Otto Wanz, Former AWA Champion, Dead At 74

Otto Wanz, an Austrian wrestler, bodybuilder, and strongman who once held the AWA World Champion has passed away at age 74. Wanz began wrestling in Germany and Europe before coming to the United States in the early 80s. During a tour of the United States, Wanz defeated legendary AWA champion Nick Bockwinkel for the title, only to lose it again over a month later.

Wanz pioneered the use of the senton cannon ball that is used today by Kevin Owens and other big wrestlers. He also bodyslammed Andre the Giant!

Otto Wanz’s Career and Legacy

Beyond being a wrestler, Wanz was also a renowned bodybuilder and strongman who held numerous records and was famous for tearing up phone books. Arnold Swartzenegger sites Wanz as an inspiration for his bodybuilding career. His promotion, Catch Wrestling Association, dominated wrestling in continental Europe for decades. Talent from America and Japan competed in Wanz’s tournaments.

Some famous CWA alum: Fit Finley, JBL, Chris Benoit, Lance Storm, Scott Hall, Chris Jericho, and Vader.

Here’s more on Wanz’s life and career via PWInsider.

As a wrestler, he was often facing off with larger monsters in the ring including Don Leo Jonathan, Andre the Giant (who he did bodyslam during an era where that was not common), the future Yokozuna, and towards the end of his career, Bull Power aka Big Van Vader.

In 1982, Wanz defeated Nick Bockwinkel for the AWA World championship, having a short run of 6 weeks with the belt in a move that was obviously made to reinforce his importance in Europe as a star. For decades, the rumor and innuendo has been that Wanz paid AWA owner Verne Gagne for the run.

Do you remember Wanz? Share your thoughts in the comments below.