This time of year will always hold a special place in Kurt Angle’s heart.
So is a trip to the Hawkeye State, which is something Angle was hoping to work toward earlier this year.
The former Olympic gold medalist had hoped to make it to Iowa City in hopes of making one more run at greatness in London. The ultimate goal for the 43-year-old was to achieve the same dream this week he had accomplished in Atlanta in 1996.
Even an athlete as great as Angle, however, admits that Father Time sometimes is even too great an opponent to overcome.
“I trained as hard as I could, but my body wasn’t same at 43 as it was at 25,” Angle said. “I made the attempt, I lost 30 pounds and made the weight, but I think age was really the thing. My body just wouldn’t quite hold up.”
Angle hopes one day to become an Olympic wrestling commentator. For now, Angle’s day job will bring him to wrestling-crazy Iowa as one of the top professional wrestlers in the world will be part of Total Non-Stop Action (TNA) Impact Wrestling’s first ever live show event at the Bridge View Center in Ottumwa.
For Angle, next Saturday night’s 7:30 p.m. card will be the second consecutive night competing in Iowa, the home of one of the biggest state wrestling tournaments in the country and the legendary multi-time national champion Iowa Hawkeyes. It’s that kind of rich wrestling history that makes next weekend’s trip so special for Angle.
“I love going to Iowa. Being an amateur wrestler, it’s such a popular sport there,” Angle said on Thursday from the TNA ‘Impact Zone,’ the home arena in Orlando, Fla. of the organizations weekly Spike TV telecasts. “I had a lot of chances to compete in Iowa as an amateur. The passion for wrestling there is unbelievable.”
Angle’s place on TNA’s first-ever Ottumwa card means local fans will get the chance not only to see one of the great all-time amateurs, but one of professional wrestling all-time greats. After winning the 100-kilogram gold at the Atlanta Olympics, Angle pursued a career in the ‘squared circle.’
It didn’t take long for Angle to become one of the biggest wrestling stars in the world. The Pittsburgh native debuted in World Wrestling Entertainment in 1999 and won his first world title with the biggest wrestling company in the world less then two years later.
Angle won a total of 11 titles, including six world titles, in seven years with the WWE and was named the wrestler of the decade by Pro Wrestling Illustrated. Since joining TNA Impact wrestling in 2006, Angle has won five more world titles and has continued to draw an incredible reaction from a man that competed on some of the biggest stages of the business in some of the greatest all-time matches.
But even after almost two decades of competing in the ring, events like Saturday’s first-ever card in Ottumwa are exciting for Angle to be a part of.
“It’s like treading into new water. I want to see how well we’ll do there,” Angle said of the TNA’s trip to Ottumwa next Saturday. “We hope to see a lot of TNA wrestling fans out there. We have an amazing roster with so many great stars.”
Stars like Angle and Jeff Hardy who have been world champion and major stars in the WWE have helped TNA, which started up just 10 years ago, help bring in mainstream fans to live event shows like next Saturday’s. Angle is also quick to point out that the young company has plenty of ‘home-grown’ talent that look to shine next weekend.
“Guys like James Storm, A.J. Styles and Bobby Roode are also guys that I think have a great future and can put on great matches for the fans,” Angle said. “We put on a tremendous show right now. It puts on a lot of charisma and you get the chance to bring your kids and get the chance to take photos.”
That’s one thing that Angle points out makes events like TNA Impact’s so unique. Unlike the WWE, several fans that attend TNA events are brought backstage before, during and after shows to meet the performers.
“It’s really cool. I never did it before I came here. It shows you how great the fans are,” Angle said. “I’m not used to see them and get a chance to let them tell you how much they appreciate your effort.”
And with next weekend’s appearances in Iowa, Angle hopes to continue meeting the young men and women around the country that hope to have success on the mat.
“You get a lot of kids that come up and are proud to come up and say they’re an amateur wrestler. You’re seeing a lot of growth in that through things like MMA,” Angle said. “It’s a great chance to meet a lot of kids and parents who are so passionate about this sport.”
This time of year will always hold a special place in Kurt Angle’s heart.
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