Frank Gotch Open House in Humboldt

Friday, May 27th, 2011 | Newspaper, Wrestling

A story ran in the Humboldt Independent this week detailing the fundraising efforts of the committee formed to raise a statue in Gotch’s home town. Mike was the emcee at the event.

Gotch event raises funds and spirits
Frank Gotch open house puts group halfway to goal

By Kent Thompson

Frank Gotch would have been humbled by last Thursday’s outpouring of support.

Members of the Frank Gotch Project Committee were proud.

About 140 people turned out Thursday, May 19, at Rustix Restaurant and Reception for a Frank Gotch Open House.

The event brought out wrestling stars from the past, as well as University of Iowa head wrestling coach Tom Brands, for autographs, mingling and photographs.

Gotch Committee member Tonya Harklau reported that $4,000 in memorial brick pavers were sold along with $6,706 in glass mugs, souvenirs and silent auction items, making for a very successful kickoff fundraiser.

The Gotch Committee is seeking to raise $100,000 to erect an eight-foot tall bronze statue of Frank Gotch, Humboldt native and World Wrestling Champion from 1908-1913. Gotch won 88 consecutive matches before retiring undefeated in 1916.

Master of Ceremonies Mike Chapman regaled the audience with stories of Gotch as a wrestler. The former sports editor of the Cedar Rapids Gazette is a renowned authority on Iowa wrestling and has written three books on Frank Gotch, one of his childhood sports heroes.

Chapman told of Gotch twice being invited to the White House to meet President Theodore Roosevelt. On one occasion, Gotch was asked what he knew about the sport of jujitsu. Gotch said quite a lot, as he had studied the sport.

President Roosevelt asked Gotch if he thought he could beat a jujitsu champion. He answered in the affirmative.

“Good,” Roosevelt replied. He said the Japanese ambassador was in the next room and had the jujitsu champ with him. Roosevelt had the furniture cleared out in the East Wing of the White House and the match was on. Gotch made the Japanese champ submit three times within two minutes.

Gotch’s style of catch-as-catch-can wrestling helped revolutionize the sport. In a time when few people had telephones, let alone televisions and computers, Gotch became an American folk hero. In a 1924 Des Moines Register poll, Gotch was named the “Most Admired Iowan,” in any field of endeavor. Gotch had died from kidney failure at his Humboldt home seven years earlier at the age of 39.

Chapman said afterward that he was ecstatic about Thursday’s event, terming it ‘terrific.’

“The Gotch statue team came together and put on what I feel is one of the finest events of this type that I have ever been associated with,” Chapman said in an e-mail to committee members.

For more photos and information about the event, purchase a copy of the print edition of this week’s Humboldt Independent.

Source: Humboldt Indpendent

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