Name: Dick Shikat
Year Inducted: 2013
“Shikat is as good a wrestler as ever lived,” once said
Toots Mondt (PWHF Class of 2008), proceeding to give himself a little
credit. “He is a most colorful figure and it has largely been due to his
perfecting the crotch and half-Nelson, which I taught him, that he has
become well nigh invincible. I learned the hold from Farmer Burns, who also
taught it to the late Frank Gotch, so you can see that at least two world’s
champions have been made by virtue of it—Gotch and Shikat.”
Richard I. Schikat was born on January 11, 1897 in
Ragnitz, Tilsit, East Prussia, and began wrestling as early as 15 years old.
During World War I, he served with the German Navy. While in Germany,
Schikat formed a bond with a fellow grappler, the 6’6” Johannes Steinke. The
two toured Germany and Europe. On October 9, 1923, Schikat and Steinke
arrived in the United States from Dresden at Ellis Island.
Steinke and Schikat were well received by American
promoters, providing an international flavor that many were searching for.
After the friends went their own ways, Schikat joined the Ed “Strangler”
Lewis-Billy Sandow national circuit and later signed a contract with Rudy
Miller, a prominent German manager.
In 1926, after having gone home to get married, Schikat
returned to the U.S. and wrestled a man who would have a major impact on his
career, Joe “Toots” Mondt. By early 1928, Mondt was a partner in the New
York office. Schikat, who shorted his name to Shikat, was still under
contract to Miller. However, Miller was also a member of the Jack
Curley-Mondt combine and promoted steadily in Brooklyn. When Mondt decided
to take Shikat under his wing to become his “manager,” Miller saw no
problem. After all, he was going to benefit financially either way. A finely
tutored Shikat would do better at the box office, in all actuality, and
Mondt had big plans for his new protégé.
Working with Jim Londos’ manager Ed White, Philadelphia
promoter Fabiani guaranteed a total purse of $35,000 for a bout between
Londos and Shikat, after which the winner would be recognized as a world
champion. On August 23, 1929, a crowd estimated at 30,000 turned out at the
Municipal Stadium to see Shikat pin Londos in 1:15:12. After the win, Shikat
was quoted by the Philadelphia Inquirer: “I am happier tonight than I
have ever been in my life and I want to get out of here as soon as possible
and cable my wife, who is in Germany visiting relatives. I am grateful to
the people of Philadelphia and to the commission of the State of
Pennsylvania, for it was here that I was first recognized as of wrestling
championship calibre, and it was here that I was given this opportunity of
realizing my ambition. The title will not be nursed by me.”
Indeed, he fought top names such as Everette Marshall,
Rudy Dusek, Gino Garibaldi, “Strangler” Ed Lewis, and George Zaharias.
Shikat’s second world title win was an infamous bout on
March 2, 1936 in Madison Square Garden, where he dethroned Danno O’Mahoney
who was apparently not going along with the script.
Shikat died in 1968.
– Tim Hornbaker, LegacyOfWrestling.com