wrestling / Columns

Ask 411 Wrestling: Who is the Best Wrestler from Each Olympic Country? (Part 2)

August 23, 2021 | Posted by Ryan Byers

Welcome guys, gals, and gender non-binary pals, to Ask 411 Wrestling. I am your party host, Ryan Byers, and I am here to answer some of your burning inquiries about professional wrestling.

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If you missed the last installment of this column, you’ll want to go back and read it now, because this installment is a continuation. Last time around, we started answering a pair of epic questions, the first of which came from feckyou2 on Disqus:

Inspired by your best in state column, can I ask you to choose best wrestlers to feature prominently in the USA from a foreign country? In particular, please include: England, Scotland, Ireland, India, Australia, France, Spain, Germany, New Zealand, Iran (should be an easy one), and Mexico.

And the second of which came from Richard U.:

Who is the best professional wrestler from every country represented at the 2020 Olympic Games? You don’t have to use the Japanese alphabet!

Again, you can pick up the first half of this massive undertaking at the link above, as well as several ground rules that I set forth for how I am going about generating this answer. I’ll not restate those rules here except to say that we are choosing wrestlers based on their nation of BIRTH, not necessarily residence.

Here goes.

Jamaica – Dory Dixon: Born in Jamaica when it was still under British rule, Dixon was originally a professional weightlifter and moved to Mexico after competing there. He was trained to be a luchador and wrestled south of the border for many years, also doing shots for the WWWF at times.

Georgia – Kola Kwariani: Active in the first half of the 20th Century, Kwariani was born in the Russian Empire, albeit a part of it that is modern day Georgia. In addition to his exploits in the ring, he was also renowned as a chess player.

Singapore – Sean Tan: After doing some independent wrestling in his home country, Tan was signed to a WWE developmental deal a little over a month prior to my writing this entry.

Switzerland – Antonio Cesaro: It’s either Cesaro or his former Swiss Money Holding tag team partner Ares who gets this spot, and Ares has never popped up on Wrestlemania to the best of my knowledge.

Sweden – Tor Johnson: Known to both fans of pro wrestling and fans of b-movies, Tor Johnson was born in Sweden in 1903 and was the Super Swedish Angel in the ring and the Beast of Yucca Flats on celluloid. I personally think the Beast of Yucca Flats would’ve been a better ring name.

Spain – Kane: In everybody’s favorite piece of wrestler birthplace trivia, the Big Red Machine was actually born to American parents when his father was stationed at a U.S. Air Force base in Spain.

Serbia – Ilya Dragovic: Known as the “Iron Serb,” Dragovic was born in Belgrade but currently resides in the United Kingdom, where he works for an independent company called Future Championship Wrestling.

South Korea – Kintaro Ohki: Ohki was trained by puroresu legend Rikidozan and competed for his Japan Wrestling Alliance in the 1960s, eventually transitioning to the upstart All Japan Pro Wrestling when the JWA folded.

Chinese Taipei – Yingling: “Chinese Taipei” is what the Olympic committee calls Taiwan to avoid having to issue any John Cena-style apologies. Taiwan produced Yingling the Erotic Terrorist, who was a model turned manager turned wrestler in the defunct Japanese comedy promotion HUSTLE.

China – Xia Li: Once again on this list, a recent WWE recruit makes the cut simply because there his not much history of professional wrestling in their home country. The E has picked up several Chinese talents in the last few years, but Li appears to have made the most impact.

Chile – Guanchulo: Guanchulo started off doing lucha in Chilean indies but has gained more exposure in Japan, where he worked for DDT, the major independent promotion that launched the careers of Kota Ibushi and Kenny Omega.

Denmark – Desiree Petersen: Petersen was one of many women trained to wrestle by the Fabulous Moolah. As part of Moolah’s troupe, her career highlight was being awarded one-half of the WWF Women’s Tag Team Championship when she replaced the original partner of champion Velvet McIntyre.

Germany – Ad Santel: Santel as a feared shooter in the early 1900s, and he was one of the trainers of the aforementioned Georg Hackenschmidt. In fact, Santel claimed he was paid off to legitimately injure Hackenschmidt before his legendary 1911 match with Frank Gotch.

