Gotch Beats Lurich in His Last Match

Frank Gotch was famous for defeating George Hackenschmidt, the world champion wrestler and weightlifter in 1908 and the 1911 rematch.  Gotch held the title for five years and defeated all comers.  At the relatively young age of 35, Gotch decided to retire.  For his last match, he would take on another famous European wrestler and weightlifter, George Lurich.

George Lurich was actually two years older than Gotch.  Lurich had been wrestling since the late 1890s.  Several sources claimed Lurich trained Hackenschmidt but they were actually rivals.  Lurich beat Hackenschmidt, when the latter was still an amateur.  Hackenschmidt credited Lurich’s victories with encouraging his increased interest in wrestling.  At the time, Hackenschmidt was already one of the strongest men in the world, while only in his late teens.


Frank Gotch from the Public Domain

Lurich and Hackenschmidt would have probably been friends except George Lurich bragged to everyone how he defeated “Hack” after Hackenschmidt won the world championship.  Lurich often left out that “Hack” was an inexperienced amateur at the time.  Georg Hackenschmidt spent a lot of time pursuing Lurich for a rematch but it never occurred.  Lurich would claim illness or simply leave the area after “Hack’s” arrival.

George Lurich did train Aleksander “Alex” Aberg, who would become World Wrestling Champion after Frank Gotch retired.  However, Aberg’s trainer never one his own championship, so he wanted to make the most of this shot at the world championship.  Despite his notable successes as a competitive wrestler, he never won a championship.


Georg Lurich from the Public Domain

Frank Gotch and George Lurich met in the Convention Hall at Kansas City, MO on Tuesday, April 1, 1913.  According to the April 2, 1913 edition of the Ogden Standard, Lurich was not much of a match for Gotch.  Gotch scored the first fall on Lurich at 18 minutes, ten seconds with a toe hold and arm lock.   After a short rest, Gotch defeated Lurich in five minutes, 35 seconds with a head chancery and bar arm.

The Ogden Standard correspondent reported Gotch appeared much stronger than Lurich, a weightlifting champion.  Lurich did get behind Gotch six or seven times but could do nothing.  After Gotch secured his famous and painful toehold, Lurich quickly submitted.  Lurich did not have much interest in continuing the match after feeling Gotch’s pet hold, so he quickly succumbed in the second fall.

Frank Gotch retired to raise a family.  Gotch, who married two years prior to this match, would only live four more years.  He died on December 16, 1917 from blood poisoning.

Gotch was such a talented wrestler and promoter that he was able to raise wrestling to a respectable profession in the early Twentieth Century.  He also had a mean streak and was criticized for cruelty to inferior opponents.

Georg Lurich and Aleksander “Alex” Aberg continued wrestling before being caught up in the Russian Revolution.  Originally, they were accepted by the Bolsheviks.  During the Russian Civil War, both men decided their fortunes would be better if they left Russia for America.  They were attempting to leave Russia through the south, when both men caught typhoid fever.  George Lurich died at 43 years of age on January 20, 1920.  Aberg beat the illness but caught pneumonia.  Aberg died on February 15, 1920.

George Hackenschmidt outlasted all his rivals.  He died on February 19, 1968 at 90 years of age.

Did you know the story of George Lurich?  Where you shocked that all three men died so young?  You can leave a comment or ask a question about this or any post on my Facebook pageTwitter profile and Google+ page.

Gotch vs. Hackenschmidt: The Matches That Made and Destroyed Legitimate American Professional Wrestling is available on Amazon in both paperback and e-book.


Gotch vs. Hackenschmidt is available at Amazon in paperback and on e-book.

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