An event of epic proportions will be held in Humboldt, Iowa, on July 3, 2016, when the
first ever Frank Gotch World Catch Championships come to the hometown of the most
legendary figure in catch wrestling history.
The Catch Wrestling Alliance (CWA) headquartered in Los Angeles, CA, has announced
it will hold its third annual event on July 3 in Humboldt. The CWA has already hosted two major
tournaments but this is the first one that will have Frank Gotch’s name attached.
“We are tremendously excited to make this announcement,” said Dr. Raul Ramirez,
executive director of the CWA and a catch wrestling instructor and practitioner. “Catch wrestling
was the top form of wrestling in America in the early part of the 20th century, and Frank Gotch
was its foremost star. He is the Babe Ruth or the Muhammad Ali of this sport.”
Gotch was born in 1878 on a farm three miles south of Humboldt, a town of 5,000
situated in north central Iowa. His legacy has been kept alive in the town for a century, and an
eight-foot bronze statue was unveiled there July 4, 2012, on the site of his popular training camp.
Ramirez said the tournament will include five weight classes with eight contestants per
weight class. There will also be one division for women, with no weight divisions. Ramirez
expects the event to have an international flavor as he already has fielded inquiries from
England, Mexico, Canada, Japan, Australia and Singapore.
Ramirez visited Humboldt in early August to scout the area and meet with Humboldt
officials, and came away very impressed with all he saw and the people he met.
“We toured the area, and went to the farm where Frank grew up, the home he lived in
after he got married, the site of his legendary training camp in Bicknell Park, and the mausoleum
where he is buried,” said Ramirez. “It was a wonderful trip and convinced us to hold the event
here. That and the great cooperation we received from members of the Gotch Statue Committee,
and other town leaders.”
The event will take place at Humboldt High School, and is being co-sponsored by the
Gotch Statue Committee and the Frank Gotch Kids Wrestling Club. All participants will receive
a certificate suitable for framing, and the top three placewinners will receive a large medal with
Gotch’s image on it, attached to a ribbon.
“This seems like a very appropriate way to continue to support what Frank Gotch means
to this community,” said Maury Abens, a member of the Frank Gotch Statue Committee. “”We
think it’s very exciting that Frank’s style of wrestling is having a comeback, and the chamber of
ecommerce and city administration are all very supportive. We think it’s a great educational
Mike Chapman, wrestling author and historian, brought Ramirez and Curran Jacobs to
Humboldt to explore the opportunity. Jacobs was captain of the 2011 wrestling team at Michigan
State University, and has a winning record in catch wrestling over the past two years. He plans to
enter the Gotch tourney.
“It’s a fast moving, exciting style of wrestling that allows joint-lock submissions as well
as pins,” said Jacobs, who is an aspiring movie actor, dividing his time between Hollywood and
the Michigan State campus, where he is working on a master’s degree in theater arts. “I am a
huge Frank Gotch fan and this is going to be an incredible event for all of catch wrestling.”
Ramirez says the matches will be 20 minutes long and the primary way an athlete can
win is with a joint-lock submission or a three-second pin. If neither happens during the time
limit, then the referee will pick the winner based on aggressiveness. Kicking, hitting and choke
holds are not allowed.
“Catch wrestling is struggling to gain a foothold in America once again, and this event
has the ability to add tremendous impetus to that movement,” said Chapman, who has written 27
books, two of them about Gotch, and also has written a movie screenplay about Gotch that is
currently owned by a Hollywood film company. “We expect to get a lot of press coverage – from
newspapers, to radio talk shows and to various wrestling websites. We want to video tape the
event and have DVDs available for purchase shortly afterwards.”
Contestants and fans will be invited to take the Frank Gotch Tour, and to stay overnight
in town for the July 4 activities. Some travelers may want to take advantage of the RV
availability at Frank Gotch State Park, located just three miles south of town, next to the old
“This is a grand opportunity for all fans of Frank Gotch and catch wrestling to have a
very meaningful and historic experience,” said Ramirez.
Chapman, who created Wrestling Insider Newsmagazine (WIN), amateur wrestling’s top
publication and the Dan Gable Museum in Waterloo, said he will bring various Gotch and
wrestling memorabilia items to have on display.
For further information, go to the CWA website.