(As many of you know, I live in Iowa and used to live in Waterloo, home of the Dan Gable International Wrestling Institute and Museum. The annual George Tragos/Lou Thesz Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame inductions take place the weekend of July 10-11, and this is the latest press release, naming more honorees for various awards. The full list of inductees is at the bottom of this release. If there’s any chance you’ll be in the area, let me know and we can throw down some beers, you can see my bassist and I play an acoustic set on Saturday night, and then we can throw down some more beers! -Eric)
Three More to be Honored at Pro Hall of Fame Event
Three distinguished members of the professional wrestling community – Ivan Koloff, Mike Mooneyham and Bill Kersten – will be honored with special awards at the 2009 Inductions Weekend at the George Tragos/Lou Thesz Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame event. Activities will take place the weekend of July 10-11, at the Dan Gable International Wrestling Institute and Museum, where the pro hall of fame is located.
Ivan Koloff (aka James Perras) will receive the 2009 Frank Gotch Award, which is presented annually to a former professional wrestler who brings considerable recognition to the sport by his or her activities outside the ring. A born-again Christian, Koloff and his wife, Renae, live in Winterville, N.C. He is active with various charities and as a minister.
James Perras was raised on a dairy farm in Crysler, Ontario, Canada, and became a fan of professional wrestling as a boy. He had his first match at age 18 and in 1967, at age 25, he became Ivan Koloff, “The Russian Bear.” Over the next three decades, he toured the world, winning numerous titles. The highlight came in 1971 when he captured the WWWF world championship from Bruno Sammartino. He moved on to the NWA for a long and successful run, capturing more titles, including half of the world tag team championships. He continued for years afterwards on the independent circuit.
Ivan also helped train his “nephew,” Nikita Koloff, and the pair became a very successful tag team partnership. Nikita was given the Frank Gotch Award in 2006.
Mike Mooneyham, a best-selling author and veteran journalist with The Post and Courier newspaper in Charleston, S.C., is the winner of the 2009 Jim Melby Award for excellence in writing on professional wrestling. Bill Kersten of Kansas City will receive the Lou Thesz World Heavyweight Championship Award, given for meritorious public service.
Mooneyham began covering pro wrestling in the mid-1960s as a correspondent and writer for a number of national wrestling magazines and sports publications. He has been with The Post and Courier since January 1979, and has been writing the weekly Sunday wrestling column for The Post and Courier for 20 years. It has been in continuous publication longer than any other in the country
A former radio wrestling talk show host, Mooneyham is a frequent guest on sports talk shows throughout the country and has interviewed many of the industry’s most influential figures of the past half century. In 2002, he co-authored the New York Times best-seller “Sex, Lies and Headlocks: The Real Story of Vince McMahon and the WWF.”
Bill Kersten attended his first wrestling event, with his dad in Memorial Hall, in 1941, and began ushering at wrestling events in 1947. He began working as a public address announcer in 1956.
In 1965, he began his television career as a play-by-play announcer 1965, and the next year initiated his famed “Hellloooooooooooooo, wrestling fans” salutation. He continued his TV role for 17 years, and still works with Harley Race on his spot shows. He is a host of a radio talk show called “Circle of Friends” in the Kansas City area.
Away from wrestling, Kersten has donated thousands of hours to various civic and community groups. He was a city councilman in Liberty, Missouri, from 1981-85, and served as mayor from 1995-1997. He was a Clay County commissioner from 1986-1990 and has been a trustee on the Clay County Board of Public Health since 2001.
He served on the board of directors of the Kansas City Leukemia Society for five years, and as a CPR instructor trainer with Red Cross for eight years. He has been a chamber of commerce volunteer for 26 years and is a member of such groups as Rotary, Sertoma, the American legion and the Kansas City Jaycees. He was named the Clay County Citizen of the year in 2000.
The six inductees into the hall of fame that weekend will be Nick Bockwinkel, Ricky Steamboat, Fritz Von Goering, Bronko Nagurski, Luther Lindsay and Karl Gotch.
Tickets for the banquet, to be held Saturday night, July 11, are $60 and must be ordered by July 2. Seating is limited. For more information, call Kent Sesker, marketing director, at 319-233-0745.
Friday, July 10
9 a.m. – Museum opens (until 7 p.m.)
Noon – Celebrity Golf Tournament at Irv Warren Golf Course.
7 p.m. – Night of the Legends wrestling card at Young Arena
Saturday, July 11
9 a.m. – Museum opens (until 5 p.m.)
Noon – Official Inductions at Museum
1 p.m. – Fan Festival at museum (until 5 p.m.)
7 p.m. – Banquet at Five Sullivans Brothers Center (tickets are $60 and must be purchased by July 2
Sunday, July 12
9 a.m. – Museum opens (until noon)