WWE Legend Kurt Angle Opens Up About His Journey To Stardom And Battling Addiction: “I Want To Help Other People”

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Kurt Angle has been through it all – from the highs of winning an Olympic gold medal and a WWE Championship to the lows of drug addiction and the perils that the hurdle brings.

That’s why Angle chose to start telling his story now.

“I’ve been through a lot of upheaval in my life and I want to help others,” Angle told Fox News Digital in a recent interview. “Having an addiction problem and having been in recovery for nine years, I was told at the recovery center to tell your story, and I was quite open about my story. And I wanted this documentary to come out to help anyone. Anyone who has problems. Anyone who is struggling with an addiction. Anyone who is trying to overcome obstacles. … It’s more about redemption and overcoming.

“Biography: WWE Legends” will showcase Angle’s life from childhood as a high school wrestling phenom, through his days as an Olympic champion and WWE star, and through his struggles with painkillers. His episode airs Sunday on A&E at 8 p.m. ET.

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Angle won a gold medal for Team USA at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996 and worked hard to get there. While suffering from a broken neck, he ended up beating Iranian Abbas Jadidi in a points victory for gold in the men’s 100kg freestyle category.

freestyle wrestling competition during the Summer Olympics at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, Georgia.”/>

Kurt Angle of the United States holds the American flag during the freestyle wrestling competition during the Summer Olympics at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, Georgia.
(Getty Images)

It was one of 44 gold medals won by the United States in 1996. Angle won the event just days after a pipe bomb exploded at Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta, killing two people and injuring over 100 others.

“I hope it was a proud moment for everyone,” Angle said of the gold medal won around that time. “It was the proudest time of my life besides having kids and getting married. You know, you’re never guaranteed success in life, and when you win an Olympic gold medal, you you are the best in the whole world. And that sends a message to everyone that you are very special, that you stand out.

“I think at that point the bombing happened and people needed something to cheer about. And you know, Kerri Strug did the takedown and landed it perfectly and won for Team USA Gymnastics. It was a great moment, my moment was great. There were a lot of great moments in the 1996 Olympics that the United States should be very proud of.”

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After some skepticism about joining the professional wrestling ranks, Angle signed with WWE (then known as the World Wrestling Federation) in 1998 and began training in a slightly different way. from what he was used to. Angle told Fox News Digital he trained for about eight months before making his debut.

Angle’s gimmick was that of an Olympic hero. He was a milk-drinking athlete who made it clear to all onlookers how hard he worked at his craft, even with a “broken neck.” He started touting the three I’s that made him so successful in life: “Intensity, Integrity, and Intelligence.”

Kurt Angle on

Kurt Angle on WWE’s “SmackDown.”
(WWE)

Angle said it was Vince McMahon’s idea of ​​the three I’s after hearing it on a TV show.

“He thought it was perfect for me to be an Olympic gold medalist. He wanted me to be this stripped-down Olympian who preached the three I’s and motivated the fans. And in fact, he knew it would backfire.” , Angle told Fox News Digital. “He was pretending to push me like a baby face knowing the fans were going to shit on me because I was so clean, it was like, give me a break, this guy can’t be that good.

“It worked extremely well and it turned my heel. Even though I was preaching the three I’s, I was still cheating and winning. It also gave me a lot of heat.”

Angle joined WWE in the throes of the company’s so-called Monday Night Wars with World Championship Wrestling. He said he talked to pro wrestling icon Ric Flair about joining the rival company and that “The Nature Boy” chased him down that path.

“I met Ric Flair before I signed with WWE and I was like, ‘Hey, Ric, do you think I should go to WWE or WCW?’ Ric was in WCW at the time. He said, “Don’t come to WCW. They will destroy you. They will crush you. Go to WWE because Vince McMahon would take care of you.” And he was absolutely right. That’s what Vince McMahon did, he took care of me.”

Angle talks enthusiastically about McMahon in the episode. He told Fox News Digital he was “sad” to learn of McMahon’s retirement amid misconduct allegations.

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“I’m sad because Vince was WWE’s Achilles’ heel. He’s the one who rolled it, he’s the one who did it. Without Vince, WWE wouldn’t exist,” he said. said Angle. “I’m not saying he’s perfect. He didn’t do everything perfectly. He made very few mistakes from a business perspective.”

Angle became a four-time WWE Champion, the King of the Ring winner in 2000, and had incredible feuds with John Cena, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, The Rock, Brock Lesnar and Eddie Guerrero, to name a few. name a few. He also had some iconic WWE moments, including bringing out a milk truck and spraying Superstars in a WWE ring with it.

Kurt Angle puts Eddie Guerrero in ankle lock.

Kurt Angle puts Eddie Guerrero in ankle lock.
(WWE)

But several neck injuries took their toll on the WWE Superstar.

Angle wrote on his website that he became addicted to painkillers in 2003 after he was prescribed them when he broke his neck. At the height of his addiction, he admitted to taking 65 Vicodin a day. He wrote how the pain of losing his sister to a drug overdose also contributed to his pain.

In mid-2006, he was released by WWE. He would star in Total Nonstop Action wrestling for about 10 years and become a six-time heavyweight champion in that business. He was arrested several times between 2007 and 2013, and the last time he decided to enter a drug rehabilitation center.

Angle told Fox News Digital that it was his family — his wife, Giovanna, and their children — who helped him break the cycle of taking painkillers.

“It came down to this: my wife was going to leave me if I didn’t go to rehab. And she’s everything to me and my kids too,” he said. “And knowing that I could [lose] them, getting rid of my addiction, staying clean, and being with my wife and kids was more important to me than continuing to be addicted.”

Kurt Angle takes on Kane in a WWE match.

Kurt Angle takes on Kane in a WWE match.
(WWE)

When WWE fans tuned in to the episode on Sunday night, Angle said he hoped his story might inspire others.

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“I want them to know that this documentary is about overcoming everything – all the obstacles, the addiction, the hurts, the death of family members, the personal things in your life. It’s about redemption and regaining your reputation after losing it,” he said. “And I want everyone to know it’s possible. Even at the worst time in your life, you can still come out of it and come out bright.”


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