Gene Kiniski began his wrestling career as an amateur in his native Edmonton , Canada , and became one of the most physical wrestlers to ever win the world heavyweight championship.
As a Canadian amateur, he won four Provincial championships and then moved to Arizona to become and AAU champion. He played defensive tackle on the University of Arizona football team and was drafted by the Los Angeles Rams of the NFL. He opted for a Canadian Football League contract instead, and played two seasons in the CFL before giving it up to wrestle full time as a professional.
At a height of six feet five inches and weight close to 280 pounds, Kiniski was one of the biggest stars in wrestling history. He won the NWA world heavyweight title from Lou Thesz on January 6, 1966 , and held it for nearly three years. He was also AWA world champion and Missouri State champ.