A listing of athletes who were born or raised in Minnesota and who have left their mark in the Wrestling world.
- Bob Backlund (Princeton, MN)
WWE Champion 1978. NCAA Division II wrestling champion. Inducted into the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2008.
- Ric Flair (Richard Morgan Fliehr) (Memphis, Tennessee)
Although born in Memphis, Flair was adopted and actually grew up in Edina, MN. As a youngster, he watched “All Star Wrestling” on WTCN (now KARE 11). He attended the University of Minnesota, but left after one year and started training with local wrestling legend, Vern Gagne. Flair went on to become one of professional wrestling’s most flamboyant characters and won 16 World Wrestling Championships.
- Chad Gable (Charles “Chas” Betts) (Minneapolis, MN)
WWE Tag Team Champion 2017, 2012 Summer Olympics (Greco-Roman), U.S. World Team in 2009, State Champion 2004 while at St. Michael-Albertville High School.
- Vern Gagne (Robbinsdale, MN)
NCAA wrestling titles at the University of Minnesota in 1948 and 1949. Had a colorful pro wrestling career and won the tag-team title with Bronco Nagurski. Nine time American Wrestling Association (AWA) World Heavyweight Champion. Wrestling Hall of Fame, 2004; World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) Hall of Fame Superstar, 2006.
- Curt Hennig (Robbinsdale, MN)
Professional Wrestler and Commentator. He was active in the American Wrestling Association (AWA), the World Wrestling Federation (WWF), World Championship Wrestling (WCW), and Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA). He found his greatest success in the WWF where he was known as “Mr. Perfect”.
- Bronko Nagurski (International Falls, MN)
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- Gene Okerlund (Robbinsdale, MN)
No, not a wrestler, but Okerlund made his mark in the world of professional wrestling as a ringside broadcaster. Many who grew up in the Twin Cities will remember him from Saturday night broadcasts of “All-Star Wrestling”. “Mean Gene” Okerlund continued his ringside broadcasting career with the WWF and WWE.
- Rick Rude (St. Peter, MN)
Also known as “Ravishing Rick Rude”, Rude was a professional wrestler in the WWE, WCW, WWF leagues. He held U.S. and World Champion titles. He wrestled from 1982 to 1994. He attended Robbinsdale High School.
- Eddie Sharkey (Unknown)
Sharkey grew up in Minneapolis and became a professional wrestling trainer. The talent he trained is a who’s who of professional wrestlers that includes: The Road Warriors, Jesse Ventura, “Ravishing” Rick Rude and many others.
- Nelson Scott Simpson (Minneapolis, MN)
A professional wrestler in the 1980s and early 1990s known as “The Russian Nightmare” Nikita Koloff. He was billed as being from Russia which in the 1980’s was considered very evil. He was a 1977 graduate of Robbinsdale High School.
- Gordon Solie (Minneapolis, MN)
Professional wrestling Announcer in Florida during the 60’s and 70’s, and Georgia Championship Wrestling on cable superstation WTBS in the 1980s. Inducted into the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2004.
- Jesse “The Body” Ventura (Minneapolis, MN)
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Honorary Minnesotans (non-resident)
Individuals who were NOT born in Minnesota, but have lived in Minnesota for a period of time.
- Brock Lesner (Webster, South Dakota)
Wrestling/Mixed Martial Arts; Often mentioned as being from Minnesota, but he was actually born and raised in South Dakota. He made his mark in the wrestling world at the University of Minnesota where he was a two-time Big Ten Conference Champion, and the NCAA heavyweight champion (2000). He is a three-time WWF/WWE champion, and a former UFC Heavyweight Champion.