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The cold hands of death has once more strike the pro wrestling family again, this time it’s hands rested on Former AWA World Champion and legendary promoter Otto Wanz has passed away. He was 74.

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Briefly running through Wanz’s details, we dare note that he was born in Austria in 1943, began wrestling professionally in 1968 following a stellar amateur career. He would hold numerous titles across Europe in his early years and would compete against the likes of future legends such as Vader (then known as Bull Power).

King Kong Bundy, and Andre the Giant (who respected Wanz enough to not only let Wanz bodyslam him, but pin him).

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In August of 1982, Wanz faced AWA World Champion Nick Bockwinkel in St. Paul, MN, and won the title – with a suplex. A long standing rumor in the wrestling world is that Wanz – who was also already a very successful promoter in Europe at that point – paid a hefty sum of money in exchange for holding the world championship. In any case, Wanz dropped the title back to Bockwinkel two months later.
The heart of the matter

The cause of Wanz’s death hasn’t been released publicly as of yet, although Austrian media has been reporting that it occurred following a “short, serious illness.”

Condolences via Twitter have been coming in from around the wrestling world.

Any wrestler who made their name in the 1990s and worked in Europe for any stretch of time probably worked with Wanz at some point or another.

Even Arnold Schwartzenegger, a fellow Austrian, considered Wanz an inspiration during his body building/weight lifting days (the weightlifting part, more than likely – Wanz wasn’t exactly what you’d call “chiseled”). He’s a part of wrestling history and, according to those who knew him, he was a pretty nice man, as well. Our condolences go out to his family and friends.

In tribute to Wanz, here is a 1989 match between him and Vader.