Born May 10, 1923 , on a farm near Minneapolis, Verne Gagne was a great all-around athlete. At the University of Minnesota , he won four Big Ten Conference wrestling titles, was a two-time NCAA wrestling champion, was an alternate on 1948 Olympic team and was an all-star football player.
Gagne spurned professional football to wrestle as a pro, and was an immediate star. He won the NWA World Junior Heavyweight title in a tournament in Tulsa , and then moved up to the heavyweight ranks. He and television were made for each other, and he became one of the best known athletes in America through the 1950s and ’60s.
Gagne founded AWA and became its greatest champion. He also served as promoter, co-starred with Ed Asner in the movie “The Wrestler” and helped many amateur wrestlers break into the professional ranks. His son, Greg, was a world tag team champion.