Karl gotch
Karl Gotch
Birth name Karl Charles Istaz[1]
Born August 3, 1924[2]

Antwerp, Belgium[3]

Died July 28, 2007 (aged 82)[1]

Tampa, Florida[4]

Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s) Karl Gotch[3]

Karl Krauser[3]

Billed height 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)[5]
Billed weight 245 lb (111 kg)[2]
Billed from Hamburg, Germany
Trained by Billy Riley[3]
Debut 1950s[3]
Retired January 1, 1982[5]

Karl Charles Istaz[1] (August 3, 1924 – July 28, 2007) was a German professional wrestler and trainer, best known by his ring nameKarl Gotch. In Japan, Gotch was known as "god of Wrestling" due to his influence in shaping the Japanese professional wrestling style.

Contents Edit


  • 1 Early life
  • 2 Career
    • 2.1 Amateur wrestling
    • 2.2 Professional wrestling
      • 2.2.1 Europe and the United States
      • 2.2.2 Japan
  • 3 Personal life
  • 4 Legacy and death
  • 5 In wrestling
  • 6 Championships and accomplishments
  • 7 Footnotes
  • 8 References
  • 9 External links

Early life[edit] Edit

Istaz was born in Antwerp, Belgium, but grew up in Hamburg, Germany.[3] He learned Greco-Roman wrestling in his early years and from the beginning he was a very well known sportsman. He wrestled in "The Hippodroom", a notable sports center in Antwerp, where amateur fights like boxing matches and wrestling matches were fought.

Career[edit] Edit

Amateur wrestling[edit] Edit

Istaz excelled in amateur wrestling and experienced a major breakthrough in his career by competing as Charles Istaz for Belgium in the 1948 Olympics in both freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling. Gotch also trained in the Indian martial art of Pehlwani. This training led to Istaz's regime of calisthenicbodyweight exercise, which were used by Indian wrestlers and other athletes to build leg endurance and strength. He also adopted other Indian exercises, such as the bridge,Hindu squats, and Hindu press ups in his wrestling.[6] Gotch's philosophy was later passed on to several of his students.

Professional wrestling[edit] Edit

Europe and the United States[edit] Edit

Istaz's professional wrestling career began after training in the "Snake Pit", run by the renowned catch wrestler Billy Riley.[3] He debuted in the 1950s, wrestling throughout Europe under the ring name Karl Krauser, and winning various titles including the German Heavyweight Championship and the European Championship.[3]

In the late 1950s, Istaz moved to the United States, and began wrestling as Karl Gotch.[3] In the United States, Gotch's wrestling style and lack of showmanship held him back, and he did not experience any great popularity at the time.[5] In 1961, he won the American Wrestling Alliance (Ohio) World Heavyweight Championship.[3] Gotch held the belt for two years before dropping the title to Lou Thesz, one of the few American wrestlers he respected because of the similarities of their styles (the two also share a common German/Hungarian heritage). In 1962, Gotch was involved in a backstage altercation with the then-NWA World Heavyweight Champion "Nature Boy" Buddy Rogers, in which Rogers was injured.[5] The incident alienated Gotch from American promoters, and he began looking for work in Japan.[5]

He returned to the United States for a stint in the 1970s, with a brief run in the World Wide Wrestling Federation from August 1971 to February 1972. On December 6, 1971, he teamed with Rene Goulet to win the WWWF World Tag Team Championship from the inaugural champions, Luke Graham and Tarzan Tyler, in two straight falls of a best-two-out-of-three-falls match in Madison Square Garden.[5][7] They lost the championship on February 1, 1972, to Baron Mikel Scicluna and King Curtis.[5]

Japan[edit] Edit

During the 1960s, Gotch began wrestling in other countries. He wrestled in Australia as Karl Krauser, and in 1965 he defeated Spiros Arion to win the International Wrestling Alliance's Heavyweight Championship.[3] He had also begun working in Japan, where he became very popular due to his amateur wrestling style.[3] He wrestled in the main event of the very first show held by New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) on March 6, 1972, defeating Antonio Inoki.[8] His final match occurred on January 1, 1982, when he pinnedYoshiaki Fujiwara with the German Suplex.[9] Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Gotch worked as both the booker and trainer for NJPW.[5] He trained several wrestlers in Japan, including Hiro Matsuda, Satoru Sayama, Osamu Kido, Barry Darsow, and Yoshiaki Fujiwara.[3][5]

Personal life[edit] Edit

Istaz was married and had a daughter.[5] They resided in Florida.[5]

Legacy and death[edit] Edit

Gotch became known as "Kamisama" in Japan, which translates to "God [of Wrestling]".[5] Gotch's wrestling style had a big impact on Inoki, who adopted and popularized his submission-based style. Some of Istaz's trainees founded the Universal Wrestling Federation in Japan in 1984, which showcased the shoot-style of professional wrestling. The success of UWF and similar promotions influenced Japanese wrestling in subsequent decades, and changed the style of matches in NJPW and All Japan Pro Wrestling.[5]

The German suplex is named after Gotch.[10] Gotch was inducted into the Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame as part of the inaugural class in 1996.[5] In 2007, he was inducted into the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame.[3]

Istaz died on July 28, 2007 in Tampa, Florida at the age of 82.[1][4]

In wrestling[edit] Edit

  • Finishing moves
    • German suplex[2]
    • Gotch Style Piledriver (Cradle piledriver, sometimes while kneeling down while holding the opponent in a belly to belly position) – Innovated
  • Signature moves
    • Bow and arrow hold
    • Cross kneelock
    • Crossface chickenwing
    • Gotch Special (Chickenwing with headscissors)
    • Juji-gatame
    • Underhook suplex

Championships and accomplishments[edit] Edit

  • American Wrestling Alliance (Ohio)
    • AWA World Heavyweight Championship (1 time)[1]
  • New Japan Pro Wrestling
    • NJPW Real World Championship (2 times)[1]
  • Puroresu Hall of Fame
    • Class of 1996[11]
  • Tokyo Sports
    • Lifetime Achievement Award (2007)[12]
  • World Championship Wrestling (Australia)
    • IWA World Heavyweight Championship (1 time)[2]
  • World Wide Wrestling Federation
    • WWWF World Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Rene Goulet[5]
  • Worldwide Wrestling Associates
    • WWA World Tag Team Championship (2 times) – with Mike DiBiase[2]
  • Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum
    • Class of 2007[3]
  • Wrestling Observer Newsletter awards
    • Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame (Class of 1996)[5]