Kurt Angle is no stranger to pain and broken bones. Throughout his career both as an amateur and professional wrestler he sustained a number of serious injures, most famously to his neck.
Speaking on a recent episode of The Kurt Angle Show, via Ad Free Shows, the Olympic Gold Medallist, opened up about his long history of neck problems. Angle initially injured his neck ahead of the Olympic trials, leaving his place in the team uncertain. However, with the use of several different treatments and pain killing injections, Angle was able to triumph.
The WWE Hall of Famer explained the process he had to go through just to be able to perform.
“You can’t do this today but back then, it was a little more giving,” Angle said. “Doctor would give you the option of possibly going for it even if you are injured. There was less liability back then.
“I never thought about quitting, everything was about what I had to do to make it back. The doctor told me I would have to take off a month of wrestling, that I couldn’t wrestle because I would do further damage to my neck. He said you could do limited weight training and conditioning but you have to stay off the mats for a good month and let your neck heal. He gave me a healing agent, non-steroidal because you can’t have steroids in the Olympics, you get tested all the time. It was a healing agent that helped tremendously, I could start feeling my fingers again. His game plan was to go to the Olympic trials with the doctor and he would stick me with 12 shots of novocaine five minutes before each match. I would do that and I couldn’t feel my neck, it actually worked.
I was worried about my neck the whole time and then when I got shot up like a racehorse, I didn’t feel it anymore so I was like okay, I can wrestle like this. It worked out tremendously but the thing is an hour after the match was over I was in excruciating pain again. It was a really difficult situation for me and I knew I was doing further damage to my neck.”
Angle continued, revealing how he had to get signed off by a doctor to say that he was fit to compete. In addition Angle said that the injections worked so well that he wouldn’t feel anything, which meant he could have easily gotten paralysed. But it was all worth it to make the most of this once in a lifetime opportunity.
“You have to get a doctor’s permission and I had to convince a doctor to clear me,” Angle said. “That’s when we came up with the game plan, to rest a little bit, get myself ready. He gave me a tester with shots of novocaine before the trials to see how I felt with it. Everything worked well and we were ready to go. The doctor flew with me to the Olympic trials and he was there every time I had to wrestle, stick the novocaine in my neck and I’m off.
“The crazy thing is I would forget my neck was broken because I couldn’t feel anything. When you can’t feel anything, you go as hard as you possibly can and I can’t thank the doctor enough for doing that to me. Warning for anybody that’s thinking of doing this, there are consequences to it. I could’ve ended up getting paralyzed, I was taking a big chance but for me, the Olympics, I wasn’t guaranteed I was going to make the next Olympic team. That’s a once in a lifetime thing, maybe twice if you’re very talented. I had to take advantage of this because I was in my prime of my career and this is the one opportunity I had and I had to make it work.”
After retiring from amateur competition, Kurt Angle signed with WWE. While the wrestling was vastly different, the neck problems continued to mount up. The former WWE Champion said that he “didn’t care” about his neck or being injured, revealing that he broke his neck a further four times.
However, he also admits that at age 52, he’s now paying a heavy price for the abuse he dished out to his body in his younger years.
“I didn’t [care about my neck] even in WWE, I broke my neck four more times,” Angle said. “All I cared about was getting back into the mix. I’m paying for it now, I’m 52 years old and I’m in a lot of pain man. My knees, my back, my shoulders, my neck. I’m paying the full price for everything I did. I don’t regret what I did, the Olympics and with the broken neck and wrestling with a broken neck in the WWE and going to TNA and everything like that. You look back and second guess, maybe I went a little too hard. Think about it, I wrestled pro and amateur for 43 years, that’s a lot of time, a lot of years.”
Speaking on an earlier episode of his podcast, Angle opened up about the difficulties that he faces day-to-day as a result of his punishing career. The WWE legend described how he’s in “extreme pain all day” and has to “work on” his body for two to three hours per day.
H/t to Wrestling Inc for the transcription.