Immortalized: Professional Wrestling Monuments Around the World

Brian Damage

Statues and monuments are erected to honor an individual and educate people about who they are or were. They are usually only reserved for military, political and religious figures in global history. You may be surprised to know that professional wrestling has several statues and monuments that stand tall all over the world. Wrestlers who not only made their mark inside the squared circle, but outside of it as well. I am not talking about the statues that WWE created, like the one above that only gets dusted off and used during Wrestlemania weekends…but actual statues that honor and showcase true wrestling heroes everyday.

It’s not to say that the WWE statues aren’t important or hold any meaning, because they do in their own way….but the statues I am talking about are ones that were erected in various towns, villages and cities across the globe because that particular wrestler was so much more than just a wrestler but a hero of some kind.

Bruno Sammartino

Location: Pizzoferrato, Italy. (Bruno’s birthplace)

The statue honors Bruno Sammartino….the longest reigning WWWF/WWF/WWE world champion of all time. There is also a park in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area named after the wrestling legend.

Giant Baba

Location: Tokyo, Japan

A 23 foot statue of Baba German suplexing a car was erected in Tokyo. Shohei ‘Giant’ Baba was a legend in Japanese wrestling. A former NWA world champion (the very first Japanese wrestler to hold it) and founder of All Japan Pro Wrestling in 1972.

El Santo

Location: Tepito, Mexico City, Mexico

El Santo is Mexico’s most celebrated Lucha Libre star. A legend inside the ring and a superstar outside of it, having starred in several movies and television shows over his illustrious career.

Da Crusher

Location: South Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Reggie “Da Crusher” Lisowski was a beer chugging, cigar smoking wrestling tough guy. A former 3 time AWA world champion.

The Terrible Turk

Location: Cherna, Bulgaria

Yusuf Ismail aka ‘The Terrible Turk’ was a champion wrestler in Europe and the United States back in the 1800’s. A former American Heavyweight Champion…the forerunner to the World Heavyweight title. He died tragically aboard the SS La Bourgogne shipping disaster.

Frank Gotch

Location: Humboldt, Iowa

Frank Gotch was the very first American recognized world heavyweight champion and a wrestler who helped popularize the sport in the United States back in the early 1900’s.

Ivan Poddubny

Location: Yeysk, Russia

Ivan Poddubny nicknamed ‘Ivan the Great’ was a Russian strong man and wrestler whose career spanned over 40 years. A wrestler who remained undefeated his entire career.

Jack Veneno

Location: Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Jack Veneno is the Dominican Republic’s most popular wrestler. Veneno wrestled from the 1970’s until 2000. He defeated Ric Flair for the NWA world title in 1982, only for the title change not to be recognized by the National Wrestling Alliance.

Gustav Fristensky

Location: Litovel, Czech Republic

Gustav Fristensky was a Czech wrestler who competed in the early 1900’s wrestling over 10,000 matches in his career. He wrestled all over Europe, South and North America as well. His first match happened when he was just 19 years old and his last at 72 years old.

Dan Kolov

Location: Sennik, Bulgaria

Nicknamed ‘The Balkan Lion’ Dan Kolov was a self taught professional wrestler who competed in the 1920’s and 30’s. Perhaps Bulgaria’s most famous wrestler, Kolov was a former world heavyweight champion.

Danno O’Mahony

Location: Ballydehob, Ireland

Danno had a meteoric rise in popularity during the 1930’s. The Irish born wrestler won versions of the AWA world title and NWA (National Wrestling Association) world title respectively. His career was sadly cut short after a fatal car accident.

Steve Casey

Location: Sneem, County Kerry, Ireland

Steve ‘The Crusher’ Casey was an Irish born pro wrestler who competed in the 1930’s and 40’s. Casey was the second Irish born world heavyweight champion behind Danno O’Mahony beating Lou Thesz for a version of the AWA world title.

Rikidozan

Location: Ikegami, Japan

Rikidozan was a Korean born wrestler who holds the distinction of popularizing professional wrestling in Japan in the 1950’s. He is affectionately known as ‘The Father of Puroresu.’ Rikidozan was murdered by a member of the Japanese mafia known as the Yakuza in 1963.

Kurtdereli Mehmet Pehlivan

Location: Belikesir, Turkey

Kurtdereli Mehmet Pehlivan was a Turkish born wrestler who was undefeated during his career. He wrestled in his native Turkey, Great Britain, France, the Netherlands and the United States.

Nikola Petroff

Location: Gorna Oryahovitsa, Bulgaria

Nikola Petroff was a successful Bulgarian wrestler and trainer in the early 1900’s. Petroff only lost one match his entire career,

Danny Hodge

Location: Perry, Oklahoma

Danny Hodge is widely considered one of the greatest wrestlers in the world…both on the amateur and pro levels. Hodge was a 3 time NCAA champion, an Olympic Silver medalist and a seven time NWA Junior Heavyweight champion.

Hercules the Bear

Location: Isle of North Uist, Scotland

Hercules was used in countless wrestling matches in the United Kingdom during the 1970’s and 80’s. The bear would also star in TV commercials and movies.

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