George Hackenschmidt was born in Dorpat, Estonia, in 1878 and lived in Russia much of his early life. He was known throughout Europe for his tremendous physique and strongman abilities, beginning at the age of 20. He set several world records in weightlifting and then became a professional wrestler. As a classical Greco-Roman wrestler, he was unbeatable. In that style, he won nearly 300 consecutive matches and several world tournaments.
In 1905, he came to America and defeated U.S. champion Tom Jenkins and was declared world heavyweight professional champion. Known as “The Russian Lion”, he ruled supreme until defeated by Frank Gotch in Chicago in 1908. Hackenschmidt retired from the ring in 1912, with a reputed record of nearly 2000 wins and only 5 losses! In the popular 1976 Book of Lists, he is rated as the second greatest professional wrestler of all time.
Hackenschmidt had the best physique anyone had ever seen at that time, and then became the most famous wrestler of the day. He also was a linguist and scholar. He spoke five languages and wrote a number of books. He once challenged Albert Einstein to debate the theory of relativity.
He died in 1968 in London at the age of 90.