John Smith’s international superstardom in wrestling began in 1987 when he won his first world championship title in Freestyle wrestling. In the following year, it was clear that John Smith would continue to be challenged when he needed to beat the American defending Olympic champion from 1984 just to represent the United States at the world championships. Sure enough, he rose to the occasion and went on to represent the United States at the world championships where he won his Olympic Gold medal.
After this victory, Adidas signed a shoe contract with John Smith. Just as you’d expect from any Olympic gold medal, money and opportunities followed. All seemed to be progressing nicely and comfortably until he entered a tournament in Cuba four months later and lost. This led to some drastic changes in his life.
Keeping It Simple
“If I’m gonna train and try to be the best, I need to put myself in that atmosphere where it’ll allow me to do that and living minimal was important for me to stay focused.”
For the remainder of his career, John Smith lived on $1,000 per month (due to inflation, that’s $1,872 per month in 2017). He consolidated everything, lived in a one bedroom apartment, and drove a cheap car. The point of all of this? To keep things a simple as can be.
“It wasn’t something I wanted to do…those were the things that gave me an edge. I can’t go somewhere every weekend, I can’t do these things… I got a $1,000 budget, and it just kinda kept things real simple for me. My training was first, my mind was first, my body was first, [and] nothing else really mattered at the time.”
Throughout his wrestling career, John Smith would work out twice a day. He’d also consistently look for a mental edge and would do this through unconventional things.
For five years, John Smith would wake up at 2AM so he could run stadium stairs at Gallagher-Iba arena at Oklahoma State University, where he trained. The reasoning here was that he wanted a mental edge over his Russian rivals as Russia is an international powerhouse in wrestling. In addition to this training session, he would do additional workouts for that edge.
“While the Russians are sleeping, I’m working.”
Growth Is A Necessity
“The challenge is always repeating. If you’re going another four years… winning a silver medal wasn’t an option after winning two golds, and it just kinda drove me to a new level.”
John Smith was known as one of the best wrestling technicians in American history. Deep into the process late one night, John Smith discovered potential for a new attack and developed it into a wrestling takedown that has been adopted by the rest of the world ever since- the low single leg. He sharped his technique with the low single to the extent where everyone knew it was coming, but they couldn’t stop it.
The result? Six back-to-back World and Olympic championships from 1987 all the way to the 1992 Olympic games in Barcelona. This feat hasn’t been repeated in United States history and puts John Smith as one of the all-time wrestling greats in the world.
Sometimes, life isn’t about adding more things (even if they’re positive). What can you remove from your life to keep your life simple?