Frank Gotch 
Real Name: 
Stats: 5' 9" 205 lbs.
Born: Apri 27, 1878

Frank Gotch 

By Steve Slagle

Frank Gotch is truly one of the original pioneers of professional wrestling. Long before the money, fame, and glitz of modern wrestling, long before the post WWII boom of Gorgeous George and "TV wrestling," before Lou Thesz, before Ed "Strangler" Lewis, before there was even a such thing as a "federation" in wrestling, there was Frank Gotch...

He was born in Iowa in 1876. Gotch was trained by the legendary Farmer Burns and he made his wrestling debut in Humboldt, IA. in 1899 with a victory over Marshall Green. On April 3, 1904 Gotch defeated American Champion Tom Jenkins for his first championship. He held the title for years, defending it regularly and building a large fan following in the process. But the American Championship was not the most important title, and Gotch craved the World Championship. 

In April of 1908, an aggressive and determined Gotch met and defeated "The Russian Lion" George Hackenschmidt for the World Heavyweight Championship in a match held at the Dexter Park Pavilion on Chicago's south side. The match is said to have lasted 2 1/2 hours. However, there was some doubt by Hackenschmidt, press writers and fans at the time about the "un-sportsmanlike" methods Gotch used to win the title.   The new World Champion agreed to give the Russian behemoth a rematch.  It took place at Commisky Park on Labor Day 1911 and drew a record (at that time) $87,000 gate, and Gotch again came out on top.  According to legend, Gotch did so, once again, through questionable means.  It is said that just prior to the rematch, Gotch paid off Ad Santel, a very skilled and dangerous grappler, to injure "The Russian Lion" during a training session.  Obviously, with Hackenschmidt at far less than full strength, Gotch had few problems wearing down and then defeating the powerful European.  Their series of matches, as questionable as the outcomes may be in hindsight, truly captured the attention of American and European spectators alike. 

Throughout wrestling's infancy, Gotch went on to become the most well known wrestler of the day.  He often challenged all comers, agreeing to defeat anyone within 15 minutes or he'd give them $100. He never had to pay up... 

During this fleeting time of legitimacy in wrestling, Gotch was renowned for his great skill and power, despite his deceivingly small stature, and became perhaps wrestling's first true box-office attraction.  As crafty and ruthless as he was skilled, Gotch held the undisputed World Title until he retired, undefeated as champion.  His professional record was an impressive 132 victories out of 140 total matches...with several of his losses coming in handicapped matches.  His bouts with Hackenschmidt, Jenkins, Stanislaus Zbysko and others were truly legendary...and can be traced back to the earliest days of what we now know as professional wrestling. 

Gotch died on December 16, 1917 at the age of 41.  A national hero, over 2,000 mourners attended his funeral.  Few men garnered the respect Gotch earned during his time as champion, and for many years afterward, every champion that followed him was invariably compared to the great Gotch, the "measuring stick" of that era.  The Ring Chronicle is proud to induct the man many consider to be the 1st truly great World Wrestling Champion, Frank Gotch, into T.R.C.'s pro wrestling Hall of Fame... 

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