Kurt Angle recently revealed that he tried his hand at American football prior to winning a gold medal at the 1996 Olympics.
Kurt Angle, who recently joined Conrad Thompson’s legendary podcast roster with ‘The Kurt Angle Show’, recalled a difficult time in his amateur wrestling days. Frustrated with the direction of his career, Angle decided to try out for the Pittsburgh Steelers:
“What happened was it was 1994. And, I wasn’t having really good luck making the Olympic team and the world team […] you have the Olympics every four years, and the worlds is every year. So, they have Olympic teams and world team try-outs, and the first two years, 1993 and ’94, I didn’t make the team. I was either second or third. I didn’t think, I wasn’t confident enough to beat the guy in front of me. And, I decided that I was going to quit wrestling and try out for pro football.
I had someone contact The Steelers, and they were open to have a try-out with me. And I went down there to the Three Rivers Stadium, and did all the whole display, what they do. Put me through the ringer, is basically what they did.”
Kurt was a standout football player during his high school years. An All-State line-backer, Angle was offered multiple football scholarships from colleges around the United States but instead chose to focus on amateur wrestling.
Recalling his try-out with The Steelers, Angle believes that he performed well. However, he felt the chances of making the team were always slim:
“Not many athletes have ever made a pro-team, not playing college football. I didn’t play college football. So, I knew the odds were stacked against me. And when I tried out, I did pretty well. I didn’t run a very fast forty, it was a 4-7, I think that’s what really hurt me. They decided not to, you know, go forward. So I didn’t have a choice, I decided I was going to go back to wrestling.”
Angle would return to amateur wrestling and, in 1996, captured Olympic gold with a broken neck. In a recent episode of the Grilling JR Podcast, Jim Ross revealed Angle’s intent to become a sports news presenter following his Olympic stint. However, ‘Good Ol’ JR’ convinced Kurt to pursue professional wrestling:
I said, ‘Man, obviously I’m biased, but you’re not going to make it reading TV sports. You ain’t going to make any money, unless you climb the ladder to the very top echelon can you make good money.’ I said, ‘Look at you, you’re a god damn athletic freak, you’re a walking PR man’s dream.’ So we got him there and signed him. I’ve never seen anybody, other than maybe…and I wasn’t there when he broke in because it was a different age group, but maybe Hodge, Danny Hodge and Jack Brisco…that went from the amateurs to the pro transition better than anybody until I saw Kurt Angle.”
Kurt Angle would go on to become one of the most decorated wrestlers of all time, both amateur and professional. Not only an IWGP, TNA and WWE World Champion, Angle is a part of the National Amateur, USA Wrestling, Wrestling Observer, TNA and WWE Hall of Fame.
Credit for Interview: The Kurt Angle Show