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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Twins Export Russian Wrestling Expertise

The Summer Olympics in Atlanta saw a familiar Russian face in the unfamiliar uniform of the Japanese Olympic team.


Sergei Beloglazov, a famous Soviet freestyle wrestler of the 1970s and '80s, stood by the mat shouting encouragements to one of his pupils, Japan's Takahiro Wada, in a battle against Russia's Magomed Azizov.


Beloglazov, who with his twin brother, Anatoly, once brought fame and fortune to the great Soviet wrestling program, now teaches others how to beat the Russians at their own game.


With his coach's advice, Wada defeated the Russian 10-0 on his way to winning the bronze, the only medal that Japanese wrestlers claimed in Atlanta.


"I was hoping they would meet in the Olympic final," Beloglazov, 40, said a couple of weeks later while attending the World Junior Championships in Moscow.


The Beloglazov brothers dominated lightweight classes in freestyle wrestling for many years, winning three Olympic and nine world titles between them.


Now, Sergei trains the Japanese while Anatoly is in charge of Australia's wrestling program.


"We could have had even more medals if it wasn't for the Soviet boycott of the L.A. Olympics in 1984," said Sergei, who is 15 minutes younger than his brother. "We were both undefeated that year."


The two brothers were always close to each other throughout their careers. "We started to wrestle on the same day and we wanted to finish together," the younger Beloglazov said.


It didn't work out that way as Anatoly was forced to retire in 1987 following stomach surgery. Sergei carried on to win his second Olympic gold in Seoul in 1988.


Sergei said they never competed against each other at the championship level.


"We didn't want to beat each other up, so if Anatoly wrestled at 52 kilograms, I would go up to 57 kilograms. When he moved to 57 kilograms -- I'd move to 62 kilograms," he said.


Once he retired from wrestling, Sergei moved to Allentown, Pennsylvania, in 1990 to take over the wrestling program at Lehigh University. Soon, Anatoly followed his brother abroad, going to Canada to head the national team.


"In Allentown I started from scratch without knowing the language," said Sergei who developed Lehigh into a respectable collegiate wrestling power. "But I always wanted to coach at the highest level. Besides, in the U.S. no wrestling coach could make more than $45,000 per year."


When the call came from the Japanese to take over the national team, Sergei didn't hesitate. In Tokyo he earns twice as much money and travels frequently.


"I don't get to see my family that often," he said.


He maintains a house in Allentown where his two kids go to school. Sergei dreams of one day coaching the Russian Olympic wrestling team.


Despite training the Japanese, he cannot stop himself from rooting for Russia.


"In my mind I am helping the Japanese, but in my heart I always want Russia to win."