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First Important Match
Meeting Farmer Burns
Off to Alaska
His Two Greatest Foes
Frank Gotch, Superstar
In Retirement
At His Peak
Meeting Top Celebreties
His Death
His Fame Endured
Others' Words on Gotch
The Controversy
Frank's Legacy

His Death

Frank began feeling ill in 1916, at the age of 38. His weight fluctuated and he had trouble keeping his food down. He began acting strangely, and was disoriented at times. On his doctor's advice, he traveled to Glenwood Springs, Colorado, and to Hot Springs, Arkansas, to bathe in the mineral waters, hoping that could help him. The last two months of his life, he lay in the bedroom of his Humboldt home, growing weaker by the day. He died in the afternoon of December 17, 1917. He was so weak he could barely lift his head from his pillow. Rumors have persisted in wrestling circles that he died of syphilis, but the official death certificate in the Humboldt County Courthouse says he died of kidney failure, brought on by uremic poisoning. Frank was four months shy of his 40th birthday when he died.

Here's how Mac Davis, in the book 100 Greatest Sports Heroes, describes the end:

"When 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 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."