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Wladek again claimed the title during this muddled period. Finally Stecher defeated Caddock in to clear up the claims to the championship.
Wladek, along with his brother Stan, traveled the world. Besides touring Europe, the brothers were well-known in Brazil and Argentina throughout their active years.
They even brought their own troop of wrestlers to South America. Over many years, they trained wrestlers including Johnny Valentine and Harley Race.
In a famous Rio de Janiero contest against the noted Helio Gracie, the pair wrestled to a draw in a three round Jiu-Jitsu rules match. Surprisingly, Wladek wrestled in Chicago as late as He was an eminent pianist and a real ladies man, who made headlines for the latter.
He was trying to get a patent for his Zbyszko exerciser which he said had more than six-hundred exercises from which to choose.
He said that Hans Steinke was the strongest. Billy Riley was a practitioner and teacher of Catch Wrestling. As an apprentice moulder, Billy trained with the Wigan miners in the traditional art of Lancashire Catch-as-Catch-Can, at a time when it was one of the most popular sports in the area.
The tough Wigan native soon began showing extraordinary submission skills. Billy toured America twice and was recognized internationally for his skill in the sport.
He then decided to teach catch wrestling in Wigan, and upon return from one of his trips he purchased a small plot of land in Wigan and with the help of his students built a gymnasium.
When he opened the gym in the s, it fast developed a reputation as one of the most formidable schools ever known.
The gym was little more than a tin hut with very few facilities, but it turned out many champions, including the likes of Billy Joyce, who many regard as the greatest Catch Wrestler to ever step in the ring or onto a field for that matter.
The gym soon became popular for producing some of the most skilled catch wrestlers in the world. Riley died in Wilhelm Baumann, better known as Billy Sandow, was an American professional wrestler and promoter.
He may have taken his ring name from Sandow, a professional wrestler and strongman in the late 19th century. Sandow and his brother, Max Baumann, traveled together to promote wrestling events.
They also promoted events in Georgia. Sandow met his star attraction Lewis during World War I, when Sandow was teaching recruits hand-to-hand fighting techniques.
Promoters like Sandow and Toots Mondt were eager to liven up their exhibitions with a more crowd-pleasing style. Time limits were instituted, and events were held in more major arenas.
They took control of all aspects of the pseudo-sport, by booking, training, managing and promoting. Along with Lewis, the threesome swiftly took the lead in promoting wrestling around the country, signing some of the top wrestlers to exclusive contracts.
The partnership dissolved in the mids. Lewis won in 38 minutes. Lewis thought that he would have the advantage: At one point, negotiations for the match appeared sincere.
But the match was never officially scheduled. Sandow died on September 15, , at age 88 in Portland, Oregon. Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame www.
The early 20th century was a pivotal and exciting time for Judo. The new sport, synthesized from various styles of jujitsu by Jigoro Kano in the s, had begun to grow in popularity and prestige.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the ocean, Catch Wrestling was king. One such traveler was Tokugoro Ito, a fifth dan black belt from the Kodokan.
Ito left Japan in and embarked on Seattle, where he helped establish the Seattle Dojo. Ito returned to the United States in January He settled in San Francisco and met Ad Santel there a few short weeks later.
Santel fought Ito on Feb. The institute stated that since Ito had left almost a decade ago, his Judo skills had perhaps weakened, despite his considerable success in legitimate bouts in the nine years since his departure.
Even though Ito dominated Santel and choked him out in their rematch four months later, Santel was determined to continue his siege on Judo.
The following year he traveled to Seattle to challenge the transplanted judoka of the Seattle Dojo. The following day, in a captivating hour-long battle, he grappled to a draw with another fifth dan, Hikoo Shoji.
However, the Japanese were fascinated by the submissions of catch wrestling, and that included Hikoo Shoji himself.
Shoji traveled to California with Santel to learn the wrestling ropes and is now viewed as the father of freestyle wrestling in Japan. However, according to Hackenschmidt himself, the injury was accidentally inflicted by his sparring partner, Dr.
Legacy of Wrestling www. His parents were Jewish of German or Bohemian extraction. The family name may actually have been spelled Caddach, Craddock, or Caddack.
As a child, Caddock grew sickly and anemic and his physicians claimed he had tuberculosis. He began swimming and, after his health improved, weightlifting and wrestling.
He continued wrestling and won many local amateur titles. Around , he went to Chicago and attended college, presumably at The Hebrew Institution.
He was coached there by Benny Reubin, a legend in amateur catch-as-catch can wrestling. Caddock also worked out with professionals Charlie Cutler and Ernest Kartje.
Although not many of his results are known, Caddock was the dominant amateur middleweight and light heavyweight in the country.
A newspaper story reported that local farmers in Barea, Iowa arranged a match between the two local champion amateurs — Caddock and Joe Stecher.
The two wrestled in a barn in front of thirty-eight people, with Stecher winning the two of the three falls match. He was 26 years old, a collage graduate and a landholder, having homesteaded a ranch in Upton, Wyoming near the Black Hills.
On April 17, , Caddock won the AAU championship in both the light heavyweight and heavyweight classes. His pro debut was on June 8, when he met former American Champion Jesse Westergaard in a handicap match.
Caddock had the favorite finishing hold of a head scissor. Caddock world title match took place on April 9, in a sold out arena. Caddock was awarded the World Title when Stecher was unable to return to the ring for the third and deciding fall.
