American Greco-Roman wrestler
famous for upsetting Russian Alexander Karelin
in the super heavyweight (130 kg/286 pounds) final in the 2000 Summer Olympics
Karelin, nicknamed the "Siberian Bear", was considered one of the best wrestlers of all-time. He had won 3 previous gold medals, hadn't been beaten in 13 years and had not given up a point in 10 years. Him winning the gold was a given, and International Olympic Committee president Juan Antonio Samaranch was at the match, in anticipation of presenting Karelin with his 4th gold.
Gardner (DOB: 8/16/1971, Afton, Wyoming), a virtual unknown, defended against Karelin's lift attempts in the earlygoing. At the start of the second period, both wrestlers clinched each other, and could not release their grip for 60 seconds. However, Karelin's hands slipped, just slightly, but enough for Gardner to get a point.
Gardner went back to defense, and a frustrated Karelin was unable to attack and gave up with a few seconds to go. Gardner had won the gold, 1-0, and in the process defeated the unbeatable Karelin.
The upset led to Gardner being named to be the U.S. flagbearer at the Sydney closing ceremonies, and then to a myriad of appearances on American talk shows.
Gardner won the 2000 ESPY Award for Male U.S. Olympic Athlete of the Year, and the 2000 James E. Sullivan Memorial Award as the top American amateur athlete.