Frank Gotch

Frank Gotch

Infobox Wrestler
name=Frank Gotch
names=Frank Gotch
Frank Kennedy

img_capt=Frank Gotch in a published photo
height=180 cm (5 ft 11 in)
weight=91 kg (210 lb)
birth_date=birth date|1877|4|27|mf=y
birth_place=Humboldt, Iowa
death_date=death date and age|1917|12|16|1878|4|27|mf=y
death_place=Humboldt, Iowa
trainer=Farmer Burns

Frank Alvin Gotch (April 27, 1877 - December 17, 1917) was an American professional wrestler credited for popularizing professional wrestling in the United States. He competed back when the contests were largely legitimate (see catch wrestling), and his reign as World Heavyweight Wrestling Champion (from 1908 to 1913) is the second longest in the history of wrestling. He became one of the most popular athletes in America from the 1900s to the 1910s.

He was the first inductee to both the Professional Wrestling Writers Hall of Fame in Latham, New York and the Lou Thesz/George Tragos Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame in Newton, Iowa; his professional wrestling record is 154 wins and 6 losses.

Early life

The son of Frederick Rudolph and Amelia Gotch, Gotch was born and raised on a small farm three miles south of Humboldt, Iowa. He took up wrestling in his teens, earning a reputation by beating locals. He adopted the toe hold as his finishing/signature move.

Wrestling career

Gotch wrestled his first professional match in Lu Verne, Iowa, on June 18, 1899, against former American Heavyweight Champion, Dan McLeod. Gotch impressed the veteran by holding his own for nearly two hours before losing. On December 18, 1899, Gotch challenged another former American Champion, "Farmer" Martin Burns, losing in 11 minutes, but impressing Burns, who offered to train Gotch. Under the guidance of Burns, Gotch won a series of matches in Iowa and later, Alaska. While in Alaska, Gotch wrestled under the name Frank Kennedy and won the title of "Champion of the Klondike". During his time in Alaska, Gotch tried his hand at boxing, but failed miserably against the heavyweight Frank SlavinFact|date=March 2008.

Gotch returned to Iowa and instantly challenged the reigning American Heavyweight Champion, Tom Jenkins. Gotch lost their first match in 1903, before defeating Jenkins in a rematch on January 27, 1904 to take the championship. After trading the title with Jenkins and Fred Beel, Gotch set his sights on the World Heavyweight Championship, then held by the undefeated Estonian Georg Hackenschmidt. Hackenschmidt was favored to win, but he submitted to Gotch after 2 grueling hours to an ankle lock submission; [ [ Professional Wrestling Online Museum - Ring Chronicle Hall of Fame Inductee - Georg Hackenschmidt ] at] It has been alleged that Gotch used illegal techniques in the match to defeat Hackenschmidt, which included oiling up his body, rubbing oil into Hack's eyes, scratching, gouging and hitting. At one time, Gotch also punched Hackenschmidt on the nose. [ [ George Hackenschmidt - The Russian Lion - by David Gentle ] at] According to the Lou Albano's book,"The Complete Idiot's Guide to Pro Wrestling", Gotch's reason for smothering himself with oil (in his first encounter against Georg Hackenschmidt) was to insure that Hackenschmidt couldn't apply his signature bearhug.

Gotch would spend the next three years establishing his dominance over the sport, defeating the likes of Jenkins, Benjamin Roller, and Stanislaus Zbyszko, who was believed to have won over 900 matches before falling to Gotch on June 1, 1910. Gotch became a national sensation, appearing in plays and even receiving an invitation to the White House by then president Theodore Roosevelt.

Gotch would meet Hackenschmidt again on September 4, 1911 at the newly opened Comiskey Park in Chicago, which drew a crowd of nearly 30,000 spectators and a record gate of $87,000. The rematch is one of the most controversial and talked about matches in wrestling history, as Hackenschmidt injured his knee in a training session with Ad Santel weeks before the match, and it was later revealed that Gotch had paid off Santel to insure that Hackenschmidt was not at 100% condition for the rematch. [ [ Professional Wrestling Online Museum - Ring Chronicle Hall of Fame Inductee - George Hackenschmidt ] at] The injury was so severe that Hackenschmidt nearly withdrew from the match, but agreed to go on with the match only after Gotch had fabricated the claim that he also had an injury (his neck), but was still willing to compete regardless. [ [ George Hackenschmidt - The Russian Lion - by David Gentle ] at] Before the match, the two had allegedly agreed on Gotch winning the match, but under the condition that Gotch would lose the first fall so that Hackenschmidt would look strong in defeat. Despite their agreement before the match, Gotch ended up double-crossing Hackenschmidt by quickly defeating him in two straight falls.

Gotch reigned as the World Heavyweight Champion from his victory over Georg Hackenschmidt on April 3, 1908, in Chicago, Illinois, until he retired in 1913 after beating Estonian Georg Lurich April 1 1913, in Kansas City, Missouri. Gotch is one of the longer reigning World Champions in the history of professional wrestling, with a reign that spanned nearly 5 years; the only other champions to have longer reigns than Gotch are Bruno Sammartino, who held the WWWF World Heavyweight Championship for a record of 7 years and 8 months, and Lou Thesz, whose fifth NWA title reign lasted 7 years and 7 months. This means Gotch was not only the second World Heavyweight Champion after Hackenschmidt, this also makes him the third longest reigning World Heavyweight Champion after Bruno Sammartino and Lou Thesz in wrestling history.


While in retirement, Gotch joined Sells-Floto Circus where he would pay any man $250.00 if they could last 15 minutes in a match against him without being pinned or conceding. Not once did he have to pay. He grew tired of touring and moved back to Humboldt. After a year of health troubles, Gotch died in 1917 of what was rumored to be syphilis, but the official cause of death was uremic poisoning.

There is a park named the "Frank A. Gotch County Park", three miles south of Humboldt near his childhood farm, in homage to Gotch. The [ Humboldt Community School District] also sponsors the annual Frank Gotch Wrestling Tournament as well.

In wrestling

*Finishing and signature moves:*Croos kneelock:*Belly to back suplex pin:*Double leg takedown

Championships and accomplishments

*Wrestling championships:*World Heavyweight Championship (1 time):*American Heavyweight Championship (3 times) (Last)

*Wrestling Observer Newsletter awards:*Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame (Class of 1996)

*Other titles:*George Tragos / Lou Thesz Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame (1999):*Iowa Sports Hall of Fame (1951):*Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum (Pioneer Era, 2002)


*cite book
author = Dave Meltzer & John F. Molinaro
title = Top 100 Pro Wrestlers of all Time
year = 2002
publisher = Winding Stair Press
isbn = 1-55366-305-5

* [ Gotch: A German-American Hero]
* [ Hickok Sports Biography: Gotch, Frank A.]
*cite book
author = Mike Chapman
title = Frank Gotch, World's Greatest Wrestler
year = 1990
publisher = William S. Hein & Co.
location = Buffalo, New York

*cite book
author = Karl Stern
title = Pioneers of Wrestling
publisher = []

External links

* [ Frank Gotch`s grave in Union Cemetery Humboldt,Iowa]

NAME= Gotch, Frank
ALTERNATIVE NAMES=Gotch, Frank Alvin (full)
SHORT DESCRIPTION=American professional wrestler
DATE OF BIRTH=April 27, 1878
PLACE OF BIRTH=Humboldt, Iowa, United States
DATE OF DEATH=December 16, 1917
PLACE OF DEATH=Humboldt, Iowa, United States

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