Kurt Angle is an American semi-retired professional wrestler, Olympic gold medalist in American freestyle wrestling who competed at heavyweight and former collegiate folkstyle wrestler. He is currently signed with WWE. He is also known for his tenure at Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA).
While at Clarion University of Pennsylvania, Angle won numerous accolades, including being a two-time National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I Heavyweight Wrestling Champion. After graduating from college, Angle won a gold medal in freestyle wrestling at the 1995 World Wrestling Championships. He then won the freestyle wrestling gold medal at the 1996 Summer Olympics with a broken neck. He is one of four people to complete an amateur wrestling Grand Slam (Junior Nationals, NCAA, World Championships, and Olympics). In 2006, he was named by USA Wrestling as the greatest shoot wrestler ever and one of the top 15 college wrestlers of all time. He was inducted into the International Sports Hall of Fame in 2016 for his amateur accomplishments.
Angle made his first appearance at a pro-wrestling event in 1996, and signed with the World Wrestling Federation (later renamed WWE) in 1999. Noted for his rapid comprehension of the business, he had his debut match that August within the company’s developmental system after mere days of training, and participated in his first televised WWF storyline in March 1999. After months of unaired matches, Angle made his televised in-ring debut in November and received his first major push in the company in February 2000, when he held the European and Intercontinental Championships simultaneously. Four months later, he won the 2000 King of the Ring tournament and soon thereafter began pursuing the WWF Championship, which he won in October. This capped off a WWF rookie year which is considered by many to be the greatest in history. Among other accomplishments in the WWF/E, Angle has held the WWF/WWE Championship four times, the WCW Championship once, and the World Heavyweight Championship once. He is the tenth Triple Crown Champion and the fifth Grand Slam Champion (achieving this accolade twice under both the original and current format) in WWE history. On March 31, 2017, Angle was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.
After leaving WWE in 2006, Angle joined Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA, now known as Impact Wrestling) where he became the inaugural and record six-time TNA World Heavyweight Champion, and the second Triple Crown winner in TNA history (as well as the only one to hold all required titles at once). Angle is also a two-time King of the Mountain. As part of TNA, he made appearances for New Japan Pro-Wrestling (NJPW) and the Inoki Genome Federation (IGF), holding the IWGP Heavyweight Championship once. In 2013, Angle was inducted into the TNA Hall of Fame: he is the second wrestler, after Sting, to be inducted into both the WWE and TNA Halls of Fame.
Between WWF/WWE, Japan and TNA, Angle has won 21 total championships and overall is a 13-time world champion. He is the only pro-wrestler in history to have won the WWE Championship, WWE’s World Heavyweight Championship, the WCW Championship, the TNA World Heavyweight Championship and the IGF’s IWGP Heavyweight Championship. Angle is also the only person to have been King of the Ring (WWE) and King of the Mountain (TNA), as well as to have held both the WWE and TNA Triple Crowns. He has headlined numerous pay-per-view events for WWF/WWE and TNA, including WrestleMania XIX and Bound for Glory on three occasions, the flagship events of the respective companies. In 2004, the Wrestling Observer Newsletter inducted Angle into its Hall of Fame and later named him “Wrestler of the Decade” for the 2000s. He is considered one of the greatest professional wrestlers of all time. Former opponent and industry veteran John Cena said of Angle’s legacy within WWE: “He is, without question, the most gifted all-around performer we have ever had step into a ring. There will never be another like him.”