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"wrestling with angels"
The John Hanrahan story

Bruce Weber pic of John Hanrahan profile of a Wrestler 600DPI.jpg

Wrestling with Angels: The John Hanrahan Story


Logline: In this inspiring true story, John Hanrahan, a former wrestling champion, battles addiction and personal demons to find redemption, hope, and purpose in the world of fashion, celebrity training, and the ancient sport that once defined him.


Overview: Wrestling with Angels is a powerful and moving film adaptation of John Hanrahan's life, as he navigates the highs and lows of his personal and professional journey. From his early days as a standout wrestler to his struggles with addiction and his eventual resurrection, John's story is one of perseverance, love, and the unbreakable bonds of family.


The film will explore the unique world of elite athletics and the glamour of the fashion industry, as well as the challenges of addiction and recovery. John's experiences training celebrities and working in the world of fashion provide a fascinating backdrop to his personal struggles, and his ultimate triumph over adversity.


Wrestling with Angels is a story of hope and redemption that will resonate with audiences of all ages. With its diverse and engaging cast of characters, stunning visuals, and a powerful message of perseverance and the strength of the human spirit, this film is sure to be a hit with both critics and audiences alike.

In 1984 John Hanrahan was featured in Interview magazine's iconic Olympic Issue shot by Bruce Weber, as one of America's top athlete's vying for a spot on the US Olympic Team. He had come within a point of defeating the mighty Soviet World medalist and had defeated other prominent world competitors. Hanrahan was within reach of a lifetime dream - but he abandoned the Final Trials. His coach searched frantically for him at LaGuardia airport, he was nowhere to be found. He hadn't exactly fell off the face of the earth, his face was appearing in worldwide ad campaigns as a top fashion model. The problem was, he had also become an addict. Unable to face his competition and unwilling to confront the truth of his situation.


Then at age 25 it happened… "I died, as my body laid to waste my soul was ripped out of it by angels. I passed over, I went to another place while a doctor worked frantically to revive me. I stood before a brilliant light that filled every void… As I stood there in the presence, of what I knew was the source of my existence, all the answers flowed through me. I tried to speak but was unable to. I was shown the prayers of loved ones… I knew I was where I was meant to be but that if I stayed many loved ones would suffer. Then words began to flow haltingly, as if I was first learning to speak. I awkwardly verbalized a request… I was given another chance at life, I came back for a reason…"

When John returned he wanted to shout his story from the rooftops but was unable to fully share his experience to help others. He was crippled by the stigma of being judged as an addict. It wasn’t until he nearly lost his own son to the ravages of addiction that he broke through and gained the strength and courage to tell his whole story. The unembellished truth and light of an amazing story. He describes how he continued to work amidst the craziness of the world fashion markets; Milan, Paris, Zurich, Tokyo and New York while trying to find his way while exorcising the demons of his past and renew a life worthy of the one he had miraculously regained.

In his new life Hanrahan transformed himself to become the highly acclaimed and trusted personal trainer to some of the most influential names in America… All the while keeping his past secret, "I tried to reflect the loving and healing light I was shown in my NDE (Near Death Experience) to others but I could not convey the tragic event which took me to the source of love. The journey that left my body dead lying on a floor unresponsive from a deadly drug injection by a physician who later was found guilty of manslaughter. 

more story Info

John Hanrahan is a United World Wrestling (UWW) Veteran World Champion. He defeated 10x Champion, Willem Putter (RSA) to win the 2016 World Gold medal at 85KG in Walbrych, Poland.


He competed at Penn State University where he was a 2-time NCAA All American, 2-time Conference Champion and 4-time place-winner. Other international medals include Canada Cup bronze and NYAC International 2-time gold. In high school Hanrahan was the USWF Jr. National Championship runner-up, AAU National Championship runner-up and 2-time Virginia State Champion and 3-time place-winner. John finished his Penn State career as the first in the school’s history to surpass the 100 Win mark (racking up 113 NCAA D1 Wins) and has since been inducted into the Eastern Wrestling League Hall of Fame.

Notable Reviews
Media Interviews

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Notable Reviews

Laura Morton, 20x NY Times Best Selling Author

"The book Wrestling with Angels tugs at your heart strings, touching on difficult issues so many families are dealing with every day. The author, John Hanrahan expresses his experiences beautifully, allowing himself to be raw, real and full of grace." 

