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Mike Chapman on Gama vs Gotch

Frank Gotch

Mike Chapman, accomplished Wrestling Author and Historian writes about the long speculated match between the Great Gama and Frank Gotch that never actually took place.

In regards to a matchup between Frank Gotch and the Great Gama: “For decades there has been speculation offered on how Frank Gotch would have fared with the wrestler known as the Great Gama. The best source for assessing such a dream match would be Stanislaus Zbyszko, who was world heavyweight champion in the early 1920s and wrestled both Gotch and Gama.

In the August, 1953, issue of True magazine, Zbyszko said: “That was in the era of Frank Gotch, the greatest wrestler I have ever seen or met. Gotch ruled as catch-as-catch-can champion of the world from 1905 to 1915 and during that time he was a stern warden of the sport, immediately cracking down on any suspicion of conniving or dishonesty.” Also, in the August, 1961, issue of Sport magazine, Ed “Strangler” Lewis said this: “I wasn’t a Frank Gotch but then nobody else was either. I tried to come closest and maybe I did. I hope so.” Both Zbyszko and Lewis had a solid knowledge of Gama and his abilities and were strongly in support of Gotch as the better of the two.

In 2003, I was executive director of the the International Wrestling Institute and Museum and was honored to induct Billy Robinson into the George Tragos/Lou Thesz Professional Wrestling Hall of of Fame. Billy spent three days at the museum in Newton, Iowa, and we had several long talks about the history of wrestling. He told me he thought Gotch would have beaten Gama.

In March of 2006, Karl Gotch called me. I had never met Karl or talked to him before and I was deeply honored that he called. Karl said he just wanted to talk to me about the history of wrestling. We talked for well over an hour and I asked him who he thought would win in a match between Gotch and Gama. He said it would have been a relatively easy win for Gotch because Gama was not experienced enough in the down position to survive Goth's punishing style of mat wrestling.. That opinion was seemingly reinforced in a letter by Billy Wicks, legendary catch wrestler, published in Jake Shannon’s book, The Sport of Catch Wrestling. Said Wicks: “You have to remember that submission wrestling does not start until you are on the ground. That’s when you really start to move your body into your position of advantage, like behind your opponent to control him, at the same time using your body parts to punish him.”

The style of wrestling that Gama excelled in was primarily on the feet. He was not highly skilled in ground wrestling, which is where Gotch was an absolute master. The styles would have worked strongly in favor of Gotch. It is not well known, but Gama was planning a trip to America in late 1910 to arrange a match with Gotch but for some unknown reason cancelled the trip. That was shortly after he and Zbyszko had wrestled for over thee hours, to a draw. Gama had been on top of the Pole almost the entire time but was unable to apply a finishing move. By contrast, Gotch had beaten Zbyszko quite easily earlier in the year.

The Great Gama


  1. Would expect Americans to claim gotch was superior to Gama.
    In reality, we will never know.

    1. Would expect non-Americans to be critical of that.

  2. In the second match between Zbyszko and Gama, the latter won in just 42 seconds. I don't think the match between Gotch and Zbyszko was that short.

  3. Gama easily throw gotch in a seconds


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