Caddock had overcome size with skill and speed to record one of wrestlings biggest upsets. On August 4, , the U. He went to the famed Mayo Clinic and received treatment and surgery on his tonsils and on October 5, the U.
In France in , Caddock was gassed. Caddock, unlike many other wrestlers, had a good education and wealth. He lived in good health until , when he had a major heart attack.
He underwent major surgeries in and He was bedridden after that and never recovered. He died at his home in Walnut, Iowa on August 25, He also had memorable matches with Lewis, Londos, and both Zbyszkos.
Caddock was the top babyface of this time. One of those early post-Gotch champions was an athletic, talented wrestler by the name of Joe Stecher. Wrestling in the shadow of the legendary Gotch was no easy task, but Stecher was more than determined to establish himself as the best wrestler in the world, and, as the World Heavyweight champion for more than six years all total, he undoubtedly proved his worth while forever cementing his lofty position in professional wrestling history….
That date marks the day that the unassuming young Stecher defeated Charlie Cutler for the World championship in what was, at that time, one of the premier wrestling cities in the world, Omaha, NE.
Stecher was the man who introduced the Leg Scissors to professional wrestling, and it was with his trademark submission move which could be placed either on the head or the torso that Stecher won a large percentage of his matches, both before and after he became the World Heavyweight champion.
While he was by no means a large man in terms of pro wrestling, Stecher was wiry and athletic, deceivingly strong, and well-versed in the fundementals of grappling.
For two years, the young champion sat atop the wrestling world as the Heavyweight champion, defending his title frequently and serving as the unofficial post-Gotch ambassador of his sport.
Stecher, who was nearing his third year as champion, was defeated in a title match against a relative unknown by the name of Earl Caddock in a hard-fought but clean bout.
Following his loss of the championship, Stecher remained one of the top wrestlers in the game and a solid performer at the box-office.
Eventually, he worked his way back into the championship picture, and on January 30, he defeated Caddock for the World title in a rematch held in New York City.
After competing for several years without winning a championship, by the mid-twenties the resilient Stecher who was still relatively young, despite his many years of experience was once again in the hunt for the title.
On March 30, , he defeated another legendary name from the past, the great Stanislaus Zbyzsco, for the World Heavyweight Wrestling championship in St.
Over the course of the following three years, the three-time World champion incorporated his skill and speed to maintain his firm hold on the World title.
Born in Ravenna, Nebraska, Pesek was fifty pounds the heaviest of three wrestling brothers the other two were pound twins and, early on, began earning his spurs as a training partner for then-world champion Joe Stecher, another native Nebraskan.
Pesek really began coming into prominence in the winter of , when both the world champion Earl Caddock and the Canadian champion Jack Taylor were unable to pin him in handicap matches.
Not until Stecher beat him in a world title match in did Pesek even lose a match. In a career that would last some 40 years, he lost less than 20 times — a phenomenal statistic.
The Tiger Man not only forced Pendleton to submit, but broke his ankle in the process. A group of independent Midwest promoters made him their world champion in , a diadem he defended on and off for nearly 20 years.
Almost without exception, they quietly demurred. From to , Pesek is known to have lost just one bout — a November go with the formidable Ray Steele in St.
Eklund worked a lot of these leg submissions off of a cross body ride or single leg grapevine and its said that Eklund was so flexible and technically sound in his attacks that he developed his legs into a second set of arms.
With his vast proficiency in stretching his opponent Clarence Eklund would make his adversary feel as though their muscles were actually ripping apart.
Clarence Eklund caused sportswriters like Bill Sopris to look on in awe at his dominance on the mat. Eklund was without a doubt one of the finest grapplers of all time.
At lbs Eklund claimed the World Light-Heavyweight title in In , at age 42, Eklund captured the undisputed world championship at a tournament held in Australia.
In fact, Eklunds win over Santel in addition to his other victories have caused many to say that he was the greatest pound for pound grappler of all time.
Something else that Clarence Eklund is famous for is dominating amateur wrestling teams. Eklund had set up a seminar for the national champion Iowa wrestling team.
Eklund indicated to the coach that he wanted to roll with some of his students. It took him the longest to pin the heavyweight.
Eklund pinned him in approximately two minutes. Born in Nekoosa, Wisconsin on June 30, , Robert Friedrich began wrestling at carnivals and on small farms throughout the mid-western United States when he was only fourteen years old.
He is considered to have been one of the finest submission wrestlers of the era with his famous headlock. Lewis garnered quick success in professional wrestling and earned a title shot against World Champion Joe Stecher on December 13, Lewis won his first championship from Stecher and started a long feud that quickly spanned beyond the wrestling ring.
The trio would begin promoting wrestling shows from town to town and are credited for being the very first group to add story lines and other angles making professional wrestling into a complete spectacle.
Lewis and Stecher reportedly wrestled one of the longest matches in history. Their bout lasted five and a half hours and ended in a draw which only enhanced their rivalry.
After his feud with Stecher, Lewis won several other championships in his career. Lewis also battled Jim Londos at Wrigley Field in front of an audience of 35, on September 20, Upon retirement from the ring, Lewis would still make his powerful presence known in wrestling.
Lewis managed one of the most decorated wrestlers of the next era — Lou Thesz. Lewis passed away on August 8, in New York City at the age of seventy-six.
Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum www. James Joe Ervin Mondt was born on a small Iowa farm in Circuses often traveled to populated areas and Mondt saw a chance to earn extra money.
Being well-conditioned, he soon engaged in carnival wrestling and was discovered by the legendary wrestler and instructor Farmer Burns.
