Pro-Wrestler, Actor and 1996 Olympic Gold Medalist
Kurt Angle, had done and held it all in the world of Professional
Wrestling. The former TNA World Heavyweight Champion lays it all
out in this exclusive interview with RUMBLE Magazine.
RUMBLE: What are your thoughts on your
recent TNA Lockdown fight against Jeff Jarrett?
Kurt: I feel it was, without a doubt, one of the best matches
I’ve ever had. If it weren’t for Karen getting involved, I would
have had many opportunities to win. I hate to give credit to Karen,
but she’s Jeff’s secret weapon. If he didn’t have Karen, Jeff
Jarrett wouldn’t have beaten Kurt Angle period.a
RUMBLE: So what’s next for Kurt Angle?
Kurt: Getting revenge on Karen. Not to put the heat on her, but
her causing the situation with Jeff and I, because of our history,
because I was married to her and she’s now married to Jeff. I
put a lot of the blame on Jeff, but now I have to look at Karen
and see that really the one I should have been mad at was her.
That’s where I’m heading right now, getting revenge on Karen.
Not using any kind of physical force, at least not from me!
RUMBLE: Let’s go back a little; you’re
an Olympic Gold medalist, what does that feel like winning Gold
at the Olympics?
Kurt: Going to the Olympics was a lifelong dream itself. To win
it was something I can’t explain. There aren’t very many gold
medalists in the world, but what any of them will tell you is
that it’s a hard thing to explain. You train your whole life to
do that, that’s all you’ve focused on. You’ve trained every day,
you’ve worked hard every day, you put your mind, soul and body
into it. When you finally accomplish it, sure you’re overwhelmed
with happiness, but I think that more than anything, a true champion
when they win feels a sense of relief. It’s over, I finally did
it, I won. I have to say, it was the first time in my life I put
my guard down and could finally relax.
RUMBLE: You won Gold despite suffering
a severe neck injury; that must have been a difficult choice to
continue, especially with the thought of causing further damage?
Kurt: I could not get a doctor to pass me. Neck and back doctors
to other doctors to surgeons to family doctors to any doctor!
I had 4 broken vertebrae and 3 disks in my neck that were sticking
directly into my spinal cord that could possibly cause paralysis.
I finally found a doctor that was either brave enough or stupid
enough to pass me. His idea was don’t practice. He said to do
whatever you can off the mat, but drill very lightly. When you
needed to practice, come to my office and I’ll stick you in the
neck with 12 shots of novocaine. We weren’t allowed to use cortisone
because it’s a steroid and that’s illegal in the Olympics. Every
time I wanted to train, maybe once or twice a week, I would go
to the doctor’s office and he would give me the 12 shots of novocaine.
I would hurry up and train for about an hour and then I’d be in
excruciating pain. So the doctor had his co-doctor travel with
me to the Olympic trials and then to the Olympics. Thank God I
raised funds for him to be able to travel with me. Before every
match he would stick me 12 times in the neck so I couldn’t feel
it. My neck was still broken and the disks were still sticking
into my spinal cord. The only thing that was keeping me going
was my faith in God and my desire to win a gold medal. How I did
it, I have no idea! I had some very difficult matches in the Olympics.
I remember in the Olympic trials, rumor got around that my neck
was broken. I remember the first guy I wrestled in the trials
went right after my neck and tried to further injure me. We ended
up getting in a fist fight and the referee almost ended up disqualifying
both of us. I was very protective, but I knew that I had to not
think about my neck when I was wrestling because if I did it would
affect my wrestling. So I had to turn the switch off in my head
about the stress and worrying about my neck and just be Kurt Angle
the wrestler. That’s what I did and thank God I won the gold medal
with my neck broken.
RUMBLE: You also had a very successful
college wrestling career, tell us a little about that?
Kurt: I had many injuries in college. I have a bittersweet memory
of college wrestling. I won 2 national titles but was expected
to win 3. I won my sophomore year. I was undefeated. My junior
year I injured my knee 5 weeks out from nationals. I had to have
surgery but put it off until after nationals. I wrestled my best
and did whatever I could and made it to the finals, but I lost
6-4. I’m not taking the win away from the other wrestler, but
it was a shaky win because I did have a take down. I know I was
injured, but I can’t use that as an excuse. My senior year I was
undefeated again and was one of the best wrestlers. I was named
one of the top 15 best collegiate wrestlers of all time in the
past 75 years. That affects me because I wanted to be a 3 time
national champion. I think that loss taught me a lot about adversity.
Before I went into that match I had it in my mind that I was going
to lose. I was happy with second and that’s what happened. When
I wrestled, I wrestled for second place. I believe that helped
me for the Olympics because I knew that was what I was not going
to do. I was not going to wrestle for second place; I was going
to wrestle for the gold.
