June 22, 2011
SLAM! Wrestling Canadian Hall of Fame: Handsome John Anson
|John Anson. Photo courtesy Katelind Ingvartsen.
REAL NAME: John Anson
BORN: April 7, 1949 in Vancouver, B.C.
6' 4", 290 pounds
AKA: Karl von Shotz
Sometimes an evil German wrestler can change.
Witness John Anson, aka Karl von Shotz.
After debuting in Calgary's Stampede Wrestling under his real name at
age 17 against Ivan Koloff ("30 seconds to defeat," recalled Anson),
Anson got the call to go to Montreal, where they needed a German heel.
One shaved head later, Anson became Karl von Shotz.
As von Shotz, Anson was a successful tag team wrestler, including
multiple reigns as the Detroit version of the NWA tag team champs with Kurt von Hess.
But back home on the west coast, and in Stampede, he was still known as
Handsome John Anson.
As a single, his greatest success came in Stampede Wrestling, where he
was a two-time North American champ in 1976. He also held titles in
Hawaii, Portland, Newfoundland and Japan.
"Stampede was unique," Anson explained. Stu Hart was "an excellent
promoter" and wrestlers wanted to come in to the territory to learn and
improve their skills. "And Bret Hart used to carry my lunch bag," he
Anson had four shots at the NWA World Title, against four different
champs -- Lou Thesz, Dory Funk Jr., Gene Kiniski and Harley Race -- but
never came away with the belt.
During his 13-year career, Anson went across Canada and the U.S.,
Hawaii and Japan and wrestled more than 6,000 matches.
"I was one of the few Canadians that went international," explained
Anson. "I did a lot of travelling around."
He was almost always a bad guy, and Lord James Blears once called him
the world's most hated man. At times, he was managed by Bobby 'The
Brain' Heenan and Eddie 'The Brain' Creatchman.
Anson wrestled for the last time in 1983 in Hawaii.
"I got in early, I got out early," said Anson, "There were a lot of
tough wrestlers, and it took its toll."
He knows that he quit just a little too soon, as Vince McMahon was
about to take the WWF national with the whole rock'n'wrestling
connection. "I just quit too soon."
After retiring from wrestling at only 35, Anson lived off the money
that he had invested and owned a marina and a resort for a time near
He did give promoting in Ontario and Newfoundland a try in the '80s
with The Sheik (Ed Farhat) and Jack Kane, but didn't stick with it.
These days, Anson enjoys relaxing on his yacht.
By GREG OLIVER, Producer, SLAM! Wrestling
Thanks to Katelind Ingvartsen for her help with this bio.
Growing up in the 70's was a great time to be a wrestling fan, you got
to see wrestling from some many promotions.In the Toronto area,
television stations carried Stampede, Vancouver, Grand Prix, George
Cannon's promotion and others that you might remember outside of the
Tunney promotion. Because of this many of us got to watch STARS develop
and shine. Handsome John Anson was one of those stars. I got to see him
as a heel in Vancouver and for George Cannon's promotion. But, with
Cannon after a fight with von Hess.. Karl von Schotz was a great
babyface. The Handsome One we will miss your great interviews in
Tom Ruff, Orillia, Ontario