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World champion wrestler Lindsey Durlacher dies

CHICAGO - APRIL 14:  Wrestler Lindsey Durlacher poses for portrait during 2008 U.S. Olympic Team MediSummitt Palmer House HiltApril

CHICAGO - APRIL 14: Wrestler Lindsey Durlacher poses for a portrait during the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Media Summitt at the Palmer House Hilton on April 14, 2008 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

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Updated: July 15, 2011 12:05AM

Wrestler Lindsey Durlacher, the small but mighty Buffalo High School graduate who won a bronze medal in the 2006 World Championships and was one of the most decorated wrestlers in Illinois history, had dreams of moving back to the Chicago area to work with kids interested in the sport.

Mr. Durlacher, 36, was found dead over the weekend at his Denver-area home. He had undergone surgery Wednesday for a cracked sternum from a February snowmobiling accident, said his brother, Dave, a wrestling coach at Buffalo Grove High School.

“He was just trying to heal, and he wasn’t healing,” Dave Durlacher said. He “had to get the bone re-cracked and placed back in.” Surgeons “opened up the whole chest.”

Mr. Durlacher was released from the hospital to his home. His mother, Barbara, who had flown out to Colorado to be with him during his surgery, found him unresponsive. He is believed to have died Friday night or Saturday morning. “She found him, and he just wouldn’t get up,” his brother said.

Mr. Durlacher, who stood 5 feet 4 inches and was still around his competitive weight of 121, “was in great shape,” his brother said.

An autopsy has been done to try and determine the cause of death, Dave Durlacher said. “Something went wrong.”

Lindsey Durlacher loved teaching wrestling to kids. It might have stemmed from his childhood, when, growing up in a home with two older brothers and a wrestling mat, he developed a Houdini-like technique.

“He was an escape artist,” Dave Durlacher said. “Like a magician. He could escape from anything.”

Mr. Durlacher went to Riley Elementary School in Arlington Heights; Cooper Middle School in Buffalo Grove; Buffalo Grove High School, and the University of Illinois. He won the state wrestling championship for Buffalo Grove High in 1992 and became a two-time all-American at the University of Illinois.

He moved to Colorado Springs to train for the 2008 Olympics.

“Along the way, he won a World bronze medal,” his brother said.

He snared his medal for Greco-Roman wrestling in the 121-pound weight class at the 2006 World Championships in China. He won silver medals in 2003 and 2007 at the Pan American Championships.

He also won a number of gold medals at the Maccabiah Games, according to USA Wrestling. He coached at the University of Illinois, the U.S. Naval Academy, Northwestern University and Northern Illinois University, and in 2007, he was inducted into the Illinois Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association Hall of Fame, according to, the website of USA Wrestling.

Mr. Durlacher was considering an Olympic bid in London in 2012, even though he was about a decade older than many of the wrestlers planning to compete, his brother said. “He still could go with any guy in the world in his weight class.”

His death was mourned by sports officials across the country. “The wrestling community is extremely shocked and saddened by the loss of Lindsey Durlacher,” USA Wrestling Executive Director Rich Bender said on the group’s website. “We lost a true champion today.

Mr. Durlacher taught at wrestling camps throughout the U.S. and was a resident coach for kids at a Denver gym. “He was working with kids out there and had a dream of coming back to the Chicago area [to] do the same someday,” his brother said.

Whenever he could, Mr. Durlacher would visit the Midwest to teach kids in the Buffalo Grove-area Bison Wrestling Club for 5- to 14-year-olds, his brother said. He also did some coaching at Buffalo Grove High School.

“His passion was to come back to his roots in Chicago,” Dave Durlacher said.

Mr. Durlacher is also survived by his brother, Mike; his father, Richard; five nephews and one niece. Plans are being made for a memorial service at Buffalo Grove High School, his brother said.

Contributing: AP

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