Fritz Von Erich
Fritz Von Erich - Big Time Wrestling - 12 July 1977 (cropped).jpg
Fritz Von Erich in 1977
Birth nameJack Barton Adkisson
Born(1929-08-16)August 16, 1929
Jewett, Texas, U.S.
DiedSeptember 10, 1997(1997-09-10) (aged 68)[1]
Dallas, Texas, U.S.
Cause of deathBrain and lung cancer
FamilyVon Erich
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s)Fritz Von Erich
Tetsu no Tsume (Iron Claw)
Jack Adkisson[2]
Billed height6 ft 4 in (1.93 m)
Billed weight260 lb (120 kg)
Billed fromDenton, Texas
Trained byStu Hart

Jack Barton Adkisson Sr. (August 16, 1929 – September 10, 1997), better known by his ring name Fritz Von Erich, was an American professional wrestler, wrestling promoter, and the patriarch of the Von Erich family. He was a 3-time world champion and a record 20-time NWA United States Champion. He was also the owner of the World Class Championship Wrestling territory.[3]

Football career

Adkisson attended Southern Methodist University, where he threw discus and played football. He has been reported to have played with the now defunct Dallas Texans of the NFL (not the AFL team which became the Kansas City Chiefs),[4] but this is not true.[5] He was signed as a guard but was cut.[6] He then tried the Canadian Football League (CFL).

Professional wrestling career

Early career and training

While in Edmonton, he met legendary wrestler and trainer Stu Hart, and Hart decided to train and book him in his Klondike Wrestling promotion, naming him Fritz Von Erich and teaming him with "brother" Waldo Von Erich as a pair of "evil German" brothers. Adkisson's oldest son Jack Barton Adkisson Jr. was born September 21, 1952. He died in 1959 after an accidental electrocution and drowning, and Jack Sr. stopped traveling to the east coast, allowing former partner Waldo to use the Von Erich name in the World Wide Wrestling Federation.


Despite Jack Jr.'s death, Adkisson continued to travel and wrestle. Adkisson won both versions of the AWA World title in 1963. His major circuit was Sam Muchnick's NWA territorial stronghold in St. Louis, Missouri. He wrestled there until 1967, when he voluntarily left the territory after losing a match for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship against then-champion Gene Kiniski.[7] In the late 1960s, with Muchnick's backing, Adkisson became the promoter for the Dallas territory, effectively overseeing the Houston and San Antonio territories, as well.[7]


Adkisson was a part of rebuilding Japanese wrestling after the stabbing death of Rikidōzan. He became a star due to his feuds with Antonio Inoki and Giant Baba, and his "Iron Claw" hold, which became one of the most popular wrestling moves in Japan.


In 1982, he held his first retirement match against King Kong Bundy in the newly renamed World Class Championship Wrestling promotion, based in Dallas. The promotion was known for its high production values, use of entrance music and the use of television syndication. The promotion was one of the most successful territories in the United States, with major draws like his sons, The Fabulous Freebirds, Chris Adams, Abdullah the Butcher, Bruiser Brody, Gino Hernandez and Rick Rude. He wrestled his last match on November 27, 1986 defeating Abdullah the Butcher by disqualification in Dallas. By the end of the 1980s, the promotion's talent pool was thin and it was eventually merged with Jerry Jarrett's Continental Wrestling Association to create the United States Wrestling Association in 1989.

Personal life and death

See also: Von Erich family

The Von Erich family (from left to right): Kerry, Fritz, Kevin, Chris (front), Mike and David
The Von Erich family (from left to right): Kerry, Fritz, Kevin, Chris (front), Mike and David

Adkisson married Doris J. Smith on June 23, 1950.[8] Together, they had six sons: Jack Barton Jr. (September 21, 1952 – March 7, 1959), Kevin (born May 15, 1957), David (July 22, 1958 – February 10, 1984), Kerry (February 3, 1960 – February 18, 1993), Mike (March 2, 1964 – April 12, 1987) and Chris (September 30, 1969 – September 12, 1991). Of Adkisson's six sons, Kevin was the only one still living by the time Adkisson died. The couple later separated and Doris divorced her husband on July 21, 1992 after 42 years of marriage.

