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6 Famous Olympians Who Became Mormon


Mark Schultz

“One of the greatest, if not the greatest, all-around athletes that has ever participated in the sport of wrestling. As wrestling machines go, his design is close to perfect."

That's how 16-time National Wrestling Champion Wayne Baughman described Mark Schultz. Born October 26, 1960, in Pala Alto, California, Schultz was the second son born to Dorothy and Philip Schultz. His older brother, Dave, was just 17 months older than him.

Growing up, Schultz was an all-around athlete, setting 20 school records. As a sophomore in high school, he became the Northern California All-Around Gymnastics Champion. However, Schultz followed in his big brother's footsteps, taking up wrestling in his junior year.

Though his brother, Dave, won the state, national, and international titles in his senior year, Mark had a mediocre first year of wrestling. However, Shultz's skill improved, and as a senior he won the state title.

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Mark Schultz at the 87th Academy Awards.

In college, Dave and Mark teamed up together to train which greatly improved Mark's skill, allowing him to win three NCAA Championships. The Schultz brothers became the most-winning brother combination in American history when it came to NCAA, US Open, World, and Olympic titles. They also became the only American brothers to win World Championship and Olympic gold medals.

Dave won the 1983 World Championship and brought home an Olympic gold medal for the 1984 Games. Mark won his Olympic gold the same year, 1984, and the World Championships in 1985 and 1987. He retired from wrestling after placing sixth in the 1988 Olympic Games.

In the 1980s, Mark was short on money. He'd just lost a job as an assistant wrestling coach at Standford and USA Wrestling didn't pay its athletes. So when a multimillionaire, John du Pont, approached Mark to join a wrestling program at Villanova University that would pay $24,000 a year and give Mark a home on du Pont's 800-acre Foxcatcher estate, Mark took the job. Later Dave joined his brother on the du Pont estate, despite du Pont's sometimes violent outbursts and many oddities.

Eventually, Mark left Foxcatcher, and in 1991, Mark Schultz began working as BYU's assistant wrestling coach where he became a convert to the LDS Church.

Then, suddenly, while training for a second Olympic bid in 1996,  Dave Schultz was shot three times by John E. du Pont in his home at Foxcatcher Farm, dying in his wife's arms. Mark had suddenly lost “his best friend . . . and life-support system," Nancy Schultz told The Guardian.

It was only with the help of his LDS faith that Mark was able to overcome the hatred and anger that built inside him after his brother's murder. “My anger over time has turned to pity and my pity has turned into compassion for John,” he says. “I feel like I’ve gotten to understand him better, as odd as that sounds about a man who murdered my brother. I can forgive him,” he told The Guardian.

At the time, Mark was the head coach of Brigham Young University's wrestling team. And just four months after Dave's death, Mark competed in the Ultimate Fighting Competition IX, winning $50,000 and the competition.

The emotional and exciting details of Mark Schultz's life caught the attention of Director Bennett Miller, who captured it in the film Foxcatcher starring Channing Tatum as Mark Schultz, Mark Ruffalo as Dave, and Steve Carell as John E. Du Pont.

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