Gotch-Hackenschmidt Match Film (lost world championship match; 1908)

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Hack gotch 1908 program.png

Program of the world championship fight.

Status: Lost

Frank Gotch vs. George Hackenschmidt was the first of two infamous world championship matches between Gotch and Hackenschmidt, held on April 3, 1908. Gotch, the challenger, would win the world championship from Hackenschmidt, the first recognized world champion, and would hold the championship until he retired in 1913. Like the later 1911 rematch between the two, it is one of the most infamous matches in professional wrestling history.


On September 4, 1902, an undefeated George Hackenschmidt would face Tom Cannon for his European Greco-Roman Heavyweight Championship in London, England, and defeated him to win the championship. George would hold the championship until 1905, until he faced American Heavyweight Champion Tom Jenkins on May 4, 1905 in New York City. George would also defeat Jenkins[1], and began to take claim as the world champion, which was officially recognized in North America.

Frank Gotch would challenge Hackenschmidt for the world championship three years later on April 3, 1908, at the Dexter Park Pavilion in Chicago[2]. Hackenschmidt was described as not being in the best condition going into the battle, and Gotch was able to wear Hackenschmidt down, utilizing dirty tactics such thumbing, punching his nose, and supposedly covering himself in oil. Though Hackenschmidt complained to the ref, his concerns were ignored, and the two would grapple for two hours, before Gotch would utilize his toe hold, and would win the first fall. Hackenschmidt would refuse to return to the ring for the start of the second fall, and would relinquish the championship to Gotch.[3]


While it's unknown if the match was shot in it's entirety, the film was described to show "only the best parts" and "much of the grind of grabbing for holds" was cut out entirely.[4] The Film appeared to show Hackenschmidt arriving on the Lusitania upon entry to New York City, and his arrival to Chicago. The film would proceed to show the ring and the two wrestlers posing for pictures. [5] The first ten minutes, and the last fifteen minutes of the match was then shown [6] At the end, fans were seen rushing the ring, and carrying Gotch away on their shoulders.[7]

The film was 8000 feet in length, and was to be shown in six different US cities, [8] including Nashville, TN[9], and Davenport, IA[10]. The film was seemingly last shown in England in November of 1908[11]

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


Images of the Match

See Also