Emily Giffin, Highly Acclaimed Novelist, 7x NY Times Best Selling Author

"Riveting! This book Wrestling with Angels is so good. Powerful memoir. Great Father's Day present."

Brian Kilmeade, FNC Fox & Friends Host, Best Selling Author
"If you want a great book for you or your special someone that will motivate and educate, pick up John Hanrahan's masterpiece - Wrestling with Angels.

Mike Chapman, WIN Magazine, Founder & Sr Editor
"The book Wrestling with Angels grabbed me by the throat and hung on, pulling me in deeper and deeper, page after page, I couldn't put it down. An All American wrestler at Penn State, John Hanrahan won a lot and felt on top of the world. When his college career ended, his good looks took him to a world he could have never imagined, he became one of the most popular male models in the world. And then he died... I can't even try to explain any of it here. Read it for yourself. He returned to life and became a Trainer to some of the best-known celebrities in the world -- from John F. Kennedy, Jr., to Julia Roberts."

Steven L. Jaffe MD, Psychiatry, Emory University School of Medicine
"I was inspired by his vivid description of his own death, which was then followed by his receiving the gift of returning to life. Wrestling with Angels is a highly entertaining read and in this time of an opioid epidemic it is extremely relevant."

Lee Kemp, Olympian & 3x World Champion Wrestler
"John Hanrahan's book Wrestling with Angels is a candid look inside the life of one of wrestling's true Renaissance men. It's not easy to open up and honestly reveal to the world some of your most challenging and difficult life's experiences, but John does so beautifully with grace and dignity."

Jonathan Clarke, M.Ed., LCAS, Love Wins Counseling
"The most powerful message of recovery from one person to another, is often described as the sharing of one's own personal story of experience, strength and hope.  John Hanrahan in Wrestling with Angels delivers that and more.  His transparency and vulnerability are astounding, yet necessary to bring about the healing phenomenon in others. This book will be a mainstay in my efforts to help others." 

Bruce Weber, Iconic American Fashion Photographer & Filmmaker

Congratulations to John Hanrahan for a great book about sports and for sharing your personal struggles with addiction and your path to loving yourself again. I knew you when you were a young wrestler at Penn State and the New York Athletic Club. Around that time you came along with me to Las Vegas for a photoshoot where you met your beautiful wife, Kirsten. In Vegas, the night that you both met, I had you doing pictures with a Marilyn Monroe look-a-like and Kirsten with an Elvis Presley look-a-like. After taking some crazy pictures in the nightclub at Caesar's Palace you two never stopped loving each other and today are the proud parents of two great young men. I'm so proud of you for writing Wrestling with Angels, a very thoughtful and entertaining book--you've always been a champ to us. 

Mark Schultz, Olympic & World Champion, Best Selling Author of Foxcatcher

"John opens up completely to share the raw and sometimes uncomfortable truth. It's not pretty which is ironic since John was a male model who lived a jet-set lifestyle until it was almost completely destroyed. There are many lessons to glean on how to win in life. Relating to the pain, sacrifice and suffering of world class wrestling can be difficult for many to grasp. I recommend this book to everyone, it could change your life".

Samantha Dunn, Editor of Coast Magazine, Best Selling Author 

"Wow, great job of weaving together the world of the story with its celebrity interactions and elite athletics. A very human story not only of his own journey but that of his family. The story Wrestling with Angels is extremely powerful and relevant and moving." 

Bob Buckhorn, Mayor of Tampa, FL
"Wrestling with Angels is a book that you will want to read. It is the unvarnished story of redemption, struggle, pain, triumph and perseverance. Most of all, it is a story about the strength of one person who in his darkest moments found the courage to persevere and rebuild his life, his relationships and his future."

Dr Charles Prebish, Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies, Penn State University

"John Hanrahan's Wrestling With Angels is a magnificent read... His unabashed prose strikes right to one's heart and inspires great compassion. I simply cannot remember the last time I cried as I read the concluding chapter of a book. This is one utterly tremendous story!"

