Former WWE Champion Kurt Angle Opens Up About His Struggle With Addiction

By David Konow 06/29/16

The 47-year-old Olympic Gold medalist credits his family with keeping him on the right track in sobriety. 

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Former WWE Champion Kurt Angle Opens Up About His Struggle With Addiction

The world of professional wrestling has proven to be a very successful industry for decades, but it’s also been dogged by tragedy, with a number of performers succumbing to steroids and other illegal substances. In April, former WWE champion Chyna passed away from a prescription drug overdose. Recently, former three-time WWE World Heavyweight champion Roman Reigns was suspended for a drug violation. And in a recent interview, Olympic gold medalist and WWE superstar Kurt Angle opened up about his own battle with addiction. 

At the turn of the new millennium, Kurt Angle became a major star for WWE, and after leaving the organization he became a champ for TNA, Total Nonstop Action Wrestling. He has won world championships in the WWE, WCW, TNA, and IWGP. Angle is also an Olympic gold medalist in freestyle wrestling.

But, as he told Sports Illustrated, he reached a crisis point when he lost his father, and then his wrestling coach and mentor was murdered by millionaire John du Pont, Angle's Olympic sponsor. Angle first turned to alcohol, then mixed it with pills, stacking up several DUIs before he was convinced to go to rehab in 2013 by Dixie Carter, the owner of TNA. Like many wrestlers, Angle was also accused of using steroids, which he denied.

Angle told Sports Illustrated that he’s been clean for three years this July. “I treat the battle with addiction the same way I treated my Olympic gold medal," he said. "I realize I’m not going to overcome my addiction overnight, just like I knew I wasn’t going to win the gold medal overnight. It is one day at a time, which is the same way I trained.”

Angle said his family has helped keep him on the right track. “Every day is important to stay clean—not only for me, but also for my family,” he said. “If I make the wrong move, I’m dead and my kids are fatherless.”

Angle is also developing an app, #AngleStrong, to help people cope with their addictions. He’s currently looking for the right team to develop the app, and after speaking publicly about his troubles, he wants to do more to help. He wants his app to be like Uber. “If an addict is in trouble, they call and someone shows up.”

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In addition to contributing for The Fix, David Konow has also written for Esquire, Deadline, LA Weekly, Village Voice, The Wrap, and many other publications and websites. He is also the author of the three decade history of heavy metal, Bang Your Head (Three Rivers Press), and the horror film history Reel Terror (St Martins Press). Find David on LinkedIn and Facebook.