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Fritz Von Erich
Ring name(s) Fritz Von Erich
Tetsu no Tsume (Iron Claw)
Billed height 6 ft 4 in (1.93 m)
Billed weight 260 lb (120 kg)
Born August 16, 1929(1929-08-16)
Jewett, Texas
Died September 10, 1997 (aged 68)
Billed from Denton, Texas
Trained by Stu Hart
Debut 1958
Retired 1982

Jack Barton Adkisson (August 16, 1929–September 10, 1997) was an American professional wrestler under the ring name Fritz Von Erich, better known today as a wrestling promoter and the patriarch of the Von Erich family. He was also the owner of the World Class Championship Wrestling territory.[1]


Football career

Adkisson attended Southern Methodist University, where he threw discus and played football. He played one season of professional football for the Dallas Texans and then tried the Canadian Football League (CFL).

Professional wrestling career


Early career and training

While in Edmonton, he met legendary wrestler and trainer Stu Hart, and Hart decided to train and book him in his Klondike Wrestling promotion, naming him Fritz Von Erich and teaming him with "brother" Waldo Von Erich as a pair of pseudo-nazi brothers (nazis still being popular villains in 50s and 60s wrestling). Adkisson's oldest son Jack Barton Adkisson, Jr. was born September 21, 1952. He, however, died in 1959 after an accidental electrocution, and he stopped traveling to the east coast, allowing former partner Waldo to use the Von Erich name in the World Wide Wrestling Federation.


Despite Jack Jr.'s death, Adkisson continued to travel and wrestle. His major circuit was Sam Muchnick's NWA territorial stronghold in St. Louis, Missouri. He wrestled there until 1967, when he voluntarily left the territory after losing a match for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship against then-champion Gene Kiniski.[2] In the late 1960s, with Muchnick's backing, Adkisson became the promoter for the Dallas, Texas territory, effectively overseeing the Houston and San Antonio territories, as well.[2]


Adkisson was a part of rebuilding Japanese wrestling after the stabbing death of Rikidōzan. He became a star due to his feuds with Antonio Inoki and Giant Baba, and his "Iron Claw" hold, which became one of the most popular wrestling moves in Japan.

National Wrestling Alliance

He was considered a top contender to be voted NWA World Tag Team Champion with his son David, but then-champions Gene and Ole Anderson were very vocal in their dislike of "gimmick" wrestlers and the board of directors did not want the champion to have an obviously fictional ring name. Adkisson offered to wrestle under his real name when he was up again for a possible title reign in the 1970s but again, the board of directors voted it down. In 1975, Adkisson became president of the NWA, after Sam Muchnick gave up the position, even though he continued to wrestle in his own promotion, which other members of the board of directors found as a conflict of interest.


In 1982, he held his first retirement match against King Kong Bundy in the newly renamed World Class Championship Wrestling promotion, based in Dallas. The promotion was known for its high production values, use of entrance music and the use of television syndication. The promotion was one of the most successful territories in the United States, with major draws like his sons, The Fabulous Freebirds, Christopher Adams, Abdullah the Butcher, Bruiser Brody, Gino Hernandez and Rick Rude. By the end of the 1980s, the promotion's talent pool was thin and it was eventually merged with Jerry Jarrett's Memphis promotion to create the United States Wrestling Association.

Personal life

Adkisson married Doris J. Smith on June 23, 1950.[3] Together, they had six sons: Jack Barton, Jr. (born September 21, 1952), Kevin (born May 15, 1957), David (born July 22, 1958), Kerry (born February 3, 1960), Mike (born March 2, 1964) and Chris (born September 30, 1969). The couple later separated & Doris divorced her husband on July 21, 1992 after 42 years of marriage.

Adkisson died of brain and lung cancer on September 10, 1997 at age 68.[4] His funeral service was held at the 1st Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas. His body was cremated with his ashes interred in the same plot as his fourth son, Kerry.

In wrestling

  • Nicknames
    • "Tetsu no Tsume" ("The Iron Claw")

Championships and accomplishments

1This championship was later renamed the NWA American Heavyweight Championship in May 1968. It would later be renamed the WCWA World Heavyweight Championship after World Class' withdrawal from the NWA in February 1986.

See also


  1. ^ Foley, Mick. Have A Nice Day: A Tale of Blood and Sweatsocks (p.129)
  2. ^ a b Dave Meltzer, Wrestling Observer Newsletter, January 9, 2008
  3. ^ Texas Divorces
  4. ^ "Fritz Von Erich dead at 68". Slam! Sports. 1997-09-11. Retrieved 2007-05-30.  


  • Foley, Mick (2000). Have A Nice Day: A Tale of Blood and Sweatsocks. HarperCollins. ISBN 0061031011.  

External links

Preceded by
Sam Muchnick
President of the National Wrestling Alliance
Succeeded by
Edward Gossett


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