Challenge Is Inevitable, Defeat Is Optional

Finish Strong is the incredible story of a driven man’s pursuit of success and finding purpose when all seems lost. It is the story of a wrestler, struggling not just against his opponents in the ring, but to discover what makes a true champion.

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About Dan Russell

From a scrawny, bullied kid from southern Idaho to unofficial champion of the world, Dan Russell knows the kind of hard work, pain, and intense desire it takes to finish strong. He’s a four-time NCAA Champion and four-time Academic All-American. He was an Olympic alternate for the 1992 and 1996 Olympics and the 2004 Olympic wrestling coach for Guam and Olympic Solidarity Instructor for Palau and Federated States of Micronesia. He taught for several years at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. Dan is the senior pastor at Battle Ground Foursquare Church in Battle Ground, Washington. He is also a motivational speaker at colleges, businesses and church groups around the world.

In 1991, The Oregonian featured Dan Russell in a series of articles as he was on the road toward his fourth NCAA Division II championship. The following are those three articles in their entirity.



"I've known Dan Russell since high school and even back then he and his brother Joe were making history-- and they were on a quest for gold. This gold wasn't buried beneath rock and earth, but under years of hard work, trials and pain. His champion spirit and determination to reach that gold is what makes Dan's story so incredible. And I think we can all gain important 'nuggets' of wisdom from his experiences on the wrestling mat and beyond.
As someone who knows a thing or two about the pursuit of gold-- and the many peaks and dark valleys you can experience along the way-- I can tell you that Dan knows what it means to find the true riches in life."
Todd Hoffman
Creator of Gold Rush
Gold Miner

"Finish Strong is an excellent book. I was moved by the authenticity of Dan’s account– about the bond that forms between two brothers who wrestle that goes beyond friendship, beyond brotherhood, beyond words. And to face the fight alone after tragedy is something that only one who has experienced it can truly identify with. This story is a powerful reminder that even in the middle of our greatest challenges, we can find the strength to go on."
Mark Schultz
Olympic Champion and author of Foxcatcher: The True Story of My Brother's Murder, John du Pont's Madness, and the Quest for Olympic Gold

"Life for most of us in filled with ups and downs. There are exciting memories of victories and painful losses. There are surprises that bring great joy and there are disappointments that cause unspeakable sadness. In his book, Finish Strong, Dan Russell lets the reader see both sides of life. We can learn how our choices affect us and others. This is the kind of book you can pick up and start reading at any chapter and be drawn into want to find out what happens next. Dan Russell lets you see that life is like a wrestling match. You can learn how God's grace and mercy are able to fill the deepest longing of your heart."
John Peterson
Olympic Gold and Silver medalist, three-time World Cup champion and a member of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame

"Dan Russell talked about strength of America. He said that to be an American and to be an Olympic champion it took more than work– it took devotion. Dan has always been devoted to overcoming adversity as an athlete and as a person. I have looked to him as a champion in life. The heart of a champion to "Finish Strong" is alive in America."
Rulon Gardner
Gold medalist, 2000 Olympic games and 2001 World Championships

"Dan Russell is not just any man. He's one of my heroes. You might imagine it is because of his incredible career as a wrestler; but you'd only be fractionally right. As impressed as I am by his wrestling triumphs, they pale in comparison when I think of his personal triumphs. Dan Russell could have gone to any school in the country. He could have pursued competition internationally. He would have been dominant on any mat, against ANY man. But a greater challenger presented itself, one that would have destroyed a lesser man: Misfortune. Dan's hero – his brother Joe – had a terrible motorcycle accident and suffered grievous injuries. But Misfortune didn't factor in the power of love, faith and the BOND of FAMILY that held these two men together.
Misfortune had NO IDEA what it was takin' on when it chose to tangle with the Russell brothers.
And that is what makes Dan not only one of the greatest wrestlers I have ever known– but one of the greatest MEN I have ever known."
Chael Sonnen
Three-time UFC title challenger

"This book is a riveting, dramatic sports memoir told straight from the heart. World-renowned wrestler Dan Russell skillfully guides us through youthful years of fanatically hard work, applying impossible levels of discipline in his headlong pursuit of Olympic gold. The lessons he learns, and the insights he gains along the way, can be applied to any life. Even as a youngster, he is taught that life is all about character and persistence and setting goals. And the passion he brings to the obstacles he encounters on this difficult journey ultimately molds him. His is a truly exceptional life, one packed with achievement. FINISH STRONG is an amazing testament, which sagely describes the bold, often lonely path that Russell chose, and the shaping of the loving husband, father, and spiritual mentor that he eventually became."
Spike Walker
Author of the non-fiction Alaskan adventure book “WORKIN ON THE EDGE”, the book that inspired the hit TV show, DEADLIEST CATCH.

"Dan Russell's book, FINISH STRONG, is very unique and entertaining. It captures the wild journey that a wrestler needs to master-- the disciplines of the sport-- so they can work for him while all the adversity around him can be best maximized. Dan shows how strong faith can carry you through."
Dan Gable
Olympic Gold medalist and the most successful coach in American collegiate history as head coach at the University of Iowa


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