Mondt soon developed into a very skillful wrestler. Mondt, a dangerous shooter, soon saw that the big money was earned through the promotional end of the business.
Toots introduced his concept to the top wrestlers of the day and immediately signed them up to contractual agreements.
The public loved the new style, which resulted in full capacity gates, excellent payouts for the wrestlers, and handsome profits for Toots Mondt and his two partners.
New talent was developed and tested by the trio and finishes were carefully choreographed by Toots. Toots took his ideas and fresh concepts and headed East.
Toots also formed a working alliance with powerful New York promoter Jack Curley and served as his main booker.
In , the very popular Jim Londos, managed by Ed White, was bestowed championship honors by the group. Together, they controlled professional wrestling in North America and divided profits equally.
Toots continued to promote to a smaller but steady wrestling audience. He brought in Antonino Rocca as his top draw. In , he joined Washington, D.
Toots taught Vince about booking, working and marketing wrestling as a sports exhibition, while keeping with traditional concepts.
Toots controlled Northeast wrestling and rarely allowed champion Buddy Rogers to wrestle in the other NWA territories. A highly skilled professional wrestler and an astute promoter with a creative mind, he left an indelible mark on the business as we know it today.
Johnny Griffin — with Malin Ali Bey. Ivan Seric was born into a Yugoslavian farming family and later moved to Alaska, where he became a gold miner.
He went on to become Jack Sherry, one of the greatest World heavyweight champions of the 20th century. In Sherry came to Britain.
He stood 6 feet tall and weighed 17 stones lbs. One of his first opponents was Karl Reginsky, the unpopular German heavyweight who would enrage fans by goose-stepping around the ring.
Throughout the decade Sherry darted across the Atlantic, recognized as a wrestling great in both Europe and America.
He is said to have defeated opponents so quickly that few were willing to enter the ring with him. In less than three minutes Sherry twice pinned the great Karl Pojello.
Estelles had only lost on two occasions, once to Karl Pojello, and once to Atholl Oakeley. Within seconds Sherry pinned Estelles, showing once again, no one could last in the same ring as the Alaskan gold miner.
Sherry offered ten thousand dollars to any judoka, boxer or wrestler in the World who was able to compete with him for seconds.
Only two British boxers accepted the challenge: During the whole time he was in Britain from the mid-thirties onwards Sherry entered the tournament, and every year he won without losing a single fall.
Bill was beaten in the final round when he fell through the ropes with Sherry falling on top of him. At that time, Bill was about lbs, thus 35 lbs.
Throughout the world Sherry was unbeatable. After beating Douglas Clarke, the powerful Cumberland and Westmorland style World champion in a couple of minutes Sherry was recognized by many as the greatest heavyweight of the century.
Tributes came not only from fans and pressmen, but other wrestlers also, including George Hackenschmidt. Sherry also wrestled in Turkey and beat the Turkish champion in less than three minutes.
Jack Sherry was without a doubt a great world heavyweight champion. Probably not yet equaled, and possibly never will be.
Peter Sauer, known by the ring name Ray Steele, was an American professional wrestler born and raised in Norka, a German colony in Russia, in before immigrating to Lincoln, Nebraska in He gained some notoriety in when he faced heavyweight boxing contender Kingfish Levinsky in a mixed match, which Steele won in 35 seconds.
Louis, Missouri on March 7, Steele would hold the belt for over a year before losing it back to Bronko Nagurski on March 11, in Houston, Texas.
Sauer served as a mentor to many young stars, including Lou Thesz before his death of a heart attack in September Bob Robinson was a British Wrestler better known by his Ring Name of Billy Joyce, and he is widely regarded as one of the top British Heavyweights of all time and one of the best technical wrestlers in British Wrestling History.
Like many a Lancashire lad Joyce joined the family business and worked down the coalmine before finding his way as many Wigan men did, into the world of Wrestling.
In the early days of his career it was difficult for him to reach the arenas where the event was taking place. With only a small bag containing his wrestling gear and a hot or cold drink, depending on the weather, he would mount his bicycle and ride to wherever his match was taking place, wrestle his bout, then ride home again.
For matches too far to ride to he would hitch a ride with another local wrestler until he saved enough to buy a car. Once he had his car he travelled all over the country to wrestle but always returned home the next day as he would never leave his family long.
For Joyce had only two loves, wrestling and his family, so as long as he could do what he loved and he had his family behind him he was happy.
Often the heel he never liked to bring his family to watch him wrestle as he never wanted them to see him having abuse hurled at him by hundreds of people and wanted to save them from the distress this would cause.
For thirty years he sat on top of the wrestling world in Britain. He would start each day with three hundred press ups followed by five hundred sit ups and then a daily visit to the Snake Pit to spar, perfect his techniques and help train the new blood.
Joyce took Gotch under his wing, taught him all he knew; took him into his home whenever he was in the region and looked out for him.
Joyce was a stubborn man and was reluctant to let anyone better him. This made him rather difficult to work with sometimes.
While never a man who liked to travel far he did wrestle in Europe and was tempted out to Japan by his good friends Billy Robinson and Karl Gotch but he never wrestled once in America, not because he was never wanted there but because he refused to go there.
Some were truly afraid to wrestler Joyce and refused to even step in the ring with him but most wrestlers thought highly of him and knew him as a very nice and amiable man and respected him as a great worker with a high level of skill and knowledge about wrestling.
Roy Wood, a student of the Snake Pit and the man who took over the running of it from Riley after Riley died, said that Joyce was the best wrestler to ever come out of Wigan.
