Eddie Goldman: The Life & Death of Dimitri Gavriel


Submitted by: E.Goldman/Boxing & Wrestling Editor
Posted On 12/18/2004

With all the names, numbers, and political debate coming out of the war
in Iraq, it is sometimes easy to forget that all this involves real
people, just like you and me. When you hear of a death of someone you
have known, it might make it easier to comprehend the suffering of
others whom you never have, and never will, meet.

I first met Dimitri Gavriel almost by accident a few years ago. I was
in one of my favorite watering holes one winter night, a dive called
Yogi’s on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, and the televisions all had
basketball games on. I blurted out, half-jokingly, ‘Put some wrestling
on that TV! I want to see Iowa and Iowa State, and those Sanderson

A bearded, burly fellow then came up to me and said that was the first
time he had ever heard anyone in New York talking about wrestling. So
we introduced each other, had some beers, and talked about wrestling
and life.

He told me that he had been born in Greece, had come with his family to
America as a boy, and had become a good wrestler in high school in New
Hampshire. He was also a fine student, but he said he credited his
wrestling in particular with earning him a scholarship to Brown
University. After graduating from Brown he landed a good banking job on
Wall Street, and seemed to be living the American dream.

But there was always something about Dimitri Gavriel that indicated
that he wanted something more than just material wealth. From the
little that I could see, he seemed to act as if something was missing
in his life, and that he needed to do something else to make it more
fulfilling. Maybe that was why this handsome guy with a six-figure Wall
Street job, an Ivy League degree, and living the single life in
Manhattan, was sitting there that night at Yogi’s, alone.

We did get him to give back to wrestling a few years ago when he was
invited to address the high school wrestlers for a pep talk at the
opening of the New York City championships, an honor given out only to
special people. I know the kids appreciated his contribution.

I hadn’t seen Dimitri in a bit, but just came across some tragic news
about him.

The Sept. 11 terrorist attacks had killed two of his personal friends
and several co-workers. Telling friends that he wanted to ‘make a
difference,’ in October 2003, he left behind his job and all the
comforts he had in Manhattan to join the U.S. Marines.

On Nov. 19, 2004, in a firefight outside Fallujah, Iraq, Lance Cpl.
Dimitri Gavriel, a rifleman assigned to 1st Bn., 8th Marine Regiment,
2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, was killed.

Whatever one’s view of the war in Iraq, this death is just one more
tragedy. Perhaps it will help people understand the tragedies befalling
others, whether you have ever met and drunk beer with them or not.

For more on the life and death of Dimitri Gavriel, go to:


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