It’s being reported that Otto Wanz, former AWA World Champion and legendary wrestling promoter in Germany and Austria has passed away at the age of 74. Wanz had been suffering from a short, serious health problem before his death.
Born on June 13, 1943, in Nestelbach, Austria, Wanz was a boxer before he became a professional wrestler. He won two Austrian championships in his 100+ fights before turning to a wrestling career.
As an amateur, he was Austrian Champion in the freestyle division before an offer to turn pro came in. He would enter a tournament in 1968 in Austria, and in 1972, he won his first pro wrestling tournament. A German promoter then put Wanz in the European Title picture, and Wanz would go on to hold that title often throughout his career.
In 1977, Wanz would win the CWA Title from Jan Wilkens in South Africa. He would hold that title on and off for years before dropping it to Vader in March of 1987.
Wanz worked in Japan on a regular basis, along with his work in Europe and South Africa, but he rarely worked in the US…until the match that would put him on the map on an international scale in the pro wrestling world.
His biggest career highlight came in 1982 when he (shockingly) won the AWA World Title from Nick Bockwinkel in St. Paul on August 29th. There were rumors that Wanz had paid Verne Gagne for the win, but that rumor was never confirmed. Bockwinkel would take the title back on October 9th in Chicago.
Wanz would retire from in-ring competition in 1990, focusing instead on promoting in Germany and Austria. He would remain an active wrestling promoter until he retired in 2000.
After his retirement, he was still a big name in his home country, appearing in commercials, acting in films, and having profiles done of him on Austrian television.
Our thoughts go out to Otto Wanz’s friends and family during this time.