Gotch World Catch Wrestling Championship July 3 in Humboldt!

Dr. Raul Ramirez, Mike Chapman, Curran Jacobs and Roy Wood

Free Catch Wrestling seminar Saturday, July 2 at Bicknell Park

By Phil Monson
Dr. Raul Ramirez has a bold, long-term vision for the growing sport of Catch Wrestling.
Ramirez, executive director of the Catch Wrestling Alliance, headquartered in Los Angeles, CA, feels bringing the World Championship to Humboldt this weekend – hometown of legendary Frank Gotch – is just what the sport needs.
A number of highly-ranked wrestlers and mixed martial arts athletes from across the country, including one world champion, will compete in the historic Frank Gotch World Catch Championships on Sunday, July 3, 9:30 a.m. in the Humboldt High School gym.
“We are tremendously excited about this event and the way it is shaping up,” Ramirez said. “Los Angeles is saturated with martial arts gyms. We don’t have the Frank Gotch legacy here, like Humboldt does.”
“Last year we held the championships on the campus of UCLA on John Wooden court. When I visited Humboldt last August with Mike Chapman and Curran Jacobs to explore the possibility of holding the event in Humboldt, hometown of Frank Gotch and rich in wrestling tradition – just breathing the air in Humboldt, I could smell the wrestling heritage,” Ramirez said.
“People in Humboldt and Iowa understand and appreciate what we’re doing. It is an honor to have an authentic Catch Wrestling event in Humboldt,” Ramirez said. “Thanks to the city for this opportunity.”
The CWA has already hosted two major tournaments but this is the first one that will have Frank Gotch’s name attached.
“Catch wrestling was the top form of wrestling in America in the early part of the 20th century, and Frank Gotch was its foremost star. He is the Babe Ruth or Muhammad Ali of this sport,” Ramirez said.
Ramirez said the tournament will include five weight classes with four contestants per weight class. There will also be one division for women, with no weight limit. The event will take place at Humboldt High School, beginning at 9:30 a.m. Admission is $6 for adults and $3 for kids age 10 to 18. Kids under 10 are admitted free.
Matches will be 20 minutes long and the primary way an athlete can win is with a joint-lock submission or a three-second pin. If neither happens during the time limit, then the referee will pick the winner based on aggressiveness. Kicking, hitting and choke holds are not allowed.
The top three placewinners will receive a large medal with Gotch’s image on it, attached to a ribbon. All participants will receive a certificate suitable for framing.
Among the contestants signed up to date are:
–Curran Jacobs, captain of the 2011 Michigan State University team who has won two previous catch wrestling tournaments and was given the Frank Gotch Award as the outstanding competitor in the 2014 catch tournament in Los Angeles; he also scored a 29-second knockout in a recent mixed martial arts fight.
–Nick Caggia, a 315-pounder who is called “Nick the Giant” and has won numerous titles. At the 2014 Catch Wrestling World Championship, which took place last July at the MMA World Expo at the Jacob Javitts Center in New York, he won the overall championship belt after defeating four opponents without surrendering a fall.
–Travis Newaza, who won the heavyweight division of the West Coast King of Catch Wrestling Tournament held in San Diego and was named the outstanding competitor, winning all his matches by submissions. Besides competing in numerous tournaments in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and grappling, Newaza trains in catch wrestling with former UFC champion Josh Barnett.
–Adam DeHart out of North Carolina who has an overall (amateur and pro) record of 17-10 in MMA competition and was a student of the late Billy Wicks, whose lineage extended all the way back to Farmer Burns, the man who trained Gotch.
–Travis Wiuff out of Rochester, MN, a former All-American wrestler at both Mankato State and Rochester Junior College who has an overall record of 73-20 in MMA.
–Bruce Wilson of Waterloo, former state wrestling champion from Dan Gable’s high school who is a black belt in karate.
–Ned and Christopher Morales, a father-son catch wrestling duo who train at Catch Wrestling Los Angeles under Raul Ramirez.
Ramirez told the Independent earlier this week another entry into the lineup will be a Russian Sambo wrestler from Michigan, who trains in the same MMA gym as Jacobs.
Headlining the women’s open division is Laura Anderson, a U.S. grappling champion who won a gold medal at the World Pankration Championships in Hungary in 2014. Also entered are Shayna Baszler, an MMA fighter and pro wrestler who trained under the late Billy Robinson and currently trains under Josh Barnett, and Wendy Minch, two-time NCAA All-American gymnast and catch wrestler who was another student of Billy Wicks.
“I am a huge Frank Gotch fan and this is going to be an incredible event for all of catch wrestling,” said Jacobs, who is an aspiring movie actor. He currently divides his time in between Hollywood and the Michigan State campus, where he is working on a master’s degree in theater arts.
“This is truly a historic event for Humboldt and the state of Iowa when it comes to wrestling,” said Mike Chapman, wrestling historian and author. “Catch is a fast-moving, exciting style of wrestling that allows joint-lock submissions as well as pins. It is the style that Frank Gotch excelled in and made world famous.”
“This is a grand opportunity for all fans of Frank Gotch and catch wrestling to have a very meaningful and historic experience,” said Ramirez.
Roy Wood, coach and owner of legendary Snake Pit wrestling club in Wigan, England, will be an honored guest at the tournament and will put on a seminar the day before in Bicknell Park.
Scott Casher, founder of Takedown Wrestling Radio in Des Moines, will be the announcer for the event. He has worked at numerous world-class wrestling events across the nation.”
“This seems like a very appropriate way to continue to support what Frank Gotch means to this community,” said Maury Abens, member of the Frank Gotch Statue Committee. “We think it’s very exciting that Frank’s style of wrestling is having a comeback, and the chamber of commerce and city administration are all very supportive. We think it’s a great educational opportunity.”
“Contestants and fans will be invited to take the Frank Gotch Tour, and to stay overnight in town for the July 4 activities. Some travelers may want to take advantage of the RV availability at Frank Gotch State Park, located just three miles south of town, next to the old Gotch farmstead. The two host motels are the Super 8 in Humboldt and the Sleep Inn, which is located 15 miles south in Fort Dodge.
Chapman, who created Wrestling Insider Newsmagazine (WIN), amateur wrestling’s top publication, the Dan Hodge Trophy and the National Hall of Fame Dan Gable Museum in Waterloo, will bring various Gotch and wrestling memorabilia items to have on display.
“We want to help educate wrestling fans in Iowa and everywhere about the role that Frank Gotch and Iowa played in the development of wrestling in the early part of the 20th century,” Chapman said. “We are bringing a lot of Gotch memorabilia, including his famous derby hat, a belt buckle he often wore in parades, a notebook with over 50 photos of Frank, and even some incredible wrestling programs and posters from that era.”
Gotch was born in 1878 on a farm three miles south of Humboldt. His legacy has been kept alive in the town for a century, and an eight-foot bronze statue was unveiled there on July 4, 2012, on the site of his popular training camp.
For further information, go to the CWA website or call Raul Ramirez at 310-930-6046. The website is

