March 17th, 2023, Albany, New York
I’m very pleased to announce the International Professional Wrestling Hall of fame 2023 inductees as voted on by the IPWHF voting pool. I also want to thank the great job done by my fellow ballot committee members Don Luce, Nathan
Hatton, Phil Lions, and Tim Hornbaker.
Sincerely, Mark S. Hewitt
McLeod made up one of the “big three” of early professional catch-as-catch-can wrestling in North America before the advent of Frank Gotch, sharing the honors with hall of fame members Farmer Burns and Tom Jenkins. He’s a bit of a mystery man, as it hasn’t been fully established whether he was born in Scotland, Canada or Illinois. Whatever the case, he was working as a miner in Nanaimo, British Columbia when he entered the wild and wooly world of pro wrestling. McLeod had epic matches with Burns, Jenkins, Gotch, Jim Parr, the French-Canadian strongman Louis Cyr, and so many others. He finished out his career as an athletic instructor at the Los Angeles Athletic Club.
Dr. Benjamin Franklin “Doc” Roller
Both an athlete and a medical doctor, Roller was one of the leading pro wrestlers of his era, as well as a pioneer pro football player. Over his long career, he locked horns with everyone from Frank Gotch to Victor McLaglen to The Great Gama to Joe Stecher.
Lurich was an Estonian Greco-Roman wrestler and weightlifter who wrestled around the world. He was one of George Hackenschmidt’s early trainers.
Tom Connor (Connors)
Connor was a legendary exponent of authentic Lancashire catch-as-catch-can wrestling. He competed on both sides of the Atlantic and helped introduce and popularize catch wrestling in North America. This is the guy that Farmer Burns learned catch-as-catch-can from, and Burns, in turn passed the skill on to Frank Gotch.
Gagne was a NCAA wrestling champion who turned pro in 1949. Among his many credentials are winning numerous pro world titles and owning and promoting the American Wrestling Association. Gagne favored “old school” wrestling and liked to push wrestlers with amateur backgrounds and solid technical skills.
Gorgeous George (Wagner)
Growing up as a tough “wharf rat” in Houston, he launched into a pro wrestling career that revolutionized the sport. He reached national stardom after adopting a flamboyant, bleached-blonde persona, wearing dazzling robes, and being accompanied to the ring by perfume-spraying valets. He was one of the early stars of TV wrestling and became a popular culture icon. His influence is still felt today.
Misawa ranks high in the history of puroresu, Japanese pro wrestling, as one of the greatest of all time. He held numerous heavyweight, junior heavyweight, and tag team championships. Misawa gave his all to pro wrestling, tragically dying in the ring in 2009 after a storied career.
In any discussion of the toughest pro wrestlers of all times, Assirati’s name will inevitably come up. A strongman, gymnast, and weightlifter, he was brought into pro wrestling by British promoter Atholl Oakeley. Both a British and a European heavyweight champion, he was a feared opponent on the mat. Besides the UK and continental Europe, Assirati also had great success in India and Asia.
The son of wrestler and Stampede promoter Stu Hart, Bret carried on a great family tradition, achieving the highest honors in professional wrestling. Many of his contemporary wrestlers consider him one of, if not the, greatest of them all.
A wrestler’s wrestler, Backlund competed as an amateur before turning pro in 1973. Moving through the ranks of the AWA, NWA and WWWF (today’s WWE), he held several championship titles, including the WWWF World Heavyweight Championship, which he won in 1978 and held until 1983. While holding this belt, Backlund was noteworthy for facing rival world championship claimants Harley Race, Nick Bockwinkel, and Ric Flair.
Keiji Muto (aka The Great Muta)
Muto stands tall as a highly successful and globally influential pro wrestler and promoter. He is a multi-time winner of numerous championship titles both in Japan and in the US.
Kobashi was a Japanese judoka and rugby player who started wrestling for the AJPW promotion in 1988. His accolades include many championship titles and honors. PWI ranked him in 1996 as #4 in their top 500 wrestlers list. Several organizations have ranked one of his bouts as “the match of the year” on multiple occasions.
It’s said that “the female of the species is more deadly than the male.” Byers was a very tough pioneer woman wrestler who combined ruggedness, technical skills, and good looks. She was involved in one of the sport’s legendary “shoots”, battling it out with Mildred Burke in Atlanta in 1954. At one point in her career, she was both the women’s world champ and a co-holder of the women’s tag team title.
The International Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame hopes you will be able to join us on Saturday, August 26th, 2023 at the MVP Arena in Albany, New York to help celebrate the life and professional wrestling careers of this year's inductees. Details regarding ticket reservations will be released shortly.