Aleksandr Aleksandrovich Karelin, or simply Alexander Karelin, (Александр Александрович Карелин; born September 19, 1967 in Novosibirsk, Russian SFSR) is a Hero of the Russian Federation and was a dominant Greco-Roman wrestler for the Soviet Union and later, after its dissolution, for Russia.He won gold medals at the 1988, 1992, and 1996 Olympic Games. Nicknamed the "Russian Bear", he went undefeated in international competition (spanning from 1987 until 2000), save for being upset in his last match by American Rulon Gardner in the gold-medal match at the Sydney Olympics. Karelin went the last six years of his unbeaten streak without giving up a point. He was revered for his extraordinary strength and unprecedented success in international competition. He is universally considered to be the greatest Greco-Roman wrestler of all time. He also took part in professional wrestling, performing in a worked contest against Akira Maeda in the professional wrestling promotion, RINGS, in 1999.
He competed at the heaviest weight class of his day, 130 kg (286 lb). His conditioning, quickness, and incredible physical stature for his weight, perhaps combined with his dominance of the sport, led to him being known as "The Experiment" by much of the rest of the world. The term connoted the notion that his strength and skill were the result of some kind of scientific experiment. When asked why he thought he was called that, Karelin noted that others don't understand because "I train every day of my life as they have never trained a day in theirs."
Karelin was famous for his reverse body lift, the "Karelin Lift," where facing the opponent who was lying flat on the mat to keep from being thrown, Karelin hoisted his opponents into the air and slammed them violently to the mat. This devastatingly effective maneuver, which had long been in use by lighter wrestlers but not by heavyweights, required immense strength. Karelin's ability to perform this throw against elite opponents weighing as much as 130 kg was amazing to audiences as well as other participants and observers of the sport. Developed with the help of Victor Kuznetsov, his only coach, the move became Karelin’s trademark and so intimidated his opponents that many simply rolled over and allowed themselves to be pinned rather than risk injury. Karelin's long arms played as much a part in this as his strength and physical conditioning.
Karelin's first loss in 13 years of international competition, and first lost point in 6 years, occurred in the 2000 Summer Olympics wrestling finals against Rulon Gardner. Karelin had earlier beaten Gardner in 1997. Gardner took the gold medal.
Karelin officially retired from competitive wrestling in 2000 and began his political career. He joined the United Russia party and was elected to the State Duma as a representative of the Novosibirsk Oblast in 1999 and 2003. In 2007 he was elected to the Duma as a representative of the Stavropol Krai. He is a member of Duma's committee on international affairs.