Geoff Condcliffe, better known as Count Bartelli, said that Joyce was the only wrestler he would pay to watch an likened his bouts with Joyce to a chess game in which he was always two or three moves behind Joyce.
Known as a vicious competitor, he took pleasure in pain; not only dishing it out to his opponents but he enjoying receiving it as well.
Many promoters were reluctant to book him because of his reputation for double —crossing his opponents and many were said to be afraid to wrestle him.
Assirati himself claimed that Lou Thesz was one of those who were afraid to wrestle him. Assirati did challenge Thesz, but Thesz refused the match.
He had claimed to be the British Heavyweight Champion but did not win the title officially until 27 January Two years later, he also won the European version of the World Heavyweight Championship by defeating Paul Yvar Martinson in the final round of a tournament on 18 February He later dropped this title to Martinson but continued to hold the British Heavyweight Championship.
As a result he was stripped of his British Heavyweight title. In he travelled back to England and reclaimed the European Heavyweight Championship in In he won his final championship by defeating Ernie Baldwin for the vacant British Heavyweight title.
Later in life, Assirati worked as a doorman at the Ebbisham Halls in Epsom. He used to enjoy performing a party trick where he would place a metal bottle cap between each finger on both hands and completely crush them all at once.
Assirati also faced and beat a boxer named Arnold Corlen in a Wrestler vs. Boxer bout in England and had a brief run in the United States as a wrestler but never got above mid-card.
Bert Assirati Champion home page www. The name Gotch means a lot to wrestling, and instantly conjures up thoughts about the legendary turn-of-the-century exploits of the original World Wrestling Champion, Frank Gotch.
The main difference, though, is that in Japan, both men are revered and respected, while in America, Karl Gotch is basically unknown by the vast majority of wrestling fans.
Although he may not be as famous as many of the other Hall of Famers, Karl Gotch, a technical wizard and influential champion in the early history of Japanese wrestling, is every bit as deserving.
Quite simply, he helped shape our sport into what it is today, despite the lack of notoriety in the U. As Karl Krauser, he won several tournaments throughout his native Europe during the first few years of his career.
But in , when he traveled to the booming world of American pro wrestling, he was greeted by a somewhat cold reception. Istaz was a shooter, not a performer, and as a result, he was often passed over by promoters who were looking to pack the house.
Not flashy, not flamboyant…but a man who could, and occasionally did, make performance-style wrestlers look highly incompetent whenever he wished.
In , in an attempt to add to his persona, Istaz began wrestling under the name Karl Gotch in honor of the late, great World champion and slowly began rising up in the territorial ranks.
Soon after changing his ring name to Gotch, Istaz finally began enjoying some well-deserved success. Gotch claimed that a fearful Rogers was continually ducking his challenges.
It also ended up alienating Gotch from even more promoters and fellow wrestlers. Just prior to his altercation with Rogers, Gotch wrestled his first match in Japan, which turned out to be a minute draw against established Japanese star Michiaki Yoshimura.
Little did Gotch know that it would be in the land of the Rising Sun that he would achieve his greatest fame. In addition to the influence his unique technical style generated, Gotch help shape wrestling forever through the men he trained.
Gotch trained them all, and many others, and instilled in them the same appreciation of wrestling skill and technique that had made him such a star in Japan.
However, in America, things for Gotch were quite different. He spent the next several years in Japan as a premier wrestler and trainer.
One of the biggest stars the island nation had ever known, he wrestled his last match on January 1, when he defeated Yoshiaki Fujiwara in Tokyo.
Soon after, Gotch retired from the sport, in front of the fans that truly appreciated his talent. Through his talent, style, and influence, Karl Gotch established himself as one of the best wrestlers of his, or any, era.
Despite his lack of fame and notoriety, he truly helped shape the sport into what it is today especially in Japan and was a genuine trend-setter, whose influence is still being felt to this day.
William Charles Wicks was born on April 4th, in a little house in St. He attended the Faith E. As a young man he was a member of the Boy Scouts of America.
In his early wrestling days he realized how good he was when he got beaten by two different blind kids on two different days. That was kind of an awakenin…g for him.
After that he started working out with an Olympic wrestler four or five nights every week. While serving in the US Army, he continued his wrestling career, becoming the heavyweight wrestling champion there.
He was honorably discharged on June 25, and obtained his license to wrestle professionally in the state of Texas in His professional wrestling career lasted from He instructed physical fitness programs, control techniques, police arts, combatives, baton tactics, disarming, first aid, crowd control, and underwater recovery techniques.
From he was in charge of recreation and physical activities for 1, county, city and state prisoners in Memphis, Tennessee. He wrestled Sputnik Monroe his biggest rival back in the day for a reunion match in at the ripe old age of He currently assists Johnny Huskey in teaching the toughest wrestling school in the country in Asheville, North Carolina.
Billy Wicks had his first match in Milaca, Minnesota on a Friday night. The carnivals have basketball booths, throw the ball into the basket off of the angled board, bust balloons with a dart, etc.
Well, back in the day they had wrestling booths where people would pay money to wrestle against this guy. Think of the Gracies and how they would take challenges from people and beat them.
Carnival wrestlers were doing this long before them and more often. Just think of how many people go through a booth at the carnival in one night.
These guys were tough. Billy Wicks never lost. He made ten dollars for his first two nights work at the carnival. He traveled through Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota his home state.