RUMBLE: How did you find pro-wrestling
compared to amateur wrestling?
Kurt: I’ve had a lot more injuries in pro wrestling. It’s just
a whole different ball game. It’s about psychology, it’s about
technique, it’s about storytelling. It’s about having charisma,
it’s about having some acting ability. I didn’t know if I was
going to be able to make the transition. Within about 6 months
I was on tv. I became one of the top wrestlers in the other company.
I enjoyed it. I wrestled Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, Triple
H, John Cena, Undertaker and beat them all and became a 6 time
World Champion. Then I came to TNA and my career became even better.
I was named the best wrestler in wrestling when I was in WWE
and I came here and got better. I had watched TNA and there were
a lot of wrestlers here I wanted to wrestle. I would see Samoa
Joe and AJ Styles and think; man I wish I could wrestle those
guys just once. Thank God I’ve had the opportunity to wrestle
them 50 times! That was part of my dream. People would say why
would you want to go from a monster company to a smaller company
and wrestle these guys that hardly anybody knew at the time. I
feel like I serve a bigger purpose in TNA. This company is growing
quicker than any other company period and I feel like I am a big
part of that. That makes me feel good.
RUMBLE: You’ve also done some acting, is
this something you’d like to pursue more in the future?
Kurt: Yes that is my goal. I have done 6 movies. 3 independent
movies that went straight to DVD and I have 3 movies in 2011 that
will be in theaters. Dylan Dog: Dead of Night comes out April
29. Warrior comes out September 7th. Beyond the Mat comes out
in December. They’re 3 completelydifferent rolls. In Dylan Dog
I was the head of a werewolf family and I got to turn into a werewolf,
which was incredible. I had a very good part in that movie. In
Warrior, I had a crucial part where I was the MMA world champion
from Russia. I had to learn how to speak Russian! The movie that
really came close to home for me was Beyond the Mat because I
was a high school wrestling coach. That’s what I plan on doing
after movies when I get older and retire, but for now I want to
do as many movies as I can. I also have a food company, Angle
Foods, that I own. It has very healthy foods that are very high
in protein and very high in fibre.
RUMBLE: You star in upcoming movie, ‘Warrior’,
how was it doing the movie?
Kurt: Warrior was very difficult because I had to train 2 ½ months
for 10 hours every day like an MMA fighter. The hard part was
balancing wrestling and training. TNA gave me some time off so
I could train for the movie. I had to lose 30 pounds so I could
be in the right weight class. I went from 230 to 200. They wanted
me in the 185 pound weight class, but wanted me to be bigger than
everybody else so that I looked like the dominate fighter. During
the movie we had 12 hour days where I was in the ring fighting
for 12 hours. I did an ESPN type interview where I had to speak
strictly Russian for 15 straight minutes. That was one of the
hardest things I’ve ever done, but I did it and I think I did
fairly well! I hope the fans really enjoy the movie and I’m looking
forward to doing more movies.
RUMBLE: You are in phenomenal shape, what
is a training day look like in the world of Kurt Angle?
Kurt: I train an hour a day and try not to take a day off. I do
my whole body in one day when I lift weights. I read an article
in Muscle and Body Magazine (GNC’s magazine) that after 40 your
body’s growth hormone starts to dwindle and you get a better pump
and better results by training your body in one full day. So I
train my full body lifting one day and one hour of hard cardio,
running or walking up a treadmill at level 10 at 4mph, the next
day. I keep doing that back and forth and whenever I feel run
down I take a day off. I try to stay active, it keeps me young!
If I don’t do it, my doctors told me this in college after my
knee injuries, if I stop training my knees will go and I won’t
be able to walk normal. The same thing with my neck. If I stay
active I’ll stay young. If I don’t stay active then I’ll get old
and shrivel up and fall apart!
RUMBLE: Obviously your diet and nutrition
would play a huge part in the way you look, can you give us an
idea of what that looks like?
Kurt: I’m very high on fibre. A lot of people aren’t very educated
on dieting. They think that high protein is enough. Having high
protein, moderate fats and low carbohydrates is great, but high
fibre is an integral part of your diet. At least 30 grams in your
diet a day. My fibre at Angle Foods, which is Ultra Fiber DX™,
helps you lose fat fast. I started taking it and I lost 10 pounds
of fat, and I don’t have that much fat on my body! I’m actually
more ripped than I was. I lost it mainly in my midsection. I believe
in high fibre. People that want to get it can go to my website
www.KurtAngleFoods.com or go to GNC stores. You have to supplement
your diet with high fibre if you want to lose weight.
RUMBLE: We’ve seen some pro-wrestlers make
the transition to MMA, being an Olympic wrestler, was that ever
a consideration for you?
