Fritz Von Goering
Birth nameJohn Gabor
Bornc. 1928 (age 92–93)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.[1]
ResidenceCampbell, California
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s)Fritz Von Goering[2]
Fritz von Ulm[2]
John Gabor[2]
Johnny Gabor[2]
Ray Jennings[2]
Billed height6 ft 3 in (191 cm)[3]
Billed weight255 lb (116 kg)[3]
Billed fromBerlin, Germany[1]
Frankfurt, Germany[1]
Nuremberg, Germany[1]
Debut1949[2]
Retired1973[1]

Fritz Von Goering (born John Gabor c. 1928 or 1929) is an American professional wrestler, known for playing a villainous German character in the 1950s, '60s and '70s.

Biography

John Gabor[4] was born in Chicago, Illinois, to an Irish-American family.[1] In 1939, his family relocated to the south of San Francisco, when he was about 10.[4] He became interested in combat fighting at a young age when his uncle brought him to boxing matches and he grew to admire profession wrestlers such as Lou Thesz and Bobby Managoff, both of whom he would wrestle with later in his career. Gabor was trained in gyms, where wrestlers "beat him up badly just to see how much he wanted to learn". According to Mercury News, "Von Goering is one of the few successful wrestlers who does not have an amateur background; he isn't the product of a wrestling academy, nor did he rise up through the college or Olympic ranks."[3]

Gabor started wrestling in aftermath of World War II, when it was common for heels (villains) to be portrayed as being from countries in the Axis Powers. Despite not being of German descent, he was billed as "Fritz von Ulm", until a promoter in Minnesota altered it to include the Goering surname, which was based on Nazi Party figure Hermann Göring.[1] As part of his character, he was billed as being from various German cities, but in reality had never been out of the United States at that point.[5] Eventually his character was modified to be of East German origin, after relations with West Germany softened during the Cold War.[4]

During his career, he captured several tag team championships. In 1962, he won the NWA Pacific Northwest Heavyweight Championship.[3] Frequent rivals included Thesz and Managoff, as well as Dick Hutton, Pat O'Connor, and Bronko Nagurski.[4] He was also paired against Buddy Rogers; Von Goering stated that he "hated [Roger's] guts offstage as well as on".[1] He finished his career in Roy Shire's Big Time Wrestling promotion, where he teamed with Luke Graham.[4]

After retiring in 1973, Gabor moved to Campbell, California, with his wife, Kay.[3] He found work as a truck driver and a car salesman,[1] which he said he sometimes found more difficult than wrestling.[3] At the behest of Thesz, Gabor supported the George Tragos/Lou Thesz Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame after its creation in 1999.[4] In 2009, he was personally inducted into the hall of fame, which typically inducts wrestlers with a background in amateur wrestling. Mike Chapman, then-executive director of the museum which oversaw the hall of fame stated: "Even though he never had an amateur background, Fritz was voted in quite easily, frankly, because the hall of fame recognized the kind of respect he had in the ring."[3]

Championships and accomplishments

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Greene, Bob (September 18, 2010). "Fritz von Goering is on Facebook". CNN. Retrieved November 9, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Kreikenbohm, Philip. "Fritz Von Goering". Cagematch. Retrieved November 9, 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Vongsarath, Chris (March 2, 2009). "Longtime Campbell resident Fritz von Goering to be inducted into wrestling hall of fame". Mercury News. Retrieved November 8, 2018.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Steven, Johnson (July 9, 2009). "For von Goering, a long journey to Hall of Fame". Slam! Wrestling. Canadian Online Explorer. Retrieved November 9, 2018.
  5. ^ Greene, Bob (February 25, 1982). "Lex Has A Hold On Pro Wrestling Trend". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved November 8, 2018.
  6. ^ Johnson, Mike (June 30, 2009). "Ricky Steamboat, Nick Bockinkel Among 2009 Class Honored By Wrestling Museum & Institute". Pro Wrestling Insider. Retrieved November 9, 2018.
  7. ^ a b c Lentz III, Harry M. (2003). Biographical Dictionary of Professional Wrestling, 2d ed. McFarland Publishing. p. 374. ISBN 978-0786417544.
  8. ^ "Alberta Tag Team Title". Wrestling-Titles.com. 4 April 2011. Retrieved 3 June 2019.
  9. ^ Hoops, Brian (November 5, 2017). "Daily Pro Wrestling History (11/05): Ric Flair & Roddy Piper win WWE tag team gold". Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Retrieved November 9, 2018.