By Lou Thesz
Six-time World heavyweight champion
Thesz has a Message Board on his Web site, the Lou
Thesz Message Board Forum. You can ask Thesz questions
directly. You can see photos and listen to an interview with
Thesz on the
official Lou Thesz Web site. You can also get
information about Thesz' biography Hooker,
one of the definitive histories of professional wrestling.
He also has a Collector's
Edition Photo Biography available.
have contributed to Wrestling Museum
this column is really pretty easy when I finally figure out
what to talk about. I am much better with an interview.
to what is happening in my life now, it is pretty dull on
the wrestling end. I am pretty happy with the garden, but I
wish Mother Nature would help with the watering. Mexico has
followed the lead of Korea and asked me to come and serve as
"wrestling commissioner" in July. I would serve as
dogcatcher for a free trip to Mexico. Charlie truly
believes there is an unwritten code about a wrestler losing
face if he buys a plane tickets with his own money - even
for his woman. Where do women get these wild ideas?
do know we had some wonderful times in Mexico. The people,
as a whole, are the most hospitable in the world. "Mi
casa es su casa" is not just something they weave into
the doormats for export. It is the way they live. Charlie
and I spent summers in Mexico for a couple of years, and
swore we were going to move there each time Bill Clinton
was elected. I guess we are getting closer by moving to
trip to the International Wrestling Institute and Museum was
incredible...the best ever. Some of my dearest friends were
there and the support for the Museum is growing. Mostly, the
appreciation for the preservation of wrestling history is
Earl Caddock and Joe Stecher families were
there to accept the plaques awarded when a wrestler is
inducted into the Hall of Fame. Danny Hodge and Dick
Hutton were there to accept their awards. Bobby
Managoff was presented the Frank Gotch Award for his
contribution to the tradition of professional wrestling. The
irony of Bobby's father, The Terrible Turk, once
breaking Frank Gotch's leg was not lost on the group.
Rockwell is a prominent businessman and former professional wrestler who very
generously donated the funds needed to remodel the part of
Museum designated for
the library, so we not only dedicated the Dean Rockwell Library
we had the incredibly realistic painting of Ted Lewin
on exhibit. Ted, brother to Mark and Don,
wrestled for a short time to pay his way through art school.
The paintings he did during those years are so realistic you
can smell the sweat in the dressing room scenes. He has
captured the triumph and defeat of some of the most
memorable characters in professional wrestling. The exhibit
will be there through January of 2001, when it goes to the
CAC meeting in Las Vegas. Ted and his wife, Betsy,
live in NY and are illustrators of children's books. This
collection has been in their home all these years.
group was smaller than last year, but those who attended
came to absorb the history of amateur and professional
wrestling. The simply curious had fallen away and those in
attendance had a vested interest in what happens to the
Museum. Tom and Christine Drake come to mind.
Tom was a promising amateur who lost out on a chance at the
Olympics because Dan Hodge beat him.
an incredible career as an attorney and statesman in Alabama
politics, Tom has not forgotten the years he spent as a
professional wrestler and the friendships he formed in those
years. He and his wife Christine, also an attorney, serve as
legal counsel for the Cauliflower Alley Club and have been
very generous with their time and money to the Museum, too.
Von Goering has been a terrific supporter in funds and time. He, too, recognizes the
value of preserving our traditions and history. To both of
us, professional wrestling has been our lives, and is the
world which has given us our best times, our worst times,
our closest friends and taught us how low a man could go to
earn a buck as a promoter. (Inside joke!) It is so rewarding
to see him at these functions. He comes there, like myself,
to honor the past and relive a little bit of it. We were
never close when we were active wrestlers, probably due to
geography, so it is great to have the time to get to know
Dunn is a
collector of memorabilia who has donated countless items and
funds to support the Museum. It is always a great pleasure
to see him. It is also personally rewarding to have people
of Jeff's caliber who are so very interested in the history
of wrestling and not only preserving it, but also sharing it
with others. He donated an old framed program, or small
poster, with my picture on it, and Charlie went nuts. It is
one of the very few pictures of me smiling. As a young
upstart, it was not the image I wanted to put forth. She
will probably borrow it from the Museum, since she
constantly tells Mike we are "Lou Thesz heavy" at
the Museum. Of course, she wants the pieces relegated to a
closet at the Museum and not in our house. She might be a
tad upset if Mike put the copy of the NWA belt in a closet.
She researched jewelers, spent hours going over details and
materials with the artist she discovered. I have to say it
was worth it. The belt looks so much like the original I
don't think even I could tell the difference if it had the
same leather strap backing it.
original is in Japan. My attorney, not a wrestling fan,
commented on what a shame it was a piece of American history
was in Japan, to which I replied, "I think it is a
shame the Japanese have more interest in it."
International Wrestling Institute and Museum is the only
organization with the courage to honor professional
wrestling as a sport and give the "wrestlers" who
learned their craft the respect they deserve. I don't say we
have earned a place next to Dan Gable, but it is a distinct
honor to be in the same building with him.
to say, it needs all the support we feel it is worth to
preserve the history of men like Frank Gotch, Ed Lewis,
Joe Stecher, Earl Caddock, Danny Hodge, Verne Gagne
and the men who shaped professional wrestling from the gyms,
like George Tragos. If any of you feel like pitching
in a few dollars, it is greatly welcome. I assure you it
does not go to big salaries or non-essentials. The
Not-for-Profit status of the Museum is for real. I have
chosen to donate more time to the Museum and even resigned
as president of CAC to do so. I hope all of you get an
opportunity to see it. It is worth a detour to Iowa.
can send your correspondence and contributions to:
(International Wrestling Institute and Museum)
Attn: WC (The
attn: WC just lets us know where you heard about this.)
P.O. Box 794
IA 50208You can visit the Museum's Web site at www.wrestlingmuseum.org.
Thesz is arguably the greatest professional wrestler of
all time. He held the World heavyweight championship six
times in four different decades. He is the only wrestler
to ever compete in seven different decades. His book, Hooker
details the history of professional wrestling through his
perspective as the top wrestler in the business. He has
just released a Collector's Edition Photo Biography. You
can also visit the Lou Thesz Web site.
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