Back in 1996, I remember hearing the news that Olympic champion Dave Schultz was murdered by some guy named du Pont in Pennsylvania. I had no idea what Team Foxcatcher was, but as an 11 year old kid who wrestled, I was taken aback by hearing this news. The movie Foxcatcher introduced me to a few things related to the story but it did not compare to the ESPN 30 for 30 titled The Prince of Pennsylvania.
I had no idea that Foxcatcher became a national power, and then an international power in the wrestling world. John du Pont gave American wrestlers an opportunity to train for a living, and the result, equaled tremendous success for USA wrestling. He basically financed USA wrestling and gave them tremendous facilities, tons of cash, a place for their families to live, basically in exchange for friendship. But then things started to get a little weird around the training compound. As early as 1987, du Pont began showing signs he might be a little bit off his rocker. It eventually led to Olympic champ Mark Schultz leaving the training center and never wrestling again. At the time, Mark was the most accomplished wrestler there and du Pont had a weird admiration for him. The other guys decided to stay, life was too good and eventually, du Pont brought out Dave Schultz, Mark's older brother to train and prepare for competition. Mark told Dave that he didn't think it was a great idea but at the time, Dave was an assistant college wrestling coach and didn't want to pass up the opportunity. Dave and du Pont developed a friendship and things were going well as Foxcatcher was the premier training facility in the world.
And then the paranoia began. Foxcatcher Farm began as family friendly environment for the athletes to train. But then it turned into a military-esque compound with security guards and chain linked fences. John du Pont believed someone was out to get him. This led to some of the guys leaving. For the others, they knew they should probably leave, but the Olympics were around the corner and they didn't want to leave John in the state he was currently in. Afterall, John gave these guys a tremendous opportunity to compete and to be compensated for it. All this eventually led to incident that occurred in January of 1996.
John du Pont's paranoia led to him shooting Dave Schultz three times, with the third shot being the fatal one. It was tough for me to watch the closing scenes of this documentary. The 911 call was hard to listen to. It was from a wife who just saw her husband get shot down in their driveway. Then Mark talks about those final moments in his brothers life. The different thoughts that must have been going through his head. How Dave knew he was going to die and leave a wife and two children behind. It shows a mother who feels like she let her child down. How somehow she is at fault for Dave never leaving the training compound. It shows a father who is at a loss for words because of his son being gunned down on a cold day while working on his car. Almost 20 years after this terrible event occurred, these thoughts and emotions are still there for the family.
This documentary had me on the edge of my seat for the 60 minutes that it aired.
Chris is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist and member of the National Strength & Conditioning Association. He has recently served as a high school football and wrestling coach. Chris loves swinging kettlebells around, watching football and reading books!