Lou Thesz

Height: 6'2"

Weight: 225 lbs

Real Name: Lou Thesz (some reports have his real name as Lajos Tiza)

DOB: 4/26/1916

DOD: 4/28/2002

Hometown: St. Louis, Missouri

Other Names: "Tetsujin"(Japan)

Wrestler Since: 1932

Retired: 1990

Finishing Maneuver: Lou Thesz Press

History: (Last Edited: 1/29/2006)

Lou Thesz may not be a name well-known by modern-day wrestling fans. But a strong case can be made that Thesz can be ranked with wrestlers like Bruno Sammartino, Hulk Hogan, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, and Ric Flair, as one of the greatest professional wrestlers of all time. Throughout the late 40's to the '60s, Thesz dominated the sport like no other.

Thesz began wrestling at the age of 16 in the St. Louis district in 1932, an interesting time to become a wrestler. He was trained by several great wrestlers of the time, including Ed "Strangler" Lewis and George Tragos. In only a few years, Thesz gained respect from many fellow wrestlers for his abilities inside the ring, as Thesz became someone who could legitimately defeat someone with his "hooker" (i.e. submission hold) skills. Thesz won his first title, the Midwest Wrestling Association World Heavyweight Title, in 1937, defeating Everett Marshall. He would go on in the decade to become both AWA and NWA World Champion, continuing his run of titles.

But Thesz will be most remembered for his time as the Undisputed World Champion, starting in the late 1940's. In July 1948, Thesz started his run, defeating Bill Longson for the National Wrestling Association World Heavyweight Title. Thesz then was set to face off against the National Wrestling Alliance World Heavyweight Champion, Orville Brown, in November 1949, but when Brown was injured in a car accident, Thesz was given the belt via forfeit, unifying the titles. Thesz continued to be a dominant champion for almost an entire decade, while also bringing the Los Angeles Heavyweight Title into the mix in May '52, beating Baron Michele Leone. It was not until March '56 when Thesz finally lost the unified belt, as "Whipper" Billy Watson was able to win via Countout over the great champion (the belts changed hands via win or loss back then).

But Thesz was only getting started. He came back in November '56 to defeat Watson and regain the NWA World Heavyweight Title. This would be another long reign for Thesz, although problems developed in June '57, when Thesz couldn't continue a match against Edouard Carpentier due to a back injury. Carpentier was later announced as the new World Champion, then faced and lost a match, via DQ, to Thesz. Later on, though, due to problems regarding Carpentier's status with the NWA, his reign was taken off the record books, continuing Thesz' run. Thesz later lost to Dick Hutton in November '57, losing the belt.

Thesz returned to the top of the NWA in January '63, when he defeated "Nature Boy" Buddy Rogers for the gold. However, certain promoters refused to acknowledge the change, which ultimately led to Buddy Rogers becoming the first champion of the World Wide Wrestling Federation (today's WWE). Undaunted, Thesz went on a three-year reign as NWA Champion, even unifying it with the AWA Heavyweight Title, before finally dropping the gold to Gene Kiniski in January '66. By this point, Thesz was pushing 50 years old, definitely not a young age for a wrestler. But Thesz wasn't ready to retire yet. In fact, Thesz would continue to wrestle on and off for another 24 years, winning several other titles, before retiring after a special match against Masahiro Chono in Japan in December 1990, wrestling at the age of 74.

Thesz later lived with his long-time wife, Charlie, in Norfolk, Virginia, relaxing after his time in the spotlight. In April '02, Thesz had triple bypass surgery, as well as having an aoertic valve replaced. Sadly, complications from the surgery set in, and on April 28, 2002, only two days past his 86th birthday, one of the greatest professional wrestlers in history passed away. He will definitely be missed.

Pay-Per-View/Show Summary: (3 - 6, 2 Draws)
- Los Angeles Gilmore Field (May 21, '52) = Thesz, as the NWA World Heavyweight Champ, won the Los Angeles World Title in a "Three Falls" Match over Baron Michelle Leone.
- JWA Korakuen Stadium (October 7, '57) = Thesz, as the NWA World Champion, fought to a 60-minute Draw with Rikidozan.
- JWA Ogi Pool (October 13, '57) = Thesz, as the NWA World Champion, fought to a Draw in a "Three Falls" Match with Rikidozan.
- JWA 4th Annual World League (April/May '62) = Thesz finished second in the league behind Rikidozan.
- Bruiser vs. Karras (April 27, '63) = Thesz stayed the NWA World Champion, taking down Bill Miller.
- Memphis Southern Tag Title Tournament (1973) = Thesz & Pat O'Conner lost in the first round to Don Greene & Charlie Cooke. Jerry Lawler & Jim White won the tournament.
- Georgia Tag Team Title Tournament (January 18, '74) = Thesz & Ali Vaseri lost in the first round to the Garvins, who went on to win the tournament.
- NJPW Sumo Hall (October 9, '75) = Thesz fell to the NWF Champion, Antonio Inoki.
- Memphis Southern Tag-Team Title Tournament (March 9, '78) = Thesz & Terry Sawyer lost in the first round to the eventual winners, the Bounty Hunters.
- WWF Legends' Battle Royal (November 16, '87) = Thesz won the Legends' Battle Royal.
- NJPW Legends Show (December 26, '90) = Thesz was beaten by Masa Chono.

Title Summary:
- MWWA World Heavyweight Title (12/29/37 - 2/11/38)
- AWA World Heavyweight Champion (1/38 - 2/11/38)
- NWA (Association) World Heavyweight Champion (2/23/39 - 6/23/39)
- Montreal International Heavyweight Champion (6/12/40 - 10/23/40)
- Montreal International Heavyweight Champion(2) (7/16/41 - 9/17/41)
- NWA Texas Heavyweight Champion (5/12/44 - 6/30/44)
- NWA Texas Heavyweight Champion(2) (8/18/44 - 12/08/44)
- NWA Texas Heavyweight Champion(3) (5/03/46 - 5/10/46)
- Montreal International Heavyweight Champion(3) (9/11/46 - 2/20/47)
- Montreal International Heavyweight Champion(4) (4/16/47 - 11/26/47)
- NWA (Association) World Heavyweight Champion(2) (4/25/47 - 11/21/47)
- NWA (Association) World Heavyweight Champion(3) (7/20/48 - 3/15/56)
- NWA (Alliance) World Heavyweight Champion (11/27/49 - 3/15/56)
- Los Angeles World Heavyweight Champion (5/21/52 - 3/15/56)
- Maryland World Heavyweight Champion (9/52 - 3/15/56)
- NWA (Alliance) World Heavyweight Champion(2) (11/09/56 - 11/14/57)
- NWA International Heavyweight Champion (11/57 - 8/27/58)
- NWA Pacific Coast (Vancouver) Tag-Team Champion w/ Dory Funk Sr (1961)
- NWA (Alliance) World Heavyweight Champion(3) (1/24/63 - 1/07/66)
- AWA (Ohio) World Heavyweight Champion (9/07/64 - 1/07/66)
- WWA World Heavyweight Champion (10/14/66 - 10/28/66)
- Mid-Southern Heavyweight Champion (73)
- NWA Southern Junior Heavyweight Champion (73)
- NWA Southern Junior Heavyweight Champion(2) (3/27/74 - 4/10/74)
- UWA World Heavyweight Champion (8/15/77 - 8/27/78)

PWI Achievement Awards: (2 wins, 0 1st RUs, 0 2nd RUs, 0 3rd RUs)
- 1982 PWI Editors' Award
- 1996 Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame Inductee