Dominican Republic – Jack Veneno: Veneno’s claim to fame is pinning Ric Flair for the NWA World Heavyweight Title in 1982 in a match that Flair was not booked to lose but felt that he had to in order to prevent an all-out riot from exploding among the fans gathered in the D.R. that day.

Trinidad and Tobago – Ray Apollon: Not to be confused with the Ray Apollo who portrayed Doink the WWF, Apollon was sent to France to study medicine in the 1950s but fell in love with pro wrestling while there and broke into the sport, competing in Europe for over a decade before touring Japan for the IWE.

Turkey – “The Terrible Turk” Yusuf Ismail: Ismail was one of several Turkish professional wrestlers who toured in the English-speaking world in the 1890s. While in the U.S., he wrestled in Madison Square Garden and faced notable names like Evan “Stranger” Lewis.

Tonga – Haku: Remember, he does not come with crown as illustrated.

Nigeria – Omos: Nigeria does not have much of a pro wrestling history, making WWE’s current giant the biggest star in its history.

New Zealand – The Sheepherders: Also known as the Bushwhackers, Luke Williams and Butch Miller are virtually inseparable from one another for purposes of this list, having been partners for over three decades. When I was a child, they were responsible for my mistaken belief that New Zealanders spent a lot of time licking each other. Only Jay White could shake me of that belief.

Norway – Bjorn Sem: Norway hasn’t produced a lot of pro wrestlers, but the most prolific of them is probably Bjorn Sem, who has wrestled from 2001 through present day, appearing not only in his home country but also the U.K., Finland, and Russia.

Haiti – Haiti Kid: No, this isn’t a joke. Legitimately, the Haiti Kid was born in Haiti, and, legitimately, he is the most prolific professional wrestler from that country. Active from the early 1970s through the early 1990s, the kid appeared in the AWA, the WWF, and most major NWA territories, including at one point winning the NWA World Midget Title, perhaps the only wrestling championship whose name contains a word that is now considered a slur.

Pakistan – The Bholu Brothers: Many have heard of the Great Gama, India’s biggest wrestling star of the early Twentieth Century. Less known these days are the Bholu Brothers, billed as nephews of Gama who were born in Pakistan. They were active mainly in the 1950s and 1960s.

Panama – Veneno: Not to be confused with Jack Veneno, who represented the Dominican Republic earlier on this list, Veneno is a luchador born in Panama but who made his name in Mexico, working for CMLL and IWRG.

Bahamas – Omar Amir: Originally from the Bahamas, Omar Amir broke in to pro wrestling in 2012 on the Florida independent scene, with FIP being the most notable promotion he’s worked for. More recently, he has relocated to the Louisville, Kentucky, to train with and wrestle for Ohio Valley Wrestling where he has been the company’s heavyweight champion.

Barbados – Earl Maynard: Also a competitive bodybuilder, Maynard became a wrestler when he met a promoter in Cyprus while in the military. From there, he toured Europe before being brought over to the United States, where he worked for the AWA and the WWWF, among others. Later in his career, he also toured with New Japan, where he was an opponent of Antonio Inoki.

Hungary – Sandor Szabo: Inducted into the Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame in 2000, Szabo was active in the ring from roughly 1930 through 1963, gaining his most fame in the Los Angeles territory owned and operated by the Eaton family.

Fiji – Jimmy Snuka: The less said about this guy, the better, but he is the most notable wrestler from Fiji.

Philippines – Joe Pogi: Though there is a form of modern independent wrestling in the Philippines, there was a large local wrestling scene in the 1970s and 1980s under the banner of “Pinoy Wrestling.” Chief among the stars of that promotion was Joe Pogi, who was big in his home country but neither transitioned elsewhere to my knowledge.

Finland – Tony Halme: Also known to WWF fans as Ludvig Borga, Halme is a problematic character in some respects but it is unquestionable that there was never a bigger wrestling star from Finland, no matter what Starbuck tries to tell you.

Puerto Rico – Carlos Colon: There are a few no-brainers on this list, and this is absolutely one of them. Colon IS professional wrestling in Puerto Rico, with nobody else before or since having his level of impact on the sport on the island.

Brazil – Giant Silva: Silva was the first wrestler that I thought of when I thought of Brazil, but then I thought, “Surely there’s somebody better to put on the list.” Then I researched it, and, despite its large population, Brazil has given us comparatively few wrestlers, and Silva is likely the best of a small lot.