Dr Jose Betancourt , 3x Olympian Puerto Rico, UWW World Wrestling Champion  
"John Hanrahan's book Wrestling with Angels, is an extraordinary story. It is well written and captivating, you do not want to stop reading. The story has a powerful message for any audience or age. It makes you think and reflect about connecting to your higher power. I highly recommend it."

Dr Michael Silverman, PHD 

Are you listening Hollywood, this should be made into a movie.
John Hanrahan's "Wrestling with Angles" is a heartfelt story of personal struggle. It is a quick and enjoyable read.

I generally avoid celebrity memoirs. As a neuroscientist and psychologist in NYC who has worked with household named professional athletes, models, and actors, I am intimately familiar with their turmoils, their fears of mediocrity, and the facades they continuously work to build. I have enough experience to know when someone's expressed plights are authentic and when they are not. More so, I am not in the least part interested in someone manipulatively seeking pity. This is what makes Hanrahan's autobiography so refreshing. It is raw, honest, and deeply personal. It kept my attention throughout - which is not an easy task. Everyone has a story, but few people are willing to share them in the way Hanrahan does. The story made me laugh out loud and brought me to the edge of tears on a few occasions. Hanrahan comes across as someone so easy to connect to, yet ironically we learn of a guy who is desperate for connection while doing everything he could to self-sabotage them. Why?

Professional athletes are masters of control, and the sport of wrestling adds a physical dimension of power/domination. Hanrahan was objectively one of the best. Ironically, the one place where he could feel in complete control, he also ultimately sabotages - spectacularly. It is possibly even more ironic and arguably the foundation of the overall story - that he looked amazing while doing it - gracing the covers of magazines, leading international fashion campaigns, and partying with New York's upper elite. Maintaining such a facade was an effort that could be described as nothing short of heroic.

And then he died. Literally.


John Hanrahan, Fashion Model, Montage of Ads around the World Click John's Versace Ad to Watch 🔽
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John Hanrahan, TV Commercial for Life Insurance (father/son dirt bike outing) shot in South Pacific 🔽
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 NDE at 25 🔽
 10 years after NDE Begins Training for 96 Olympic Trials 🔽
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 Age 35 Hanrahan Begins to Compete Again 🔽
 Round 1 Reborn in Wrestling 🔽
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 Semi Finals OB Open 🔽
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Championship Finals Match OB Open 🔽
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🔽Click Images to Watch Interviews Below 
Fox & Friends Show Interview 🔽
CBN News Interview 🔽
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Kilmeade Radio Show Interview 🔽
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Penn State Network Interview 🔽
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🔽Click Images to Read Articles  Below 
"The Mat" USA Wrestling's Olympic Wrestling Publication 🔽
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"Wrestling Insider Magazine" 🔽
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🔽Click Images Below to Watch a few
John Hanrahan Wrestling Matches

  Top Rated Trainer DVD 🔽
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  Wrestling 🔽
HS matches age 15 & first VA State Title 
🔽10th Grade & 11th Grade State Finals🔽
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Freshman age 19 Dual Meet Match  Penn State vs Oklahoma 🔽
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Olympic Trials age 36 vs National Champion Ray Miller 🔽
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Olympic Trials age 36 vs a Tough
Opponent at US Open 🔽
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MAWA Open National Champ age 42
Finals Match vs 2x Natl Champ 🔽
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John Hanrahan age 56 UWW World Champion Gold Medal Ceremony Walbrych, Poland 🔽
UWW Veteran World Semi-Final Match with Bolgrin the German National Champion 🔽
UWW World Finals Match vs Putter, the 10x Champion from Republic of South Africa 🔽
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John Hanrahan Defeating Iranian opponent at UWW World Championships 🔽
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John Hanrahan Defeating Turkish 
opponent at UWW World Championships 🔽
John Hanrahan, Las Vegas US Open Masters National Champion 
Watch Freestyle Finals Bout 2016 🔽
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USA Wrestling's Post Match Interview with US Open 5x Masters National Champion and Penn State All American John Hanrahan 🔽
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Interview with Strength & Conditioning Coach John Hanrahan at USA's Pre-Tokyo Olympic Team Training Camp 🔽
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Penn State All American John Hanrahan Back in Happy Valley for the 2023 PSU vs Iowa Dual & Morning-After Workout 🔽
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Wrestling Videos
Press Articles
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