Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Verne Gagne

Verne Gagne, famed promoter of the American Wrestling Association, passed away last night.

The storied career of Verne Gagne, both as a wrestler and a promoter of the AWA, was of an era before my time. My only exposure to the man and the promotion he ran continually for thirty years were through archival programming released years later; either through re-airing of old AWA episodes on ESPN Classics or through the WWE-produced DVD, The Spectacular Legacy Of The AWA.

I'm not entirely ignorant of the contributions of Mr. Gagne and know that he essentially launched the careers of many of professional wrestling's greatest names through his rigorous training camps held at his farm in Chanhassen, Minnesota, and discovered some of the shining talents that would go on to join that list of big stars. And I would be remiss not to mention his accomplishments as both an amateur wrestler - laying claim to  four Big Ten Wrestling Championships, two NCAA Wrestling Championships, the 1949 AAU Wrestling Championship and a slot on the 1948 United States Olympic team on his resume - and a professional wrestler, having been a ten-time AWA World Heavyweight Champion and the distinction of having the third longest single World Title reign for seven years and three months, from 1968 to 1975.

Mr. Gagne would later be inducted into the Professional Wrestling Hall Of Fame in 2004, as well as the WWE Hall Of Fame in 2006 and the short-lived WCW Hall of Fame in 1993. His contributions to professional wrestling as a whole will long remembered.

My thoughts and prayers go out to the family, friends, and colleagues of Mr. Gagne.

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