"Mention the name Karl Gotch today to any wrestler... One thing is almost
certain, you will hear words of respect"..... (Quote from wrestler Fritz Von Goering ).
Karl Gotch was born Karl Istaz in 1924 in Antwerp, Belgium and spent his
youth in Hamburg, Germany. After wrestling for Belgium in the 1948 Olympics,
a quest for a career in the sport took him to the famous "Snake Pit" in
Wigan, England. This school was run by catch wrestler, Billy Riley. This
gym attracted some of the most notable wrestlers of their day including
Bert Assirati and Billy Robinson. Many wrestlers did not survive there due
to the severity of the regimen. During the 1950's, after months of grueling
training at the Pit, he toured Europe wrestling as Karl Krauser. He
developed the reputation as a feared submission wrestler while winning
various titles including the German Heavyweight Title and the European
Toward the end of that decade, Karl came to the United States to display his
talents. While in the U.S., Karl met with some success though he found the
"performance" side of the business somewhat unsuitable for his strength and
superior technical athletic skills. Karl was mild mannered and best at
marketing his talents in the ring rather than on a microphone.
Unfortunately, these strengths did not seem to sell enough seats for
promoters and thus, Karl's unmatched talents were commercially
In 1961, as Karl Gotch, he captured the well respected AWA Championship in
Ohio. It was during this time period that Karl purportedly had his infamous
locker room altercation with Buddy Rogers in Columbus leaving Gotch somewhat
isolated from U. S. promoters. Thereafter, Karl's successes in the U.S. were
somewhat limited but he did manage to capture several tag team titles with
Mike DiBiase and Rene Goulet. Incidentally, it has been speculated that he
took this name from Frank Gotch but there is some evidence to indicate that
Gotch was actually his mother's maiden name.
During the 1960's, Karl left the United States for international destinations.
In 1965, while competing in Australia and again wrestling as Karl "Krauser",
he defeated Spiros Arion for the International Wrestling Alliance Heavyweight
Also during this time period he began establishing himself as a star in Japan.
The Japanese wrestling community appreciated his pure wrestling talent much
more than American audiences and Karl's abilities allowed him to establish
himself as that country's most regarded technical wrestler. He competed
against such Japanese superstars as Rikidozan and Michiaki Yoshimura.
Although he won several major titles in Japan, perhaps his most crowning
recognition is the unofficial everlasting title provided by the Japanese
fans as the "God of Professional Wrestling." Not only will Karl always be
revered there as a wrestler , he has excelled as a teacher to a host of
Japanese wrestlers including Antonio Inoki, Hiro Matsuda and Satoru Sayama
Currently Karl resides in Florida and continues to advise others in training
techniques stressing aerobic and body weight exercises while avoiding heavy
weights. Karl has been quoted as saying that he can train someone to be
strong, fast, agile, and help them develop endurance and reflexes, but he
can't train "guts". You have to be born with guts!
- Robert K. Oates