“What do you practice for? What do you train for? To improve”
Jeff Blatnick, former Greco-Roman Olympic gold medalist, UFCand Olympic wrestling commentator, MMA judge and advocate, and motivational speakerpassed away today from complications related to heart surgery. He is survived by his wife and two children.
Blatnick had planned on wrestling in the 1980 Olympics, but the USA boycotted the games. In 1982, was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Disease, had his spleen and appendix removed and underwent radiation treatment. In 1984, Blatnick defeatedSweden’s Tomas Johansson for the gold medal, a feat even more impressive after Johanssontested positive for Methenolone, an anabolic steroid. After his victory, Blatnick was chosen to be Team USA’s flag bearer during the closing ceremony. A year later, Blatnick suffered a relapse of Hodgkin's, overcame it again, and officially retired by 1988.
Jeff went on to work as a commentator for both Olympic wrestling and UFC 4 through 32. He also spent some time as the commissioner of the UFC. He constantly worked to get MMA legalized and accepted, and his work on the Mixed Martial Arts Council Manual was a precursor to the current Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts. He not just a MMA judge, but pretty much the best MMA judge. His method for scoring rounds makes the most sense to me, and I wish it would get adopted across the board for all judges.
Here's a clip of Blatnick explaining that he never set out to become an Olympian, he just wanted to be the best each time he stepped onto the mat.
Blatnick Talks Wrestling, MMA, and Judging
In one of his most recent interviews, Jeff Blatnick speaks with Luke Thomas about wrestling and judging in MMA.
Jeff Blatnick Wins Gold
I'll finish with the last minutes of Blatnick's gold medal contest in the 1984 Olympics. Full match, minus his emotional interview, can be found here.