MOSCOW, April 20 (R-Sport) - Three-time Olympic gold medal-winning wrestler Alexander Karelin has not died despite reports he had drowned, the head of Russia’s wrestling federation told R-Sport on Saturday.
Reports in local media in the southern Astrakhan region of Russia claimed Saturday that Karelin had drowned in a river while fishing, but more recent reports indicate the deceased is another man with the same name.
Russian Wrestling Federation president Mikhail Mamiashvili, himself also an Olympic champion, said Karelin was alive and well in his home region of Siberia.
“I’ve been in touch with his friends,” Mamiashvili said. “They said he is the Novosibirsk region and hasn’t left its boundaries to go anywhere.”
Novosibirsk is 1,600 kilometers from Astrakhan.
Karelin won super heavyweight Greco-Roman gold at the 1988, 1992 and 1996 Olympics, as well as silver in Sydney in 2000.
He is known for pioneering the Karelin lift, a spectacular move in which the opponent is dropped from a great height for a maximum score.
Since retiring as a wrestler, he has become a politician and is a member of the lower house of the Russian parliament for the ruling United Russia party.