Unlike many wrestlers, Rich Sanders was not a terribly dedicated conditioner, but he still managed to have a very long career at the top levels of the sport. This was due to his technical ability – he possessed some of the best moves of any wrestler in the world. Sanders went to Portland State where he twice NCAA 118 lb. champion in the university division and twice in the college division. He was the first American wrestler to really shine at the World Championships, finishing third in 1966, and second in 1967-69. He also won four AAU titles, the first, in 1965, while only a college freshman. His two Olympic appearances brought silver medals; both times he lost to a Japanese wrestler. Shortly after the München Olympics, he died in an auto accident while on vacation in Yugoslavia.