Hack and Zbyszko Battle to Draw

     At the beginning of 1911, the wrestling public considered three men to be the greatest challenge to reigning World Champion Frank Gotch.  Former champion George Hackenschmidt, Stanislaus Zbyszko and “The Terrible Turk” Yussif Mahmout wanted the chance to beat Gotch.


George Hackenschmidt When He Was World Wrestling Champion from the Public Domain

     Gotch, who was nobody’s fool, decided to take some of the starch out of his challengers by matching them up against each other.  Gotch told the men he would take on the winner between the three men.  One problem emerged with Gotch’s plan.  Both Hackenschmidt and Zbyszko refused to wrestle Mahmout.

     All three men began their careers in England.  Mahmout was Europe’s Gotch, a strong wrestler who did not need to cheat to win.  Yet like Gotch, Mahmout fouled his opponents, when the opportunity arose.

     Hackenschmidt, who defeated “The Terrible Turk” when he was champion, refused to wrestle Mahmout even if it meant forgoing a title shot.  Hackenschmidt might have still been smarting from Gotch’s rough tactics in their first match.

     Zbyszko also refused to match up with Mahmout.  He welcomed the challenge of “The Russian Lion”, so the Russian former world champion met the Polish Greco-Roman wrestling champion.

     While Zbyszko possessed a sterling reputation, Hackenschmidt previously held the world championship.  Whether “Hack” bowed to pressure or was overly confident about his ability to handle Zbyszko, Hackenschmidt agreed to throw Zbyszko twice in 90 minutes.

     Physically, the men matched up well.  Both men stood 5’09” tall with “Hack” slightly smaller at 219 pounds.  Zbyszko arrived in America in 1909 at 260 pounds.  His constant touring in 1910 brought his weight down to 230 pounds but Stanislaus was in prime condition.


Stanislaus Zbyszko from the Public Domain

     The 34 year-olds met in New York with a shot at Gotch on the line.  Zbyszko attacked Hackenschmidt from the opening bell.  While both men were about equal in strength, Zbyszko possessed more agility.  Zbyszko tossed “Hack” around but could not finish a throw.

     The problem, of course, was Hackenschmidt agreed to throw Zbyszko twice in the 90 minutes.  Hackenschmidt did not throw Zbyszko once and was declared the loser although the match was actually a draw.  At the end of the match, Zbyszko was working Hackenschmidt over on the ground.

     Before 1911 expired, Gotch fought both Zbyszko and Hackenschmidt.  Gotch defeated Zbyszko in two straight falls.  The first fall was a controversial six second pin accomplished by Gotch tackling Zbyszko off the hand shake.

      In September 1911, Hackenschmidt received his rematch.  Hampered by a bad knee and faced with a style he always found challenging, “Hack” lost again to the great Gotch.

     1911 would be the end of Hackenschmidt’s run as he retired after the Gotch battle.  Zbyszko would wrestle for another twenty years including winning the World Wrestling Championship in 1926 in one of the last legitimate wrestling matches.

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