Moshe Weinberg, a prize-winning wrestler and coach of Israel’s 1972 Olympic wrestling team, was a fighter through and through. Born in Israel in 1939, he was the Israeli middleweight wrestling champion in Greco-Roman and freestyle wrestling for most of a decade, taking a gold medal in freestyle at the 7th Maccabiah Games in 1965. Weinberg was only 30 when he was named coach of the Israeli national team and was also a director of Israel’s prestigious Wingate Institute, a national center for physical education near Netanya.
On Sept. 5, 1972, eight members of Black September, a Palestinian terrorist group took Weinberg and his fellow teammates hostage at the Munich Olympics. Weinberg had just returned to his apartment in the Olympic village after a night on the town with friends, when the terrorists accosted him, shooting Weinberg in the cheek.
The captors marched Weinberg, bleeding heavily, to another apartment, taking more hostages. After David Berger, a weightlifter, suggested jumping their captors, the terrorists realized their prisoners were not going quietly. They herded them into a line, and marched them to another room. As they went into the hall between apartments, Gad Tsobari, one of the wrestlers, darted out of line, down the stairs into the underground parking lot. In the chaos that ensued, Weinberg grabbed for his captor’s gun, spinning him around and re-directing fire unto himself. He died in a hail of bullets. The terrorists dumped Weinberg’s body in front of the Israeli team’s apartment in the Olympic Village.
Weinberg, known for his commitment to his athletes and his tenacity, had died fighting to the end.