Olympic icon Rulon Gardner put on 15 stone, turned down lucrative WWE deal and ran up debts of £3m after 2000 gold medal – The Sun

OLYMPIC star Rulon Gardner has opened up over hitting rock-bottom that included spiralling debts of £3million.

Gardner, 48, became an overnight celebrity in 2000 when he won a wrestling gold medal at the Sydney Olympics defeating the legendary Aleksandr Karelin.

Gardner was thrown into the limelight and started featuring on American talk shows.

As his popularity grew, so did his bank balance having gone from pocketing £7300-a-year to £200,000.

Then he received a lucrative offer from WWE worth "millions" but rejected it on the advice of his mother.

And he let his weight balloon to a dangerous 33 stone, adding 15 stone to his fighting weight.

In an interview with News.com, Gardner revealed: "I was offered millions by the WWE to compete for them and I turned it down.

"My mom said, ‘Is this the kid that I raised? Is this who you want to be to the youth of America?'"

Gardner would then have a fight in MMA worth £160,000 before being offered a further £800,000 after winning his debut.

He added: "My mom said, ‘Rulon, did I train my son to be a killer? Is that your goal in life? To hurt people?’"

"Wrestling is different. You don’t physically assault someone."

Then Gardner's life started unravelling before his eyes after wrongly investing in a hot-spring resort.

He said: "I thought it was a good opportunity, but it was a Ponzi scheme.

"The FBI took two and a half years investigating her and she pled guilty and served two years in federal prison. I got taken. And it cost me everything."

Gardner's bankruptcy case in 2012 reached £3m and he was forced to sell his home and every piece of memorabilia including his gold medal.

It also cost him his marriage leaving Gardner "looking down a barrel" while eating 14,000 calories a day and ballooning to a whopping 33 stone.

He added: "I just stopped caring. I was looking down the barrel of losing everything.”

Gardner has since rebuilt his life, losing 78kg through TV show "The Biggest Loser."

Now later worked in insurance before becoming a wrestling coach at a school at Salt Lake City.

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