The 33-year-old Greco-Roman wrestler is in Athens and will begin defending his Olympic superheavyweight title on Aug. 23.
SI: Have you had any of the following yet: gyros, souvlaki or ouzo?
Gardner: Ouzo, no. The other two, yes. I did have one bite of cow stomach the other day. It was good, but it was cow stomach.
SI: What did you think Athens would be like?
Gardner: I was here in '99 and '01 and I expected it to be the same. Everybody was saying how bad it was going to be and how it wasn't organized, and I kind of expected that. But the people have changed this country overnight. If you look at everything they've had to do in the last five or six years, it is a miracle that they are ready.
SI: You were married last month, and your wife, Lisa, will be in Athens along with 15 other members of your family. What would it be like if I sat in the Gardner section during one of your matches?
Gardner: You'd feel scared and loved at the same time.
SI: Which pro athlete would make a good wrestler?
Gardner: Karl Malone. He's tall and powerful. And I'm good friends with Larry Walker, who is a big guy and has a little meanness to him. We've wrestled a few times and I've put him in a few front headlocks. At that point he didn't respond very much.
SI: You're retiring after these Games. Will you leave your shoes on the mat after your final match?