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Lou Thesz passes away



ORLANDO, Fla. (STAFF) -- Lou Thesz, a pioneer in professional wrestling who grappled for more than 55 years and helped carry the spectacle into the era of television, died Sunday. He was 86.

Thesz started wrestling professionally in the mid-1930s at age 17 and took part in a match in Japan when he was 73.

Thesz was among wrestling's most visible performers in the 1940s and 1950s, according to Kit Bauman, co-author of Thesz's autobiography, Hooker: An Authentic Wrestler's Adventures Inside the Bizarre World of Professional Wrestling.

A good-looking, lithe man at 6-2, 225-pounds, Thesz began wrestling in St. Louis and was first named world champion at age 21. He regularly fulfilled between 200 and 250 wrestling dates per year and performed all over the world, according to his official Web site.

Thesz received some mainstream celebrity, posing with movie stars like Alan Ladd and Yvonne DeCarlo and trading mock grips with former heavyweight boxing champion Joe Louis.

He was named to the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in February.

- with files from Canoe wire services