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"Heart of A Champion"
QL episode 3x20 - Heart of a Champion

Sam (right) as wrestler Terry Sammis, must convince his brother Terry, to get a full doctor's examination to detect a heart defect condition that could turn fatal if Sam allows him to tag in to wrestie in a big championship TV match in "Heart of A Champion" in Season 3.

Episode No.   Season
51 3x20 Three
Episode Information
Original Broadcast Date May 8, 1991
Network: NBC-TV
IMDB: IMDb logo Heart of A Champion
Written by: Tommy Thompson
Directed by: Joe Napolitano
Leap Information
Leap Date: July 23, 1955
Place: Atlanta, Georgia
Leapee: Terry "Nikolai" Sammis
Chronological Information
Preceded by: "Last Dance Before An Execution"
Followed by: "Nuclear Family"

Heart of a Champion was the 20th episode in Season 3 of Quantum Leap, also the 51st overall episode in the series. Written by Tommy Thompson, the episode which was directed by Joe Napolitano, originally aired on NBC-TV on May 8, 1991.


Sam leaps into Terry Sammis (aka "Nikolai"), a professional wrestler who must prevent his brother from dying of a heart attack in the championship match.


July 23, 1955: It's 1955 and the middle of the cold war when Sam leaps into the body of Terry Sammis, a professional wrestler (a.k.a. "Nikolai Russkie" and played by Jeff Hochendoner) who, along with his brother Ronny (Jerry Bossard), form a tag team. They're from Arkansas but their ring persona is that of Soviets and they taunt the crowd with their pro-Russian rants. Al tells Sam that Terry is new to the wrestling game having just replaced an older brother who died in a car crash. He also tells him Ronnie will die of a heart attack in the big title match they have scheduled for the next day, because of a heart ailment condition which had plagued him as a child, but hasn't been properly monitored, for he hasn't had a full examination since.

Sam, as Terry, or Nikolai, has to try to convince Ronnie to pass upon the big match, and get a full medical checkup, but, as wrestling is in their blood, Ronny has no intention of giving up their big chance to win the Southeast Regional tag team championship. There's only one thing Sam can do: fight the entire match by himself and make sure Ronnie never enters the ring by not tagging out. One big problem being, that Sam doesn't know how to wrestle, and isn't trained to do so, and the other, being the opposing team is the one with big goon Carl Shilo (played by the real life WWF —now known as the WWE— wrestler Terry Funk), the insanely jealous husband of Sherry Shilo (played by Deborah Wakeham), who, after Terry resists her lecherously amorous adulterous advances, vows to have the hulking Carl rip he and brother Ronnie in two!

After Sam, or Terry, is able to get Ronnie to agree to get a full doctor's checkup before the two go into the ring for the big match, Sam sticks to his plan not to tag out, and they indeed win the belts, much to the chagrin of the wrestling promoter, who wanted Carl and his partner, the Americans, to win, as they are more popular with the anti-Commie crowd. When "The Russians" win, Ronnie reluctantly makes good on his vow to get checked out, as, though he never wrestles again, his heart defect is caught before something more tragic happens. As for Sherry, Sam, or Terry, manages to take revenge on her for unkind disposition and words towards he and Ronny, as he readies to give her a swift kick in the caboose, as he leaps into his next mission!

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