The carnivals usually charged a dollar a minute to wrestle. If you wanted to wrestle and thought you could last five minutes then you would pay five dollars.
He not only wrestled in carnivals, but in bars as well. They would roll out a square wrestling mat and wrestle. You can imagine the crowd throwing beer and cigarettes at the wrestlers.
Occasionally the crowd would get a little too excited you know how adrenaline can get to a man and they would try and participate in the wrestling matches.
Billy Wicks recalls one of those times he got jumped and he had to knock the guy out cold. Billy Wicks wrestled on an outdoor football field in a professional wrestling match.
He was a pound ball of fire. The newspapers called him Wild Billy Wicks. He was working a show one time and the guy running it was an old-time wrestler with big cauliflower ears somewhere in his mid forties and the guy cheated him.
Billy wicks called him a cheat and a thief. As Billy Wicks was in the dressing room the guy came in and started to attack him with a blackjack.
Billy Wicks quickly took the weapon away from the man and proceeded to beat him with his own weapon. He was a dead broke wrestler who, at times, had to sleep in his car because he had no money.
This Gulf Coast Heavy Weight champion favored the toe hold and the short arm scissors. His biggest professional rival was Sputnic Monroe. Monroe and Wicks were good friends off of the mat but when it was show time they were big time rivals.
Today, Billy Wicks is a living legend and respected direct link to the roots of American Catch Wrestling. Born in England in Billy Robinson dreamed of becoming a boxer until a childhood accident damaged his eye and took away that dream.
Luckily his family was full of competitive athletes and his uncle, who was an outstanding wrestler, got him into wrestling. He fell in love with it from the very first workout and the rest is history.
During the s he firmly established himself on the British circuits as one of, if not the best of the best wrestlers around.
He was the golden boy of British Heavyweight Wrestling and arguably the best wrestler that ever came out of Wigan.
Of his contemporaries the likes of Geoff Portz, Georgios Gordienko and Billy Joyce there were few who could beat him and none who could match his technical skill.
There was little doubt he would be British Heavyweight Champion before long and indeed he lived up to the expectations when he captured the Title on January 18, from Billy Joyce and would hold it for slightly over three years before he vacated the title so that he could travel to America and join the AWA.
In the AWA he established himself as one of the best wrestlers in a promotion known for hiring great wrestlers. Gene LeBell started young in the world of fighting.
The Olympic was built in for the Olympic Games in Ed explained that with grappling you could do just about anything to your opponent.
You could hit the guy, do heel locks, ankle locks, armbars, back locks, neck locks, tweak the nose or choke him out. Unfortunately it was a short day for Gene, the officials ended up disqualifying him from the event stating that he used too much strength.
Undaunted, Gene worked even harder to improve his skills, training every day in martial arts and boxing, and competing in tournaments on the weekends.
Gene was gearing up for something big. At the age of 20, Gene LeBell had 14 years of hardcore training from the best in the world, and he set his sights on the National Judo Championship in at the Kesar Pavilion in San Francisco.
Gene tore through the ranks of competitors with everything he had. Skeptics called it a fluke — they said that Gene had more luck than talent, and wrote him off.
Then, while flaunting the championship belt, Gene accidentally hit the commissioner and split open his head. Even though it was an accident, Gene was disqualified, and his belt was taken away.
Gene agreed to step into the ring and prove Jim wrong, but upon arrival Gene realized that they had pulled a bait-and-switch; instead of Jim Beck stepping into the ring, Gene was facing off with Milo Savage — the no 5 ranked light heavyweight boxer in the world.
Unfazed, Gene held true to his end of the bargain and took his place in the ring. Milo Savage was wearing brass knuckles — not only that, Milo was greased from head to toe, making it nearly impossible to keep a hold of him.
After 4 hard fought rounds, Gene choked out Savage. He stayed out for 20 minutes for those that would like to see it, this fight is available on VHS in the Products section.
He was also doing stunt work for movies and television, and still is today. In his ongoing career to date, Gene has appeared in more than 1, movies and TV shows.
Gene is considered one of the greatest martial artists of all time, in addition to being a teacher of champions.
I learned a lot from each of these champions. Some are suprised to discover that Gene got his pioneer spirit from his mother Aileen Eaton, former owner of the Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles for 38 years.
One can easily see why Gene LeBell would grow up to become the world class athlete, competitor and teacher he is. Gene LeBell has made a tremendous contribution to the martial arts community, and though he will stoutly deny it, he is admired and appreciated by nearly all of the greatest fighters alive today.
One of the most recognizable competitors in the history of Pro Wrestling, and a well-accomplished amateur wrestling champion in St.
Considered to have the perfect body, mind, and temperament for professional wrestling, Thesz …had an unparalleled career.
Born in Michigan in , Thesz and his family moved to St. Standing six-foot-one-inch tall and weighing pounds, Thesz quickly earned his first heavyweight championship in by winning the Midwest Wrestling Association MWA Title in December He held the NWA title six times, which was a record at the time of his retirement.
In March of , Thesz lost the belt to Whipper Billy Watson in Toronto but would soon re-capture his prize and hold the title until June of Lou continued to look remarkably fit until his death in at age Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame, www.
When he was fourteen years old, his grandfather, mother and all of his brothers journeyed to Sao Paolo, Brazil and became immigrants from Japan.
He worked on coffee plantations from 5: He was seventeen years old at that time. Inoki lost but everybody saw significant potential in him.
Inoki went to the United States in March of for the first time. Inoki teamed with Duke Keomuka. Therefore, he had a tough time obtaining American wrestlers.
