Jeff Blatnick

Unlikely wrestling champion

At the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, with less than a minute remaining in the super-heavyweight Greco-Roman wrestling finals, American Jeff Blatnick led Sweden's Tomas Johansson 1-0. Blatnick pummeled for inside control, and as the home crowd erupted, he drove Johansson to the mat, sealing the victory. In the postmatch interview, Blatnick, still out of breath, thanked fans in his hometown of Niskayuna, N.Y. When the reporter asked about all he had been through in the previous two years, Blatnick replied, "I'm a happy dude." Then he doubled over and wept.

For Blatnick, who died Oct. 24 at 55, the...

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