As far as Olympic medalists go in professional wrestling, Kurt Angle is the clear standout that wrestling fans point to when the topic comes up. How could you not? It was an integral part of Angle's character in the ring.
But he wasn't the only WWE superstar to be an Olympic medalist. That honor also belongs to Allen Coage, better known in the WWE Universe as Bad News Brown.
The first thing that comes to mind with Brown is his victory in the battle royal at WrestleMania IV, when Brown famously double-crossed fellow heel Bret Hart to win the coveted trophy that Hart promptly destroyed afterwards. Coincidentally, this was also the beginning of Hart's babyface run with the company, which would carry on for most of his career with WWE.
But years before he was victorious at WrestleMania and years before he was Bad News Brown, Allen Coage was just an 18-year-old looking to find a direction with his life. He found it on an advertisement in the New York subway for a Judo school that he promptly signed up for the very next day.
Coage would spend 15 years training in both the United States and Japan, and at the age of 34, he qualified for the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal in the Heavyweight division. Coage's dedication and determination earned him a bronze medal at the games for Team USA.
Following the Olympics, Coage found little to no income in Judo and thus, he had to find another outlet to make ends meet. With his size, skills and overall athleticism, he became a natural fit for professional wrestling, and he began training under legendary wrestler Antonio Inoki.
Coage would emerge as Bad News (first Allen, then later Brown) and become a star in Japan, Canada and eventually the United States, when he was brought into WWE during the 1980's. During his tenure with the company, he was built as a hard-lining heel who would destroy jobbers and provide quality midcard feuds with the likes of Roddy Piper and Jake Roberts, not to mention notable matches with champion Hulk Hogan.
However, Coage was not long for WWE and left the company under disgruntled circumstances in 1990.
He competed around the world for various promotions until his official retirement in 1999. Sadly, he passed away due to a heart attack in 2007. Coage was 63 years old.
During his short tenure with WWE, Coage might have been a typical heel at the time with his rule-breaking attitude, but in reality, Coage was a character ahead of his time. His black boots, black trunks and friction with WWE officials was truly a forerunner to at least one popular technical brawler in the 1990s.
I don't dare put Coage on the same level as Stone Cold Steve Austin, but he was certainly a great character during the wrong era of WWE to really maximize his popularity. Not to mention, he worked notoriously stiff in the ring.
Regardless, Coage holds a special place in WWE history, and who knows if a WWE Hall of Fame induction is in his future, but Coage's legacy doesn't necessarily need that accolade to be complete.
What he earned is what every athlete is looking to earn themselves over the next 17 days in London: an Olympic medal while representing their country.
Earlier this year, I wrote a more extensive piece on Coage's career that features more on his career in Stampede Wrestling and his infamous standoff with Andre The Giant. Here's a link for you to continue reading.