until it closed in 2005.[7] Among the wrestlers who competed under Dave Schultz WC sponsorship were Olympic gold medalists Kurt Angle (100 kg/220 lbs Men's Freestyle, 1996) and Brandon Slay (76 kg/167.5 lbs Men's Freestyle, 2000), Olympic bronze medalist Patricia Miranda (48 kg/105.5 lbs Women's Freestyle, 2004), and World Champion Stephen Neal (130 kg/286 lbs. Men's Freestyle, 1999).[7]

Representation in other media[edit]

  • The 2014 film Foxcatcher, directed by Bennett Miller, with Mark Ruffalo playing Schultz, Steve Carell as du Pont and Channing Tatum as Mark, is based on Mark Schultz's relationship with du Pont.[8] For his portrayal of Dave, Ruffalo was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.[9]
  • Dave's brother Mark Schultz wrote a non-fiction book, Foxcatcher: The True Story of My Brother's Murder, John du Pont's Madness, and the Quest for Olympic Gold (2014).
  • The story of John du Pont, David Schultz, and Team Foxcatcher is documented in The Prince of Pennsylvania, a documentary film directed by Jesse Vile for ESPN's 30 for 30 series.

Athletic achievements[edit]

  • 1982 NCAA Division I Champion, 167 lb class
  • 1983 Senior Freestyle world champion, 163 lb
  • 1984 Olympic gold medalist, 163.1 lb
  • 1986 Goodwill Games gold medalist
  • 1994 Goodwill Games silver medalist
  • Seven-time USA Senior Freestyle champion (1984, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1993, 1994, 1995; all except 1988 (180.5 lb) at 163 lb)
  • Five-time World Cup champion (1980, 1982, 1985, 1994, 1995)
  • Two-time Pan American Games champion (1977 (Greco-Roman), 1987(Freestyle))
  • Three-time AAU National Champion (1977 GR, 1981 FS, 1982 GR)
  • Three-time NCAA Division I all-American (1978, 1981, 1982)
  • Two-Time Tbilisi Champion (1984, 1991)
  • Two-time Olympic Festival Champion (1985, 1987)
  • Two-time Sunkist International Champion (1989, 1990)
  • Three-time DeGlane Challenge Champion (1983, 1990, 1991)
  • Three-time World silver medalist, 163 lb (1985, 1987, 1993)
  • Two-time World Bronze medalist (1982, 1986)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "DAVID SCHULTZ". californiabirthindex.org. Retrieved 27 March 2015. 
  2. ^ a b http://www.amazon.com/Mark-Schultz/e/B00ONIRNM8
  3. ^ http://beardrevue.tumblr.com/post/394787540/dave-schultz
  4. ^ Garcia, Edwin; Wykes, S.L. (8 September 2014). "The Foxcatcher murder: The true story". San Jose Mercury News. Retrieved 27 March 2015. 
  5. ^ "Tribute to David Schultz". Washington Post News. 1996. Retrieved 27 March 2015. 
  6. ^ Longman, Jeré (December 9, 2010). "John E. duPont, Heir Who Killed an Olympian, Dies at 72". The New York Times. 
  7. ^ a b Abbott, Gary. "RIP Dave Schultz Wrestling Club". Retrieved 8 December 2010. 
  8. ^ "The Story Behind Foxcatcher: The Real-Life Murder of Dave Schultz". People Magazine. Time Inc. 14 November 2014. Retrieved 27 March 2015. 
  9. ^ Chai, Barbara (15 January 2015). "Oscar Nominee Mark Ruffalo: ‘Channing Should Be Here in My Place’". The Washington Street Journal. Retrieved 27 March 2015. 

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