Rulan Rules Hometown

07/15/1998 at 12:00 AM EDT

Olympic big boy Rulan Gardner, of 54-inch chest fame, paraded through the streets of his boyhood home of Afton, Wyo. (pop. 1,630), on Thursday, where he was saluted for his 1-0 Greco-Roman wrestling triumph over Russia's Alexander Karelin in one of the greatest upsets in Olympic history. The gold medalist, who was ridiculed and called "Fatso" as he was growing up, proved himself a hero once again. "This medal is not mine," he proclaimed as he showed off his medallion to a cheering crowd. "This is all of ours." After the parade, whose five-block route was festooned with red, white and blue balloons, Gardner told the Associated Press, "Still a lot for me to swallow, all these experiences."

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