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Kristjan Palusalu

Full name: Kristjan Palusalu
Other name(s): Christian Trossmann
Gender: Male
Height: 6-0.5 (185 cm)
Weight: 243 lbs (110 kg)
Born: March 10, 1908 in Saulepi, Pärnumaa, Estonia
Died: July 17, 1987 in Tallinn, Harjumaa, Estonia
Affiliations: Sport Tallinn
Country: EST Estonia
Sport: Wrestling

Medals: 2 Gold (2 Total)

Biography

Kristjan Palusalu can claim, more than any other wrestler, that for one year he was the ultimate wrestling champion. Palusalu shares with Ivar Johansson and Källe Anttila the distinction of having won Olympic gold in both styles of wrestling. Only he and Johansson, however, won them in the same Olympic year – 1936 for Palusalu. Palusalu wrestled in the heavyweight class, however, and was thus undoubtedly the finest wrestler in the world for the year 1936.

Palusalu participated in gymnastics, weightlifting and track and field athletics as a youth, not taking up wrestling until 1929, when he was already 21-years-old and serving in the Estonian Navy. Palusalu won his first medal in 1930, a bronze in freestyle heavyweight, at the Estonian Championships. In 1931 Palusalu won his first Estonian freestyle heavyweight title and, in 1932, won his first Estonian Greco-Roman title. Estonia did not send an Olympic team to the 1932 Olympics due to the Great Depression, so Palusalu made his international début at the 1933 European Greco-Roman Championships, where he was fourth in heavyweight. The next international tournament where Palusalu competed was his best, the 1936 Olympics, where he won gold medals in both styles. After the Olympics Palusalu won the 1937 European Greco-Roman heavyweight title, but had to retire from sports in early 1938 due to a severe shoulder injury. Domestically, Palusalu won 12 Estonian titles, from 1932-38 in Greco-Roman heavyweight and in 1931-33, and 1935-36 in freestyle heavyweight, and was selected as Estonian Sportsman of the Year in 1936.

From 1933-40 Palusalu worked as a prison guard in the Tallinn Central Prison. In 1940, when the Soviet Union annexed Estonia, Palusalu was sent to a Kotlas labor camp in Arkhangelsk Oblast. Palusalu managed to escape in 1941 with some friends, but he was caught and sentenced to death. This was commuted only to have him sent to the front on the Karelian Isthmus against the Finns. Half an hour after arriving on the front, Palusalu tried to cross and luckily was recognized by Heikki Savolainen, a lieutenant colonel of the Finnish Army, who ordered a ceasefire so that Palusalu could cross the front. Palusalu returned to the now German-occupied Estonia, but was arrested again by the Soviets in 1944 when they re-occupied Estonia. Palusalu was sent to a Siberian prison camp, but was released after two years. After his release Palusalu returned to Estonia, but was initially not allowed to work as a wrestling coach or act as a wrestling referee by Soviet officials. Thus, until his retirement in the late 1970s, Palusalu worked as a construction worker, although during the 1960s, during the Khrushchev Thaw, he was allowed to act as a wrestling referee in some local tournaments.

Results

Games Age City Sport Event Team NOC Rank Medal
1936 Summer 28 Berlin Wrestling Men's Heavyweight, Greco-Roman Estonia EST 1 Gold
1936 Summer 28 Berlin Wrestling Men's Heavyweight, Freestyle Estonia EST 1 Gold

Men's Heavyweight, Greco-Roman

Games Age City Sport Team NOC Phase Unit Rank Date Result BP MR
1936 Summer 28 Berlin Wrestling Estonia EST Final Standings 1 1936-08-06
1936 Summer 28 Berlin Wrestling Estonia EST Final Round Match #1 1 1936-08-09 Palusalu (EST) decision (3-0), Hornfischer (GER)
1936 Summer 28 Berlin Wrestling Estonia EST Round Four 1T 1936-08-09 2
1936 Summer 28 Berlin Wrestling Estonia EST Round Four Match #2 1 1936-08-09 Palusalu (EST) decision (3-0), Çoban (TUR) 1
1936 Summer 28 Berlin Wrestling Estonia EST Round Three 1 1936-08-08 1
1936 Summer 28 Berlin Wrestling Estonia EST Round Three Match #4 1 1936-08-08 Palusalu (EST) decision (3-0), Nyman (SWE) 1
1936 Summer 28 Berlin Wrestling Estonia EST Round Two 1T 1936-08-07 0
1936 Summer 28 Berlin Wrestling Estonia EST Round Two Match #5 1 1936-08-07 Palusalu (EST) fall (10:36), Kondorossy (ROU) 0
1936 Summer 28 Berlin Wrestling Estonia EST Round One 1T 1936-08-06 0
1936 Summer 28 Berlin Wrestling Estonia EST Round One Match #5 1 1936-08-06 Palusalu (EST) fall (8:41), Schöll (AUT) 0

Men's Heavyweight, Freestyle

Games Age City Sport Team NOC Phase Unit Rank Date Result BP MR
1936 Summer 28 Berlin Wrestling Estonia EST Final Standings 1 1936-08-03
1936 Summer 28 Berlin Wrestling Estonia EST Final Round Match #1 1 1936-08-04 Palusalu (EST) decision (3-0), Nyström (FIN)
1936 Summer 28 Berlin Wrestling Estonia EST Round Four 1 1936-08-04 1
1936 Summer 28 Berlin Wrestling Estonia EST Round Four Match #2 1 1936-08-04 Palusalu (EST) fall (6:15), Bürki (SUI) 0
1936 Summer 28 Berlin Wrestling Estonia EST Round Three 1T 1936-08-04 1
1936 Summer 28 Berlin Wrestling Estonia EST Round Three Match #2 1 1936-08-04 Palusalu (EST) decision (3-0), Çoban (TUR) 1
1936 Summer 28 Berlin Wrestling Estonia EST Round Two 1 1936-08-04 0
1936 Summer 28 Berlin Wrestling Estonia EST Round Two Match #1 1 1936-08-04 Palusalu (EST) fall (6:45), Herland (FRA) 0
1936 Summer 28 Berlin Wrestling Estonia EST Round One 1T 1936-08-03 0
1936 Summer 28 Berlin Wrestling Estonia EST Round One Match #1 1 1936-08-03 Palusalu (EST) fall (10:50), Klapuch (TCH) 0
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