Wrestling by Frank Gotch, World’s Champion

May 14, 2019

This is definitely one to collect rather than read, but given its age it’s surprisingly attainable (in the US at least.)

Showing the prestige and perception of pro wrestling at the time of its 1913 publication, this is part of a series of sports and fitness books published by Richard K Fox of the National Police Gazette which, despite its title, was the original boxing and sports magazine of its day.

The book starts with a brief bio of Gotch, though oddly it only covers the first Hackenschmidt bout and not the 1911 rematch. There’s then a look at wrestling, bemoaning the fact that some matches appear to be little more than exhibitions, and some training tips.

The rest of the book is made up of 29 photographs showing different holds, posed by Gotch himself and Oscar Samuelson, a name I couldn’t trace other than in references to this book. The selected holds certainly give the impression Gotch’s bouts would have more closely resembled an amateur contest than the slam-bang style of even the 1930s.


  • AW September 16, 2019 at 2:51 am

    Incidentally, I found in a Las Vegas used book store last year a great book from 1911 called “Life Work of Farmer Burns” for $20.00 US. Though the outer spine is a combination of water and/or mildew damaged, it’s in fantastic shape, the pages are glossy, and it’s filled with excellent pictures, including great chapters in pictures of Burns demonstrating holds and reversals, disarming a gun-toting assailant and “an insane man with a razor”, along with pictures of Gotch, Gus “Americus” Schoeinlein, Fred Beell, Tom Jenkins, Kid Cutler and others.

    The best part? It’s inscribed with large, slightly crude cursive writing in pencil on the inside front cover:
    ” Apr 3, 1925, From
    to John Heymann” (or Heynamm or Heynaum).

    I found another like it online last year but it was dated June 3, 1927, but the style and writing matched. So mine predates that person’s by two years. For some stupid reason, the same picture online is now purposely blurred.

    • jnlister September 16, 2019 at 1:07 pm

      Wow, great find! Closest I have to that is an instalment of the Farmer Burns learn-by-mail wrestling course in the original envelope.