Where Wrestling's Regional History Lives!
- Larry Riehl
Who Was Lou Thesz?
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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...