Vevey, Switzerland — 1972 Olympic champ Nicolae Martinescu has died. The legendary Romanian wrestler was 73 years old.
Martinescu’s passing was reported by the International Federation of Associated Wrestling (FILA), wrestling’s governing body. A statement on the organization’s site read:
“FILA has been sorry to be informed, this morning, of the death of the wrestler Mr. Nicolae Martinescu at the age of 73.
“Mr Nicolae Martinescu was a very talented wrestler. All our thoughts are for his family and the Romanian Wrestling Federation.”
Martinescu won an Olympic bronze medal at the 1968 Mexico City games in the Greco-Roman light-heavyweight category. Yet he is most fondly remembered for his gold medal in the Greco-Roman heavyweight category at the 1972 Munich games.
The 1972 Olympic champ was born in Brăila, Romania, in 1940. A famous figure in his home country, he also clinched two world championship silver medals, the European heavyweight title in 1966, and a total of 18 heavyweight titles between 1961 and 1978.
Martinescu was also the only Romanian to win the Soviet Union’s highest sporting honor, the “Merited Master of Sport.”
Greco-Roman wrestling has been a fixture at all Olympic Games since the first event in 1896. However, the executive board of the International Olympic Committee voted in February to eliminate both freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling from the Summer Olympic Games starting in 2020.