Lou Thesz was born in 1916 in Banat, MI. but moved to St. Louis, MO. At an early age and this is where his fifty-eight year wrestling career would begin. He began his wrestling career in 1932 and retired from full time grappling in 1990. One of the original “hookers”, Thesz relied mainly on submission holds and could cripple a man within seconds of applying a hold, if he so chose to. Hookers were definitely dangerous and pound for pound, probably the best wrestlers around. They would use submission and nerve holds that a lot of people never heard of and some of them were even illegal. When a true hooker applied a hold properly, no one was escaping from it. Thesz was also trained by two of the best “hookers” in the business in George Tragos and Ad Santel.
Tragos had garnered a reputation for crippling people and ending careers if he felt that his opponent needed to be taught a lesson or he felt that he and the sport were being disrespected. His reputation was so much, that when wrestlers came into a gym to train and saw Tragos there, they would turn and leave. Now that wrestling is leaning toward more the “entertainment” aspect and not so much pure grappling, hookers are far and few between as there are no one to train them. There are not many modern day wrestlers who could be called a “hooker” and one of the last was Dean Malenko and Perry Saturn.
In a business that was “fixed” or the outcomes known, Thesz was truly a legitimate wrestler and was one of, if not the best in the 1940’s and 50’s. The matches were not as choreographed as they are today, although the wrestlers did talk to each other about what moves were going to be used during the matches and outcomes were often changed in the ring depending on how the crowd felt about a particular match. Lou Thesz wrestled in the territories that were controlled by the once powerful and prestigious National Wrestling Alliance and was also the very first World Champion for the WWWF, now known as the WWE.
He has held several World champions for the NWA and the WWE and at one WWE Pay-Per-View was recognized as both the youngest World Champion and the oldest World champion. He was twenty-one when he first won the World title and was fifty when he won his last one. However, later on, Vince McMahon would win the World title at the age of fifty-four. Lou Thesz passed away in April of 2002 and left behind a legacy that will forever be unmatched. Lou Thesz was truly one of the greats and many of his moves are mimicked today. The Thesz Press and the STF are two of the more popular ones used by wrestlers now.