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Who Was Lou Thesz?

This was at least for me the longest month and the shortest month. If you ever move a family from one house into another house occupied by another family, and then move that family into another. Lets just say I have been busy. Sorry for the delay with the article. Thanks to Charlie Thesz for her insight in this months article. Thanks to Vince Fahey for being so patient. I was able to gain a lot of information from Hooker, The Biography of Lou Thesz, and from WrestlingClassics.com the Lou Thesz forum.  

Lou Thesz was born in a log cabin on April 24, 1916 in Banat, Michigan. When Lou was 2 years old his family moved back to St. Louis, Missouri. Before Lou Thesz was born the family had moved from St. Louis, Missouri to Banat, Michigan. On their return Lou's father who was a shoemaker bought a shoe repair shop on Virginia Ave. The family lived above, and behind the shop. At age 8, Lou's father introduced him to Greco-Roman Wrestling. Lou's father was a Greco-Roman wrestler in his native country Hungry. At night Lou and his father would practice in the family kitchen. At age 14, Lou Thesz dropped out of school after finishing the 8th grade. Because Lou's father repaired the Cleveland High School Football team's shoes, he was able to get Lou into the school's wrestling workouts. During this time a professional wrestler noticed Lou his name was John Zastro. John  Zastro and Lou Thesz became regular workout partners, until Lou turned 16. John Zastro then told Lou Thesz that he was ready for a higher level of training. The next day John Zastro delivered Lou Thesz to the St. Louis Business Mens Gym where he introduced Lou Thesz to Joe Sanderson, a junior heavyweight. Joe Sanderson and Lou Thesz had several workouts and he then suggested that Lou Thesz become a professional wrestler. Joe Sanderson arranged for Lou to have some private lessons, with another old professional. He taught him how to form a match, and to fall without getting hurt.  

Lou Thesz had his first professional match in East St. Louis, For a Baptist minister named Gunn. After about a year of $5 dollar matches, another wrestler by the name of Warren Bockwinkel introduced Lou Thesz to Tom Packs. Tom Packs told Lou that he had been keeping an eye on Lou and that he wanted him to start working out with George Tragos. Lou names George Tragos as the strongest initial influence on his career. 

In 1937, Sandow and Packs made the decision that Lou Thesz at 21 years of age was to become Heavyweight Champion. Lou's opponent was to be Everette Marshall, the match was set for December 29, 1937. Lou's title reign would only last 6 weeks, because Sandow and Packs offered him a contract that was too good. At least it would have been too good to Sandow and Packs. Lou Thesz refused this contract with advice from Ray Steele, and decided to negotiate with the promoters himself. 

In late January 1938, Lou Thesz had a match in Philadelphia where he got kicked under his right ear. He developed an infection and had to check into Barnes Hospital in St. Louis when he returned. The treatment for this infection was sulfanilamide, which gave you hallucinations, dizziness, and loss of appetite. After two weeks at the hospital, the booking office called and said that they needed him in Boston on February 11, this was only two days away. Lou talked to his doctors and they agreed to release him provided he take it easy. Lou then called the booking office back and told them he could make it. 

In less then an hour a publicity man for the booking office arrived, by the name of Sam Muchnick. He helped Lou sign out of the hospital. They went right to Union Station bought tickets on the first train to Boston. Sam Muchnick was also ordered to do what Packs or Sandow did not have the guts to do, tell Lou that he was going to lose the title in Boston. 

This article up until now, has been taken from Lou Thesz's biography Hooker. If you have enjoyed this article so far, do yourself a favor and get a copy of Hooker. This is a  very condensed version. I could keep going and rewrite what Hooker has already printed, but its easier for you just to go and get yourself a copy. The reason I stopped here is I wanted to bring Sam Muchnick into the story. Since this article should have some information relating to Wrestling at the Chase.  More...

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