Hans Schmidt

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Hans Schmidt inspired mixed feelings but that was his purpose. Every sport needs its heroes and villains and professional wrestling needs them more than most. To connect with the crowd by having an emotional link is one of the most attributes of any professional athlete and Hans Schmidt was able to accomplish that very easily.

Except that Hans Schmidt wasn’t Hans Schmidt. His real name was Guy Larose and he was born in 1925 and died in 2012 so he had a long life by professional wrestling standards which are notorious for shortening the lifespan of its stars. At the height of his career, he was involved in as many as 8 matches a week and this doesn’t count all the travel and promotional work that comes with being a professional wrestler. It was around the midwest and the Great Lakes region where he found his biggest notoriety.

Having fought an incredibly brutal war against the Nazis in W.W.2., both Canada and the U.S. weren’t big fans of German athletes after the war. This is where the story becomes interesting because Guy Larose was from Joliette, Quebec and he simply wasn’t German in any way except for his character. This character was the evil villain who is now known as the heel in professional wrestling. The job of the heel is to be hated and to rile the audience. Often they’re portrayed as evil foreigners who are pitted against local wrestlers who are seen as wholesome and patriotic who are defending the honor of the country.

For that purpose, the moniker of Hans Schmidt was The Teuton Terror. For that purpose, Hans Schmidt was often seen to be breaking the rules. The wrestlers who were pitted against him said that he really did wrestle hard in the ring which is known as working stiff. He wasn’t soft with his boots and he earned certain notoriety with his fellow wrestlers. The nickname that the other wrestlers used for him were Footsie which had nothing to do with the movie but everything to do with his love of kicking his opponents. Wrestling is only fake up to a certain degree.

At other times during his career, he was billed as Guy Rose or Roy Asselin. What didn’t change was his height and weight. Weighing at 250 pounds (113 kg) and being 6 ft 4 in (193 cm) tall he wasn’t the biggest wrestler and he certainly looked like he could’ve spent more time in the gym because his physique wasn’t the most impressive. To top it all off. He had a bald head which made him look meaner and to complement this he wore a helmet into the ring to get the crowd offside. Other wrestlers of the era such as Karl von Hess and Ludwig von Krupp fed into this genre as well. Hans Schmidt indulged in Nazi salutes and this is certainly a distasteful black mark on his professional wrestling career.

The level of hatred that this inspired was astronomical. It was only in 1951 when the promoter Paul Bowser in Boston thought up the idea of turning him into a German did his persona develop. What made the hatred so intense was that this was the first era of T.V. so bad news traveled fast. Soon fans from around Canada and the U.S. hated him and he would have women stick hairpins in him and men would push their cigarette butts into him as well. Often ice picks were used on his car’s tires which he had parked outside the venue.

As was common in the era, elaborate finishing maneuvers were Hans Schmidt’s were the backbreaker and the piledriver. As is still the case today, the good guy escaped on the count of 2 which allowed the match to continue. Some of these good guys were the ‘’Nature Boy’’ Buddy Rogers, Lou Thesz, Verne Gagne, Antonino Rocca, and ‘’Whipper’’ Billy Watson. But these matches were so notorious that Milwaukee briefly banned professional wrestling because of the trouble it caused. Wrestling though had found its mark and still remains remarkably popular today by making an effort to connect with the fans on an emotional basis. Too many sports are sterile because they seek to be professional rather than an enjoyable experience for the fans.

Of course, it was all an act. He couldn’t speak German and he never indicated any political affiliation with the Nazis. But he kept the act up and made people believe otherwise which resulted in one of the more successful wrestling careers. At one stage he said ‘’Of course I’m from Germany. Dou think I’d go on television and say things that weren’t true?’’

Nick Hanlon

I'm an Aussie interested in topical issues.

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  1. John Reynold Loberiza

    I used to watch professional wrestling, but considering the date he was born, I think he was already retired by then.