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Hans Mortier (1928-2010)

Real NameJacob “Jaap” Grobbe

Lifespan - 1/28/1928 - 12/15/2010

6’3” 255 lbs. - Tacoma, WA

Athletic BackgroundBodybuilding, Wrestling

Teacher(s) - n/a

AliasesDutch Howlett, French Zorra, Hedley Howlett, Jungle Boy Howlett, Tarzan Howlett, Great Zorra, Tarzan Howlett, Great Zorro, Dutch Zorro, Great Mortier, Mighty Zorro, Zorro, Lord Charles Montague, Sir Charles Montague, Mr. X, Dr. X

Peak Years1960s

Place in HistoryBruno Sammartino was the great hero in the Northeast for the better part of two decades and he lists his favorite opponents, he always mentions Hans Mortier.  While Mortier might not be as well-remembered as Killer Kowalski, Gorilla Monsoon or George “The Animal” Steele, he was crucial to the early success of Sammartino.  The legend goes that the Dutchman stole a serviceman’s papers and snuck into the United States after World War II using the alias Dutch Howlett. When his marriage fell apart, his wife turned him and he was forced to leave the country.  He wrestled abroad under several guises (usually playing off of Tarzan or Zorro) before returning to the States for his biggest run in the WWWF. In 1963, Bruno Sammartino had just won the World title and was needing to establish himself.  The Dutchman become a German with the unusual prop of a leather aviator’s helmet and an iron stomach that he used to flex while no-selling blows from his opponents. Adding to the drama of his matches, Hans Mortier used his impressive physique to devastate opponents with his Guillotine hold (full nelson) and his manager Wild Red Berry needed to pry his hands apart after his opponent had submitted.  The rivalry drew strongly at Madison Square Garden and was key in establishing Sammartino as a star as well as a strongman when he broke out of Mortier’s hold. He brought in “brother” Max to help him out and freshen up his act for a while longer. From there, Mortier worked in Hawaii, Japan and back in Europe. Mortier came back to the WWWF in 1967, this time billed as the “European Champion” and he and Bruno drew some respectable crowds despite the lack of television in the New York market.  By the 1970s, Mortier was in his fifties and he took on different gimmicks and took bookings all over. Most notable was his partnership with Professor Boris Malenko, where he was Lord Charles Montague. The multilingual grappler was said to be able to not only speak several language, but also speak in several different accents. Another curious detail is that despite having several personas, Hans Mortier was the most successful version and yet he went back to his Tarzan Zorro or random masked man characters.