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World champion and Olympic bronze medalist Chris Campbell, who now resides in Fairfax, Calif., has been elected as a Distinguished Member of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.
Campbell had an amazing career as an international freestyle wrestler, competing with power, technical skill and a fierce competitiveness. He reached the top of the world in 1981, when he won the World gold medal at 82 kg/180.5 lbs. in Skopje, Yugoslavia and was named the Most Technical Wrestler at the tournament.
The year before, Campbell qualified for the 1980 U.S. Olympic team. However, he was unable to compete at the Moscow Olympic Games because of the U.S. government boycott. Many believe he had the ability to win the Olympic gold medal had he been able to attend.
Campbell’s goal to win an Olympic medal never faded, which led to one of the greatest comebacks in U.S. wrestling history. It demonstrated one of his great attributes, a burning dedication to be a champion.
Campbell encountered injury challenges while seeking a spot on the 1984 Olympic team, and stopped competing. He served as a college assistant coach, with stints at Iowa, Iowa State, Cornell and Syracuse, and pursued other personal goals, such as getting a law degree. In 1989, when Campbell was at the advanced age of 34 years old, he made a comeback as an athlete. He climbed to No. 2 in the United States that first year back on the mats.
By 1990, Chris had become the No. 1 wrestler in his weight class, and earned a silver medal at the World Championships in Tokyo, Japan. At the amazing age of 37, he earned a spot on the 1992 Olympic team that competed in Barcelona, Spain. Losing his opening match to the eventual champion, he battled back to claim an Olympic bronze medal. He was the oldest-known U.S. Olympic wrestling medalist, one of the most impressive individual performances in American wrestling history.
Among his other freestyle achievements were a Tbilisi Tournament gold medal, four World Cup titles, a Pan American Games silver medal and numerous national freestyle titles.
He made his first major impact in college, where he won two NCAA Div. I titles for the Univ. of Iowa (1976 and 1977), training under great coaches including Dan Gable, Gary Kurdelmeier and J Robinson. He also was a NCAA runner-up. He was a high school wrestler from Westfield, N.J.
Campbell’s involvement in wrestling and the Olympic movement did not end when he won the bronze medal in Barcelona. He remained an active leader within USA Wrestling and the U.S. Olympic Committee, serving on their Boards. He also worked as the Executive Director of USA Boxing for over a year, leading the national governing body for that sport.
He currently works as a corporate attorney. He serves on the International Court for Arbitration in Sport, and is an arbitrator for AAA for the USADA doping adjudication panel.