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:: 2006 George Tragos/Lou Thesz Hall of Fame Inductions ::
Bret Hart, Larry Hennig and Bob Roop headline the Class of 2006 of the George Tragos/Lou Thesz Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame. The inductions will be held July 15 at the International Wrestling Institute and Museum here.
"This is our eighth class and will be another great one," said Mike Chapman, executive director of the facility. "Our selection committee has done another outstanding job."
Each year, the museum inducts three living members and three deceased members. The criteria are a strong impact on the pro game and true wrestling ability, as judged by an amateur background or the consensus opinion of the committee.
Also being inducted in the deceased category are Dory Funk, Sr.; Mike DiBiase and Tom Jenkins.
Inductions weekend is set for July 14-15 in Newton. It includes a Celebrity Golf Tournament on Friday at noon and a variety of other events. The formal inductions are held at 11 a.m. in the museum on Saturday morning, with a reception to follow. A banquet will be held Saturday evening, with a coffee and rolls farewell on Sunday morning at 9 at the museum.
The museum is a not-for-profit business whose mission is to preserve the history of wrestling and present it in a manner that is both educational and entertaining.
:: Class of 2006::
Bret Hart comes from the legendary Hart family of Calgary, Alberta. His father, Stu, was the cornerstone of the Hart legacy and had a love of both amateur and professional wrestling. Under his father's guidance, Bret and his four brothers developed their amateur skills in youth tournaments. Bret won the city championship and the Alberta Collegiate Championship and then joined the Stampede pro wrestling organization. Known as "The Hitman," Bret attained tremendous success in the WWF (now WWE) and acquired numerous titles, including world heavyweight champion. He later performed for the WCW and became a huge star there, as well.
Larry Hennig. A high school state champion in Minnesota, Hennig parlayed his strong amateur background into tremendous success on the professional level. Working mostly with the AWA of Verne Gagne, he became one of the top draws in the 1960s and '70s. Larry "The Axe" Hennig teamed with Harley Race (Class of 2005) to become world tag tam champions on several occasions and was a singles star, as well. He and his son, Curt Hennig, captured a major NWA in 1982. Today, Larry owns a successful real estate company in St. Cloud, Minnesota.
Bob Roop. Also a high school state champion (but in Michigan), Roop had a very successful amateur career, winning a national AAU title in Greco-Roman wrestling and making the 1968 Olympic team, as well. As a professional in the 1970s, he reigned as NWA United States Champion and won numerous regional titles, both as a single performer and as part of a tag team. He has authored several books and works in the educational field today.
Dory Funk, Sr., was a high school state champion in Indiana and wrestled for legendary coach Billy Thom at Indiana University before World War II. Turning to professional wrestling after the war, he embarked upon a long career that earned him many titles and vast recognition. His sons, Dory Jr. and Terry, were both legendary champions in their own right. Dory Sr. died in 1973.
Mike DiBiase won the AAU national heavyweight title in 1946 and had a long amateur career before turning professional in the early 1950s. As a pro, he held many titles in his two-decade career, including the NWA world junior heavyweight championship. He also held AWA and NWA titles. He died of a heart attack in the ring following a match on July 8, 1969. He was the adopted father of wrestler Ted DiBiase.
Tom Jenkins was America's first great wrestling star in the late 1890s and early 1900s. An extremely powerful millwright from Ohio, he was the real deal and never gave an inch in the ring. He defeated the young Frank Gotch three times in his eight matches. Jenkins held the American championship for nearly eight years. He later coached wrestling and boxing at West Point Military Academy for 37 years and was a legend with the Cadets. He died in 1957 at age 83.
:: Frank Gotch Award ::
Former wrestling star Nikita Koloff has been named the 2006 recipient of the Frank Gotch Award, given annually to a person who has brought prestige and recognition to professional wrestling. The award will be presented during inductions weekend at the George Tragos/Lou Thesz Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame inductions on July 15.
:: Schedule of Events ::
FRIDAY, July 14, 2006
10 am - Wrestling museum open to the public. Admission: $5 for adults, $3 for students.
Noon - Celebrity Golf Tournament at Westwood Golf Course, one mile from museum. The event is open to the public, at $75 per player. Each year, we bring in 20 celebrities from the world of baseball, football and the Olympics. Among those who attend regularly are Verne Gagne, Dan Hodge, Baron Von Raschke, Brad Rheingans, Tom Drake, Rich Folkers (8 years in the major leagues as a pitcher) Dan Gable and former NFL stars. There will be a reception to follow at the golf course.
2 pm - A special showing in the museum of the 1950 television documentary called "Lou Thesz: The Story of a Wrestler". This is a seldom seen, very well done documentary made by a top Hollywood producer will be shown on a large-screen television.
5 pm - Museum closes.
SATURDAY, July 15, 2006
9 am - Wrestling museum open to the public. Admission: $10 for all persons
11 am - Formal inductions into the George Tragos/Lou Thesz Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame, located inside the International Wrestling Institute and Museum. Each hall of fame inductee and the Frank Gotch Award winner will be presented a plaque and will be invited to say a few words.
Noon - A reception for all the inductees in the museum. They will be invited to sit at an autograph table in the main section of the museum and sign items for fans. We will produce a Class of 2006 poster that is a collector's item, and sell it as a fundraiser. There will also be an authors' book signing with Harley Race, Gene LeBell, Bill Murdock, Mike Chapman, and Jim Melby.
2 pm - Special showing in the museum of the 1950 television documentary called "Lou Thesz: The Story of a Wrestler". This is a seldom seen, very well done documentary made by a top Hollywood producer.
5 pm - Wrestling museum closes.
6 pm - Social hour for all banquet ticket holders at banquet site, Newton Inn (directly across the interstate from the museum).
SUNDAY, July 16, 2006
9 am - A farewell gathering at the museum for those who want to enjoy the weekend one last time. Coffee, juice and rolls will be provided. The museum will close at noon.
April 13-14, 2007
January 12, 2007 - The Dan Gable International Wrestling Institute and Museum officially opened its doors to the public.
July 15, 2006 - Tom Jenkins, Mike DiBiase, Dory Funk, Sr., Larry Hennig, Bob Roop, and Bret Hart enter the
George Tragos/Lou Thesz Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame. The Frank Gotch Award is presented to Nikita Koloff .
March 30, 2006 - The International Wrestling Institute and Museum announced at a packed press conference that it was moving to Waterloo, Iowa, and would be re-named the Dan Gable International Wrestling Institute and Museum.
August 9, 2005 - One of wrestling's biggest supporters, Dean Rockwell, passed away on August 8, 2005. more...
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