Frank Gotch


Frank Gotch : biography

April 27, 1878 – December 16, 1917

"He is the king of the class, the greatest man by far I ever met," Hackenschmidt said. "After going nearly two hours with him, my muscles became stale. My feet also gave out. I had trained constantly against the toe hold and had strained the muscles of my legs. When I found myself weakening, I knew there was no use continuing and that I had no chance to win. That was the reason I conceded the championship to him. I have no desire to wrestle him again. A return match would not win back my title." Hackenschmidt later reversed his opinion of Gotch and Americans in general, claiming to have been fouled by Gotch and victimized in America, and calling for a rematch in Europe.Chapman, Mike, Frank Gotch, World’s Greatest Wrestler, p. 68, 73-74

As undisputed free-style heavyweight champion of the world, Gotch spent the next three years establishing his dominance over the sport, defeating the likes of Jenkins, Dr. Ben Roller, and Stanislaus Zbyszko, who was believed to have won over 900 matches before falling to Gotch on June 1, 1910. The victory over Zbyszko was particularly spectacular, Gotch taking both falls in slightly less than half an hour, and thoroughly dominating his European opponent. He took the first fall in just six seconds with a surprise move and quick pin, and won the second fall in only 27 minutes. Gotch outmaneuvered and outclassed Zbyszko every second of the match.Chapman, Mike, Frank Gotch, World’s Greatest Wrestler, pp. 77-78.

Gotch became a national sensation. He was in demand everywhere for public appearances. He starred in a play called All About A Bout, and whenever he walked on stage he was greeted by a standing ovation. He was invited to the White House by President Theodore Roosevelt, and wrestled a Japanese jiu-jitsu expert in the East Hall, making his opponent submit. The night before his second match with Hackenschmidt, he attended a Chicago Cubs baseball game at Wrigley Field with his wife and in-laws and took his seat down front. After the game, nearly every member of the Cubs team came to his private box and asked for his autograph.Chapman, Mike, Frank Gotch, World’s Greatest Wrestler, p. 93 When he traveled overseas with his play, he was a huge hit. It seemed that everywhere he went, fans wanted to see him. Everywhere he went, he made wrestling "big time."

Gotch met 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 against Roller, his chief training partner. Years later, wrestler Ad Santel told Lou Thesz that he was paid $5000 by Gotch’s backers to cripple Hackenschmidt in training, and make it look like an accident.Thesz, Lou, & Kit Bauman, Mike Chapman, Editor, Hooker, The Authentic Wrestler’s Adventures Inside the Bizzare World of Professional Wrestling (Wrestling Channel Press, 1995-2000), p. 67 However, according to Hackenschmidt himself, the injury was accidentally inflicted by his sparring partner, Dr. Roller, when trying to hold Hackenschmidt down onto his knees and Roller’s right foot striking Hackenschmidt’s right knee. According to Hackenschmidt, his sparring partners were Americus (Gus Schoenlein), Jacobus Koch, Wladek Zbyszko and Dr. Roller. Ad Santel is not mentioned in any account of Hackehschmidt’s training by either Hackenschmidt or Roller, both of whom offered their insights and accounts.Fleischer, Nat, From Milo to Londos, p. 122-24.

Whatever the case may be, if the injury was real, Dr. Roller did not consider it serious and referee Ed Smith dismissed it as inconsequential. Hackenschmidt himself ignored it completely in declaring, the day before the match, that he was "fit to wrestle for my life" and was "satisfied with my condition and confident of the outcome." If there was a knee injury, Gotch discovered it quickly and took advantage of it. The Russian Lion was easy prey for Gotch, losing in straight falls in only 30 minutes. Gotch clinched the match with his feared Toe Hold, which forced Hackenschmidt to quit.Fleischer, Nat, From Milo to Londos, pp. 114-120; Chapman, Mike, Frank Gotch, World’s Greatest Wrestler, pp. 91-102.