Goodbye Lou Thesz

Lou Thesz's obituary from the Associated Press

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) - Lou Thesz, a pioneer in professional wrestling who grappled for more than 55 years and helped carry the spectacle into the era of television, died Sunday. He was 86.

Thesz started wrestling professionally in the mid-1930s at age 17 and took part in a match in Japan when he was 73.

Thesz was among wrestling's most visible performers in the 1940s and 1950s, according to Kit Bauman, co-author of Thesz's autobiography, ``Hooker: An Authentic Wrestler's Adventures Inside the Bizarre World of Professional Wrestling.''

A good-looking, lithe man at 6-2, 225-pounds, Thesz began wrestling in St. Louis and was first named world champion at age 21. He regularly fulfilled between 200 and 250 wrestling dates per year and performed all over the world, according to his official Web site.

Thesz received some mainstream celebrity, posing with movie stars like Alan Ladd and Yvonne DeCarlo and trading mock grips with former heavyweight boxing champion Joe Louis.

He was named to the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in February.

Lou Thesz was also a member of WCW's hall of fame and one of the only few men to get a wrestling move named after him, the Lou Thesz Press, which is a favorite move of former WWF champion Steve Austin. Lou Thesz held the NWA Heavyweight Championship six times.

You can read Lou Thesz's autobiography entitled Hooker: An Authentic Wrestler's Adventure Inside the Bizarre World of Professional Wrestilng.

Thesz is mentioned in the book The Encyclopedia of Professional Wrestilng: 100 Years of the Good, the Bad and the Unforgettable, and you can see him referee a match on the Wrestling Gold Volume 1 DVD.