Kurt: Yes it was. I signed with TNA and the same week I flew out
Las Vegas to meet with Dana White. Dana White offered me a contract
that blew my mind. The contract they offered me was amazing, but
my loyalty was to TNA. My life started to change after I left
WWE. I have nothing bad to say about WWE, I had a great time there,
but I needed a different pace in my life. TNA was that different
company that I knew would take care of me and make me the integral
part and top man in the company, and I didn’t want to give that
up. Dana White believes that you can only fight, you can’t do
anything else but fight, and I respect him for that. After a couple
years and after the situation with Karen and Jeff, I went back
to Dana White. I took the UFC physical and passed it and I was
getting ready again to fight, and we just couldn’t agree on a
date to start. That was just a difference between when I thought
I would be ready and Dana thought I would be ready. I respect
Dana White, he’s a great friend and I wish him the best, but I
don’t think I’ll be fighting. I’m 42 now and I’m signing a long
term deal with TNA and I’m going to stay here.
RUMBLE: If you could have a dream MMA match
with any MMA fighter, who would you choose and why?
Kurt: Randy Couture. He was my teammate at the Olympics in 1996.
I have a lot of respect for him. We are very good friends and
we keep in touch. Although we’re good friends, I would love to
be able to fight him. He is what MMA is all about. He is the name
and face. He is a guy you can depend on and not frown upon. He’s
going to represent your company with dignity, pride and respect.
Another guy is Brock Lesnar. I also have a lot of respect for
him. These guys are 2 guys I’d love to fight, but also have a
lot of respect for. It’s hard to fight your friends, but when
you’re fighting for money and you’re going to double it by winning,
then you’re going to fight!
RUMBLE: You elected to go down the pro-wrestling
road, why was that choice made?
Kurt: I wanted to get into acting and I knew that pro-wrestling
was a good avenue because you have to act, you’re a character.
You have to be able to talk, you have to show emotion, you have
to be charismatic, just like an actor. Wrestlers are athletes,
that are actors. I thought that if I started wrestling I could
spin off into movies and I have. TNA has given me that opportunity.
That’s part of the reason I came here. They gave me the avenue
to go off and take time away from wrestling and do movies. They
gave me time where I could just focus on the movies and getting
RUMBLE: If you go take on any celebrity
in a pro-wrestling match, who would it be?
Kurt: There’s 2 people. One is Vin Diesel. He’s a guy that I admire.
A guy that has come so far. He’s a good actor and he has the look
and the charisma for it. It would be a good dream match. He’s
a stud; he appears that way when he’s on the big screen. Another
one is already here in TNA and that’s Hulk Hogan. I would love
to have one more match with him. I had the privilege of wrestling
him in WWE. I was the only man to ever make Hulk Hogan tap out
and I want to make him tap out one more time.
RUMBLE: When you started pro-wrestling,
did you ever think you would reach this status?
Kurt: No. I always thought that if I got into pro-wrestling I’d
be a mid-carder and make good money. I never thought in my wildest
dreams that I’d be a top guy in both companies, but it happened.
I give Vince McMahon a lot of credit. I give Dixie Carter a lot
of credit. I also give credit to Vince Russo, as well as a gentleman
named Brian Gewirtz in WWE. Him and Vince Russo are the best writers
in the business and they’ve always been very creative with me
and they’ve treated me right. I give a lot of credit to the writers,
but Vince McMahon and Dixie Carter were the 2 people that really
gave me the opportunity.
RUMBLE: In pro-wrestling we see a lot of
moves that look like they really hurt, how real is the pain when
you are fighting?
Kurt: Pro-wrestling is somewhat scripted. We do put on a performance,
a show, for the fans but it’s very dangerous. That’s why there
are safety issues in professional wrestling. If there weren’t,
there would not be any wrestling superstars because they’d be
injured and not on tv. You need your wrestlers to be on tv every
week, so there is a safety factor because it is so dangerous.
You’re wrestling on plywood. When you bump on plywood it’s like
being hit from behind going 60 miles an hour. When I first started
taking bumps, I didn’t think I could do it. I stuck with it and
was able to work through the pain, but it’s taken a toll on my
body. I’ve been in pro-wrestling 12 years and I wrestled amateur
for 20 years and I’ve had a lot more injuries in pro-wrestling
than I ever did in amateur wrestling. Olympic wrestling is the
most injury prone sport, so that tells you how injury prone professional
RUMBLE: Having so many fans screaming for
you; how does that feel?
Kurt: I guess what happened for me was I came to a level in my
career that’s elite status. Not a lot of people get there. I was
very blessed to reach that status and when you do, you get this
certain respect from the fans. They always cheer for you. The
greatest thing is having an incredible match and the fans cheer
for you, not for respect but because you performed very well.
