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Karl Istaz
Ring name(s) Karl Krauser
Karl Gotch
Billed height 185 cm (6 ft 1 in)
Billed weight 111 kg (245 lb)
Born August 3, 1924(1924-08-03)
Hamburg, Germany
Died July 28, 2007 (aged 82)
Tampa, Florida
Billed from Germany
Trained by "Billy Joyce" Joe Robinson
Bob Robinson
Billy Riley
Debut 1956
Retired 1982

Karl Istaz (August 3, 1924 - July 28, 2007) was a professional wrestler and trainer born in Hamburg, Germany, best known by his ring name Karl Gotch. The German suplex is named after Gotch.

In Japan, Gotch was known as "God of Pro Wrestling" due to his influence in shaping the Japanese professional wrestling style. He is of German and Belgian ancestry and he was a Holocaust survivor.



Gotch was born in Antwerp and grew up there with his family, who were the well known "Istaz family". He learned Greco-Roman wrestling in his early years and from the beginning he was a very well known sportsman. He wrestled in "The Hippodroom", a notable sports center, where amateur fights like boxing matches and wrestling matches were fought.


Karl Gotch excelled in amateur wrestling and experienced a very big breakthrough in his career by competing as Charles Istaz for Belgium in the 1948 Olympics in both freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling. Gotch also trained in the Indian martial art of Pehlwani. This training led to Gotch's regime of calisthenic bodyweight exercise, which were used by Indian wrestlers and other athletes to build leg endurance and strength. He also adopted other Indian exercises, such as the bridge, Hindu squats, and Hindu press ups in his wrestling.[1] Gotch's philosophy was later passed on to several of his students.[2]

Istaz's professional wrestling career began after training in the "Snake Pit", run by the renowned catch wrestler Billy Riley. Istaz debuted as a professional wrestler in 1955 under the ring name Karl Krauser, beginning his career in Europe. After establishing himself as arguably the best wrestler in Europe, Gotch ventured to the United States in 1959. First staying in Eastern Canada with Eddy (Carpentier) Wiecz before moving to the United States.

In 1961, he adopted the ring name of Karl Gotch (after Frank Gotch). He captured his first major championship, the American Wrestling Alliance (Ohio) World Heavyweight Title in 1962 by defeating Don Leo Jonathan. Gotch held the belt for two years before dropping the title to Lou Thesz, one of the few American wrestlers he respected because of the similarities of their styles (the two also share a common German/Hungarian heritage).

Gotch had a notorious behind-the-scenes feud with "Nature Boy" Buddy Rogers, starting when Gotch asked for a shot at the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. Rogers wanted to avoid getting into the ring with a wrestler he feared would shoot on him and legitimately "steal" his championship. This led to a locker room fist fight between the two, ending when Gotch broke Rogers' hand; incapacitating Rogers for several weeks. These events only served to alienate Gotch from the American promoters, who already felt there was no place for his style in the world of American pro wrestling.

Gotch had a brief run in the World Wide Wrestling Federation from August 1971 to February 1972. On December 6, 1971, he teamed with Rene Goulet to win the WWWF World Tag Team Championship from the inaugural champions, Luke Graham and Tarzan Tyler, in two straight falls of a best-two-out-of-three-falls match in Madison Square Garden.[3] They lost the championship on February 1, 1972, in Philadelphia to Baron Mikel Scicluna and King Curtis.[4]



Gotch then left the United States for Japan, where he became very popular. He wrestled in the main event of the very first show held by New Japan Pro Wrestling, defeating Antonio Inoki. His more athletic, less entertainment-based wrestling style was passed on to Inoki, who further developed it into the strong style that has been the norm in New Japan Pro Wrestling ever since.

After retiring, Gotch went on to train other wrestlers, including Tatsumi Fujinami, Hiro Matsuda, Osamu Kido, Satoru Sayama,and Yoshiaki Fujiwara. Some of these students, including Satoru Sayama and Yoshiaki Fujiwara, formed the original Japanese UWF, where the matches were entirely shoot wrestling.


Gotch died on July 28, 2007 in Tampa, Florida.[5]

In wrestling

Championships and accomplishments

  • American Wrestling Alliance (Ohio)
    • AWA World Heavyweight Championship (1 time)[6]
  • World Wrestling Association (Los Angeles)
    • WWA World Tag Team Championship (1 time)[7]


  1. ^ "Karl Gotch, The Quiet Man, Speaks His Piece" - December, 1968
  2. ^ [1] My Christmas with Karl Gotch - Jake Shannon
  3. ^ Graham Cawthon. "WWF Show Results 1971". Retrieved September 8, 2009. "(December 6, 1971) Karl Gotch & Rene Goulet defeated WWWF Tag Team Champions Luke Graham & Tarzan Tyler to win the titles in a Best 2 out of 3 falls match, 2-0, at 17:20"  
  4. ^ Graham Cawthon. "WWF Show Results 1972". Retrieved September 8, 2009. "(February 1, 1972) Baron Mikel Scicluna & King Curtis defeated WWWF Tag Team Champions Karl Gotch & Rene Goulet to win the titles"  
  5. ^ Wrestling Observer - headlines
  6. ^ A.W.A. World Heavyweight Title [Indiana / Ohio]
  7. ^ World Wrestling Association (Los Angeles)


  • Catch: The Hold Not Taken. [DVD]. 2005.  

External links


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