MMA Hall of Fame: Karl Istaz
The God of Pro Wrestling - Karl Istaz - leaves his mark not only in sports, but also in Fighting Insider's MMA Hall of Fame.
Born on August 3, 1924, Karl Istaz was a professional wrestler and trainer born in Antwerp, Belgium who was popularly known as Karl Gotch. The Holocaust survivor learned Greco-Roman wrestling during his younger years. A very well-known sportsman, Karl Istaz wrestled in the notable sports center in Antwerp — The Hippodroom.
He excelled in amateur wrestling and had his breakthrough by competing as Charles Istaz for Belgium in the 1948 Olympics. Karl Istaz’s professional wrestling career began after his training at the Snake Pit, which was owned by renowned catch wrestler — Billy Riley. He debuted in 1959 as Karl Krauser, and established himself as one of Europe’s best wrestler. After four years, Karl Istaz ventured to US.
Karl Istaz adopted the ring name Karl Gotch after Frank Gotch in 1961, and captured his first American Wrestling Alliance World Heavyweight championship title from Don Leo Jonathan in Ohio a year after. He held the belt for two years, until Lou Thesz snatched it out from him. On December 6, 1971, Karl Istaz teamed with Rene Goulet and won the WWF World Tag Team Championship by defeating Luke Graham and Tarzan Tyler. However, they lost the title to Baron Mikel Scicluna and King Curtis on February 1, 1972.
Following that, Karl Istaz flew to Japan where he defeated Antonio Inoki during the inaugural event of New Japan Pro Wrestling. After his retirement, he went on to train other wrestlers like Tatsumi Fujinami, Hiro Matsuda, Osamu Kido, Satoru Sayama and Yoshiaki Fujiwara. Due to his influence in shaping the Japanese professional wrestling style, Karl Istaz was also known as the “God of Pro Wrestling”. Then on July 28, 2007, the God of Pro Wrestling passed away in Florida.
American Wrestling Alliance (Ohio)
AWA World Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
New Japan Pro Wrestling
NJPW Real World Championship (2 times)
World Championship Wrestling (Australia)
IWA World Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
World Wide Wrestling Federation
WWWF World Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Rene Goulet
World Wrestling Association (Los Angeles)
WWA World Tag Team Championship (1 time)
Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum
Class of 2007
Wrestling Observer Newsletter awards
Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame (Class of 1996)