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
Meeting Top Celebrities
Frank Gotch rubbed shoulders with many famous people of his era. He was close friends
with world heavyweight boxing champion James J. Jeffries, and made the trip to Reno,
Nevada, for the epic fight on July 4, 1910, between Jeffries and Jack Johnson, the
first black champion. It was the most hyped boxing match of all time…and Frank was
introduced in the ring before the fight, standing alongside the hero of his youth,
the great bare-knuckle champion John L. Sullivan. Other great champions in the ring
that day were Bob Fitzsimmons and Tommy Burns, heavyweights, and Stanley Ketchel
considered by many to be the greatest middleweight of all time. Legendary Old West
lawmen Wyatt Earp and Bat Masterson also attended the fight, as did Jack London, the
best known author of the era (he wrote "Call of the Wild" and "White Fang," among others).
Frank also knew most of the other top boxers on a first-name basis, including Gentleman
James J. Corbett, Tom Sharkey, and Kid McCoy. In fact, Corbett and McCoy wanted Gotch
to take up boxing and fight Johnson, but Frank was too smart for that. He felt confident
he could whip Johnson in a wrestling match or a mixed fight, but not in a gloved affair.
As the star of a play that traveled up and down the East Coast and made a trip to Europe,
Frank was also well known in acting circles. He received standing ovations whenever he
appeared on stage, and drew some strong reviews from critics.
He was invited twice to the White House by President Teddy Roosevelt. Once, Roosevelt
asked him to take on a Japanese jiu jitsu expert in the East Hall, and Frank did so.
They stripped to their trousers and wrestled, with Frank winning easily. The governor
of Iowa, George Whiting, was also a big fan of his, and Frank was being courted by the
Republican Party to consider a run for governor of Iowa, but he fell ill and died before
anything could come of the plans.