Yrjö Saarela went to the 1908 Olympics as one of the main favorites for the Olympic light-heavyweight gold medal and, after defeating four of his opponents by fall, lost the final by fall to Verner Weckman and had to settle for silver. By winning heavyweight titles at both the 1911 World Championships and 1912 Olympic Games, Saarela established himself as the world’s best amateur heavyweight wrestler at the start of the 1910s. Saarela also won Finnish heavyweight titles in 1908 and 1909, but then turned professional after the 1912 Olympics. Saarela’s brief professional career was interrupted by World War I and, after the conflict, he moved back to his family farm and worked the rest of his life as a farmer. In the 1920s he also acted as a wrestling coach with Oulun Pyrintö and the Finnish national wrestling team.