Verne Gagne

Verne Gagne Illegal Foreign Object

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.