Kurt Angle vs ZOO!
You have been in London to promote the TNA Wrestling Tour of the UK announced for next year. What is so special about the UK fans to TNA?
They show us so much love and respect by making us the number one rated wrestling show in the UK. That means a lot to us because we trail the WWE in ratings over in the States, it gives us much more appreciation for the fans.
What will it mean to you to perform in front of your UK fans?
I couldn’t do it last year because of the complications during labour my fiance had with our little daughter. It’ll be two years since performing in the UK by the time of the tour. So I am really looking forward to it because of the big crowds we attract. To perform in a packed arena is amazing because back home we only really manage to do this at the TNA pay-per views and the tapings of our weekly show, 'iMPACT Wrestling'.
Some athletes have rituals to psyche themselves up for events. What pre-show rituals do you have? Generally I like to let my moves do the talking. But I always get nervous before shows. I have more than just a responsibility to the fans to perform, they demand and expect a five-star match so that is something I try to give them every single time. I just let those nervous feelings get the best of me, so I can give my best. I get real nervous especially when performing over here because of the number of fans that come and see the show. The day you stop feeling nervous then it means you really don’t care anymore. I have a passion for it and care so much about doing the best I can.
Outside the ring you have launched your own brand of food, 'Angle Foods'. How did that come about?
Well, because of the ongoing obesity and diabetes problem in the United States we created a company that has changed the way people eat. We want to help people lose a lot of weight or to help others come off their medication if they are diabetic. There are other food systems such as Jenny Craig, but they don’t really compare to Angle Foods in terms of the quality of the food that we make. It’s a new super-food.
You have announced you’ll be trying out for the USA team for the London 2012 Olympics. What has motivated you to make a comeback to Olympic wrestling?
To be honest I have a very competitive streak in me and the challenge of the Olympics was something that I missed. I also looked at the prospect of competing in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) but the timing was just never right. At one point I had agreed terms with UFC, but we could never come to an arrangement on a start date for me so it never happened. You know what I am really excited about it and this time it will be a lot more fun. I put a lot of pressure on myself last time to make sure I would win. I over-trained and because of that I made a lot of mistakes in my matches and overtraining caused a few injuries. Now that I am a bit older I realise what my body’s limitations are and how to train properly so I don’t overdo it. I’ll be a lot more selective of what I do in my matches as well. I think I can be a better wrestler even at the age of 42. I am going to take it all in and enjoy the whole experience which is something I didn’t do in 1996 because I was in the zone and focused only on one thing.
Fifteen years after winning gold at Atlanta 1996, how do you feel this triumph change your life?
It defined me. When you hear the name Kurt Angle most think first of me of what accomplished at the Olympics. Even as a character on TV I portray myself as the Olympic gold medallist. That one moment, those five matches I wrestled and everything leading up to it has defined what people think of me. I hope that people think of me as more than just an Olympic gold medallist. Not that I’ve done anything better than that. It’s just that I have put a lot of work into pro-wrestling, I’ve always wanted to be known as the greatest pro-wrestler of all time.
At the 1996 Atlanta Olympics you were considered an underdog because you were competing with a broken neck. How far do you feel it would be another underdog story because of your age?
I definitely think I will be an underdog. I am not going to be one of the guys picked to make the team and definitely not one of the guys picked to win a medal. When I was in the Atlanta Olympics I was already a world champion so there were high expectations when it came for me to perform. A lot of people didn’t know about the broken neck because I simply didn’t want anyone to know about it at the time. I’ll be 43 by the time of the London Olympics next year. It’s kind of like a Rocky Balboa underdog story, because like Rocky if I get to the Olympics I have nothing to lose. One advantage I’ll have is that I’ve been through it all before but for me not having the pressure this time round to win the gold medal will make it a better experience. I can enjoy it this time and enjoy the training. I won’t be in a place where I say 'Oh gosh I need to go to the gym today'. I can kind of enjoy it and have a passion for it this time.
How will your current fitness regime change to make it into the USA Olympic team?
I’ll tell you this, I did everything and for ten hours a day first time round. I made sure back in 1996 that no stone went unturned when it came to my training. But that is something that I just can’t do this time because I am older and my body is not the same anymore. I need to be very specific in my training in what I do. I am not going to be able to get into a wrestling ring or go to the gym every single day. There will be dedicated days in the week where I will focus on an area of my training in specific such as cardio or conditioning. Through the training I’ll be dropping down to my natural weight of 215 pounds where in contrast in 1996 I was actually underweight at 209 pounds because of how much I trained.
How do you rate your chances at becoming a double gold medal Olympian?
Do you know what, I can’t rate my chances. It is just so competitive and I still need to make the team first of all. But if I do make the team then I have every chance of winning a medal. For a lot of people it will be their first Olympics where as I know how it works, I’ve been through it before. So the pressure is definitely on them to perform rather than myself.
For more wrestling news and interviews follow @ThomasAlx.
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