When it came time to pick the winner of the first-ever Frank Gotch Award, the name Bobby Managoff was the perfect choice.
The Frank Gotch Award is given annually to a wrestler who was a great athlete in the ring and helped make the sport more popular by his actions outside the ring.
“Bobby was a terrific wrestler and is a top-class guy all the way,” said Lou Thesz. “Not only that, but his father actually traveled with Frank Gotch and knew him well. This is a great way to start this award, by selecting Bobby Managoff.
“Managoff had his first pro match in 1936 at the age of 18. He estimates he wrestled over 4,000 matches during his 30-year ring career, travelling the U.S.
“I wrestled most of the top stars,” said Managoff. “When you wrestled guys like Lou Thesz, Jim Londos and Verne Gagne, you also learned a lot. It was great experience.”The highlight of Managoff’s career came in Houston in 1941 when he defeated Yvon Robert to win the world NWA heavyweight title. He and Robert engaged in a series of sold-out matches after the title switch.
Bobby also credits his father, Bob Managoff (real name Manoogian) and the Dusek Brothers for teaching him much of his wrestling.
“The Duseks were really something,” said Mangoff. “Man, were they rough. And they could also wrestle!”Bob Managoff Sr. and Gotch worked together for a year with the Sells-Floto Circus in 1916, a year before Gotch fell sick and died.”My dad told me lots of stories about Gotch,” said Managoff. “Dad really liked him and thought he was a great man.