I put a lot of pressure on myself to be the best wrestler and
have the best matches all the time. It’s my job, that is what
I do. Every PPV, if I don’t have the best match on the card I
am very hard on myself.
RUMBLE: You’ve had some great moments in
your career, what is that one real stand out moment?
Kurt: A lot of moments stand out. One is winning the TNA title
for the first time at Slammiversary. I’d won every title there
was up except that one up until that point. It was a great victory
for me. I had guys like AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, Christian Cage on
the card. Another one is winning my first WWF title against The
Rock. Winning those titles and knowing the company is depending
on you as a champion, that’s a great feeling. That’s what you’re
always striving for.
RUMBLE: You’ve had many feuds over the
years in your career, which is the one that jumps out when you
hear the word feud?
Kurt: I did a feud with Stephanie McMahon and Triple H that really
sprung my career to main event status. It was my first year wrestling
and Triple H was so giving. Stephanie McMahon had just started
on tv like me and he carried both of us and made the storyline
incredible. Here at TNA there was one guy I’d never gotten to
wrestle and it was such a privilege to finally do so and have
a feud with him, Sting. He was a WCW wrestler and never went to
the WWF or WWE. I think when I won the title from Sting, that
was one of the best feelings. He is an icon. When you look at
him he has the demeanor of a superstar. He just is the epitome
of a superstar.
RUMBLE: Greatest match you’ve ever had
in your opinion?
Kurt: You know what, it’s so hard. Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania
21. Chris Benoit at the 2003 Royal Rumble. Jeff Hardy this past
year, where we wrestled to a draw. Ken Anderson in a cage match
last year. Jeff Jarrett in a cage match this year. Eddie Guerrero
at SummerSlam and WrestleMania. I had a match with Undertaker
at No Way Out in 2006 that I’ll never forget. I’ve been very blessed.
I continue to improve and just when I think I’ve been at my best,
I get better. It’s because I get smarter about what I do. You
can never stop learning about pro-wrestling. There’s a certain
style, a certain psychology, involved and the fans get sucked
in. When you get that and you’re able to utilize it, you then
have the fans in the palm of your hand. And I’ve been blessed
enough to be able to go out there and put on a great match that
tells a great story and the fans really love it and get involved
in the match. That’s one of the best feelings. I’ve had so many
of those moments that I can’t pick even 10 of them. They all mean
a lot to me.
RUMBLE: What are some of your hobbies and
interests away from pro-wrestling?
Kurt: I love to just play with my kids. I love hanging out with
my fiancé Giovanna. I have a new little girl Giuliana that is
precious. My real princess, my peanut, is Kyra. She has the same
type of personality as me. She is very kind, very giving, very
innocent. I love that about her. She’s the opposite of her mommy,
which is going to be funny when she’s a teenager! I am also very
blessed to have a great son Kody. All we do is wrestle, that’s
all he wants to do. I’ve learned now at the age of 42 is I can’t
just be friends with my kids. I’ve been their best friend but
now I have to be their dad. I’m learning now that I need to lay
down the law and have some rules and be a little more strict.
I’m learning how to be a good dad and then be their friend.
RUMBLE: How has pro-wrestling evolved over
Kurt: Pro-wrestling has evolved to the point where there isn’t
much black and white anymore, there are shades of gray. Before
it was always here’s the good guy and here’s the bad guy, but
now guys are mixed in between. We need to go back to the old school.
They did less back then but it meant more. You have guys doing
crazy things just to please the fans. I’m a leader at TNA and
people are supposed to be able to look to me, so I have a duty
to slow things down and make them mean more. It’s not stealing
from the fans. It’s reeducating the fans on storytelling in a
match and not just doing a bunch of stunts. I’ve seen wrestlers
go out there and do all these crazy stunts, but it doesn’t mean
anything if they’re not selling anything and nothing hurts and
they don’t stop moving. There’s no time for the crowd to react,
no story being told. That’s not wrestling, it’s stunt work. That’s
the phase we started getting into, but we’re starting to pull
it back. We’re going back to wrestling. TNA is wrestling. We’re
getting back to the old school and making wrestling mean something.
Yes we are entertainment, but you can’t take wrestling out of
RUMBLE: What’s left to accomplish for Kurt
Angle in the World of Pro-Wrestling?
Kurt: I’ve been blessed enough to win 11 world titles. I’ve been
an Olympic wrestler and gold medalist. That’s 13 world titles
in both sports. But it’s not all about winning championships.
Ric Flair is the man; he’s won 16 world titles. I’ve never gunned
for that. To me, it’s about helping build more superstars. When
I go out there I don’t just try to make myself look good. I try
to make my opponent look better than he really is. When I structure
my matches, I try to make it so that my opponent looks better
and try to make him become a bigger superstar than he already
was. That’s my goal now. It’s not winning world titles; it’s what
we call in the business, making other talent.