Name: Karl Gotch
Year Inducted: 2007
Induction Category: International

Karl Gotch

"Mention the name Karl Gotch today to any wrestler... One thing is almost certain, you will hear words of respect"..... (Quote from wrestler Fritz Von Goering ).

Karl Gotch was born Karl Istaz in 1924 in Antwerp, Belgium and spent his youth in Hamburg, Germany. After wrestling for Belgium in the 1948 Olympics, a quest for a career in the sport took him to the famous "Snake Pit" in Wigan, England. This school was run by catch wrestler, Billy Riley. This gym attracted some of the most notable wrestlers of their day including Bert Assirati and Billy Robinson. Many wrestlers did not survive there due to the severity of the regimen. During the 1950's, after months of grueling training at the Pit, he toured Europe wrestling as Karl Krauser. He developed the reputation as a feared submission wrestler while winning various titles including the German Heavyweight Title and the European Championship.

Toward the end of that decade, Karl came to the United States to display his talents. While in the U.S., Karl met with some success though he found the "performance" side of the business somewhat unsuitable for his strength and superior technical athletic skills. Karl was mild mannered and best at marketing his talents in the ring rather than on a microphone. Unfortunately, these strengths did not seem to sell enough seats for promoters and thus, Karl's unmatched talents were commercially underappreciated.

In 1961, as Karl Gotch, he captured the well respected AWA Championship in Ohio. It was during this time period that Karl purportedly had his infamous locker room altercation with Buddy Rogers in Columbus leaving Gotch somewhat isolated from U. S. promoters. Thereafter, Karl's successes in the U.S. were somewhat limited but he did manage to capture several tag team titles with Mike DiBiase and Rene Goulet. Incidentally, it has been speculated that he took this name from Frank Gotch but there is some evidence to indicate that Gotch was actually his mother's maiden name.

During the 1960's, Karl left the United States for international destinations. In 1965, while competing in Australia and again wrestling as Karl "Krauser", he defeated Spiros Arion for the International Wrestling Alliance Heavyweight Title.

Also during this time period he began establishing himself as a star in Japan. The Japanese wrestling community appreciated his pure wrestling talent much more than American audiences and Karl's abilities allowed him to establish himself as that country's most regarded technical wrestler. He competed against such Japanese superstars as Rikidozan and Michiaki Yoshimura. Although he won several major titles in Japan, perhaps his most crowning recognition is the unofficial everlasting title provided by the Japanese fans as the "God of Professional Wrestling." Not only will Karl always be revered there as a wrestler , he has excelled as a teacher to a host of Japanese wrestlers including Antonio Inoki, Hiro Matsuda and Satoru Sayama (Tiger Mask).

Currently Karl resides in Florida and continues to advise others in training techniques stressing aerobic and body weight exercises while avoiding heavy weights. Karl has been quoted as saying that he can train someone to be strong, fast, agile, and help them develop endurance and reflexes, but he can't train "guts". You have to be born with guts!

- Robert K. Oates

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