Again he had tough time successfully inviting the American boys. He did, however, have great matches with Karl Gotch, Lou Thesz, who were both considered rather outlaw or freelance agents at that time.
New Japan then became the number one group in Japan. Inoki faced many opponents from all dominant disciplines of combat from various parts of the world, such as boxers, judoka, karateka, kung fu practitioners, sumo wrestlers and wrestlers.
These bouts included a match with then-prominent karate competitor Everett Eddy. Eddy had previously competed in a mixed skills bout against boxer Horst Geisler, losing by knockout.
This bout ended in a doctor stoppage after both competitors repeatedly fell out of the ring. Although many of these matches were worked, they are seen as a precursor to modern mixed martial arts.
His NWF championship days extended from to and are considered his prime as a wrestler. In , Inoki offered a mixed match to Muhammad Ali. The bout ended up being a fifteen round draw and newspapers criticized Inoki a considerable amount.
Today, many believe that the Mixed Martial Arts boom originated with the Inoki vs. He had his final match April 4, at the Tokyo Dome and drew seventy-thousand fans.
Pogo was the first debutante in the promotion, but he and Gran Hamada had trained with Tatsumi Fujinami before he and Antonio Inoki left the Japanese Wrestling Association.
His debut was November 12, and in Fujiwara went on to win the Karl Gotch Cup a tournament for rookies. In the late s, Fujiwara became embroiled in a feud with Allen Coage a former Olympic judo bronze medal winner who had debuted as a pro wrestler in NJPW, and one of the first gaijins to be trained at the NJPW dojo over the petty issue of who had the strongest head.
All the while, Fujiwara remained a strong member of the undercard, but rarely would he get opportunities for big singles matches or tag teams with better-known stars.
In , however, all that would change when Fujiwara was among the defectors who created the Japanese UWF. When he and most of them returned in , they formed their own stable, indicating they would battle major New Japan wrestlers and receive recognition on their own terms.
Kido and Fujiwara attempted to get back into the good graces of the rest of the NJPW roster, and for a time, Fujiwara seemed to go back into the NJPW undercard, although with more respect from his peers.
Inoki had already gained respect for him enough to be his tag team partner in for the annual tag team tournament despite being affiliated with the UWF stable.
Fujiwara Gumi had a big supercard at the Tokyo Dome in , involving all the great talents in the promotion: In need of funds, however, Fujiwara proposed to cooperate with their root promotion, New Japan.
Since , Fujiwara, the only remaining member of Fujiwara Gumi and thus a de facto free agent as the promotion no longer operates , has competed in several promotions, mostly in legends matches.
He is also an actor who has had a few parts in Japanese movies and dramas and is a prolific artisan potter.
Pro Wrestling Wikia www. Sayama, having been trained by Karl Gotch and Antonio Inoki made his debut in New Japan Pro Wrestling, against Shoji Kai, a jobber known to have been the debut opponent for future stars.
Sayama weighed only pounds at the time, which, even given his training, impaired him from getting a permanent spot on NJPW cards. So they sent him abroad, to England where he wrestled as Sammy Lee and Mexico, where he wrestled under his real name.
It was in Mexico where he started to grow not only in physical stature but also in prominence, winning the NWA World Middleweight Title.
In , NJPW was looking for a way to attract young fans to its wrestling. They looked to the popular Tiger Mask anime and created an actual wrestler called Tiger Mask for the fans, with the recently returned Sayama playing the role.
Moreover, that match would be the first of many classic battles between the two men. This victory was met with controversy, as some board members on the NWA declared the title vacant, as they felt that the NWA World Junior Heavyweight Championship was the premier title for the division.
Sayama made several appearances in the United States in late , mostly in the World Wrestling Federation. During a tag team match on April 3, he was injured by Dynamite Kid; two days later, he was forced to vacate the NWA World Junior Heavyweight title after it became clear that he would need time off to recuperate.
By , however, Sayama started feeling dissatisfied as he hated the politics behind-the-scenes. As a result, he announced his retirement from active competition on August 12, It was a shock to the wrestling world, as Tiger Mask was going to retire while he was at the top of his game and as the holder of two Junior Heavyweight Championships.
Both titles were declared vacant, as he became a trainer to martial arts fighters. As a result, Sayama initially made appearances for UWF as The Tiger which was the same colors as Tiger Mask , then alternated between using his real name and the gimmick of Super Tiger colored silver and purple.
Sayama would soon disagree with Maeda over style ideology, as Sayama wanted more kicking, while Maeda wanted more submission holds.
Sayama signaled that he was kicked in the groin, resulting in Maeda being disqualified. Sayama left professional wrestling altogether due to his experience in the UWF, and spent the next few years criticizing it as worked.
In he founded Shooto, finally realizing his dream of becoming a martial arts trainer. In , Sayama was offered to return to puroresu for a match against his old mentor Antonio Inoki.
There was already a Tiger Mask on the scene his disciple, Tiger Mask IV, who debuted with the mask , so Sayama used the name and gimmick of Tiger King, using a gold-colored outfit.
He lost to Inoki, but fans still were awed of his display of athleticism and said that he had not lost a step at all. In subsequent years, he used the Original Tiger Mask, competing sporadically in various independent promotions, often in legends matches and teams with his younger disciple.
In , he was invited by Inoki to be a part of the board of his new venture, Universal Fighting Organization. He did, but left a year later to form Seikendo, his own promotion.
