One of the annoying things about Fox Sports pundit/middling professional fighter Chael Sonnen's troll routine is that if you talk to fight people, they'll swear that in real life he's actually a pretty good guy. Occasionally he'll even drop the pro wrestling heel bit in public and come off as unusually thoughtful, exactly the kind of ambassador his sport could use. So the following story isn't too surprising; it's still pretty nice.
In 2010, freestyle wrestler Andy Hrovat, coming off a disappointment at the Beijing Olympics, was getting ready to spend some serious time training in North Ossetia, a Russian republic that is to freestyle wrestling what the Dominican town of San Pedro de Macorís is to baseball. About a month and a half before he was set to leave, he got an email from Sonnen, whom he'd wrestled in college but otherwise didn't know. As he told the story to Bloody Elbow's Mike Riordan:
I get an email from him saying "Hey, I want to send you some money, it's going to be in an envelope that looks like junk mail," because it was from his bank, his bank just cut a check and sent it and they send them in unmarked envelopes so people don't steal the mail.
He sent me three or four thousand dollars, and for me every thousand dollars was a month's pay. Room and board were a thousand dollars a month.
It turned out that Sonnen had seen an interview in which Hrovat had talked about wanting to go train in Russia and just randomly decided to send him money. He ended up staying in touch and sending Hrovat more cash, which helped him stay on in North Ossetia for more than a year. The extra training wasn't enough for Hrovat to make the team at the London Olympics, but as Riordan points out, he's now training American wrestlers with the techniques he learned in the Caucasus, so for all anyone knows, Sonnen's investment might pay off in gold somewhere along the way.
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