The events surrounding the Foxcatcher Olympic wrestling team are some of the most fascinating, tragic and disturbing that you are likely to hear of in combat sports. It is the subject of two fantastic movies, a dramatization and a documentary. If you have any interest in combat sports or just compelling drama, you owe it to yourself to watch both.
In the 1980s, an eccentric businessman by the name of John du Pont wanted to make America's olympic wrestling team great.
He claimed that he cared deeply about America, and the path to greatness for the nation was a dominant presence in sport. He insisted that he was just doing his bit towards making America one of the world's mega powers.
Despite having no actual experience with wrestling, he believed himself to be a genius in the sport and created the Foxcatcher wrestling team. He invited the world's best amateur wrestlers to live on his vast estate and train. The idea was that if he removed all of the financial worries that the athletes had, then they would perform to the best of their ability.
It soon became clear that Du Pont's dynamic with members of the team, particularly the Schultz brothers (both Olympic wrestlers), was toxic. Their relationship ended in violence, and the death of David Schultz.
Mark Schultz's story did not end there however. He is still alive today and actually participated in the very early stages of the UFC. He fought in the octagon when there were no gloves and very few rules. For a man with incredible wrestling credentials and some personal demons to resolve, it was the natural progression.
The movie, Foxcatcher, stars Channing Tatum as Mark Schultz, Mark Ruffalo as David Schultz, and Steve Carell as John du Pont. The award-winning movie theatrically retells the true story, albeit with some artistic license. All three actors put on a tremendous performance throughout. It begins with the story of the famous wrestling brothers and what makes them tick, telling the tale of power and jealousy.
The documentary meanwhile is made up of real footage and interviews with the people involved. It is only when you see the real Du Pont in the documentary that you understand just how extraordinary Steve Carell's transformation is. They look identical. Mark Ruffalo also carries an uncanny resemblance to Dave Schultz with a beard and chopped hair.
Mark Schultz has since written a memoir and appeared on an episode of Chael Sonnen's podcast to tell his side of the events. I haven't read the book yet, but the podcast was a fascinating listen. The story of the Foxcatcher wrestling team is an enthralling yet dark story for any fan of combat sports.