ESPN Films

Mark Schultz dedicates “The Prince of Pennsylvania” 30 for 30 film to brother Dave

Brothers Mark and Dave Schultz, two of America’s best freestyle wrestlers in the 1980s, once enjoyed state-of-the-art training facilities, free accommodations, and generous stipends courtesy billionaire John du Pont.

Then things took an ugly turn, resulting in Dave’s murder on Foxcatcher Farm. ESPN Films’ next 30 for 30, “The Prince of Pennsylvania” [ESPN, tonight, 9 ET], explores this story through never-before-seen footage and fresh testimonials from various subjects including Mark.

Director Jesse Vile on the motivation to make this film:

I was 14 years old when the news broke about what had happened on John du Pont’s estate, Foxcatcher Farm, not far from my hometown in Pennsylvania. I remember being strangely affected by the story. Something about it spoke to me in ways I didn’t really understand at the time, and it would often come back to me over the years.

While making this film, I had the opportunity to learn a lot about Mark and Dave Schultz. I learned that not only are they two of the greatest wrestlers that America has ever seen but also that their deep passion and love for the sport of wrestling was met with many challenges, not only physically but also financially. But then along came du Pont, an eccentric millionaire who offered to give them everything they needed in order to achieve their dreams. What no one knew was that du Pont would become their biggest challenge yet.

Front Row caught up with Mark, who became a UFC champion, started a family and penned an autobiography, all after dealing with the tragedy of losing his brother at the prime of his life.

You were the first Olympic gold medalist to enter mixed martial arts under the UFC. How would you compare your experience in UFC to your wrestling days?
It was a great way to get redemption and go out a winner and confirmation of all the work I put in as a wrestler. My whole life I always made a practice of facing my fears. I took the fight with one day notice. It was a spur of the moment decision. In all my career I never had to compete at the spur of the moment, which made it more intense.

What does it mean to you to have a platform like 30 for 30 to tell this story?
It’s a very rare thing for someone to have a 30 for 30 documentary made about them. I consider it a great honor.

How was your experience of taking part in this documentary different to being involved with the movie “Foxcatcher”?
The documentary was factual and I had much more input. I had almost no input in the Hollywood version. I never understood why the director changed my story so dramatically.

What do you hope viewers take away from this documentary?
When I wrote my life story I did it for my kids, but I had no idea it would be so widely told. Now I hope the viewers get a glimpse of how much I loved Dave and I dedicate this true story to him.

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