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Alexander Karelin

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Title: Alexander Karelin  
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Subject: 1990s, 1967, Novosibirsk, 2000 Summer Olympics, List of Russian people, Suplex, Wrestling, Hero of the Russian Federation, Greco-Roman wrestling, Rulon Gardner
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Alexander Karelin

Aleksandr Karelin
Medal record

Aleksandr Aleksandrovich Karelin, or simply Alexander Karelin, (Russian: Александр Александрович Карелин; born September 19, 1967 in Novosibirsk, Russian SFSR) is a Hero of the Russian Federation and was a dominant Greco-Roman wrestler for the Soviet Union and Russia. Universally considered the greatest Greco-Roman wrestler of all time,[1][2] he won gold medals at the 1988, 1992 and 1996, as well as a silver in the 2000 Olympic Games.


Karelin was born as a 6.8 kg (15 lb) baby. Karelin holds a Ph.D. in Physical Education. Nicknamed the "Russian Bear," "Alexander the Great" and "The Experiment", he went undefeated in international competition from 1987 to 2000. After going 13 years undefeated in international competition and six years without giving up a point, he had an upset loss to Rulon Gardner of the United States in the gold-medal match at the Sydney Olympics.[3] Karelin had previously beaten Gardner in 1997. The win was controversial at the time as it took 90 seconds to review,[4] and is still an element of contention today since the broken-hands clinch rule had only been put in a few months earlier.

He 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) and 1.91 m (6-feet-3 1/4 inches) tall. His conditioning and quickness combined with his dominance of the sport, led to him being known as "The Experiment".[5] 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."[6] 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.[7]

On February 21, 1999 Aleksandr Karelin defeated Akira Maeda in a professional wrestling contest that drew a gate of $2.5 million. The match gained widespread media coverage, including mentions in The New York Times and Sports Illustrated.[8] 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.[9]


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 since the technique required immense strength. Karelin's ability to perform this throw against elite opponents weighing as much as 130 kg was amazing to audiences as well as other participants and observers of the sport.


Karelin officially retired from competitive wrestling in 2000[10] and 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.

Mixed martial arts record

|- | style="background:#bfd; color:black; vertical-align:middle; text-align:center; " class="table-yes2" |Win | align=center| 1-0 | Akira Maeda | Decision (Unanimous) | Rings: Final Capture | | align=center| 3 | align=center| 5:00 | Japan | |}


External links

  • Official personal web-site
  • Early article with Interview
  • Biography with additional information
Olympic Games
Preceded by
Nikolay Balboshin
Atlanta 1996 Succeeded by
Andrey Lavrov
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