The latest in the Rev Rewind series that profile legendary wrestlers, as well as other historical aspects of the sport...
To see the photos provided by Alexander Schultz -- or to access the links to the 2006 Dave Schultz series -- click on the link to the article at the bottom of the page
Rev Rewind: Dave Schultz's son, Alexander
Mark Palmer, Staff Writer
More than a decade after his murder, Dave Schultz remains one of the most respected and beloved figures in amateur wrestling. Respected for his considerable accomplishments on the mat -- 1977 California high school state champ, 1982 NCAA champion at 167 pounds from the University of Oklahoma, 1984 Olympic gold medalist in freestyle at 74 kg/163 lbs, and ten-time Senior Nationals champ -- are just some of the biggest highlights in a career of highlights. Just as important, however, Dave Schultz was beloved for his generous spirit and ease in forming warm, lasting friendships with wrestlers and fans around the world.
[Photo: Alexander and Dave Schultz}
Dave Schultz was very much a family man. He left behind a wife of fourteen years, Nancy, a daughter Danielle, and son Alexander, named for the legendary Russian wrestling champion Alexander Medved.
Alexander Schultz turned 21 this past spring. He describes himself as being "built just like my dad" ? and his father's easygoing spirit comes through in conversation. Yet the son of Dave Schultz is very much his own man as he charts his own course in life.
It might be a surprise to amateur wrestling fans that Alexander Schultz describes his involvement in amateur wrestling to be "minimal." "I wrestled some in middle school," says Alexander. "There was some pressure because of who I am, to be in wrestling, and some of it was self-imposed ? No pressure ever from my dad."
So what is the main sport of the only son of one of the greatest amateur wrestlers of the late 20th century? Basketball.
Alexander says that, in high school, his home was the center of activity in the neighborhood. "Friends would hang out at my house, play basketball, eat, play more basketball ? We'd play for four or five hours at a time."
Wrestling fans, all is not lost. "I love wrestling," says Alexander. "The sad thing is, basketball and wrestling are in the same season. If they were in different seasons, I'd do both."
Alexander Schultz is finding a way to channel his love of wrestling into a new activity: mixed-martial arts training, which he describes as being "real fun."
Mixed martial arts would not be unprecedented for Alexander Schultz. His uncle Mark, like Dave an NCAA champion wrestler and 1984 Olympic gold medallist in freestyle, became one of the early superstars in MMA competition. And, after his father's death, Alexander spent considerable time with Kevin Jackson and Dan Henderson, both amateur wrestling greats involved in MMA.
"To be successful in mixed martial arts, you have to be good at so many things ? grappling, kickboxing, ground wrestling," according to Alexander. "The art of jiu jitsu -- a form of submission wrestling -- is also critically important."
"It's all a chess game, deciding when to use what technique during a match?. It's very much a mental as well as physical game."
Life with father at Foxcatcher
Alexander Schultz spent most of his formative years at the Foxcatcher compound outside Philadelphia, where his father was coach of Team Foxcatcher at the time of his murder in January 1996 by John du Pont, multimillionaire owner of the facility.
[Photo: Alexander and Dave Schultz]
"Foxcatcher was family," recalls Alexander. "I grew up having so many 'uncles', many of them great wrestlers of that era." Among the "uncles": Dave Lee, Dan Chaid, Melvin Douglas, Dan Henderson, Kevin Jackson, Kenny Monday, Kendall Cross, Brian Dolph, and Heath Sims.
The younger Schultz describes what sounds like a carefree, fun-filled life. "My dad was a great friend, while my mom played the role of the enforcer."
"Mom would tuck me into bed, then dad would come up a bit later and we'd go play Super Mario downstairs," muses the 21-year-old Schultz. "He'd also make up great bedtime stories."
"When it snowed, dad built a mound next to the house and we'd jump off the roof into the snowpile."
"He'd also tie our sleds to the back of the Toyota Tercel and tow us through the snow, to the woods to go sledding."
"He also took us hunting on the Foxcatcher estate. We ate what we killed; I ate a lot of groundhog stew," says Alexander.
