Mahmout caused an uproar when he entered the ring barefoot as was the custom in his native Bulgaria. The Gotch camp protested, believing it was a ploy to avoid Gotch’s vicious toe hold. The referee ruled in Mahmout’s favor and the match commenced as originally intended… it turned out to be a moot point with the American champion throwing the Bulgarian twice inside of seventeen minutes.
The greatest pro wrestling match ever held is undoubtedly on April 3rd, 1908 when the Frank Gotch and George “The Russian Lion” Hackenschmidt stepped in the ring to face each other after years of build-up. The undefeated Hackenschmidt was favored to win but after two hours of grappling, he finally submitted to an ankle lock by the American Champion Gotch. The match took place at Chicago’s Dexter Park Pavilion. The referee (middle, above) was Ed Smith.
Gotch and Hackenschmidt would face each other once again on September 4, 1911, this time at Comiskey Park stadium in front of 30,000 fans. Gotch won the rematch in two straight falls and would go on to hold the heavyweight title until he retired in 1913.