TODAY IN PRO WRESTLING HISTORY… AUGUST 16th: Verne Gagne becomes AWA World Champion for the first time


Verne Gagne, as the promoter of the American Wrestling Association, awards himself the AWA World Heavyweight Championship.

NWA World Heavyweight champion Pat O’Connor was originally named the AWA’s first champion. However, he refused to acknowledge the title. After 90 days, the belt passed to Gagne. So, while O’Connor is officially recognized as the first titleholder, Gagne is the first man to actively defend it.

Gagne held the belt for 329 days in his first run. He would officially go on to win the AWA World title a total of ten times, including an uninterrupted seven-year reign as champion from 1968 to 1975.

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