In the words of Salt Lake Tribune sports columnist Kurt Kragthorpe, former Olympic Greco-Roman wrestling gold medalist Rulon Gardner has spent his years after the 2000 Olympics in Sydney being Rulon Gardner. Now he’s apparently trying to prove that very experience has redeeming qualities for anyone who taps into it.
In a refreshing change, Gardner has agreed to serve as the wrestling coach at Herriman High in suburban Salt Lake City. The appointment hasn’t kept Gardner from peddling his book and other memorabilia at early information sessions.
There are still months before the onset of the 2018-19 wrestling season. That’s a good thing for Gardner, who now weighs in at more than 400 pounds and can use the months to get back to something approaching competitive fitness … if the former Biggest Loser contestant can bring himself to do it.
In the meantime, what everyone in Utah wants to know is whether this is finally the pursuit that Gardner, a former bankrupt gym owner and part-time insurance salesman, can use to get his immensely talented life back on track.
If nothing else, it’s clear Gardner has already made an indelible impact on his future charges at Herriman.
“I knew who he was, but when I saw him in front of my eyes, I kind of couldn’t believe it at first,” Herriman wrestler Talmage Carman told the Tribune. “And then I was like, ‘That’s Rulon Gardner!’ ”