Real name: Bronislaw Nagurski
Born in Rainy River, Ontario but spent most of his life living just across the U.S. border in International Falls, Minnesota. Hailed as one of the greatest football players of all time. Member of both the U.S. College Football Hall of Fame and the NFL Hall of Fame. Played college football for Minnesota from 1927-29 and pro for the NFL Chicago Bears from 1930-37 (with a comeback during the war in 1943).
As a wrestler, was a 3-time world heavyweight champion, defeating Dean Detton (1937), Lou Thesz (1939), and Ray Steele (1941). Stood 6'2" and weighed about 225. Nagurski wasn't respected much as a wrestler, and he returned that regard for the business, calling it "degrading" and "foolish" in later years.
Nagurski is a borderline entry into the Page of Fame, as he is really an American who happened to be born in Canada. I don't believe he was ever billed as a Canadian in his career.
"Bronko Nagurski, the 230-pound former Minnesota All-America fullback, since turned wrestler, today became an American citizen. The Big Bronk had spent all but a few weeks of his life in the United States, but the fact he was born just across the Canadian border near Rainy River barred him from enjoying privileges which the Bronk decided he could not do without. He received his final papers today."
(From ASSOCIATED PRESS, December 12, 1938)
"Bronko Nagurski has been an active champion. The former football star has been campaigning in California with considerable success. Nagurski took the measure of Sandor Szabo, one of the world's best wrestlers, three times since last summer. There can be no denying that though Nagurski may not look so good when against ordinary talent, he has the appearance of a real champion once he gets into the ring against a sturdy rival. Sandor was having much the better of the milling and had Nagurski well on the way to defeat, when Bronko let loose with a football tackle. So terrific was the blow that Sandor was hurled against the ring post where he banged his head and thereafter became easy prey for the champion."
(From THE RING, January 1939)
- World heavyweight champion, 1937
- 2-time NWA World champion, 1939-41