Summer 2024

Wrestler Kyle Snyder says he's 'defined by my faith in Jesus' after loss in 'Rematch of the Century'

When American Kyle Snyder faced Russian Abdulrashid Sadulaev in the 97kg final at the 2017 World Wrestling Championships in Paris, many dubbed it the “Match of the Century.” Snyder was the reigning world and Olympic champion at 97kg, while Sadulaev was the reigning world and Olympic champion at 86kg but had moved up to a weight class to challenge Snyder.

Snyder captured 2017 world title by decision over Sadulaev, 6-5, overcoming a two-point deficit in the final minute. It marked the Russian’s first defeat at the senior international level since November 2013.

When the foes met this week at the 2018 World Championships in Budapest, some dubbed it the “Rematch of the Century.” Others called it “Snyderlaev II.” This one, however, didn’t go Snyder’s way. Sadulaev pinned the American just 70 seconds in.

It marked the 22-year-old Snyder’s first loss on the global championship stage — a tough blow for a man who became the youngest American to win a world title in 2015 (he was 19), and in 2016 became the youngest U.S. Olympic wrestling champion.

Following the defeat, Snyder was asked by the media, “Champions are often defined not by wins but by losses. How is this loss going to define you?”

He responded, “Wins or losses don’t define me. I mean, I love wrestling, it’s a big part of my life, but I’m not defined by the sport. I’m defined by my faith in Jesus. So no matter what happens to me on the mat, nothing really changes. Whether I win or whether I lose, there’s not a big change in my life, the way that I view myself, the way that I view other people.

“So I’m thankful for everything. I’m thankful for the gifts that I have and the opportunity to compete. God’s given me the wins that I’ve had, the great wins that we’ve seen. Then God’s also given me losses, and I’ll take both of them. Whatever He wants to give, I’ll learn from it.”

The next day, Snyder put the loss in perspective. He posted a message on Twitter with the verse Romans 8:31:

— Wrestler Kyle Snyder says his ‘competence comes from the Lord’
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