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  • Bill Chastain

Foxcatcher and Wrestling Memory

Having a good book and the time to read is about as good as it gets for me. Thus, Sunday brought near perfection.

Early morning honey-dos transitioned to late morning/early afternoon reading of Foxcatcher: The True Story of My Brother’s Murder, John du Pont’s Madness, and the Quest for Olympic Gold by Mark Schultz and David Thomas. If you follow the movies like I do, you know that the film adaptation of this book will be well represented at the upcoming Academy Awards. Steve Steve is a Best Actor nomination for his depiction of du Pont and Mark Ruffalo is a Best Supporting Actor nomination for his role as Dave Schultz.

Cast and Crew of Foxcatcher at Cannes Cast and crew of “Foxcatcher” at Cannes

Wrestling — the real wrestling — is fascinating. Foxcatcher gives the reader an insider’s look into that world along with ringside seats to a madman in du Pont. Now I’m looking forward to seeing the movie, if I can find a theater that’s showing it.

Anyway, the book triggered a lot of thoughts, mostly about wrestling and some of what I’ve experienced while covering sports.

Thomas Boswell, the well-known Washington Post sports columnist, once wrote about writers “collecting string” during their careers. Meaning the longer a writer goes about his business, the bigger the ball of string of stories collected grows. Foxcatcher allowed me to sort through my personal ball of string to come up with a fond memory.

Mentioned in the book are Dan Gable, Kenny Monday and Bobby Douglas, all wrestling icons. While writing for The Tampa Tribune in August of 1991, I spent the day with all three when the U.S. freestyle wresting team prepped in Tampa for the Pan Am Games.

Monday, who was the reigning Olympic freestyle wrestling champion in the 163-pound division at the time, had created a new wrestling singlet. I referred to him as “Calvin Klein in tights, but rather than denim his creations are in Lycra.”

That proved to be a fun story, but Gable interested me most.

So after the team’s morning workout at the Brandon High School gym, Gable agreed to meet me in the afternoon at the University of Tampa’s Howell Dorm.

Work required sleep, so the fifth floor proved to be a slumber village. The masses supine on mattresses throughout the dorm made up the U.S. freestyle wrestling team. Sleep brought a brief respite before their afternoon workout. Under