Friday, September 30, 2011

Comments on the Hackenschmidt - Gotch matches - By Mike Chapman

Originally posted on NaturalStrength.com on 29 July 2003

Hello Bob,

I don't know if this is the right place to write about David Gentle's article on George Hackenschmidt, but I found the article listed on this web site. Perhaps you could forward it on to Mr. Gentle.

The article is well written with lots of facts. However, there are two major errors regarding the Hack-Gotch matches. He writes that the experts all agree that Hack would have won the second match if he had not injured his knee. Actually, most of the experts say just the opposite...that the injury was very minor and Hack was simply terrified of facing Gotch beccause he knew he could not beat him. Even Jack Curley, who was Hack's good friend and the promoter of the bout, said in an article in RING magazine in 1931 that Hack's knee was tested and was okay and Curley fully expcted Hack to win...but that Gotch won fair and square and was just too good for Hack. Edward Smith, the referee, said the same thing. The top wrestling writer of the era was George Barton of the Minneapolis Tribune, a man of impeccable reputation. He wrote in 1960 that Gotch won fair and square both times and that Hack simply wasn't in Gotch's class as a catch-style wrestler.

Gentle also said that Hack bore no grudges about the matches but put them behind him. John Grimek told me PERSONALLY in his office in York in 1982 that he met Hack at the Mr. Universe contest in 1950 and at the dinner after the competition, a fellow asked Hack about the Gotch matches...and Hack turned beet red, slammed his fist on the table, got up and stormed out, saying "I do not want to talk about Frank Gotch." That was 39 years AFTER the match....

I am a huge fan of Hackenschmidt and think he was the greatest Greco-Roman wrestler of all time and that he would have beaten Gotch in that style. However, he simply did not possess the speed and the technical knowledge to compete with Gotch in a catch match. I have researched Gotch for 40 years and that is the general consensus of opinion by just about all the "insiders" I have talked with and read about through the decades. I know that was the opinion of the great TomJenkins, who was American champion in the early 1900s and wrestled both Gotch (8 times) and Hackenschmidt (2 times).

Thanks for reading all of this...in the spirit of trying to get the matter straight.

Mike Chapman,

Thanks for the feedback Mike. I'll forward this to David.

P.S. Mike is the author of 14 books and executive director of the International Wrestling Institute and Museum in Newton, Iowa.


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