Kola Kwariani

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Kola Kwariani
კოლა ქვარიანი
Kola Kwariani.jpg
Born (1903-01-16)January 16, 1903
Kutaisi, Georgia, Tsarist Russia
Died February 0, 1980(1980-02-00) (aged 77)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s) Nick the Wrestler
Billed weight 280 lb (130 kg)[1][2]

Kola Kwariani (Georgian: კოლა (კოლია) ქვარიანი) (January 16, 1903 – February 1980), known as "Nicholas Kwariani" or "Nick the Wrestler", was a Georgian by origin professional wrestler and chess player. Kwariani was born to Nestor and Caserines (née Kesaria) Kwariani on January 16, 1903 (Kutaisi, Georgia, Tsarist Russia) and died in February 1980 (New York, NY: USA).[1][3][4]

"Kwariani had been a Greco-Roman champion in Europe before the war and a “professional” wrestler in the United States afterward."[5] He spoke eight languages, and was the only chess playing professional wrestler in the United States according to Chess Review magazine.[6]

Kola Kwariani participated in many wrestling fights himself, however the most famous was with "Mr. America" Gene Stanlee[7] This match between Kwariani and Gene Stanlee was featured as one of the top-10 matches of the wrestling Golden Era in America.[8][9]

He had a role in Stanley Kubrick's 1956 film The Killing, in the role of a chess-playing wrestler named Maurice Oboukhoff, who is hired to start a fight and so create a diversion during a heist.[10][11]

The picture of Kwariani, Kubrick, and Sterling Hayden appeared on cover of Chess Review magazine in March 1956.[6]

In 1950-60, Kwariani was an active member of the Chess and Checker Club in New York City, also known as "The Flea House".[2] In 1959-60, Kola Kwariani coached professional wrestler Antonino Rocca. In 1959-62, Kwariani closely worked with another professional wrestler Bruno Sammartino. In February 1980, while entering the Chess and Checker Club, Kwariani was seriously injured after being assaulted by a group of teenagers. The incident was later described by fellow chess player and publisher Samuel Sloan:

Nick came in the downstairs entrance one evening when about five black youths were leaving. They bumped into each other. Words were exchanged. Nick never took any gruff from anybody and soon he was engaged in a fight with all five black kids at once. Nick probably could still have handled any one or two of them, but five were too many. Nick was beaten. The ambulance was called. Nick was taken to the hospital, and died shortly thereafter at age 77.[1][2]


  1. ^ a b c "Kola (Nicholas) Kwariani (1903-1980): Famous Georgian wrestler and chess player". Republic of Georgia: Web Library of Links. LinkGeorgia.com. February 5, 2011. Retrieved May 6, 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c "Kola Kwariani a/k/a "Nick the Wrestler", Chess Expert and Former World Champion Wrestler". Anusha.com. Retrieved May 6, 2011. 
  3. ^ SSN Death Index; retrieved June 11, 2011.
  4. ^ Talese, Gay (September 16, 1958). "Mat Fans Find a Friend in Rocca; Wrestler Considers Himself Protector of Puerto Ricans Former Islanders Are Loudest Rooters at Exhibitions". New York Times. Retrieved May 7, 2011. 
  5. ^ Mamet, David (April 27, 2008). "Hard Lessons Learned in the Ring". New York Times. Retrieved May 20, 2011. 
  6. ^ a b Winter, Edward, ed. (March 1956). "Chess Review". Chess Notes by Edward Winter. ChessHistory.com. Retrieved May 7, 2011. 
  7. ^ Oliver, Earl (2005). "The Early Years of Televised Wrestling". Solie's Classic Wrestling Images. Solie.org. Retrieved September 14, 2011. 
  8. ^ National Wrestling Alliance. Wrestling's Greatest Heroes: The Golden Era (VHS). United States: Goodtimes. 
  9. ^ "Wrestling's Greatest Heroes: The Golden Era". Misc. Golden Age Tapes. ProWrestlingHistory.com. June 14, 2011. 
  10. ^ Wall, Bill (2007). "Stanley Kubrick and Chess". Bill Wall's Homepage. Archived from the original on October 28, 2009. Retrieved June 13, 2011. 
  11. ^ The Killing at the TCM Movie Database

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