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Karl Gotch
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Wrestler Facts

Wrestler Name: Karl Gotch
Birthday: 3rd August 1924
Hometown: Tampa, Florida
Height: 6'1''
Weight: 245lb
Finishers: German suplex, Gotch Piledriver (Cradle piledriver)
Previous Gimmicks: Karl Krauser

Title History (1)

06/Dec/1971:WWE World Tag Team Champion -

Biography/Additional Facts


Karl Gotch excelled in amateur wrestling, competing (as Charles Istaz) for Belgium in the 1948 Olympics in both freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling. 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. Gotch's philosophy was later passed on to several of his students.

Istaz's professional wrestling career began after training in the "Snake Pit", run by the renowned catch wrestler, Billy Riley. Istaz debuted as a professional wrestler in 1955 under the ring name Karl Krauser, beginning his career in Europe. 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 (Carpentier) 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 AWA (Ohio) 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 "Nature Boy" 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 flashier world of American pro wrestling.

During the early 1970s, Gotch had a brief run in the World Wide Wrestling Federation. He won the WWWF Tag Team Championship with Rene Goulet on December 6, 1971.


Gotch then left the United States for Japan, where he became very popular. He wrestled in the main event of the very first show held by New Japan Pro Wrestling, defeating Antonio Inoki. His 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 Pro Wrestling ever since.

After retiring, Gotch went on to train other wrestlers, including Tatsumi Fujinami, Hiro Matsuda, Osamu Kido, Satoru Sayama, and Yoshiaki Fujiwara. Some of these students, including Satoru Sayama and Yoshiaki Fujiwara, formed the original Japanese UWF, where the matches were entirely shoot wrestling.


Gotch died on July 28, 2007 in Tampa, Florida.

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