Ass-Kicking Athletes of Antiquity: Georg Hackenschmidt
Georg Hackenschmidt (no, we didn’t miss an E there, that’s just how he spelled his name, we know, it’s stupid) is arguably one of the greatest wrestlers of all time, why? Well some would say it’s the fact he won over 3000 fights in his life time, we’re saying it’s because he had the two things necessary to be considered kick-ass wrestler: a bitchin’ stage name and a finishing move. Hackenschmidt, along with earning the title of the “Russian Lion” was also credited with inventing the bear hug maneuver, because you literally cannot describe this man without it involving at least one large hairy animal capable of ripping your face off.
Born in 1878, Hackenschmidt grew his strength by continuously lifting heavy things until his biceps gained sentience and whispered to him in his sleep, urging him to try wrestling, is our version of events. However, history, being boring, says that Hackenschmidt’s interest in the fine art of powerslamming a guy till he pooped out his own spine was actually kindled when the awesomely named Count Ribeaupierre advised him to try it.
Hackenschmidt, realizing that heavy objects were satisfying to lift but did little in the way of screaming and fighting back, decided to pursue this avenue. By which we mean he found the best wrestler of his day and challenged him to open competition, nearly besting him on strength alone. That’s not jumping in at the deep end, that’s pissing in the shark tank and then trying to beat its occupants to death with a raw steak. But that’s just how Hackenschmidt rolled; his entire life was one handicap after another in a futile attempt to make the fight fair to everything else on earth with testicles.
He took part in a 40-day wrestling tournament and left it with 40 days worth of man tears on his chest and a stack of cash. He became the world heavyweight wrestling champion in less time it takes most people to make a character in The Sims, then decided to best someone else, purely so he could become the world’s first undisputed heavyweight champion.
But what makes Hackenschmidt truly impressive is how much he embodied what we expect from modern wrestlers in a time when anything less than dropkicking a man’s skull off would merely tickle him. As mentioned Hackenschmidt popularized the “bear hug” maneuver. What we didn’t mention is that he did so almost purely to show off to the crowd. We really should stress that these were actual, real competitions involving two men the size of refrigerators that were in no way staged, and Hackenschmidt was so cocksure of his ability to win, he literally invented the finishing move. You better believe if this guy had elbow pads he’d have done the people’s elbow, only his version would have probably included 30 backflips and pleasuring a female member of the crowd (hence the elbow pads, for her safety).
In fact, Hackenschmidt was one of the first wrestlers to note the importance of hyping up a crowd, which led him to perform feats of strength before his shows, by shows we mean Hackenschmidt singlehandedly beating the living piss out of anyone stupid enough to challenge him.
Hackenschmidt was also incredibly dedicated to developing the body’s most important muscle (not that one you filthy animal): his brain, being noted as an incredibly serious philosopher. Meaning Hackenschmidt could not only rip out your spine and whip your kneecaps off with it, he could do so while posing philosophical quandaries so complex your brain melted into a pool of white-hot goo.
But we haven’t even come close to the best part till now: remember where we said Hackenschmidt had 3000 wins? Well, he only has 2 recorded losses, both to Frank Gotch, the supposed greatest wrestler of all time, despite the fact we’ve already discussed a far more awesome guy. If only losing to one of the finest wrestlers in history isn’t impressive enough, Gotch and Hackenschmidt had a bona fide feud. Yep, decades before wrestlers were slinging each other sick burns over Twitter, Hackenschmidt was already doing that with a guy capable of breaking an ordinary man’s neck with his eyebrows.
After his second loss to Gotch, Hackenschmidt retired from wrestling forever. Though not before capitalizing on his fame by selling a heap of books. Meaning that Hackenschmidt even knew how to sell out like a pro years before it was cool. Truly the hipster of the wrestling world. Kudos, Georg, if there’s one thing we respect, it’s making money from manly things.
Karl Smallwood is a freelance comedy writer you can hire! His work has been featured on Cracked, Toptenz and Gunaxin. You should probably click those links to make sure he isn’t lying. He also runs his own website where he responds to the various pieces of hate-mail he’s gotten over the years, in fact, he got so much hate-mail that he wrote a book about it that you can buy on Amazon. When he isn’t writing, Karl also Tweets and uploads pictures of himself drinking on Facebook.
Karl knows badass; he’s Man Cave’s official chronicler of the Ass-Kicking Athletes of Antiquity, like Porphyrios the charioteer (and spree killer!) and the infinitely more respectable Abraham Lincoln.