SALT LAKE CITY — In another setback for one of the world’s most decorated wrestlers, Olympic gold medalist Rulon Gardner filed for bankruptcy.
The move came after Gardner tried to capitalize on his fame in numerous business and publicity pursuits over the years.
However, he owes creditors nearly $3 million on a household income of $37,392, court records show.
Gardner disputes much of that debt, saying he is a victim of investment fraud, bankruptcy trustee David L. Miller told The Associated Press. Gardner will offer his version in a deposition scheduled for Oct. 10.
Less than three weeks later, a Salt Lake City auction house is set to sell off his most valuable belongings, including a Porsche, Harley-Davidson motorcycle, dozens of watches and knives, his wrestling shoes and autographed memorabilia.
Court records say the auction items were seized by the Cache County Sheriff’s Office with a court order obtained by his major creditor, Las Vegas-based WestCoast Lending Group Inc. The bankruptcy filing was made on Aug. 31.
No phone listing could be found for Gardner. His bankruptcy lawyer, Chad Shattuck, refused comment.
Gardner rose to fame at the 2000 Sydney Olympics by toppling Russian Alexander Karelin, who had been unbeaten for 13 years. A year later, Gardner won the world title.
Later, Gardner nearly died after a night stranded in the Wyoming wilderness, and he survived a motorcycle accident and a plane crash.
Last year, he weighed in at 474 pounds on the reality TV show “The Biggest Loser” before losing weight in a failed attempt to qualify for the London Olympics that friends say taxed his health.
Gardner moved to Wellsville, Utah, years ago and opened a gymnasium in nearby Logan that now operates under another name. He reportedly keeps an ownership interest in the business.
In his family’s hometown of Afton, Wyo., Gardner lent his name to a restaurant that served a 1.5-pound hamburger.
Boston-based Cone Communications, Gardner’s most recent publicity and marketing agents, didn’t return phone and email messages seeking comment.
As recently as July, Cone tried to pitch a story about Gardner’s attempted Olympic comeback bid — and the fact he lost 6 to 10 pounds of sweat per workout.