Recently he participated in a new promotion called Real Japan Pro Wrestling and started to promote a new gimmick where he would be called Super Tiger.
However, with a career spanning over 30 years in addition to being actively involved in martial arts aside from wrestling, his body had taken a great deal of abuse which resulted in Sayama becoming fodder in matches for current stars aiming to become legends.
Sayama is much heavier than he was in his younger days, and as a result, his style has changed; he focuses more on mat-based wrestling, though he still uses his trademark martial arts kicks.
Fans, young and old, seem quite pleased just to see Sayama in any form these days. There has been talk that Sayama has been involved establishing a Tiger Mask V.
This new Tiger Mask would have his own style and have been picked by Sayama himself. Online World of Wrestling www. Mixed Martial Arts Rankings.
Like many other New Japan stars before and after him, Maeda embarked on a foreign tour to the United Kingdom, where he adopted the Kwik-kik-Lee moniker.
He was one of three Japanese entrants to the international tournament, alongside Antonio Inoki and Rusher Kimura.
It was during his time in the first incarnation of the UWF that his willingness to show his displeasure in the ring became known; he quarreled with Satoru Sayama the original Tiger Mask over the direction of the UWF, as Maeda wanted the promotion to feature wrestling and grappling holds, while Sayama a kickboxer before he went into wrestling favored kicks.
Maeda became involved in a real-life feud with New Japan booker and top star, Antonio Inoki, refusing to work with him in what could have been a huge moneymaking program.
Inoki eventually came to the ring and demanded the match to end, much to the bewilderment of the audience.
Maeda was suspended, and later fired, by New Japan. The match gained widespread media coverage, including mentions in the New York Times and Sports Illustrated.
New Japan Pro Wrestling database http: Online World of Wrestling http: Nobuhiko Takada is a Japanese mixed martial arts fighter and professional wrestler.
The original UWF dissolved in In , Takada moved to the Heavyweight ranks. When it was all said and done, the New Japan vs.
UWFI was the biggest moneymaking feud in Japanese pro-wrestling history. Takada, being in his 30s at the time of his debut and in less than perfect conditioning, and somewhat worn down due to the grueling Japanese pro wrestling circuit, posed little challenge for the experienced, well-conditioned mixed martial arts fighters.
The match ended with Takada again losing via armbar in a fight lasting 9 minutes and 30 seconds. Though thought to be the much better fighter, Coleman was caught by a heel hook from Takada and submitted.
I needed to support my family. They guaranteed me another fight after that and I needed that security. It was what it was.
Takada was then pitted against Mark Kerr, a freestyle wrestler with similar ground and pound fighting style as Mark Coleman.
He was pitted against Royce Gracie — the match went the distance and to a decision. The Brazilian master could neither control nor submit Takada in the assigned minute time limit.
However, the judges ruled in favor of Gracie and he advanced to the next round. Minoru Suzuki is a Japanese professional wrestler and mixed martial artist.
Suzuki was the co-founder of Pancrase, one of the first mixed martial arts organizations in the world. During the s he was known as one of the best fighters in the Pancrase promotion and was the second King of Pancrase Champion.
Suzuki returned to regular puroresu pro wrestling in , where he has become a perennial top contender for all major Japanese heavyweight championships.
Suzuki is well noted for his excellence in freestyle wrestling and catch wrestling. He was an Olympic alternate freestyle wrestler for Japan and former Japanese freestyle wrestling national champion.
As good as his wrestling credentials are, Suzuki is even more respected for his excellence in the art of catch wrestling and submissions. Suzuki has been praised many times by elite fighters such as Josh Barnett, Bas Rutten and Ken Shamrock for his outstanding grappling and submission skills.
Despite his significant size disadvantage against most competitors, Suzuki became one of the most successful fighters in Pancrase with his amazing submission skills and top notch wrestling ability.
Suzuki twice defeated Ken Shamrock and is the only man to hold two wins over Shamrock during the original Pancrase era when he was considered nearly unbeatable.
He then decided to focus on the business and training side of Pancrase. He collaborated with the Tekken series of fighting video games as a motion actor.
At the time he competed in grappling matches almost exclusively. Suzuki did lose the bout with Smith, but the bout was a kickboxing match with kickboxing rules and kickboxing gloves and was not a mixed martial arts match.
Professional MMA record; www. New Japan Pro Wrestling Profile: He is also the co-founder of Pancrase. Pancrase was one of the first mixed martial arts organizations and non-rehearsed shoot wrestling promotions pre-dating the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
He is the only fighter in mixed martial arts history to hold wins over both Shamrock brothers and Bas Rutten, and was the first man to win the King of Pancrase title twice.
Funaki is widely considered to be one of the greatest Japanese fighters in mixed martial arts history. The son of a movie theater owner, Funaki was exposed to martial arts films at an early age.
Though his father would ultimately abandon young Funaki and his family, the exposure to such films influenced him greatly. The New Japan Dojo had a reputation for being particularly harsh on its trainees, both mentally and physically, with the intent of only graduating the very best of each class.
However, Funaki stunned the New Japan trainers with his athleticism, timing and natural talent for submission grappling. Funaki debuted as a Jr.
Heavyweight at the age of 15; it was a record for the youngest debut in NJPW. Heavyweight division was in a transition period.
And as such, the owner, Antonio Inoki, decided to shift the focus towards his heavyweight division which dominated the cards.
When New Japan top draw Akira Maeda became overly frustrated with backstage politics, he shoot- kicked Riki Choshu and broke his eye socket, after which he was fired after refusing to go on an excursion to Mexico, and left to form Newborn UWF.
