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|Fraser vs. Andersson is the new “Bout of the Week” on USA Wrestling Members-Only website|
By Gary Abbott USA Wrestling
USA Wrestling has updated its new "Bout of the Week" which has been posted as a video file on-line on TheMat.com Audio/Video website .
The featured match this week is the 1984 Steve Fraser vs. Frank Andersson men's Greco-Roman match at 90 kg/198 lbs. at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, Calif.
This is one of the most historic events in U.S. wrestling history, as Fraser faced one of the world's greatest Greco-Roman wrestlers on his home mats in the Olympic Games. The United States had never had an Olympic champion in the Greco-Roman style, and Fraser had an opportunity to knock down that barrier.
The athletes in this Olympic showdown came to Los Angeles coming from different places on the international scene.
Frank Andersson of Sweden started his international career as an Espoir World champion in 1973, and had climbed to the highest level of the sport. He won three World gold medals in Greco-Roman, with titles in 1977, 1979 and 1982. Andersson was also a World silver medalist twice in 1978 and 1981. Four times, Andersson won European titles. He was clearly one of the world's best wrestlers and among the favorites at the Los Angeles Olympic Games. The only thing missing from Andersson's storied career was an Olympic medal, after placing fifth and fourth at the two previous Olympic Games.
Fraser was a young wrestler from the United States who was working on his Olympic dream, but had yet to make an impact at the highest levels. A high school state champion in Michigan, he went on to the Univ. of Michigan, where he was a two-time All-American. Fraser decided to continue in wrestling on the international level, competing in both styles but gaining his reputation in Greco-Roman. He won national Greco-Roman titles in both 1981 and 1983, but also added a national freestyle title during the 1984 Olympic year. He also boasted a 1983 Pan American Games gold medal in Greco-Roman.
To make the U.S. team, Fraser had to defeat another wrestler who helping build the reputation of American wrestling, Mike Houck of Minnesota. Fraser had made U.S. World teams in 1979 and 1982, while Houck competed for the U.S. at the World Championships in 1981 and 1983. Their showdown in the 1984 Olympic Trials was one of the highlights of the event, held in Grand Valley State in Allendale, Mich. Fraser won an exciting three-match finals series against Houck, losing the first match 3-1, then capturing the final two bouts 2-0 and 3-3 by criteria.
The 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles was one of the two Olympic Games in which some of the top wrestling nations chose to boycott for political purposes. There was also a boycott at the 1980 Moscow Olympics. Some weight classes were affected more than others by this situation. The field at 90 kg/198 lbs. in Greco-Roman remained very strong in Los Angeles, however.
Fraser opened the Olympic tournament with a 4-1 victory over Karolj Kopas of Yugoslavia, then stopped Toni Hannula of Finland by disqualification. His third round opponent was Andersson, clearly one of the favorites to win the weight class.
Fraser had developed a fierce headlock which helped him reach this point in his career, and Andersson fell victim to this specialty. Fraser gained three points by using the headlock and ultimately defeated Andersson 4-1.
The road to gold was not over for Fraser, however. He needed another win to reach the finals, and used his headlock to defeat George Pozidis of Greece, 2-1. The gold medal match was against Ilie Matei of Romania, who scored the first point for a 1-0 lead. However, using a drag to score a takedown, Fraser knotted the score at 1-1 and when the period ended, Fraser won the criteria by scoring the last point and captured the gold medal. For the first time in history, the United States had an Olympic Greco-Roman champion, and the hometown crowd was ecstatic. Andersson came back to claim the bronze medal in the division.
The competitive careers of these athletes ended shortly after, as Andersson competed in one more World Championships and one more World Cup before leaving the international scene. Fraser shortly after entered the business world, ultimately getting a corporate executive position at Domino's Pizza, where he worked for 10 years. Fraser remained active in wrestling as a club coach and an assistant college coach as well.
Houck, the man Fraser beat to make the 1984 Olympic team, made history the following year when he became the first U.S. Greco-Roman wrestler to win a World gold medal, with a victory at the 1985 World Championships in Kolbatn, Norway.
Fraser has taken a prominent role in Greco-Roman wrestling for over a decade, after accepting the position as USA Wrestling's National Greco-Roman Coach in 1995. The U.S. program has experienced considerable success under Fraser's leadership.
Fraser led the U.S. to outstanding performances with three silver medals at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, Ga., three medals (a gold, silver and bronze) at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia and one medal at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece. In 2001, Fraser led the United States delegation to a third place team finish at the Greco-Roman World Championships, the highest team finish in U.S. Greco-Roman history. Among the athletes he has coached are World and Olympic champion Rulon Gardner, plus World champions Dremiel Byers and Dennis Hall.
This popular feature will be changed on a regular basis, allowing members to enjoy many of the greatest matches in wrestling history.
Posted in the archive section of the Members Only web page was the Kenny Monday vs. Arsen Fadzeav men's freestyle match at 74 kg/163 lbs. from the World Championships in Martigny, Switzerland. Many other entertaining and historic matches are in the archive section for the Bout of the Week.