100th anniversary of the passing of legendary Frank Gotch


Saturday, Dec. 16, marked the 100th anniversary of the death of Humboldt’s own, World Wrestling Champion Frank Alvin Gotch.
Gotch passed away of kidney failure in the upstairs bedroom of his home (now 110 6th Street North) in Humboldt, on Sunday, Dec. 16, 1917, in the afternoon.
Many men of prominence came to Humboldt to attend the funeral. Governor Harding, “Farmer Burns”, Emil Klank and many others prominent in professional athletics attended. Burns was his old wrestling tutor and Klank was a friend and manager. Many special writers from large publications across the United States were present to cover the event.
Gotch was world champion for eight years from 1908 to 1916. A statue of Gotch stands proudly in Bicknell Park in Humboldt, located at the west end of Humboldt’s downtown. The park, known back then as Riverside Park, was the historic training site for Gotch.

The life of Gotch was included in a book published in 1954 titled, “100 Greatest Sports Heroes.” An account of his passing is listed as follows:
“When the news of his death reached the people of his native Iowa, the whole state went into mourning. In Humboldt, his hometown, every store closed down, the schoolhouse was shuttered and empty, on the day of his funeral.”
“Thousands of weeping mourners, gathered from many parts of the land, trudged the icy path to the little rural cemetery, on a cold, December day, to bid a final farewell to the farm boy who had been the greatest wrestling champion in history.”

See full story in the Humboldt Independent Newspaper. Look for the story in the next issue of Humboldt NOW! magazine.

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