Free ‘catch’ seminar is July 2 at Bicknell Park
A free seminar on catch wrestling will be held at 2 p.m. on July 2, in Bicknell Park. The seminar is being put on by Dr. Raul Ramirez, head of the Catch Wrestling Alliance in Los Angeles, and Roy Wood, longtime coach at the legendary Snake Pit in Wigan, England and founder of a local amateur wrestling club.
“This is an incredible opportunity for sports fans to learn about catch wrestling, the style made popular by Frank Gotch,” said Mike Chapman, author of several books on Gotch, and a movie screenplay currently making the rounds in Hollywood.
“Catch wrestling has its roots in Lancaster, England, and the most important spot for learning the style was at the famous Billy Riley Gym in Wigan, which became known as the Snake Pit due to its demanding style of wrestling.”
“Catch wrestling is all about submissions and toughness,” said Ramirez, who has won two tournaments in Wigan. “Roy Wood is the last member of the famous Riley school and he has made it his life mission to keep alive this forerunner of combative wrestling. Iowa fans are in for a real treat when they see Roy demonstrate what this sport is all about.”
Wood is flying in from England to be part of the Gotch tournament and is deeply impressed with the historic significance of this event, said Ramirez. Wood has been honored by many different sporting groups in Great Britain and has coached top amateurs in freestyle wrestling, as well as his work with catch wrestling.
Ramirez told the Independent he sees a groundswell of athletes switching over to Catch Wrestling.
“I have seen a lot of this in Singapore earlier this year,” Ramirez said. “Our event there sparked much interest, and now I hear that Catch Wrestling classes are full over there. Because of this, I see more competitors from Asia in the future.”
“Our social media presence is growing rapidly also. May people from different countries are expressing interest, so I believe that we will be seeing more crossover from other sports,” Ramirez said.
“Having Roy here on Saturday for the seminar builds the bridge from Wigan to Humboldt, which is an amazing element to all of this,” Ramirez said.
Jacobs, former Michigan State University standout, who will be competing in the 180-200 pound weight class on Sunday, is a huge Frank Gotch fan and is excited about coming to Humboldt this weekend.
“There are a lot of people excited about this event. It’s going to be pretty huge. And there are some serious competitors that are showing up to compete in it, so it’s going to be quite a day,” Jacobs said.
Jacobs is hopeful catch wrestling can be unified in the near future. Currently there are multiple organizations in the world.
“To every catch wrestling organization out there, I think it’s important that we start supporting each other and unify under one banner and that we agree to team up,” Jacobs said. “We’re very small in the wrestling world right now. If we want to grow the sport and succeed, then we have to team up.”

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