Mark Schultz: Where Is He Now?

Life After Wrestling

By Jason Probst Nov 7, 2008
Trevor Williams/

Mark Schultz faced Gary
Goodridge at UFC 9.
Life after wrestling had left Schultz with a competitive drive that still burned. Brazilian jiu-jitsu lessons were a revelation to him.

“The moves in jiu-jitsu are all against the wrestling rules,” Schultz said. “I was like, ‘Why are we denying wrestling these moves?’ Wrestling always should have been submission wrestling. As soon as I realized that, I went into Brazilian jiu-jitsu.”

Following his one-sided thrashing of Goodridge in his MMA debut, Schultz promptly disappeared from the scene to keep his coaching job at BYU. His exit was one of the great mysteries of the sport, which was just getting its foothold in the states, along with the big money that would come a few years later.

“The president of the school at the time was already anti-wrestling, and on the front cover of the Salt Lake Tribune, there was a picture of me on top of Gary Goodridge with him all bloody,” he said.

He opted for coaching and stayed with BYU from 1994 to 2000, getting a master’s degree in physical education en route.

“Then they dropped the sport in 2000. Then I got the arm infection. Then a divorce,” he said. “It threw me into a pit.”

Schultz was contacted by promoter Antonio Inoki through mutual associates about taking what he believed to be a staged pro wrestling-style match. Flown to Japan to meet the Japanese icon of pro wrestling, Schultz was given first-class treatment. He believed he would eventually become a star in the pro wrestling scene in Japan.

He was sitting at home in 2003 when the phone rang, in the midst of an ugly divorce that has included a still-simmering custody battle for his three children.

“I’m sitting in my apartment in Salt Lake City, kicked out of my house. I had a computer, a bed and a toilet,” he said.

A friend who coached USA Wrestling contacted him, offering a pro wrestling-style match, through Inoki, for $25,000.

“I’m like, ‘Hell yeah, I’ll do it.’ I get flown to Japan. I’m gonna make this new life there. They’re treating me well, and I trusted them. I meet Inoki, who put me up in this nice hotel in the Tokyo Dome,” Schultz said. “Finally, somebody is recognizing the value of my name, like Kurt Angle in New Japan Pro Wrestling. I meet some of Inoki’s pro wrestlers. I go there and everything is set, this is just incredible how great this is. I thought Inoki was the greatest guy in the world.”

This is what Schultz had been waiting for, or so he thought.

He said he understood his scheduled match to be a pro wrestling-style bout, with a scripted ending along with the staged drama of that genre. And he would be paid a hefty sum of $25,000 against Leopoldo Montenegro. The match was set for the Jungle Fight promotion in Brazil in September 2003.

“Then about a day before I’m scheduled to go down to Brazil, I get on a Web site called Jungle Fight, and I notice (MMA fighter) Rico Chiapparelli is on the card. I look at the other guys lined up and I say, ‘Hey, this looks like a real fight.’

“And I call them and they say it’s real and we don’t pay that much money. We pay about $5,000 for the fake fights. And I did it because Inoki promised to bring me to Japan and make me a star.

“So I go down to Brazil. A couple hours before the fight, they put us on an island. We couldn’t get off. I’m like, ‘Where is everybody?’ They’re gonna throw me in this cage. Montenegro doesn’t know what’s going on. I was spending eight hours a day filing papers for my divorce and wasn’t in shape. I’m asking (Inoki’s son) Simon, ‘What’s the script? What is the story line?’ I’m realizing there’s gonna be real fights in with these fake fights.”
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