Morning News Tribune – December 17, 1917
DES MOINES, Ia. — Frank A. Gotch, retired champion heavyweight wrestler of the world, died at noon yesterday at his home, Humboldt, Ia., of uremic poisoning. He had been in failing health for more than a year.
Gotch was 41 years old. The record books, detailing the events of his life, give his age as 39 years, but these are inaccurate. He was born on April 27, 1876, on a farm three miles south of Humboldt.
He is survived by his widow, a 4-year-old son, Robert Gotch; a brother, Fred Gotch; a sister, Mrs. Charlie Kurth of Humboldt, and his mother, Mrs. Amelia Gotch, also a resident of Humboldt.
His wife and son were at his bedside when death came. It is said that the famous athlete was conscious almost up to the time of his death, despite the rumors during the past two months that he was irrational part of the time.
The first intimation that his health was not good came to him in the summer of 1916 when he was making a tour of the country with a well known circus (Sells Floto) as a test to see whether he should sign articles for a match with Joe Stecher of Dodge, Neb., who had won the title from Charlie Cutler of Chicago. Gotch had declared Cutler the American champion upon his retirement.
Gotch had been with the circus wrestling with Bob Managoff, Earl Caddock and others, only a short time when he was compelled to return to his home because of stomach trouble. He never regained his health fully, although he later rejoined the circus, being compelled to leave it again when he injured his ankle.
The discoveries the champion made regarding his condition that summer caused him to abandon all plans of a match with Stecher.
The following winter Gotch became no better and during the cold months went to Hot Springs, Ark. He returned home last spring, but gradually lost strength and became weaker. Early in October he went to Chicago on his way to a southern resort, but became seriously ill in a Chicago hotel. He was removed to a hospital, where he was kept until early in November, when he was brought back to his home.
Gotch built up a fortune in wrestling and by investing his earnings in Iowa farm lands. His estate is variously estimated at between $200,000 and $400,000, all of which represents money made through his ability as a wrestler.
Gotch won the American championship January 27, 1904, from Tom Jenkins after one of the roughest matches ever seen in this country. The bout was staged at Bellingham, Wash.
Four years later the Humboldt man won the undisputed championship of the world by defeating George Hackenschmidt, the “Russian Lion,” at the Dexter Park Pavilion, Chicago, in a forfeited match after two hours of grueling wrestling.