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One bright part of the Olympic picture for the U.S.—partly because it was so unexpected—came in wrestling. The guy who had the most weight to throw around was 405-pound Chris Taylor, but in his first match he had the singular misfortune to come up against 225-pound Alexander Medved, Russia's seven-time world champion. That cost Taylor the gold medal. Every time he made a move, he found himself double-cautioned by the referee, a Turk, and he lost 3-1. When the match was over, the chief referee questioned the Turk's judgment.
"Well," said the Turk, pointing at Taylor, "he weighs 400 pounds and the Russian only weighs 225 pounds. I thought such an advantage was unfair."
"Get out," said the head referee, "and don't come back."
Taylor accepted the loss with the same equanimity with which he fields such questions as how big is your girl friend. When he has had enough, he lumbers off and disappears. He won all his remaining matches, including one against a Japanese named Yorihide Isogai, whom he pinned simply by lowering himself atop the man and quietly resting until Isogai gave up and dropped both shoulders to the mat. Medved sailed through undefeated to win his third straight Olympics and bent down and kissed the mat goodby. Because of the penalties he incurred in the first match, Taylor could do no better than a bronze.
Bearded, beaded, cheery little Rick Sanders took a silver in the bantamweight division, and John Peterson did the same in the middleweight. Peterson's brother Ben took one of America's three golds by finishing ahead of Russia's Gennad Strakhov in the light heavyweight class. "It's tough to beat a Russian," said Wayne Wells, who went undefeated in the welterweight division to add a gold medal to a recent degree in law. "They get all the breaks. They've got 488 Communist officials here. We've got four from America, and they don't get any help from the rest of the free world."
One guy who needed absolutely no help was Dan Gable, who took all seven of his matches to win the lightweight division. At the end he had five stitches over his left eye, a bandage on his left ear, one on his left middle finger and another on his left knee, but he did everything right, not once leaving his amazingly quick feet except by his own will.
"I've devoted my life to winning that gold medal," Gable said. When they put it around his neck, he lifted it from his chest and kissed it.