Newfoundland’s Sailor White Wrestles 30 Minutes with Austrian Strongman Otto Wanz (1981)
In an industry where the average life expectancy of a performer falls between 45 and 54 years of age, making it to 74 is no small feat for a professional wrestler. Even for some of the veterans of the squared circle who were able to maneuver their way into senior status, it is especially rare for the heart of a “big man” competitor like Austrian wrestling legend Otto Wanz to withstand a lifetime of strain on a 375lb frame.
Perhaps it was because the decorated and accomplished wrestler, boxer, strongman and business mogul didn’t party like a rock star in his heyday, or maybe it is because his natural strength didn’t require debilitating supplementation to maintain a superhuman physique. It could always boil down to just a touch of good genetics and a sure stroke of luck. Either way, Mr. Wanz came out of his catch bout of life with a much higher ranking than most of his heavyweight contemporaries.
One of those heavyweight contemporaries who didn’t achieve the same kismet is Newfoundland’s own Sailor White. White, the feared 330lb heel who struck fear into opponents across the globe, only made it to 56 before his early death in 2005. The sheer intimidating size is not the only thing Wanz and White had in common, as the two international mammoths once met face-to-face in a European wrestling rules match for the Catch Wrestling Association Heavyweight Championship in Graz, Austria in 1981.
The Catch Wrestling Association was ran by Otto Wanz himself and abided by traditional European rules which, contrary to the popularized format of American wrestling, saw each match divided into rounds, and could be won by a knockout. Wanz and the CWA had a working relationship with both New Japan Pro Wrestling and the American Wrestling Association which saw a fruitful exchange of shared talent from around the world. It was through this program that Wanz achieved his most commemorated North American notoriety with his appearances with the AWA, such as a 1982 AWA Heavyweight Championship matchup with Nick Bockwinkel.
Aside from his accomplished history in the squared circle, Otto Wanz also dabbled in amateur boxing, amateur wrestling, and setting world records for tearing phonebooks in half.
The Austrian homeland hero took the victory over Sailor White in 1981 as the referee stopped the fight at the rounded 30 minute mark in favour of Otto Wanz. The match is particularly notable as one of the longest battles of Sailor White’s career, and perhaps his only loss by TKO. Sailor’s North American matches were typically brief, and usually ended in an unpredictable cloud of chaos. To see two men of this size lumber through a longwinded slugfest is a sight much more accustom to traditional German and Austrian catch wrestling, so its safe to say that Sailor was sailing waters outside of his element.
You can watch all rounds of Otto Wanz colliding with Sailor White here in four parts: