As defending Olympic champion, Ben complained of receiving no more respect than Rodney Dangerfield. "Once you win the gold, you get the idea you're never going to lose again," he said. "But it doesn't work that way. Guys are out to beat you." Certainly Ben did not get much respect early last week from Bulgaria's Choukri Lutviev. With only five seconds left, Ben was behind 13-12, facing a defeat that possibly could have knocked him out of the running for even a bronze. Then with a remarkable effort of will, Ben drove in and grabbed a leg, rolled Lutviev over and angled the Bulgarian's shoulders toward the mat, a maneuver that earned him two points and victory in the bout. A Bulgarian protest that the maneuver deserved just one point was disallowed, as was the claim that the move occurred after time had run out.
Alas for Ben, he could not repeat the comeback in his showdown with Tediashvili. The Russian is so accustomed to dominating matches that he assumes an embarrassed expression when somebody manages to score a rare point against him. Otherwise, he all but yawns as he works his will on opponents. Tediashvili didn't quite do this to Ben. He literally had his hands full as he twisted and flexed his way to a 10-5 win. "Teddy is explosive but at the same time his technique is mostly basic stuff," said U.S. Coach Wayne Baughman. "He ties people up, gets them to make mistakes and then takes advantage."
The one benefit in wrestling Teddy is that it can be educational. Following his Olympic loss to the Russian in Munich, John Peterson decided it was time to expand his repertoire, which consisted mostly of leg attacks, by becoming better at counter wrestling, reacting to the other man's moves. "I really had only a couple of moves in Munich," John recalls. "I couldn't have got by using the same ones again."
It was a vastly improved John Peterson, then, who swept over six rivals in Montreal, including Russia's Viktor Novojilov, for the middleweight gold. Held to two-all after the first period, John soon exploded for 16 straight points—one spectacular six-point flurry coming when he repeatedly lifted Novojilov off the ground and rolled him across the mat, like a child pushing a hoop—winning 20-4. John cinched the gold by beating Turkey's Mehmet Uzun, then cheered in vain on the sidelines as Ben lost to Teddy, momentarily dampening John's joy over his own gold-medal performance. As John put it, "When you've got a brother in it with you, it's hard getting all wrapped up in yourself."