Funaki, seeing an opportunity to shine and showcase what he could do, wanted to follow. In , Funaki left Fujiwara Gumi to form the mixed martial arts promotion Pancrase.
Pancrase became immensely popular and paved the way for other mixed martial arts organizations to make their way in Japan, including Pride Fighting Championships.
Funaki is known as a master of Catch Wrestling. Funaki was so skilled that he often took other Pancrase fighters, including Bas Rutten, Frank Shamrock and Ken Shamrock, under his wing in order to increase his competition.
He took the idea of submissions to an even higher level than the rest of the Japanese contingent. He had this insatiable desire to learn more and push his body harder.
And as an entertainer he understood the need to entertain. In essence, in order to entertain the crowd, Funaki and Suzuki would occasionally give their opponents opportunities to create drama before finally finishing them off.
However, this did backfire on Funaki on at least one occasion. In a match against Jason DeLucia, Funaki allowed Delucia to catch him in a kneebar in order to create drama and planned on using a rope escape once Delucia had the submission locked in.
Unfortunately, Funaki mistakenly allowed himself to get too far from the ropes and was forced to tap out. This concern for entertainment helped the young sport of mixed martial arts to thrive and grow in Japan.
Funaki retired from Pancrase after a win over Tony Petarra in September due to accumulated injuries and, according to fellow Pancrase fighter and friend Bas Rutten, being burnt out from the hectic Pancrase schedule.
The show was almost canceled due to Rickson trying to change the rules to make knees and strikes to the head illegal, but the problems were overcome and the show continued.
The event was broadcasted to 30 million TV Tokyo viewers. Funaki walked to the ring in samurai attire with a samurai sword which garnered a roaring excitement from the Japanese announcers and crowd.
Funaki scored the first takedown of the bout. However, a kick from Gracie blew out his knee. Ultimately, he was taken down and defeated by a rear-naked choke.
Funaki refused to submit to the hold, passing out before the referee intervened. Funaki then retired from mixed martial arts competition. He had a retirement ceremony in Pancrase in late in which many of his past mentors and training partners emotionally and tearfully embraced the legendary Funaki.
Although both fighters were significantly past their primes, this matchup was intriguing because it was a bout between arguably the two greatest Japanese fighters in mixed martial arts history.
After exchanging professional wrestling-inspired entrances, the submission specialists traded strikes. On the ground, Funaki closed guard around Sakuraba before opening it up to spin for a knee-bar.
Sakuraba returned himself to the ground, where Funaki immediately attempted to sweep him. However, Sakuraba blocked the attempt and secured a double wristlock, eventually forcing Funaki to submit.
After a hard opening exchange between the two, Funaki was staggered by a punch, and then pounded to an eventual TKO at 0: After losing twice in a row since his comeback to the MMA ring, Funaki was determined to prove that he was still a worthy competitor of the sport and participated again in the DREAM 6 Middleweight Grandprix in Prior to the bout, Funaki suggested that if this fight was going be equivalent to a ritual suicide, there was none he found more worthy than Minowa to assist him in carrying it out.
At the opening seconds of the first round of the match, Funaki came at his former charge with a series of kicks, practically forcing Minowa to catch one of the kicks.
The former two-time King of Pancrase capitalized immediately, leaping directly into a heel-hook. The fight went the distance with a draw between the two MMA legends, in which Volk Han announced his retirement afterwards.
Funaki returned to the ring again on June 17, On August 26 he defeated Jun Akiyama in a match that lasted less than five minutes to become the 45th Triple Crown Heavyweight Champion.
He lost the title to Suwama on March 17, In June , Funaki announced his resignation from All Japan in the aftermath of Nobuo Shiraishi taking over as the new president and Keiji Mutoh leaving the promotion.
Wrestling info archive 4. Kiyoshi Tamura is a Japanese middleweight professional wrestler and mixed martial artist. Once a student of legendary pro wrestlers; Billy Robinson, Nobuhiko Takada and Akira Maeda, he became very well-known and respected for his impressive skill in Catch Wrestling as well as his ability to deliver on-point with realistic professional wrestling bouts.
He has competed in some form or another for the following organizations: He is at his best when fighting at or near his own weight, but since has made a habit of fighting much larger opponents.
He was briefly pushed as the top star, being given the first RINGS heavyweight title, but as RINGS transitioned to real MMA bouts, his star began to flicker, as he struggled to keep up with the demanding pace of the organization despite winning bouts.
However, in spite of his many accomplishments inside the arena of MMA, his record is somewhat marred by a great number of his match-ups against top heavyweight and light-heavyweight competitors, including Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, the pound Bob Sapp and the former Judo Olympic gold medalist Hidehiko Yoshida.
His later mixed martial arts performances have also been criticized as being relatively uninspiring when compared to the fast-paced bouts that characterized him during the earlier portion of his career.
Part of this may be due to the lack of grappling in those MMA bouts in question, since he was at one point considered one of the deadliest submission artists in the world.
For several years, efforts were made by Pride Fighting Championships to put Kiyoshi Tamura and fellow UWFi alum and mixed martial artist Kazushi Sakuraba together in a fight due to their status as two of the best Japanese fighters of their time as well as a rumored rivalry.
An announcement was made at Pride 34 by Nobuyuki Sakakibara that promised the fans a future fight between the two. However, immediately after that event in which the announcement was made, Pride Fighting Championships ceased being an active promotion.