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A Wrestler's Passion Carried On by Widow

By Athelia Knight
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, July 7 1996; Page D10
The Washington Post

On the eve of the recent Olympic freestyle wrestling trials in Spokane, Wash., Nancy Schultz drove to the airport to pick up the coaches for the Dave Schultz Wrestling Club, named in honor of her late husband. It was midnight by the time she dropped them off at their hotel. Six hours later, she was in the blue seats of the Spokane Arena for a 6:20 a.m. local television interview, urging viewers to come out and watch the trials. Later, she stood on the floor near the wrestling mat and cheered on the 12 Schultz club members during their matches.

Staying involved with the wrestlers is helping Nancy Schultz cope with the murder of her husband, Dave, a 1984 Olympic gold medalist and much admired wrestler who had been a favorite to earn a spot on the U.S. team and win another medal in Atlanta.

"This is a closely knit group," Schultz said of the wrestlers. "And right now, these guys have even pulled a little closer together for me. They really have extended support to me and my children.

"I try to do what I can. My husband had a lot of enthusiasm for the sport of wrestling. He had a passion for it and I would like to continue to share that with other people."

Dave Schultz was shot to death Jan. 26 outside of his home on a Newtown Square, Pa., estate where he was training for the Olympics with Team Foxcatcher. The estate owner and team sponsor, John E. du Pont, has been charged with Schultz's murder and is in jail while he awaits trial. At a preliminary hearing for du Pont, Nancy Schultz testified that she saw du Pont shoot her husband in the back.

Before Dave Schultz's murder, du Pont provided monthly stipends to many of the Foxcatcher wrestlers. He built a state-of-the-art training facility on his estate, allowed Dave Schultz and others to live in houses on his estate and paid travel expenses to tournaments.

After Dave Schultz's death, some of the Foxcatcher wrestlers told Nancy Schultz that they wanted to form a new team and asked if they could name it after her husband. She agreed. The club -- which has about 30 members, most of whom used to train at the du Pont estate -- received a $50,000 grant from the U.S. Olympic Committee and has gotten additional support from USA Wrestling, corporate sponsors and private donors.

Since Schultz's slaying, most of the wrestlers who trained with Team Foxcatcher have left the club and are training with the Schultz club or other clubs recognized by USA Wrestling, the governing body for the sport. USA Wrestling decertified Team Foxcatcher because it wasn't a safe training environment. But a few wrestlers, including Tom Brands of Iowa City, who earned a spot on the U.S. team at the trials, are still supported by du Pont.

Some wrestlers have criticized the others who continue to take money from du Pont. Others, such as Bruce Baumgartner, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and friend of Dave Schultz, have mixed emotions. "I really don't feel it is right," said Baumgartner. "But I'm not going to criticize the people who do it because it might be the only way they can compete or the only way they can support their family."

Nancy Schultz calls the decision by some wrestlers to continue to accept money from du Pont "immoral," but refuses to be drawn further into the controversy.

Instead, she and her children, Danielle and Alexander, are preparing to travel to Atlanta to cheer on the Schultz club wrestlers. "It gives us a little bit of their Dad's spirit," Schultz said.

© Copyright 1996 The Washington Post Company

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