Steamboat to miss 2009 Hall of Fame

Reported by Adam Martin of
On Monday, July 6, 2009 at 9:48 AM EST

The following was issued on

Steamboat to miss big event

Ricky Steamboat, an inductee for the Class of 2009 of the George Tragos/Lou Thesz Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame, will not be able to attend the event, it was announced today.

“We received word from Ricky last week that he is scheduled to be in Japan working for the WWE during the time our event is going on and can’t come to Waterloo,” said Mike Chapman, executive director. “Of course, we were very disappointed to hear that and we have been working hard to try and get him here, but it’s just not going to work out.”

“I talked to Ricky several times as we tried to work something out and he was disappointed,” said Kent Sesker, marketing director, “especially adding the fact that his son, Ricky Jr., is scheduled to wrestle on the Harley Race WLW card Friday night at Young Arena. “It’s just one of those unfortunate situations.”

Attendance at the event is one of the requirements to being inducted, said Chapman, and all honorees are told that at the time they are informed they have been voted in. But, some times situations change and they simply can’t come.
“That’s the nature of the business,” said Chapman.

Of the 23 living inductees, only two previous inductees have not been able to attend. Jack Brisco, Class of 2001, was stopped by a severe illness. He was on a phone hookup for the event and spoke to the crowd. And in 2005, Antonio Inoki could not come from Japan at the last moment.

“We will have a great event with Nick Bockwinkel and Fritz von Goering here for the inductions, and with Ivan Koloff accepting the Frank Gotch Award,” said Sesker. “Also, Bill Kersten, a legendary ring announcer and radio talk show host from the Kansas City area, will accept the Lou Thesz World Heavyweight Championship Award, and Mike Mooneyham, sports writer and columnist from Charleston, N.C., will receive the Jim Melby Excellence in Writing Award.

In addition, Charlie Thesz, widow of the hall of fame’s namesake, will be at her 11th consecutive inductions. A video of Lou, made by legendary filmmaker David Wolper (of “Roots” and “The Thorn birds” fame) will be shown in the museum throughout the day, along with a 2008 video produced on the life of Frank Gotch.

Hall of famers who have announced they will be at the event over the weekend include:

• Dan Hodge, Class of 2000, and the only man to ever win national titles in both boxing and wrestling; he will be signing copies of his new book, “Oklahoma Shooter: Than Dan Hodge Story;
• Harley Race, Class of 2005 and eight-time NWA world heavyweight champion;
• Baron Von Raschke, Class of 2002, great star of the 1970s and ‘80s, who was third in the World as an amateur wrester;
• Bob Geigel, Class of 2002, former wrestling star and legendary Kansas City promoter;
• Mad Dog Vachon, Class of 2003; a former Canadian national amateur champion who wrestled in the 1948 Olympics before becoming a pro icon;
• Larry “The Axe” Henning, Class of 2006 and father of the late Curt “Mr. Perfect” Hennig, Class of 2007.

The activities begin with a Celebrity Golf Tournament at noon Friday, at Irv Warren Golf Course in Waterloo. The WLW show is Friday at Young Arena, beginning at 7 p.m., and tickets are still available.

“Young Arena is a great facility for a pro wrestling show, with seating for about 1,500,” said Sesker. “This is the third year for the event and it is very popular with the fans.”

The museum opens at 9 a.m. both Friday and Saturday. The official inductions are slated for noon Saturday in the museum with a fan reception to follow. Admission is the normal $6 for adults and $3 for students, with kids six and under free.

The induction banquet will be held at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Sullivan Brothers Convention Center just two blocks from the museum. Tickets are $60 and must be purchased by July 7, at 5 p.m. Call 319-233-0745 to place an order. Banquet tickets include a free Class of 2009 program and admission to the museum all weekend long.

The museum gift shop has many pro wrestling items for sale, including the new book on Dan Hodge and various other books and videos, as well as a new line of hooded sweat shirts with the name “Gotch” on them.

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