By BILL SHEA
HUMBOLDT - A bronze likeness of wrestling champion Frank Gotch will soon grace the Humboldt park where he sometimes trained before big matches.
Frank Gotch, an undefeated world champion wrestler from Humboldt, will be posthumously honored with a statue at Bicknell Park in Humboldt.
The 8-foot-tall statue of the early 20th century wrestler will be unveiled during a ceremony that will begin at 1 p.m. July 4 in Bicknell Park in downtown Humboldt, according to an announcement from the Frank Gotch Statue Committee.
"Frank Gotch gave so much to Humboldt and the state of Iowa and to erect a large statue of Gotch is one way to recognize somebody who was an inspiration to many and recognizes the values that make Humboldt and Iowa so special," the committee members wrote in the announcement.
The committee began planning an effort to honor Gotch in 2010. The group set out to raise $100,000 for the memorial.
The statue was made by Paul Rieffer, the St. Paul, Minn., sculptor who created the statue of bandleader Karl King on the Fort Dodge City Square.
The statue is expected to be delivered to Humboldt next week, according to Tonya Harklau, a member of the committee. She said its base is already in position and workers are starting to put down the engraved brick pavers that will surround the statue. The sale of those pavers helped pay for the statue.
Gotch was born on a farm near Humboldt on April 27, 1878. His wrestling career took off in 1899 when a former champion, Farmer Burns, began training him.
Gotch won the national championship in 1905. He won the world championship in 1908 by defeating George "The Russian Lion" Hackenschmidt in a match at Comiskey Park in Chicago, Ill.
He remained the undefeated world champion until he retired in 1916. He died a year later.
Gotch lived in Humboldt throughout his career.