Verne Gagne: One of the Pioneers of Professional Wrestling Passes


Alzheimer’s disease is an irreversible,
progressive brain disease that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills, and
eventually even the ability to carry out the simplest tasks. In most people
with Alzheimer’s, symptoms first appear after age 65. Now it has taken its toll
on the pro wrestling community as legend, Verne Gagne has succumbed to this
disease at the age of 89. The wrestling world is a family and yesterday
it lost one of its most ceremonious members.

We all remember the days when the wrestling
territories ruled the scene and gave us all a different flavor to watch on
television. Gagne
was a legendary promoter best known for
promoting and operating the American Wrestling Association out of Minnesota for
several decades. During the AWA’s existence, it was the breeding ground for
several future WWE Superstars, including Jesse “The Body” Ventura, Bobby “The
Brain” Heenan, Pat Patterson, The Legion of Doom, Shawn Michaels & Marty
Jannetty, Curt Hennig, Scott Hall, “Mean” Gene Okerlund, “Sensational” Sherri,
Jerry “The King” Lawler, Larry Zbyszko, Sgt. Slaughter and numerous other
legends. This company was a major force in wrestling for decades under the
guidance of Verne before its actual demise in 1991.

Gagne was a natural athlete whose resume
was being constructed at an early age. He captured state and regional
championships in amateur wrestling while in high school and was recruited by
the University of Minnesota to play big-ten football. His wrestling resume
started building with NCAA wrestling titles, which catapulted him onto the
professional wrestling scene in 1949. It
didn’t take long for Gagne to become a household name in NWA. He was quickly labeled
as a star and one of the greatest technical wrestlers of the 1950’s.

One of Verne’s greatest accomplishments might have been when he
founded the American Wrestling Association (AWA) in 1960; ultimately setting
himself up as the top star and winning the AWA World Heavyweight Championship.
Not only would he win the title, but his track record as a champion included an
astonishing record ten time reign for a total of 4,677 days over the course of
20 years. He was inducted
into both the WWE and WCW Hall of Fame in addition to the Professional
Wrestling Hall of Fame.

Gagne leaves behind a legacy that will be seemingly unmatched.
What some people do not know is the background he poses in the training aspect of
professional wrestling. Over his time, he has trained or helped train many
legendary wrestlers including the “Nature Boy” Ric Flair, Curt Hening,
Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat, Ole Anderson, Bob Backlund, Iron Sheik and
Blackjack Mulligan.

As one of the most influential players in the history of the pro wrestling business, Gagne will forever be remembered as the artist who painted a masterpiece that still shines bright today!

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