SALT LAKE CITY -- Mementos belonging to Olympic hero Rulon Gardner are going on the auction block this weekend, to end a multi-million dollar bankruptcy case.
Gardner's USA Wrestling robe, his Sydney Olympic jacket and a gold ring commemorating his stunning win over Russian Alexander Karelin in the 2000 Olympic Summer Games are among the hundreds of items being auctioned off. Court filings indicate Gardner's Olympic medals, including his gold from the 2000 upset victory were previously sold to pay off debts.
In an interview with FOX 13 on Friday, Gardner was upbeat about the auction.
"For me an my wife, we just decided that, you know what? That's stuff in the past and it's time to move forward," he said. "We're getting a fresh start and we're looking forward to the future."
Gardner said he filed bankruptcy as a result of a bad real-estate deal he was involved in. While he would like to have saved some treasured effects, Gardner said the experiences are his.
"For me, they're just tokens of experiences. But I have the memories," he told FOX 13. "I have the experiences in my head and my heart that nobody will be able to take away from me."
Saturday's auction will pay off debts in the bankruptcy case. Gardner is now working as a medical products sales rep. He also does motivational speaking and coaches youth wrestling.
Gardner's life story is one of perseverance in the face of great odds. Beyond his victory at the games, Gardner nearly lost his foot to frostbite after being stranded in the Wyoming wilderness in 2002. He also almost died in a plane crash at Lake Powell in 2007.
For people at the Erkelens & Olson auction house, it was a chance to see the life of an Olympian. T-shirts autographed by famous friends, medals from competitions building up to the Sydney Olympics.
"I'm pretty amazed," said Gary Nielsen, a prosective bidder. "It's a once-in-a-lifetime collection as you come through here. You'll never find anything like this anywhere."