Karl Gotch

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Karl Gotch
Ring name(s) Karl Krauser
Karl Gotch
Real name Karl Istaz
Nickname(s) "Puroresu no Kami-sama" (God of Pro Wrestling)
Billed height 184 cm (6 ft +12 in)
Billed weight 110 kg (240 lb; 17 st)
Born 1924/08/03(1924-08-03)
Antwerp, Belgium
Died 2007/07/28 (aged 82)
Tampa, Florida
Billed from Hamburg, Germany
Shishō Billy Joyce
Billy Riley
Debut 1950 or 1956
Retired 1982

Karl Gotch was a professional wrestler and trainer. His real name is Karl Istaz. The german suplex is named after Gotch.

In Japan, Gotch was known as "God of Pro Wrestling" due to his influence in shaping the puroresu style.


Gotch was born in Antwerp, Belgium and grew up there with his family. He learned greco-roman wrestling in his early years and from the beginning he was a very well known sportsman. He wrestled in "The Hippodroom", a notable sports center, where amateur fights like boxing matches and wrestling matches were fought.


Karl Gotch excelled in amateur wrestling and experienced a very big breakthrough in his career by competing as Charles Istaz for Belgium in the 1948 Olympics in both freestyle and greco-roman wrestling.[1] Gotch also trained in the Indian martial art of pehlwani. This training led to Gotch's regime of calisthenic bodyweight exercise, which were used by Indian wrestlers and other athletes to build leg endurance and strength. He also adopted other Indian exercises, such as the bridge, Hindu squats, and Hindu press-ups in his wrestling[2] Gotch's philosophy was later passed on to several of his students.[3]

Istaz's professional wrestling career began after training in the "Snake Pit", run by the renowned catch wrestler Billy Riley. After establishing himself as arguably the best wrestler in Europe, Gotch ventured to the United States in 1959. First staying in Eastern Canada with Eddy Wiecz before moving to the United States.

In 1961, he adopted the ring name of Karl Gotch (after Frank Gotch). He captured his first major championship, the American Wrestling Alliance (Ohio) World Heavyweight Title in 1962 by defeating Don Leo Jonathan. Gotch held the belt for two years before dropping the title to Lou Thesz, one of the few American wrestlers he respected because of the similarities of their styles (the two also share a common German/Hungarian heritage).

Gotch had a notorious behind-the-scenes feud with Buddy Rogers, starting when Gotch asked for a shot at the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. Rogers wanted to avoid getting into the ring with a wrestler he feared would shoot on him and legitimately "steal" his championship. This led to a locker room fist fight between the two, ending when Gotch broke Rogers' hand; incapacitating Rogers for several weeks. These events only served to alienate Gotch from the American promoters, who already felt there was no place for his style in the world of American pro wrestling.

Gotch had a brief run in the World Wide Wrestling Federation from 1971/8 to 1972/2. On 1971/12/6, he teamed with Rene Goulet to win the WWWF World Tag Team Championship from the inaugural champions, Luke Graham & Tarzan Tyler, in two straight falls of a best-two-out-of-three-falls match at Madison Square Garden in New York City.[4] They lost the championship on 1972/2/1 in Philadelphia to Baron Mikel Scicluna and King Curtis.[5]


Gotch went to Japan for the first time in 1961/4 as Karl Krauser. He showed his signature move german suplex hold, which was never seen in Japan. He lived in Japan for a while after 1968/1 and became a coach for Japan Pro-Wrestling Association to train the rookies such as Yamamoto Kotetsu and Hoshino Kantarō as well as a main eventer Antonio Inoki.

He wrestled for International Wrestling Enterprise in 1971/3 faced other European wrestlers such as Bill Robinson and Monster Roussimoff. In a match against Roussimoff, Gotch threw him with a german suplex hold while the referee was knocked down outside the ring.

In 1972, Gotch wrestled in the main event of the very first show held by New Japan Pro-Wrestling, defeating Antonio Inoki. He was also in charge of the gaijin talents for the promotion which was lacking the source for the wrestlers from overseas due to the political influences by the JWA, a member of National Wrestling Alliance. Gotch's more athletic, less entertainment-based wrestling style was passed on to Inoki, who further developed it into the strong style that has been the norm in New Japan ever since.

Gotch went on to train other New Japan wrestlers, including Fujinami Tatsumi, Hiro Matsuda, Kido Osamu, Fujiwara Yoshiaki, Sayama Satoru, and Akira Maeda. Some of these students, including Maeda, formed the original Universal Wrestling Federation, whose style eventually became shoot wrestling.


Gotch died on 2007/7/28 in Tampa, Florida.[6]


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