Gus Kallio

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Gus Kallio
Gus Kallio sports cartoon.jpg
1930 sports cartoon of Finnish professional wrestler Gus Kallio
Birth nameGustav Kallio
Helsinki, Finland[3]
DiedMarch 2, 1962
Monroe, Louisiana
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s)Gus Kallio
Gust Kallio
Billed weight159.5 lb (72.3 kg)[4]
Trained by"Farmer" Burns[5]

Gustav Kallio was a Finnish born professional wrestler known under the ring name Gus Kallio or Gust Kallio. Kallio's wrestling career peaked in the 1920s and 1930s where he was known as the "King of the Welterweights" and later on "King of the Middleweights" as he held multiple world titles in those two weight divisions.


Gustav Kallio was born as August Hassinen in early-1890s in Oulu, Finland. He immigrated to the United States with his brother Issac Hassinen on year 1913[6] when both were in their early 20s. Issac moved on to Canada, while Gus stayed in the US wrestling under the name Gus Kallio.

Professional wrestling career[edit]

Kallio was about 15 years old when Kallio and his father attended a professional wrestling event that featured Billy Sandow, a successful middleweight wrestler that participated in Barnstorming tours. Seeing the success of the relatively small Sandow inspired Kallio to become a wrestler himself.[3] Kallio made his debut in 1916 under the name "Gus Kallio" (some placed he was billed as "Gust Kallio") and began competing in the Welterweight division,[5] a weight class with a top weight limit of 155 lb (70 kg). Kallio's conditioning earned him the nickname "the Finnish strong boy".[7] On October 3, 1921 Kallio defeated Jack Reynolds to win the National Wrestling Association's World Welterweight Championship.[8] Kallio retained the title through at least 1923, earning the nickname "the Welterweight King".[8][9] During the 1920s Kallio often travelled around the United States, facing regional champions such as the Navy champion Jack Rich, Royal Van Dusen or Canadian Champion .[9] On August 7, 1928, Kallio became the top Middleweight in the world, defeating Charlie Fisher to become the World Middleweight Champion in two and a half hour long match.[10] Kallio later proved his incredible condition when he wrestled Henry Jones in a three-hour match before winning the bout.[11]

In 1930 Kallio defeated both Ralph Parquat and Ray Carpenter, two of the top Middleweights in the United States to once again become recognized as the World Middleweight Champion.[10] With his second reign as Middleweight champion he proved that he was "King of the Middleweights". In 1932 he lost, then regained the title from George Sauer making him a three time world champion.[10] Each year the National Wrestling Association would meet and determine who was the recognized champion of their heavyweight, light heavyweight, and middleweight divisions. In 1933 the NWA confirmed that Gus Kallio was still the "king of the middleweights" and imposed a $500 bond for promoters wishing to book Kallio.[12] Just like when he held the Welterweight title, Kallio travelled the United States facing local Middleweight competitors. In one match he lost to a wrestler who did not start out as his opponent. On April 16, 1935 Kallio wrestled against the Irish Middleweight Champion McBride, McBride had to be removed from the ring due to an injury after the first fall, which saw Nashville local Joe Gunther enter the ring and take McBride's place, defeating Kallio to win the title.[10][13]

By the late 1930s Kallio was in his fifth reign as Middleweight champion but the lower weight divisions became less and less popular in the United States. By the late 1930s, the Middleweight division was mainly active in Mexico, which led to Gus Kallio touring Mexico with the title. In 1938 or 1939 Mexican promoter Salvador Lutteroth created a Mexican version of the World Middleweight Championship for his Empresa Mexicana de Lucha Libre (EMLL) and awarded the title to Kallio.[14] Kallio defended and lost both the NWA and the Mexican version of the World Middleweight title to Octavio Gaona on February 19, 1939, which was the last time he would hold a wrestling championship.[14] Gus Kallio was still an active wrestler as late as the early 1950s.[15]

After his wrestling career ended, Gus Kallio ran wrestling/boxing arena (promptly named Gus Kallio Arena) promoting regular shows in Monroe, Louisiana for 20 years.[5] He was also involved in operating a roller skate rink and Finnish-style steam baths (sauna). Gus Kallio sold his business interests after suffering a stroke in 1959. He died of self-inflicted gunshot wound on March 2, 1962 at his home.[2]

Championships and accomplishments[edit]


  1. ^ Dorris, Joe (January 14, 1952). "Fire and Fall". Kentucky New Era. Retrieved February 20, 2010. When Gus Kallio wrestled in Hopkinsville in the 1930s he was the admitted champion of the middleweight, yet he confided to us that he was 58 years old
  2. ^ a b "Kallio Rites Still Pend; Died Friday". Monroe Morning World. March 4, 1962. p. 5. Retrieved April 28, 2016.
  3. ^ a b Hornbaker, Tim (2007). "The Nekoosa Strangler - Ed "Strangler" Lewis". National Wrestling Alliance: the untold story of the monopoly that strangled pro wrestling. ECW Press. pp. 61–76. ISBN 978-1-55022-741-3.
  4. ^ "Kallio regains title bus his challenger gives him trouble". The Owosso Argus-Press. December 7, 1932. Retrieved February 20, 2010.
  5. ^ a b c d Hornbaker, Tim (2016). "Kallio, Gus". Legends of Pro Wrestling - 150 years of headlocks, body slams, and piledrivers (Revised ed.). New York, New York: Sports Publishing. p. 18. ISBN 978-1-61321-808-2.
  6. ^ "Double Main Event On Kallio's Mat Program Tuesday". Monroe News-Star. January 21, 1951. Retrieved April 29, 2016.
  7. ^ "Bulldog Jackson definitely slated for Mat tournament". Eugene Register-Guard. April 8, 1942. Retrieved February 20, 2010.
  8. ^ a b c Royal Duncan & Gary Will (2006). "United States: 19th Century & widely defended titles - NWA, WWF, AWA, IWA, ECW, NWA: World Welterweight Title". Wrestling Title Histories (4th ed.). Archeus Communications. pp. 14–15. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4.
  9. ^ a b "Gus Kallio beats navy champion in 2 straight falls". The Victorian Daily Advocate. Google News. January 14, 1927. Retrieved February 20, 2010.
  10. ^ a b c d e Royal Duncan & Gary Will (2006). "United States: 19th Century & widely defended titles - NWA, WWF, AWA, IWA, ECW, NWA: World Middleweight Title". Wrestling Title Histories (4th ed.). Archeus Communications. p. 14. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4.
  11. ^ "Utah mat great still successful". THe Deseret News. March 27, 1963. Retrieved February 20, 2010.
  12. ^ "Londos Rated Champ By National Association". Reading Eagle. September 20, 1933. Retrieved February 20, 2010.
  13. ^ "Joe Gunther Defeats Kallio Last Night In Match At Nasvhille". Kentucky New Era. April 17, 1935. Retrieved February 20, 2010.
  14. ^ a b c Royal Duncan & Gary Will (2006). "EMLL NWA World Middleweight Title". Wrestling Title Histories (4th ed.). Archeus Communications. pp. 389–390. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4.
  15. ^ "Riley to make debut at armory". Reading Eagle. January 11, 1955. Retrieved February 20, 2010.