First Important Match
Meeting Farmer Burns
Off to Alaska
His Two Greatest Foes
Frank Gotch, Superstar
At His Peak
Meeting Top Celebreties
His Fame Endured
Others' Words on Gotch
Off to Alaska
Gotch began training with Burns in the catch-as-catch-can style, which allowed submission holds and even some choke holds. He won a series of matches in Iowa
then set off for Alaska, where wrestling and boxing were big attractions in the rough
and tumble mining towns. He assumed the name of Frank Kennedy and became champion
of the Klondike. His biggest victory came over long-time champion Silas Archer. Gotch
earned nearly $30,000 in his six-month stay in Alaska, and also learned a very painful
lesson. A top-ranked heavyweight pugilist by the name of Frank Slavin was also working
the camps, taking on all comers in boxing.
A boxing match was arranged between the two Franks, and Gotch climbed into the ring
to try another man's sport. It was NOT a mixed boxing/wrestling match, but a strict
boxing contest. Slavin, relying on skills learned through many years of boxing, battered
Gotch bloody. Finally, in the fourth round, Gotch pushed Slavin into a corner, grabbed
him and threw him through the ropes into the crowd. Gotch was immediately disqualified.
Years later, Gotch said he learned a good lesson...never take on another man in the
other's field of expertise, but make him fight your style.
Gotch narrowly escaped a watery death when he was scheduled to leave for home on an
ill-fated vessel called the Skagway. Though his trunk of clothes was on board, Frank
was detained by friends at the last moment who wanted to give him a big sendoff, and
missed the ship. It sank a few hours later, with 36 people drowning.