WATERLOO, Iowa – The National Wrestling Hall of Fame Dan Gable Museum announced that it has finalized the Class of 2021 for the George Tragos/Lou Thesz Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame induction weekend, scheduled for July 15-17.
The Class of 2021 is Adnan Al-Kassie (Living Inductee), Don Kernodle (Living Inductee), Earl Wampler (Posthumous Inductee), Trish Stratus (Lou Thesz World Heavyweight Championship Award), Mark Henry (Frank Gotch Award), and Ken Shamrock (George Tragos Award).
It was also announced that legendary wrestling announcer Gordon Solie will be the inaugural recipient of the Gordon Solie Award, which will be presented annually for outstanding achievement in professional wrestling broadcasting. Gordon’s son, Jonard, will accept the award on behalf of Gordon, who passed away in 2000.
The 2021 recipient of the Jim Melby Award, presented annually to a journalist or historian who has advanced professional wrestling through their writing, will be announced at a later date. It is named in honor of James C. Melby, a noted professional wrestling journalist and publisher who was the inaugural recipient of the award in 2006.
Distinguished guests scheduled to attend include Dan Gable, Gerry Brisco, Sgt. Slaughter, JJ Dillon, Brian Blair, Tony Atlas, Bob Orton Jr., Luke Williams, Tony Garea, Kevin Sullivan, Mike Rotundo, James Beard, Colt Cabana, Brian Pillman Jr., Wes Brisco, Jim Miller, Madman Fulton, Dominic Garrini, Gary Jay, Jeremy Wyatt, Red Velvett, Heather Monroe, Miranda Gordy, and Charlie Thesz.
All-Access passes are available for $130 through May 31. Prices will increase after May 31.
All-Access passes provide entry to all events, including the Hall of Fame banquet, a ringside seat for the Impact Pro Wrestling show (while available), the kickoff social, and preferred entree at the autograph session. All-Access passes can be purchased at (319) 233-0745. For more information, please email email@example.com.
“We are very excited to honor this year’s class,” said Gerry Brisco, 2005 inductee and president of the selection committee. “This is the most fan friendly event of its kind, and we encourage all prior attendees to bring a friend in 2021!”
George Tragos/Lou Thesz Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame Class of 2021
Adnan Al-Kassie (Living Inductee) competed in wrestling at Oklahoma State University. Following his amateur career, he transitioned into the pro ranks and competed around the world for three decades. He wrestled under the name “Billy White Wolf” in the WWWF, where he held the World Tag Team Championships. Al-Kassie then competed under his real name in Championship Wrestling from Florida, the AWA, New Japan, and the WWF, where he managed his former rival, Sgt. Slaughter. His career has been captured in his book, The Sheik of Baghdad: Tales of Celebrity and Terror from Pro Wrestling’s General Adnan.
Don Kernodle (Living Inductee) wrestled for Elon College where he was a four-time letter winner. After answering an open challenge with Tragos/Thesz Hall of Famer Bob Roop, Kernodle began training for a career in professional wrestling. Kernodle competed primarily in the Mid-Atlantic territory, where he won the NWA World Tag Team Championship with Sgt. Slaughter, Bob Orton Jr., and Ivan Koloff. Following his wrestling career, Kernodle entered a career in law enforcement.
Earl Wampler (Posthumous Inductee) moved to Iowa from Pennsylvania when he was 15 years old and became a professional wrestler shortly after arriving. Earning a reputation as a hard-working, well-conditioned athlete, Wampler became a mentor to a young Lou Thesz and was instrumental in shaping him during his formative years. When World War II began, Wampler joined the United States Marines and trained troops in judo in Virginia. He wrestled in Madison Square Garden and in Mexico City and was one of the early pioneers of televised wrestling before retiring in 1952. He was the Iowa Light Heavyweight and Heavyweight Champion during a career that spanned 40 years.
Mark Henry (Frank Gotch Award) was a national powerlifting champion in high school in Texas. He soon became accomplished in the Olympic style of weightlifting and competed in the Olympics in 1992 and 1996. In weightlifting and powerlifting, he has won numerous medals, national and world titles and still holds several records in both sports. Henry was then signed by the WWE® and made his wrestling debut in 1996. He competed for the next 21 years and held various titles, including becoming WWE® World Heavyweight Champion in 2011. He was inducted into the WWE® Hall of Fame in 2018. He currently works behind the scenes for WWE®. Named for Gotch, who was inducted as a member of the TNT Hall of Fame’s Charter Class in 1999, the award recognizes wrestlers who, through their athleticism and toughness in the ring, brought a higher level of respect to professional wrestling from both inside and outside the business.
Growing up a professional wrestling fan in her native Canada, Trish Stratus (Lou Thesz Award) began her career as a fitness model and then began working for the World Wrestling Federation (WWF), which was later renamed World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). She was a WWE Hardcore Champion, a three-time WWE Babe of the Year and was proclaimed Diva of the Decade. After nearly seven years in the business, Stratus retired from wrestling full-time on September 17, 2006 at WWE Unforgiven, where she won her record-setting seventh WWE Women’s Championship. She was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2013. . After retiring, Stratus opened a yoga studio in Toronto, and has received many awards from the Toronto business community. Named for Thesz, who was inducted as a member of the TNT Hall of Fame’s Charter Class in 1999, the award recognizes those in the professional wrestling industry who have used their skills in the realm of public service.
Ken Shamrock (George Tragos Award) made his professional wrestling debut in 1988 and began competing in Japan in the early 1990s, where he became a pioneer in what would become mixed martial arts. He competed in the Pancrase promotions and Ultimate Fighting Championships simultaneously and helped increase the interest and visibility of both entities. Shamrock won the inaugural UFC Superfight Championship, which later became the UFC Heavyweight Championship, by defeating Dan Severn at UFC 6. He became the first foreign MMA Champion in Japan when he won the King of Pancrase title in 1994 and he captured the Grand Prix Finals in 2000. His success in the UFC brought him to the WWF in the late 1990s and he has held numerous professional wrestling titles, including the NWA World Title and the WWE Intercontinental Championship. Shamrock has continued to compete in both professional wrestling and mixed martial arts. He was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame in the Charter Class of 2003 with Royce Gracie. Named for Tragos, who was inducted as a member of the TNT Hall of Fame’s Charter Class in 1999, the award is presented to an exceptionally competitive wrestler who adapted his or her wrestling skills and competitive nature to excel in mixed martial arts.
George Tragos/Lou Thesz Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame Induction Weekend Schedule (To Be Finalized – March 2021)
Thursday, July 15
Evening pizza social at Dan Gable Museum followed by pro wrestling team trivia contest
Friday, July 16
Afternoon and evening Impact Pro Wrestling shows with live podcast between shows.
Saturday, July 17
Morning and afternoon roundtable discussions and autograph signing at Dan Gable Museum
Evening Hall of Fame induction banquet