On one of the rare occasions the twins practiced against each other at Iowa, Terry slugged Tom in the face, opening a gash that required four stitches. Another time Tom reported to practice with a pronounced limp. "His excuse was that he and Terry had been in a scuffle," says coach Dan Gable, "and that Terry had thrown him off a cliff."
A 1972 Olympic gold medalist whose 182-1 high school and collegiate record is as close to perfection as any wrestler's has ever come, Gable saw something of himself in the Brands brothers. He still recalls Terry's reaction after being defeated in the state finals as a senior in high school. "When Terry walked by me, he muttered something," Gable says.
Tom, of course, had been barred from the tournament. The allegations troubled Gable, whose older sister was raped and murdered when he was a teenager. "I looked into the matter," Gable says. "There were no charges against him, so obviously it was all something to try to hurt the kid." Meaning Tom.
Desire is what impressed Gable about Terry and Tom. Asked to describe his practice ethic, Tom says, "To work hard is what's expected. To train like a madman is to exceed all limitations."
For three years the Brandses trained on and off at the Pennsylvania estate of John du Pont, the delusional millionaire accused of killing Olympic gold medalist Dave Schultz on Jan. 26. The brothers joined du Pont's Team Foxcatcher in 1993 and became fast friends with Schultz, their childhood hero. Perhaps only the Brandses could say they noticed nothing unusual about du Pont's behavior. Like du Pont, Tom and Terry have a soft spot for firearms. Between them they have about four dozen shotguns, rifles and revolvers. "I liked John," says Terry. "He was an all right guy. He wasn't crazy or weird, maybe just a little eccentric. And by eccentric I mean he had more money than anyone I'd ever met. In my worst nightmare, I never thought he would kill anybody."
"On the other hand," says Tom, "if it turns out du Pont did kill Schultz, they should string him up from a tree, like in the Old West."
Tom and Terry's High Noon approach to wrestling—they never back down and they challenge an opponent to the point of humiliation—draws complaints from rivals and their coaches. "They've got to understand," Terry says, "we're just breaking the other guy mentally."
Mentally, neither Brands was much of a student. "Our college classes were 50 minutes long," says Tom, with a heavy sigh. "We'd go crazy at minute 35."