"We are survivors," Tedeyev said. "We endure. Do you know that this was where Alexander the Great was stopped? Even though he outnumbered us 20 to one?"
Wrestling. I waited for the Aeroflot plane with the war correspondents.
For the past two years the Ossetians have held a competition called Ossetia Against the World, inviting the best foreign wrestlers to compete against them. A number of U.S. champions have participated, drawn by large cash prizes. The first year, 1994, Ossetia beat the World, six matches to four. Last year the World won, 6-4.
After I returned home I called the American wrestler whom the Ossetians had mentioned most, a particular favorite of theirs who had been to the republic many times and spoke Russian. He was not home when I called, so I spoke to his wife. She had some of the same feelings I had. She said Ossetia once had been "the safest place in the world to visit but now is the scariest." She said the wrestlers certainly were in control of more than just wrestling. Her husband, she said, could talk more about all this.
I meant to call back the next day, but something happened, then something happened the day after that. There was no rush. Two weeks went past, and I opened the newspaper one morning to read that Dave Schultz, the wrestler the Ossetians loved so dearly, had been shot dead on the grounds of John du Pont's estate in Newtown Square, Pa. The police had surrounded the mansion and arrested Du Pont for the murder.
Wrestling. The story was supposed to be about wrestling.