Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Gotch shouldn't be praised

So at first when I was reading about Frank Gotch he sounded like an incredible athlete, a hall of famer, a role model. He won several matches against some of the top wrestlers of his time, including Tom Jenkins and Fred Beel. After reading about how he came to be what he was it sounded like he was a man of honor, but I was wrong.
After many accomplishments, Gotch was ready to face the best, he was to face George Hackenschidt. The match was won by Gotch due to default, Hackenschidt refused to return to the ring after the first fall. A rematch took place several years later, and like the first was highly anticipated. Again this match was won by Gotch but it was an unfair advantage since Hackenschidt had a knee injury. This injury was caused by another wrestler while Hackenschidt was training. Apparently, Gotch paid this other wrestler in order for him to injure Hackenschidt.
Does this sound like a hero to you??? How can society honor a man that would do such a thing as to hire someone to hurt his opponent in order to win a match. I wouldn't be surprised if the reason Hackenschidt didn't return to the ring in the first match was caused by Gotch as well. Gotch is a sore loser, a cheater, a coward, and does not deserve the respect or honor of being named the greatest historical figure in pro wrestling.


Sam Ford said...

Chris, a fair question regarding the "legacy" of Frank Gotch. He's been latched onto by many wrestling historians, especially those who disdain the more theatrical modern version of pro wrestling, as one of the greats because he represents the height of popularity of wrestling as seen as legitimate sport.

But the key is that Gotch serves a purpose for historians, as the most well-known of the complete legitimates, in their opinion. Part of the issue is also that he was an American who beat a European sensation. Of course, that small town boy from Iowa who became the king of "legitimate" professional wrestling is indeed taken down a notch by the controversies surrounding these matches.

But, by now, the events surrounding that Hackenschmidt match itself is in question, with different historical versions, etc. The "real" story may never be known, but since when does "real" matter all that much in wrestling?

Kevin Chevalier said...

That's an interesting viewpoint, but I think your criticisms of Gotch are a little overboard. If Hackenschmidt lied, and said he was cheated both times, it wouldn't be the first time in professional sports.

I could definitely see the press, disillusioned by the realization that wrestling was fake, jump on any allegation that Gotch cheated in his two Hackenschmidt matches.

In the end, Sam is right in that the truth really isn't known. Only the stories. I'm not so sure Mr. Gotch was such a bad guy.

Sam Ford said...

Interesting observations, Kevin. I think the comparisons are interesting to make for what comes after, in Fall Guys, between top wrestlers Joe Stecher and Earl Caddock, where again no one knows the "true" story as to why the match ended without a deciding finale. Wrestling is full of these fabled tales, another one today with Moolah coming out as "The Spider" and winning the WWE Women's Title from Wendy Richter.

I think the key here is that wrestling has always played with the whole notion of "real," which is what makes any history of the business fascinating indeed.

Carolina said...

I too think you might be a little too harsh on him for what he did, if he even did it at all. It's hard to say for sure given how long ago this happened. I don't think this incident though can take away from his accomplishments in the ring, where he is considered to have been an incredible athlete that set the stage for many to follow him. I think sometimes fans have a hard time separating the athlete from the person. If Gotch did pay off someone to injure Hackenschidt, then that says a lot about Gotch, the person. However, Gotch the athlete shouldn't be disrespected altogether for this one incident that's still blurry in detail to this day.

Sam Ford said...

Carolina, your question ties into the discussion we've had about Thesz in a way as well, except the actions Gotch is accused of sounds like the type of thing raised by Tonya Harding or even Pete Rose betting on baseball, cases in which athletic ability has nothing to do with it but rather out-of-the-ring conduct.

X P said...

Maybe I was being a little harsh and maybe Gotch was an incredible athlete. The problem is that when I think of a hero or someone great I think of them as a good man or woman too. The fact that Gotch could of paid off someone to hurt his opponent has a lot to say about Gotch the person. Carolina was right and I need to seperate Gotch the athlete from Gotch the person.
I just feel for someone to be considered great in sports, they have to be great in both categories. It does seem Gotch was a great athlete, but if he was so great he should of faced Hackenschmidt fair and square to show his greatness.

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