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Thursday, November 20, 2014

No Holds Barred: Mark Schultz on 'Foxcatcher' 

(Photo of Dave and Mark Schultz, courtesy of Mark Schultz.)

On this edition of No Holds Barred, host Eddie Goldman once again spoke with the 1984 Olympic gold medalist and two-time world champion in freestyle wrestling for the U.S., a three-time NCAA Div. I wrestling champion at Oklahoma, and 1-0 MMA fighter, wrestling legend Mark Schultz.

The book of his life story, Foxcatcher: The True Story of My Brother's Murder, John du Pont's Madness, and the Quest for Olympic Gold, written with sportswriter David Thomas, has just been released.

The film Foxcatcher, which is a dramatization based on that book and focuses on the events surrounding the 1996 murder of his brother, fellow Olympic, world, and national champion wrestler Dave Schultz, by the crazed multi-millionaire John du Pont, was released in New York and Los Angeles November 14, and will be released in many more cities around the world in the coming weeks and months.

We spoke with Mark Schultz by Skype Wednesday.

The movie has already been widely mentioned in the film media as a major candidate for numerous Academy Award nominations. In particular, the performances of actors Steve Carell (du Pont), Channing Tatum (Mark Schultz), and Mark Ruffalo (Dave Schultz) have all been singled out as extraordinary, as well as the directing of Bennett Miller. The film is already being recognized as a major work of art, and easily the most important film ever made involving wrestling.

Speaking about the film, he said, "It's like epic. There are so many themes and undertones and metaphors."

He noted, "It's like a Greek tragedy about what happens when everything can be had at a price. And it teaches people, too -- it's about what happens when these worlds collide."

Stressing that the film's story has lessons which go far beyond the particulars of this one tragic tale, he said, "It's a movie for people who like to think."

But the film will also have an effect on the sport of wrestling, since the murder of Dave Schultz took place on du Pont's Foxcatcher estate while Dave was employed there as a wrestling coach.

The film, Mark said, "is going to make wrestling a part of pop culture."

But besides showing the countless benefits of wrestling, such as building character, molding one's body and mind through hard training, etc., the film, along with Mark's book, also demonstrates the weaknesses in the governance of the sport of wrestling. The result has been that wrestling legends like Mark and Dave Schultz, in Mark's own words in his book, "were having to stoop to rely on a lowlife like John du Pont to survive."

He also said that the most important thing to him in this whole project of this book and film is "immortalizing my brother." Few will argue that he has not succeeded in doing precisely that.

We also discussed more on what wrestling needs to do in order to become self-sustaining, the appeal of submission wrestling and catch wrestling, his training in jiu-jitsu and his one pro fight in UFC in 1996, his experience seeing his project bloom from a draft of his book into a major motion picture and autobiography, his connecting with the actors in the film and in particular with Channing Tatum, his current activities of doing public speaking and conducting seminars, and much more.

The No Holds Barred recommendation: For Mark's whole story, get the book. It is a must-read, whether or not you know much about wrestling. For a dramatization which will also go down in history, watch the film. It is a must-see.

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