Kurt Angle is one of the most famous wrestlers to hail from Pittsburgh since "living legend" Bruno Sammartino. Kurt is the only Olympic Gold Medalist to become a superstar in professional wrestling. He is the first and only 12-time World Heavy Champion to have conquered all WWE and TNA top titles and the only wrestler in history to win every individual title in his first year as a professional.
Wrestler and actor Kurt Steven Angle, born December 9, 1968, was raised in Mt. Lebanon, PA. In his autobiography, It's True! It's True, Kurt states that his amateur wrestling career began at age six. Early accolades at Mt. Lebanon High School and Clarion University of Pennsylvania were numerous. After winning the 1995 World Championship Gold Medal, Kurt started training for the 1996 Olympics under another Western PA wrestler Olympic gold medalist Dave Schultz.
A testament to his strength and endurance, Kurt Angle won a few major matches, including the 1996 Olympic Gold, on referees' decisions. According to the Mt. Lebanon Community Magazine, "Kurt is in better physical shape and is more aggressive than his opponents. They tire in the overtime, and Kurt stays on themů.that's what won him the gold."
Following his appearance on a Wheaties Box in 1996, Kurt worked as a sportscaster for Pittsburgh's FOX affiliate WPGH-TV (1997). Though not an easy decision, this led to his professional wrestling career which has featured contracts with the WWF (World Wrestling Federation, 1998-2006) and TNA (Total Nonstop Action Wrestling, 2006 to date).
A role model for kids from all over Western PA, Angle's 1999 debut with the WWF was received with mixed reactions. After two years of post-Olympic local endorsements and public speaking, it was reported that Angle himself was torn between preserving his golden-boy image and embracing a pro-wrestler's bad-boy image. (5) Finally accepting that there was no market for a "wholesome, patriotic 220-pound guy" (5), he embraced the entertainment aspect of the industry with the persona of the unlovable Olympic champion. This character, coupled with Angle's humor, became his professional claim to fame. His good-guy Olympic hero persona, to this day, is lovingly booed by audiences.
In addition to his wrestling accomplishments, Kurt's public appearances, promotions, magazine articles / covers, and acting achievements (15 genres of TV and movies; commercials) are too numerous to list. (3) According to the Pittsburgh Post Gazette following his Olympic win, "Angle has always wanted to be an actorů" (6) Full length movies expected out in 2009 and 2010 featuring Angle in lead and supporting roles indicate that he is living yet another dream.
As a tribute to the impact that Kurt has had on his profession and personal communities, he has been honored with inductions into the following Halls of Fame: National Amateur Wrestling; USA Wrestling; The Heinz Museum Western Pennsylvania; The Pennsylvania; The South Western Pennsylvania. A sampling of his amateur wrestling, public appearances, and acting achievements follows. A more complete listing, including professional accomplishments, may be found at the websites noted.
1995/1996 USA Senior Freestyle Champion
1996 Summer Olympics Gold Medal, Freestyle Wrestling (heavyweight)
1995 World Championships Gold Medal
1995 FILA World Freestyle champion
1990/1991/1992 NCAA Division 1 All-American
1990/1992 NCAA Division 1 Champion
1988 FILA Junior World Freestyle champion
1988 Clarion University Freshman of the Year
1987 USA Junior Freestyle Champion
1987 Pennsylvania State Wrestling Championship
The Conan O'Brien Show (2002)
The Tonight Show with Jay Leno (2001)
Live with Regis
Devil Dogs (2010)
Land of the Astronauts (2009)
River of Darkness (2010)
Dead of Night (2009)
End Game (2009)
The Real Angle (2009)
Spike TV TNA Wrestling Entertainment (2006-date)
WWE Wrestling (1998-2006)
- Angle, Kurt. It's True! It's True! ReganBooks: New York, 2001. ISBN 0060393270
- The Internet Movie Database. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0029875/. Accessed August 12, 2009.
- The Internet Movie Database. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0029875/filmogenre . Accessed August 12, 2009.
- Kurt Angle Website. http://www.kurtangletna.net/. Accessed August 12, 2009.
- Rouvalis, Cristina. "After the Gold Rush: Kurt Angle is about to find out if pro wrestling fans will love to hate an Olympic champion." Pittsburgh Post Gazette. Pittsburgh: November 14, 1999; G1, G12-G14.
- Shontz, Lori. "King Kurt: Angle reigns in wrestling." Pittsburgh Post Gazette. Pittsburgh: August 1, 1996; BB1-BB2.
- The Sun. http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/sport/wrestling/2564254/Kurt-Angle-Dance-machine.html. Accessed August 12, 2009.
- Walker, Richard C. "Congratulations, Kurt." Mt. Lebanon: The Community Magazine. Pittsburgh: September 1996; vol. 16, no. 7, 15.
- Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kurt_Angle. Accessed August 12, 2009.
- YouTube, LLC. Kurt Angle 1996 Olympic Match: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pQ17NKEQ69A . Accessed August 21, 2009.
Debra Ann Martin, Volunteer, Pennsylvania Department
Last Updated: August 2009