Tuesday, July 17th, 2012 | Speaking, Wrestling | No CommentsAccording to Mac Davis, author of the 1954 book 100 Greatest Sports Heroes, when Frank Gotch died in 1917, “thousands of weeping mourners, gathered from many parts of the land, trudged the icy path to the little rural cemetery on a cold December day to bid a final farewell to the farm boy who had been the greatest wrestling champion in history.”
Some 95 years later, on July 4, some 400 fans endured brutally hot temperatures to see a magnificent statue of Gotch unveiled in his hometown of Humboldt, Iowa. The eight-foot tall bronze statue shows Gotch in black tights and top, with hands on hips, gazing out over the land. It stands on a three-foot pedestal in Bicknell Park, the very spot where Gotch trained for his epic match with George Hackenschmidt, The Russian Lion, in 1911.
The statue is surrounded by a brick walkway, with four thick benches at each of the corners. Behind the area, the Des Moines River flows peacefully, just thirty yards away and down a steep bluff – offering a very picturesque setting.
“It was a day that anyone who was there will never forget,” said Scott Casber, owner/founder of Takedown Wrestling Radio. “July 4, 2012, was a great moment in the history of wrestling.”
Sunday, June 24th, 2012 | Book Signing, Iowa History Journal, Speaking, Wrestling | No Comments
Mike has added a few new events to his schedule for the next few months.
June 17 – Walnut will named a street Earl Caddock Memorial Drive during its big Antique City weekend. Members of the Caddock family came from Maryland and Texas to help celebrate the event. Earl Caddock was world heavyweight wrestling champion from 1917 to 1920 and lived in Walnut. Mike is the author of the book CADDOCK: Walnut’s Wrestling Wonder, and gave a speech at the 9 a.m. ceremony, and then held a book signing.
July 4 – The Frank Gotch Statue unveiling will take place in Bicknell Park in Humboldt, at 1 p.m. The eight-foot bronze statue is the project of a special committee in Humboldt, the hometown of the legendary professional world heavyweight champion (1908-1916). Mike is on the statue committee and will make a speech about Frank’s legacy. Among the special guests are Bill Smith, 1952 Olympic champion (UNI), and Brad Rheingans, a two-time Olympian who also wrestled professionally for 14 years.
July 6 – The Iowa Cubs have declared this date as Iowa History Journal Day and Mike and Bev will set up a booth in the entryway, with Iowa History Journal items for display and for sale. The first 100 fans to stop by the booth will receive a free copy of Iowa History Journal, some with Bob Feller on the cover. The gates open at 5:45 p.m. and the game starts at 7:30 p.m.
July 15 – Mike will be one of the Iowa authors featured at the Linn Creek Arts Festival in Marshalltown. Over 60 artists, 12 authors and a wide variety of children’s entertainment will highlight the 4th annual festival, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The event is sponsored by the Marshall County Arts & Culture Alliance, at the Fisher Community Center, 709 S. Center Street in Marshalltown. Over 2,000 attended last year and admission is free. Other attractions are the world champion Yo-Yo stars, kite flyers, kite memorabilia, as well as numerous food, wine and beer vendors. For more detail, see: www.linncreekartsfestival.com.
August 9-19– For the third straight year, Iowa History Journal will have a booth at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines. The booth will be on the second floor of the Ag Building, above the Butter Cow exhibit. Back issues of Iowa History Journal and over a dozen of the books Mike has written will be for sale.
Saturday, December 3rd, 2011 | Wrestling | No Comments
A new sign for a street in Humboldt, Iowa, has been erected in honor of the great world heavyweight wrestling champion at the turn of the last century. Gotch was born and raised on a farm just south of Humboldt and claimed the town in north central Iowa as his home his entire life. The renaming of the street came at the request of the Frank Gotch Statue Committee, which is raising funds to build a statue to Gotch in Bicknell Park. Gotch Avenue runs in front of the park area. Gotch died in his Humboldt home on December 16, 1917, and is buried in Union Cemetery northwest of town. He is the most famous citizen ever produced by the town and the committee worked with the city council to get the street named in his honor.
Friday, December 2nd, 2011 | Newspaper, Wrestling | No Comments
The dream of erecting a statue of former world heavyweight wrestling champion Frank Gotch has become a reality.
After 15 months of planning, which included a tireless fundraising effort, the committee has raised enough funds to hire a sculptor to begin the project.
The Frank Gotch Statue Committee has signed a contract to hire sculptor Jeff Adams of Oregon, Illinois, to create a bronze statue of Gotch, to be placed at Bicknell Park in Humboldt, the historic training site for Frank Gotch in the early 1900s.
The eight-foot tall bronze statue of Gotch will be placed on a three-foot base. The project is expected to be completed by next summer, with a final date and unveiling ceremony yet to be determined.
The committee has raised enough money to begin the project, but there are still bricks available to any person or groups wanting to have their name on a brick that will be part of the landscaping around the museum. Among those who have purchased bricks are three Olympians and several former professional wrestling champions.
Friday, May 27th, 2011 | Newspaper, Wrestling | No Comments
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.
Tuesday, May 10th, 2011 | Wrestling | No Comments
HUMBOLDT, Iowa – The hometown of world wrestling champion Frank Gotch, one of the nation’s best-known athletes in the early part of the 20th Century, is making plans to honor its most famous citizen with a statue to be placed in Bicknell Park. The park occupies the site where Gotch trained for his most important match.
The project is being run by a not-for-profit organization called the Frank Gotch Statue Committee.
“Frank Gotch was arguably the top athlete in America in the 1908 to 1915 era,” said co-chair Steve Reimers, a lifelong resident of the city located in the northwestern part of the state. “Frank brought great recognition to this town and to all of Iowa. Many of us feel it is time to pay a special tribute to Gotch and the great legacy he left behind.”
Bicknell Park was the site of Gotch’s training camp prior to his epic match with George Hackenschmidt, known as The Russian Lion, on September 3, 1911, in Chicago. Gotch set up camp by the small bluff on the Des Moines River and spectators flocked to watch the world champion in training. Sports reporters from around the nation converged on Humboldt the month prior to the match. One reporter estimated that one day there were nearly 2,000 fans down by the park watching Gotch train.
Upcoming Speeches and Appearances
- March 29, 2017 – Flag Day, Knoxville Library