The Olympic champion wrestler Dave Schultz was known as “Pudge” in wrestling circles. He was a little bit chubby in his younger days. In fact, Dave’s friend Steve Holt stated in an article that Dave was a complete butterball with no well-defined muscles when in high school. He claims that Dave would often be mistaken for a score keeper or a trainer.
Steve first met Dave at a weekend tournament that Steve was wrestling in during his high school years. Steve states, “I noticed this fat, pudgy freshman kid sitting in the bleachers observing me during each round. He was watching and studying me like a scientist does with a white lab rat in a maze. I believe he was even taking down notes!”
According to Jim Humphrey, former head coach at Indiana University, “He didn’t look like an athlete, with his slumped shoulders, shuffling gait, and being pigeon-toed. He wasn’t particularly fast.”
So, what set Dave “Pudge” Schultz apart from other wrestlers? How did he become so dominant?
Sought Out Mentors
The young Dave Schultz became a wrestling fanatic. He couldn’t get enough. He wanted to learn the best techniques he could and sought out ways to get in extra practice time.
For instance, Chris Horpel first met Dave when Horpel was already an NCAA All-American wrestler for Stanford. The 14-year-old Dave walked over from Palo Alto High, asking the 21-year-old Horpel to wrestle with him. Horpel agreed, hoping to get rid of Dave after a few sessions. To his surprise, Dave kept coming back.
According to a Sports Illustrated article entitled “Brothers and Brawlers,” “Dave, dyslexic as a child, had taken up wrestling in the seventh grade on the advice of a teacher who thought it would help him build self-confidence. It did that and more. By his freshman year at Palo Alto High, Dave was a wrestling fanatic. He wore his singlet under his school clothes and his wrestling shoes everywhere. He trained as many as three times a day. After his high school workout, he’d ride his bike a few miles up the road so he could practice with the Stanford wrestling team, whose coach, Joe DeMeo, would then drive him 30 miles north to Skyline College for a session with a club called the Peninsula Grapplers.”
Dave Schultz wasn’t a wrestling prodigy. He was dominant right from the beginning. It took time and dedication.
Dave Schultz had dyslexia and was teased and made fun of by other kids. When Dave first stepped on the wrestling mat in the seventh grade, he was clumsy and uncoordinated. He didn’t even make the varsity team and while wrestling JV he won only half of his matches. Many kids would have given up and found a new sport or hobby but not Dave. He was determined, and within two years was ranked the second best wrestler in the world for his age group.
I’ve already noted that Dave Schultz practiced a lot. He put in more hours …"Wrestling: How a Pudgy Kid Became an Olympic Champion"