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Otto Wanz

Real Name - Otto Wanz

6’2” 370 lbs. - Graz, Austria

Ht' " Wt lbs. - HoT

Athletic BackgroundBoxing [Olympic Team `60], Greco-Roman Wrestling

Teacher(s) - n/a

Professional BackgroundIBV[Europe](`68-`86), South Africa(`73,`77), IWE(`73), CWA(`86-`99), New Japan(`76, `83-`84), AWA(`82-`83,`87)

AliasesBulldog Otto, Gran Laban, Grand Lapin

Peak Years - `73-`83

Place in HistoryThroughout the pro-wrestling world, there have been many who have been criticized for being lords in their own fiefdoms regardless of their success, skill or star power.  Otto Wanz was the top star in the scene in Germany and Austria for nearly two decades.  To those who saw him in the AWA, Otto Wanz was a barrel-chested, lederhosen-wearing bruiser whose short reign with the title was mystifying at the time.  However, Wanz built his true legacy in Europe and he is a celebrity in the countries where he wrestled and promoted.  Otto Wanz made his start as a massive boxer who tipped the scales at nearly three hundred pounds at his peak.  However, boxing was not where he was destined to make his name.  In the late 1960s, Wanz began his pro-wrestling career in earnest.  His size and strength combined with his athleticism made for an impressive star that the locals could get behind.  Throughout the 1970s, Otto Wanz, was a regular in Austria and Germany, but was building his experience internationally.  The main promoters in Germany, Gustl Kaiser and later Nico Selenkowitsch, both pushed Big Otto strongly.  He was regularly winning tournaments by 1972 and soon replaced the likes of Horst Hoffman, Rene Lasartesse and Axel Dieter as the dominant European heavyweight.  The tournament system with a troupe of talent working in a town for numerous nights from Vienna to Bremen, Linz to Hanover and Dortmund to Munich proved to be a successful formula.  For many years, the top heavyweights from the British scene toured Western Europe and Wanz took on many of them from Giant Haystacks and King Kong Kirk to John Quinn and Pat Roach.  He claimed a version of a world championship by defeating South African Jan Wilkens that he was the main holder of until his retirement in 1990.  Although Wanz continued to use the top heavyweights from the British scene, he also began recruiting top heavyweights from the US to build up and more often than not defeat in the end.  Some were well-established stars like Andre the Giant and Don Leo Jonathan, some were proven entities like Sgt. Slaughter, Sailor White and Bobby Duncum and others were soon-to-be stars like Great Kokina (Yokozuna) and Bull Power (Vader).  Big Otto was exceptional at spectacles with his fellow big men and what those bouts lack in technical skill, they make up for in heat and physicality.  In these crowd-pleasing slugfests, Wanz willingly took his lumps throughout the 1970s and 1980s.  In the mid-1980s, Wanz and William Peter took over promoting in Germany and Austria.  Otto Wanz longtime love of strongman feats led him to include them in his own act, in the pro-wrestling events he promoted and the competition he promotes in recent times.  Otto Wanz is one of many wrestlers from continental Europe like the aforementioned Lasartesse, Dieter and Hoffman whose limited exposure outside of Europe has made them unknown to all but a small core of fans and many that know of them often only know of them through unflattering matches and anecdotes from their later days.