Gotch-Hackenschmidt Match Film (lost world championship match; 1911)

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Gotch-hack1.jpg

Poster of the Gotch-Hackenschmidt match.

Status: Lost

Frank Gotch vs. George Hackenschmidt was a 1911 wrestling match for Frank Gotch's World Heavyweight Championship,[1] which he won from Hackenschmidt three years earlier. It is one of the most infamous matches in professional wrestling history, due to it not only being one of, if not the first big rematches, but also the controversy revolving around Hackenschmidt and his injured knee.[2]

Background

On September 4th, 1911, George Hackenschmidt would challenge then World Heavyweight champion, Frank Gotch in front of a crowd of around 30,000 spectators in the Chicago White Sox's recently opened stadium, Comiskey Park. The two had met three years earlier, on April 3rd, 1908 at Dexter Park, also in Chicago, which was also filmed.[3] Gotch would defeat Hackenschmidt, the inaugural champion, in just over two hours, in a match where Hackenschmidt would complain to the referee about Gotch's tactics.

This rematch would be heavily publicized, after Gotch would become famous following their first bout. The two would wrestle for only twenty minutes in their second match, with Gotch targeting Hackenschmidt's injured knee early on into the match. Hackenschmidt himself would claim the injury was not major, saying he was, "fit to wrestle for my life". Wrestler Ad Santel would later claim that he was paid $5000 back supporters of Gotch to injure Hackenschmidt, making it look like an accident, though Hackenschmidt and his training partner, Dr. Roller, would both claim it was Roller who accidentally injured his knee, which already had issues prior to the accident.

Gotch would win the rematch in short time for the time period, in an era where matches would still last hours. Gotch would retire just two years later as champion, wrestling his final match on April 1st, 1913, defeating Georg Lurich.[4] He would pass away just a few years afterwards, on December 16th, 1917, reportedly from uremic poisoning.[5] Hackenschmidt would retire after this match due to his knee issues,[6] passing away on February 19th, 1968.

Footage

Due to the highly anticipated nature of the match, it was due to be filmed for distribution to other areas. Two complete reels, or 2000 feet of film[7] would be brought to other towns in the following months, shown at theaters. Many Newspapers would claim the film to be even better than the event, for showing the two falls clearly and up close, one source even claiming the "wrinkles on the brow of Hack"[8] were clear in the film.

The film would be brought to many towns, including St. Louis,[9] Albuquerque,[10] and even Sydney, Australia.[11] The match would be shown into the next year, though seemingly fell into obscurity sometime after this, with it's last reported showing seemingly being April 1st, 1912 in Sydney.[12]

A newspaper at the time would describe the film:

"These pictures will absolutely settle beyond any doubt every dispute which has arisen concerning this marvelous event-they show intimate, unobstructed, close up, complete views of every movement and intendent, including both falls.[13]

The whereabouts of the film is currently unknown, and is thought to be lost.

Gallery

Images of the Match

References