Montana wrestling legend Mike Zadick, through relationships, aims to inspire and motivate in Augusta (2024)

Daniel Shepard

AUGUSTA —Mike Zadick has put four motors in his 1973 Ford F-250 in 25 years of ownership.

He'd ogled the truck since high school and eventually bought from its original owner. Its Montana roots are as deep as Zadick’s.

This mid-April sunshiny day, the type seemingly transforming Zadick into a ZZ Top cover band star with his sunglasses and decade-old beard, the Great Falls native occupies the left bench seat behind the wheel of his favorite truck, navigating a couple hundred foot-long main drag with his 4-year-old border collie Boone in the bed.

Shifting gears, Zadick throws waves to locals on the sidewalk and in passing vehicles, even sticking his head outside the rolled-down driver’s side window for one verbal greeting.

“You never know how you can impact somebody positively in life,” Zadick said.

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Just outside this quintessential small town too tiny for a stoplight, standing on three acres of pasture with a newly drilled well, Zadick returns a passing honking horn with a wave.

Here, just minutes from where the four-time state champion, three-time collegiate All-American, and 2008 Olympian wrestled his first match, Zadick plans to leave his mark— with Benchmark Wrestling.

Repurposing the former Holiday Motors building his late father, Bob, and family toiled in for years, Zadick envisions a wrestling facility, weight room, and all-purpose space under one roof.

Relationships, like those Zadick built while at Iowa (as a wrestler and coach), and lives Bob impacted as a longtime club wrestling coach in Great Falls, are creating progress.

Roughly $90,000 of an estimated $2.7 million project cost has been raised, and if all goes well on-site dirt work could begin as early as May.

Montana wrestling legend Mike Zadick, through relationships, aims to inspire and motivate in Augusta (1)

Numerous companies owned by Bob’s former wrestlers, from engineering, to excavating, to concrete, to HVAC, pledged services, Zadick said, lowering that target fundraising goal.

Zadick didn’t understand until Bob's passing the lives his father touched. That's become clearer through letters and phone calls since.

“That, to me, is what his legacy is,” Zadick said.

“Because that defined who he was as a person and how people that worked with him respected him.”

Montana wrestling legend Mike Zadick, through relationships, aims to inspire and motivate in Augusta (2)

At 5 years old, Zadick was told by his father he’d be an Olympic champion.

Reinforced by a trip to the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, Zadick remembers seeing and hearing Mark Schultz snap an opponent’s arm during a match.

“We heard it pop in the stands,” Zadick said.

Bob believed exposing his children to greatness would leave a mark and create a belief in self.

“Unbelievably powerful” letters written by Bob some 25 years ago still choke up Zadick, reminding him each time of his father’s “unbelievable competitive spirit” and ability to motivate.

“The way he talked to you, it built you up to believe you could do anything,” Zadick said.

Twenty-four years later, Zadick returned to that Olympic stage as an athlete.

Forged in the crucible of adversity, Bob’s fire sparked from losing parents early in life and the abandonment of what Zadick described as “so-called” family friends.

“He chewed gum hard,” Zadick said. “He was a fighter.”

It’s with that drive Zadick worked some 18 hours a day disassembling Bob’s building for transport to Augusta. Currently, that structure is being sandblasted and painted in Great Falls, but when completed it will house a multitude of events designed to better people through exposure to high-level individuals.

Montana wrestling legend Mike Zadick, through relationships, aims to inspire and motivate in Augusta (3)

“The mark my dad left on me is kind of my motivation to leave on other people,” Zadick said.

Stowed this day in Zadick’s truck is a thank you letter, awaiting drop-off at the Post Office, addressed to an athlete he coached at Iowa.

It’s a response to correspondence containing $500 for Zadick’s cause received just days before describing the since-retired coach as the best he’s ever had.

Those words, Zadick said, are liquid gold to someone who's internally questioned his life’s work and his competitive shortcomings.

Zadick wanted to win, not simply medal, like in 2006 (World Championships), or just be on the team (2008 Olympics).

“You’re like, ‘why in the hell did I just do this for 30-some years and fail?’” he said.

“But did I really fail? Yeah, I took second in the world, I went to the Olympics, and those are great accomplishments … it’s just not what I wanted to do.”

How you deal with those thoughts is important, Zadick said, and letters evoking a similar emotional response to those written by his father put things into perspective.

“I was only looking at the accomplishments— gold, silver, bronze,” Zadick said. “Then, I stepped back and realized, ‘wow, I’m probably one of the [more] blessed people on the planet because of the friendships and people I’ve met along the way…’

“I do think my life has been very, very special. Not because I am special, but because of the experiences I’ve had. That part of this is what makes me so motivated for this building.”

Montana wrestling legend Mike Zadick, through relationships, aims to inspire and motivate in Augusta (4)

All Zadick wants to do is inspire people.

An who's-who list of athletes, coaches, and leaders circulate in Zadick’s mind, plus people continue reaching out, and he’s confident of their impact once his building opens.

Right now, the completion of Zadick’s vision hinges, at least in part, on the promises of those with means to help.

“I have faith that it’s going to come together,” Zadick said. “It’s kind of like wrestling. I thought I was going to be an Olympic champion and I had blind faith working hard at what I was doing…

“Great things came from it, don’t get me wrong, it’s just you can’t control [them]. I think good things will happen here, too.”

To support Zadick's endeavor, visit and click the “donate” tab in the header. Or, mail P.O. Box 686, Augusta, Montana, 59410. Mike Zadick can be reached at 319-541-0904.

Email Daniel Shepard at or find him on Twitter/X @IR_DanielS.



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Montana wrestling legend Mike Zadick, through relationships, aims to inspire and motivate in Augusta (2024)
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