Kola Kwariani

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

Kola Kwariani (Georgian: კოლა (კოლია) ქვარიანი) (January 16, 1903 – February 1980), known by the ring name Nicholas Kwariani or Nick the Wrestler, was a Georgian professional wrestler and chess player.

Early life[edit]

Kwariani was born in Kutaisi, the son of Nestor and Caserines (née Kesaria) Kwariani.

Professional wrestling career[edit]

Kwariani had been a Greco-Roman champion in Europe before the war and a professional wrestler in the United States afterward.[3] He participated in many wrestling matches, but the most famous was with "Mr. America" Gene Stanlee,[4] which was featured as one of the top 10 matches of the wrestling Golden Era in America.[5][6] From 1959 to 1960, he coached Antonino Rocca. From 1959 to 1962, he closely worked with Bruno Sammartino.

Chess career[edit]

Kwariani was the only chess-playing professional wrestler in the United States according to Chess Review magazine.[7] In the 1950s, he was an active member of the Chess and Checker Club in New York City, also known as "The Flea House".[2]

Other media[edit]

Kwariani 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.[8][9] A picture of Kwariani, Kubrick, and Sterling Hayden appeared on the cover of Chess Review magazine in March 1956.[7]


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 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." He was then taken to a hospital, where he died at age 77.[1][2][10][11]



  1. ^ a b "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. ^ Mamet, David (April 27, 2008). "Hard Lessons Learned in the Ring". New York Times. Retrieved May 20, 2011. 
  4. ^ Oliver, Earl (2005). "The Early Years of Televised Wrestling". Solie's Classic Wrestling Images. Solie.org. Retrieved September 14, 2011. 
  5. ^ National Wrestling Alliance. Wrestling's Greatest Heroes: The Golden Era (VHS). United States: Goodtimes. 
  6. ^ "Wrestling's Greatest Heroes: The Golden Era". Misc. Golden Age Tapes. ProWrestlingHistory.com. June 14, 2011. 
  7. ^ a b Winter, Edward, ed. (March 1956). "Chess Review". Chess Notes by Edward Winter. ChessHistory.com. Retrieved May 7, 2011. 
  8. ^ Wall, Bill (2007). "Stanley Kubrick and Chess". Bill Wall's Homepage. Archived from the original on October 28, 2009. Retrieved June 13, 2011. 
  9. ^ The Killing at the TCM Movie Database
  10. ^ SSN Death Index; retrieved June 11, 2011.
  11. ^ 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. 

External links[edit]