|Type||Competed in Olympic Games|
|Born||12 September 1884 in Tarvastu (EST)|
|Died||11 February 1947 in Tarvastu (EST)|
|Measurements||174 cm / 75-80 kg|
|Affiliations||Sanitas St. Petersburg|
Martin Klein has gone down in sporting history as the winner of the marathon match he had with Finn Alppo Asikainen, the reigning World Champion, in the semi-final round of the Greco-Roman middleweight at the 1912 Olympics. The match lasted 11 hours and 40 minutes on a blisteringly sunny day outdoors in the Stockholm Olympic Stadium and Klein won by pin. After the match, Klein was so exhausted that Russian doctors did not allow him to compete in the final against Swede Claes Johanson, who won the gold by default.
Klein, a farm boy from the centre of Estonia, took up wrestling when he was well past his 20th birthday. Having left home at the age of 17, Klein worked as a sailor for a couple of years, but the sea life did not suit him and, in the late 1900s, he moved in with his brother, who worked as a construction worker in St. Petersburg, Russia, which was then the capital of the Russian Empire. Klein worked as a construction worker along with his brother, but soon started to seek additional income. He applied for the night guard post in a wrestling club named Sanitas and was introduced to wrestling there. At first Klein only watched the wrestling while working, but he later joined them as a member of the club and soon rose to be one of its best wrestlers.
Klein won his first honors as a wrestler at the 1910 St. Petersburg Championships, where he won gold in the unlimited class. Besides his Olympic participation, Klein also competed at the 1913 World Championships, but had to withdraw from competition due to a hand injury. Klein also won the Russian Greco-Roman heavyweight title in 1913. During World War I Klein served in the Russian army and later participated in the Estonian Independence War. In 1919 Klein was called to coach the Estonian National Wrestling team and, after the Estonian sports officials saw how fit the 36-year-old was, he was even considered as a competitor for the 1920 Olympics. Klein declined the opportunity to compete in his second Olympics, however, saying he would like to give a younger men a chance and traveled to Antwerpen as the head coach of the Estonian Olympic wrestling team.
After the independence of Estonia, Klein returned to his home farm and, aside from everyday farm work, coached local boys. Klein continued to compete in local tournaments until 1937, when he was 53-years-old. He died on his farm after a hernia strangulation that occurred when moving heavy logs. Since 1962 an annual memorial tournament has been held in his honor in Viljandi.
|1912 Summer Olympics||Wrestling||Middleweight A, Greco-Roman, Men||Olympic||2||Silver||Representing Russia|