VIDEO Title History Big Ten wrestling champion four times (1944, 1947, 1948 and 1949); NCAA wrestling champion in l948 and l949; Member of the U.S. Olympic team in l948; AAU wrestling champion in l949; NWA Texas heavyweight title defeating Leo Newman (December 16, 1949); NWA Texas heavyweight title defeating Miguel Guzman (September 8, 1950); NWA world Junior heavyweight title defeating Sonny Myers [Tournament] (November 13, 1950); AWA (Montreal) International heavyweight title defeating Killer Kowalski (Febuary 25, 1953); NWA (Chicago) United States heavyweight title Awarded (September 3, 1953); NWA (Chicago/Indianapolis) world tag team titles w/ Edouard Carpentier defeating Boris and Nicoli Volkoff (May 25, 1957); NWA (Texas) world tag team titles w/ Wilbur Snyder (July 1957); NWA (Minneapolis) world tag team titles w/ Bronco Nagurski defeating Johnny Valentine and Chet Wallich (December 26, 1957); NWA (Chicago) United States Television title (March 1958); NWA (Chicago) United States heavyweight title defeating Dick the Bruiser (April 12, 1958); NWA (Minneapolis) world tag team titles w/ Leo Nomellini defeating Mike and Doc Gallagher (May 15, 1958); AWA (Omaha) world heavyweight title defeating Édouard Carpentier (August 9, 1958); NWA (Minneapolis) world tag team titles w/ Butch Levy defeating Baron Gattoni and Karol Kalimikoff (April 28, 1959); NWA (Minneapolis) world tag team titles w/ Leo Nomellini defeating Stan Kowalski and Tiny Mills (July 19, 1960); AWA world heavyweight title Awarded (August 16, 1960); AWA world heavyweight title defeating Gene Kiniski (August 8, 1961); AWA (Omaha) world heavyweight title defeating Don Leo Jonathan (September 16, 1961); AWA world heavyweight title defeating Bill Miller (August 21, 1962); AWA (Omaha) world heavyweight title defeating Fritz Von Erich (August 25, 1962); AWA world heavyweight title defeating Crusher Lisowski (July 20, 1963); AWA (Omaha) world heavyweight title defeating Crusher Lisowski (July 20, 1963); AWA world heavyweight title defeating Fritz Von Erich (August 8, 1963); AWA (Omaha) world heavyweight title defeating Fritz Von Erich (September 7, 1963); AWA world heavyweight title defeating Crusher Lisowski (December 14, 1963); AWA world tag team titles w/ Moose Evans defeating Crusher and Dick the Bruiser (Febuary 9, 1964); AWA world heavyweight title defeating Mad Dog Vachon (May 16, 1964); AWA world tag team titles w/ Crusher defeating Harley Race and Larry Henning (July 24, 1965); AWA world heavyweight title defeating Mad Dog Vachon (Febuary 26, 1967); AWA world heavyweight title defeating Dick Beyer (August 31, 1968); AWA world tag team titles w/ Billy Robinson defeating Ray Stevens and Nick Bockwikel (December 30, 1972); AWA world tag team titles w/ Mad Dog Vachon defeating Ray Stevens and Pat Patterson (June 6, 1979); IWA (Japan) world heavyweight title defeating Rusher Kimura (November 13, 1979); AWA world heavyweight title defeating Nick Bockwinkel (July 18, 1980); Career Highlights In the Beginning: Verne Gagne grew up on a farm in Minnesota and left home at age 14 after his mother passed away. Verne Gagne went to Robbinsdale High School and played football, baseball and wrestling. Verne Gagne worked before school sweeping and scrubbing a local tavern and beauty shop. Verne Gagne won district, regional and state championships in high school wrestling. Verne Gagne was selected to play in the All-State-Football team. 1943: Verne Gagne was recruited to play football at the University of Minnesota. Verne Gagne became a member of the All-Conference Team that same year. After one year of college, he joined the Marines, based at El Toro, California and played on the marine football team. Verne Gagne chose to return to the University of Minnesota and got a reputation as a top athlete in football and wrestling. ~~~Verne Gagne was a Big Ten wrestling champion four times (1944, 1947, 1948 and 1949); ~~~Verne Gagne was also an NCAA wrestling champion in l948 and l949; ~~~Verne Gagne was a member of the United States Olympic team in l948; ~~~Verne Gagne was an AAU wrestling champion in l949; 1949: Verne Gagne was asked to play in the college all-star game in Chicago against the NFL Champions the Philadelphia Eagles. Verne Gagne also enjoyed a brief stint playing professional football with the Green Bay Packers. Tony Stecher the Minneapolis wrestling promoter encouraged Verne Gagne to enter the world of professional wrestling. Getting into the Business: Verne Gagne had his first professional match against Abe “King Kong” Kashey -refereed by boxer Jack Dempsey. 1950: Verne Gagne won the Junior heavyweight title and held it throughout l951. Verne Gagne held the National Heavyweight Championship from 1952 until 1956. February 4, 1953: Verne Gagne was the headliner at a sellout New York’s Madison Square Garden event. ~~~A riot occured outside when 5000 fans were turned away! l960: Verne Gagne returned to the Twin Cities with the newly formed American Wrestling Association. Verne Gagne quickly became the AWA World’s Heavyweight champion. August 8, 1961: Verne Gagne defeated gene Kiniski to recapture the AWA World heavyweight title. September 16, 1961: Verne Gagne defeated Don Leo Jonathan for the Omaha version of the World title! American Wrestling Association: Verne Gagne took an increasing interest in the management of the AWA, and eventually became the sole shareholder of the company. The AWA product was picked up by ESPN and ran events New York, California, Canada, Mexico, plus Europe and the Middle East! August 14, 1970 – AWA Comiskey Park: Verne Gagne defeated Baron Von Raschke in a best 2/3 Falls match to retain the AWA title. June 25, 1976 – AWA Chicago Stadium: Nick Bockwinkel and Verne Gagne fought to a NO CONTEST in an AWA title match. June 6, 1979: Verne Gagne and Mad Dog Vachon defeated Pat Patterson and Ray Stevens for the AWA Tag Team title. Verne Gagne retired from wrestling in the early 1980s but returned several times for special matches. April 20, 1986 – AWA WrestleRock: Verne Gagne defeated Adnan Al-Kassie in a “Steel Cage” match. Verne Gagne was the catalyst for many great stars like Hogan, Flair, Steamboat, Hennig, Ventura, Snuka, DDP, Andre and many more! Verne Gagne trained Ric Flair, Bob Backlund, Jim Brunzell, Ken Patera, Ricky Steamboat, Buddy Rose and countless others. The Gagne legend lived on in Verne’s son Greg, who carried on the great Gagne tradition for many years. 1991: The AWA folded after other promotions (predominantly the World Wrestling Federation) scooped up most of the talent. Verne Gagne later declared bankruptcy. Retirement: Verne Gagne is not longer associated with pro wrestling. Verne Gagne is a stern supporter or nearly a dozen different charities accross the country. May 7, 2002: Verne Gagne’s wife, Mary, sadly passed away. Hulk Hogan wrote in his book that Verne tried to pay Iron Sheik to break Hogan’s legs in Madison Square Garden 1984. March 13, 2006 – RAW: They announced that Verne Gagne would be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame on April 1 in Chicago. April 1, 2006: Verne Gagne was officially inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame by his son Greg Gagne. June 2006: Verne Gagne was presented the Lou Thesz Award at the 2006 Cauliflower Ally Club Convention in Las Vegas. April 27, 2015: Verne Gagne passed away at the age of 89.