James Raschke

Many Minnesotans watching television in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s remember Baron Von Raschke, the AWA professional wrestler, who claimed to represent Germany and would do the goosestep upon entering the ring.

He would then finish off his opponents with his famous "brain claw". One of his most memorable quotes was "Dat is all da people need to know!"

However, I bet most people do not realize this pro wrestler was also an accomplished amateur wrestler. Another famous quote from the Baron was "I am ORDERED to win! I MUST win!"

Well, James Raschke did plenty of that in his amateur wrestling career.

Raschke's success started as a Nebraska high school state wrestling champion at heavyweight for Omaha North High School in 1958. Raschke also played football at Omaha North and was a key member of their 1957 state championship football team.

Jim went on to wrestle at the University of Nebraska where he captured a 1962 Big Eight Conference championship.

After college, Raschke competed in freestyle and Greco-Roman and found even greater success.

He won a bronze medal at the 1963 World Championships in the heavyweight division, becoming only the second American wrestler to win a medal in Greco-Roman at the World Championships.

Raschke qualified for the 1964 United States Olympic team and winning AAU freestyle and Greco-Roman championships.

While serving in the United States Army, Raschke won the 1965 Worldwide Interservice Wrestling Championship.

After retiring from amateur wrestling, Raschke began his professional career as Baron von Raschke.

He enjoyed a long and successful pro wrestling career and held numerous individual and tag team titles during the 1970s and 1980s. He wrestled in the National Wrestling Alliance, the AWA and for WWWF, where his famous claw move was censored by a huge red 'X' during television broadcasts because of the blood it would draw when applied.

In 1978, he was recognized as the first NWA television champion. In 1986, Raschke wrestled for NWA's Jim Crocket Productions and reunited with former tag team partner Paul Jones, who was now a manager, as part of Paul Jones Army. He also filled in for the injured Krusher Khruschev, defending the NWA World Six-Man Tag Team Championship with Ivan and Nikita Koloff. Toward the end of his run he turned against Jones and teamed with Hector Guerro defeating the Barbarian, Sione Vailahi and Pez Whatley at Starrcade 86.

After teaming with Wahoo McDaniel at the 1987 Crockett Cup, he left the NWA. After a brief return stint to the AWA, feuding with Soldat Ustinov and Teijho Khan in late 1988, he went on to captain Baron's Blitzers during the ill-fated Team Challenge Series.

When the AWA folded, Raschke continued to wrestle for independent promotions, primarily in the Minnesota area, retiring in 1995 after a legends match at WCW's inaugural Slamboree for a legends reunion in 1993. He teamed with Ivan Koloff, losing to Thunderbolt Patterson and Brad Armstrong.

When not wrestling on the pro circuit, Raschke worked as a substitute teacher.

Upon retirement, he and his wife purchased and managed a souvenir and gift shop called The Wigwam in Lake George, Minnesota. They sold the shop in 2000.

In April, 2001, Jim began a several-week run at the Minnesota History Theatre in a play based around his life, persona and times in the AWA. The Baron details how a very mild-mannered and polite man created an in-ring gimmick that drew so much heat that he and his frequent tag-team wrestling partner and real life friend Mad Dog Vachon often had to fight their way out of the ring.

Raschke received his professional wrestling training from Hall of Famer Vern Gagne and Vachon.

His debut was in 1966 and he retired in 1995.

His ring names were Baron von Raschke, The Baron, The Clawmaster and Jim Raschke.

At 6'3" and 281 pounds, Jim was an intimidating figure for many pro wrestling fans.

As an amateur, Raschke has been honored with induction into the Nebraska Scholastic Wrestling Coaches Association in 1985, the National Wrestling Hall of Fame Dan Gable Museum's Alan and Gloria Rice Greco-Roman Hall of Champions in 2014 and now is honored as an Outstanding American by the Minnesota Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.

As a professional, Raschke was inducted in the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2013 and the National Wrestling Hall of Fame Dan Gable Museum's George Tragos/Lou Thesz Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2002.

The Raschkes include Jim and his wife, Bonnie, and their adult children, daughter Heidi and son Karl, and three grandchildren.

Jim and Bonnie reside in Hastings, Minnesota.


Outstanding American
Alan and Gloria Rice Greco - Roman Inductee
George Tragos and Lou Thesz Professional Wrestling Inductee

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