Adkisson died of brain and lung cancer on September 10, 1997.[9] His funeral service was held at the First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas. His body was cremated with his ashes interred in the same plot as his fourth son, Kerry.

Championships and accomplishments

See also


  1. ^ This championship was later renamed the NWA American Heavyweight Championship in May 1968. It would later be renamed the WCWA World Heavyweight Championship after World Class' withdrawal from the NWA in February 1986.


  1. ^ "Von Erichs' Patriarch Dead At 68". Classic Wrestling Articles. August 20, 2013. Retrieved August 16, 2015.
  2. ^ a b "World Class Memories: Results 1953". John Dananay/Michael Moody/ISE Web Productions. July 30, 2013. Retrieved December 9, 2013.
  3. ^ Foley, Mick. Have A Nice Day: A Tale of Blood and Sweatsocks (p.129)
  4. ^ Dunham, Richard (January 24, 2010). "Today in Texas History: Texas gets its first NFL team". Retrieved July 9, 2014.
  5. ^ "NFL PLAYERS". search historical players, Jack Adkisson
  6. ^ Hornbaker, Tim (2007). National Wrestling Alliance: The Untold Story of the Monopoly That Strangled Pro Wrestling. ECW Press. p. 242. ISBN 978-1-55022-741-3.
  7. ^ a b Dave Meltzer, Wrestling Observer Newsletter, January 9, 2008
  8. ^ Texas Divorces
  9. ^ "Fritz Von Erich dead at 68". SLAM! Wrestling. September 11, 1997. Archived from the original on July 22, 2012. Retrieved May 30, 2007.
  10. ^ "National Wrestling Alliance World Tag Team Titles [W. Texas]". Wrestling-Titles. Retrieved February 21, 2017.
  11. ^ "PWI 500 of the PWI Years". Willy Wrestlefest. Retrieved August 28, 2012.
  12. ^ Royal Duncan & Gary Will (2000). "Texas: NWA / World Class American Heavyweight Title [Von Eric]". Wrestling Title Histories. Archeus Communications. pp. 265–266. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4.
  13. ^ "NWA United States Heavyweight Title (1967-1968/05) - American Heavyweight Title (1968/05-1986/02)". Wrestling-Titles. Retrieved December 26, 2019.
  14. ^ Royal Duncan & Gary Will (2006). "(Dallas) Texas: NWA American Tag Team Title [Fritz Von Erich]". Wrestling Title Histories. Archeus Communications. ISBN 978-0-9698161-5-7.
  15. ^ "N.W.A. American Tag Team Title". Retrieved January 19, 2020.
  16. ^ Royal Duncan & Gary Will (2006). "(Texas) Dallas: NWA Texas Brass Knuckles Title". Wrestling Title Histories (4th ed.). Archeus Communications. p. 271. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4.
  17. ^ "Texas Brass Knucks Title [East Texas]". Wrestling-Titles. Retrieved December 22, 2019.
  18. ^ *Will, Gary; Duncan, Royal (2000). "Texas: NWA Texas Heavyweight Title [Von Erich]". Wrestling Title Histories: professional wrestling champions around the world from the 19th century to the present. Pennsylvania: Archeus Communications. pp. 268–269. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4.
  19. ^ "NWA Texas Heavyweight Title". Wrestling-Titles. Retrieved March 30, 2017.
  20. ^ Duncan, Royal; Will, Gary (2000). "Texas: NWA World Tag Team Title [Siegel, Boesch and McLemore]". Wrestling title histories: professional wrestling champions around the world from the 19th century to the present. Pennsylvania: Archeus Communications. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4.
  21. ^ "National Wrestling Alliance World Tag Team Title [E. Texas]". Wrestling-Titles. Retrieved February 21, 2017.
  22. ^ "Alberta Tag Team Title". April 4, 2011. Retrieved June 3, 2019.

Further reading

Preceded bySam Muchnick President of the National Wrestling Alliance 1975–1976 Succeeded byEdward Gossett