Aberg Tempts Gotch
Actually, Samuel Rachman, who promoted both the 1915 International Wrestling Tournament and Greco-Roman World Heavyweight Wrestling Champion Aleksander “Alex” Aberg, tried to lure retired World Heavyweight Wrestling Champion Frank Gotch into the tournament. Rachman hoped to bolster Aberg’s claim as the successor to Gotch.
Rachman offered Gotch $20,000 to wrestle Aberg in May 1915. Rachman’s tournament was to start Wednesday night, May 19, 1915 in New York City. Besides trying to setup the challenge with Gotch, Rachman lined up an all-star lineup for the tournament.
Aberg, George Lurich, Ivan Linow, Wladek Zbyszko, several European champions and a young Ed “The Strangler” Lewis would wrestle in the tournament. Rachman really struck gold though, when he introduced “The Masked Marvel” into the tournament. The Masked Marvel was the first masked wrestler to wrestle in the United States.
At the opening of the tournament, Rachman was focused on luring Gotch from retirement. Gotch helped fuel this interest by hinting several times that he would come out of retirement although he never did. Gotch would pass away at 39 years of age in 1917.
The 30-year-old Aberg arrived in the United States after reportedly winning Greco-Roman Wrestling Tournaments in London, Hamburg, Munich, Moscow, Cologne, Budapest, Warsaw and Vienna. Aberg entered the 1915 Tournament as the betting favorite.
Aberg also reportedly refused to take part in the tournament unless it was winner take all. Originally, Rachman announced the $10,000 prize money would be shared by the top three wrestlers.
Aberg started off the tournament strongly. Aberg met Bavarian wrestler Karl Vogel and needed only 4 minutes, 15 seconds to secure a body hold and pin fall. Aberg would continue to dominate the tournament until he met Ed “The Strangler” Lewis in December 1915. Lewis would be the only wrestler to really test Aberg.
How would Gotch have done against Aberg? While Aberg was a few years younger than the 37-year-old former champion, Gotch had beaten the tough Greco-Roman wrestler George Lurich during April 1913 in what would be his retirement match.
Gotch also did well against some of the greatest Greco-Roman World Champions like George Hackenschmidt and Stanislaus Zbyszko. Stanislaus Zbyszko beat Aberg in 1914 Greco-Roman World Title match before returning to Poland. It is hard to say if Gotch would have won against Aberg. If Aberg was successful, Father Time would have been the real victor over Frank Gotch. Time beats all champions eventually.
Sources: The New York Sun, May 16, 1915, p. 15, May 17, 1915, p. 8 and May 22, 1915, p. 9Pin It