Even though Alexander refers to his mom as being 'the enforcer' of the family compared to his dad, he also describes growing up in a household with plenty of love ? and a seemingly relaxed lifestyle. He recalls one specific incident with fondness: "When I was little, I wanted to stay up. I was not going to go to bed. Neither of my folks were the kind to spank us, but there was one time when dad tried to spank me, but he just couldn't. I remember we just laughed about it."
The son's warm memories of his father aren't limited to the estate. "He'd come to our elementary school for just about any reason? He'd come to have lunch with us, played soccer with us. I remember more than once he bought all the kids ice cream."
"Foxcatcher would be the perfect place to grow up."
Remembering January 26, 1996
Alexander Schultz was incredibly open in discussing his father's murder ? and the man who committed the crime, John du Pont.
"du Pont was almost comic relief," says Alexander. "He said and did strange things, like driving his Lincoln into the pond, and not just once ? He went fox hunting in his tank."
"Dad and I try to see good in everyone ? He didn't see anyone differently. Whether you were a world champion or a janitor, he treated everyone the same, with kindness and respect. That includes du Pont."
Immediately before discussing the actual murder for this profile, Alexander Schultz said, "Everyone who was at Foxcatcher has a tough time grasping the reality of it all ? du Pont did crazy things but generally didn't hurt people. Though he did some things that were dangerous. One time when he drove the Lincoln into the pond, someone else was in the car with him ? He also once pulled a gun on (Team Foxcatcher wrestler) Dan Chaid."
The younger Schultz recalls that January day with incredible clarity, especially considering he was only nine years old at the time. "We [Alexander and his then six-year-old sister Danielle] were called out of class about 2:40. We went to the office along with (two-time Olympic medallist wrestler from Bulgaria, Valentin) Jordanov's kids Yoni and Irena, and Will & Laura Shorts' four daughters."
[Photo: Danielle, Nancy, and Alexander Schultz]
"We were driven to Don and Toni Lyons' house. (The Lyons were not in wrestling, but were family friends.) We drove right past our house, and could see the police and the media in front ?"
"When we asked what was going on, we were told something like 'du Pont had one of his episodes.'"
"While at the Lyons' house, we couldn't watch TV."
"Mom came about 5, took us up to a bedroom, then told us. I immediately ran downstairs to tell my friends."
"I stayed downstairs crying for a long time."
Alexander continues: "We stayed inside for a couple days, staying in the same bedroom (where mom told us the news) that night."
"I tried to stay strong during the funeral."
A few months after the murder, the funeral and the memorial service, NBC ran a tribute to Dave Schultz during its wrestling coverage of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. The segment, lasting nearly seven minutes, was narrated by then Today show host Katie Couric, but Dave's friends and family did most of the talking.
Nine-year-old Alexander was featured at least once during the segment. Early in the piece, he was shown holding his father's 1984 Olympic gold medal around his neck, saying. "If I won a baseball game, he'd rather talk about that than the Olympics."
Towards the end of the NBC tribute broadcast during the 1996 Olympics, Nancy Schultz said, "Alexander told me that he missed his dad a lot ? but then said, 'Aren't we lucky he was our dad?'"
Alexander Schultz today
When not playing basketball with his friends, Alexander is taking classes at a community college in Arizona, with the hope of eventually continuing his education at the University of Arizona. He also plans to continue his involvement in mixed-martial arts, hoping to train with Dan "Hollywood" Henderson. And, he's serving as an executive producer of a friend's music CD about to be recorded in the San Francisco Bay area.
[Photo: Alexander Schultz with Dan Henderson]
He still keeps in touch with many of his "uncles" -- the great wrestlers who were friends of his father more than a decade ago.
His late father's memory still lives on, strong as ever.
"I can't go anywhere without hearing from someone who knew my dad," Alexander says. "I wouldn't be who I am now without him."
In 2006, RevWrestling.com paid tribute to Dave Schultz with a series of articles written by Mark Palmer that address various aspects of his life and legacy. If you would like to read those articles, click on the links below.
Chapter 1: The Day Wrestling Died
Chapter 2: The Murderer, John du Pont
Chapter 3: Immediate Memories of Dave
Chapter 4: Smiling Back at a Life Remembered
Chapter 5: A Spirit That Lives
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