Verne Gagne

Verne Gagne on Vimeo

Minnesota's Golden Age of Wrestling

Minnesota Broadcasting Hall of Fame

Verne Gagne

Inducted 2007

In the early days of television, perhaps nothing sold more TV sets than wrestling, and the greatest entrepreneur, and the greatest athlete in the history of the sport was Verne Gagne.  He won two NCAA wrestling championships and four Big 10 titles at the University of Minnesota in the 1940s. He wrestled for the 1948 US Olympic team and won the 1949 AAU championship.  He was also an all-conference football player. 

He first entered the ring as a professional wrestler in 1949, and soon was wrestling in Chicago every Saturday night on the DuMont Network.  He drew a record crowd when he headlined at Madison Square Garden in 1953, and until his retirement in the early 1980s, his record was second to none.

In 1960, he began producing All Star Wrestling, a one-hour program for the newly formed American Wrestling Association. Thanks to his promotional and business expertise, the show was eventually carried by 120 stations nationwide, nationally syndicated for 30 years, and even picked up by ESPN.

Actively involved in charitable work throughout his career, Verne Gagne was the athlete, entertainer, and broadcast pioneer who built the foundation of the modern wrestling entertainment industry.

Verne passed away April 27, 2015, at the age of 89.