Bulgaria – Miro: Let’s face it, the current AEW TNT Champion is probably the reason most professional wrestling fans even know that Bulgaria exists.

American Samoa – Peter Maivia: As mentioned earlier in the column, Western Samoa and American Samoa field separate Olympic teams, with most of the Samoan wrestlers we know of coming from Western Samoa. However, the man who created the genre of Samoan wrestler, Peter Maivia, is from what is now the American territory.

Virgin Islands – Jasmine St. Clair: This one surprised me. Pornographic actress Jasmine St. Clair was involved in wrestling through her connections to ECW and relationship with the Blue Meanie of all people. She only had a couple of matches, but it’s enough to make her the best wrestler the Virgin Islands have produced.

Vietnam – Bu Ku Dao: Calling himself the “Situ-Asian” in a nod to Jersey Shore, Dao was born in Vietnam but emigrated to the United States, with his most high profile work to date being a run in MLW, as well as a one-off appearance in ROH.

Venezuela – Ciclon Negro: Originally a welder by trade, Ciclon Negro broke into professional wrestling and appeared just about everywhere in the 1970s, with particular runs of note being against the Funks in Amarillo in addition to several tours of Japan.

Peru – Kaiser: Initially wrestling in his home country, Kaiser broke out and gained some international notoriety in 2012, when he was selected for a tour of Pro Wrestling NOAH, likely due to connections with Mexican wrestler and long-time NOAH gaijin Ricky Marvin. Kaiser later returned to NOAH for one additional tour.

Belgium – Salvatore Bellomo: Though billed as being from Italy for large portions of his career, Bellomo was actually born in Belgium and was a prolific wrestler, competing in the ring from 1974 through 2018 for promotions all over the world.

Poland – Stanislaus Zbyszko: I recently talked about Zbyszko in response to a question about the most historically significant wrestling matches, so it should be no surprise that he’s listed here as well.

Bosnia and Herzegovina – Danny Babich: After coming to North America, Babich first wrestled in Stampede under his real name in the 1970s. He later decided being an evil Russian would be more profitable, so he switched his name to Igor Volkoff as he toured Canada and the northern U.S.

Portugal – Killer Kelly: Kelly has had some brushes with greatness but has not quite been able to get over the hump, being under contract with WWE for a couple of years though not getting much exposure outside of a first round Mae Young Classic loss. More recently, she’s been in TNA.

Hong Kong – Ray: Also known as Lin Byron early in her career, Ray began wrestling in Japan in the early 2000s. She consistently wrestled for over a decade, including making some shots in the United States, before tragically passing away due to complications from brain cancer in 2018.

Malta – Mikel Scicluna: Inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 1996, Scicluna might be known as an enhancement wrestler to 1980s fans, but he regularly appeared higher up on cards in the 1960s and 1970s, including being an early protege of Captain Lou Albano.

Malaysia – Nor Diana: Though pro wrestling in Malaysia is not particularly prominent on the world stage, this young woman recently gained some notoriety for being the first pro wrestler to compete in hijab.

South Africa – Angelico: Though currently a fixture on AEW’s five hundred match long YouTube shows, Angelico really made his mark in AAA, where his tag team with Jack Evans legitimately made him into a star south of the border.

Mexico – El Santo: There is no other correct answer here.

Moldova – Alex Koslov: Though he was technically born in the Soviet Union, it was in the portion of that country that would become Moldova following the fall of communism. Koslov had a WWE developmental run under the name Peter Orlov but is better remembered for his work in CMLL, AAA, and New Japan.

Mongolia – Blue Wolf: After a strong amateur wrestling career, Mongolia’s Dolgorsuregiin Serjbudee was recruited in to pro wrestling in Japan. He wrestled almost exclusively for NJPW from 2001 through 2005, though he never really broke through and became a major star.

Jordan – Shadia Bseiso: Ms. Bseiso is a blip on the radar of pro wrestling history, but there’s not a lot of competition from Jordan. She was the first Arab woman from the Middle East to sign with WWE, though her developmental deal only lasted from 2017 through 2019.

Lithuania – Aksana: What is llama?

Lebanon – Arturo Juas: Though from a Brazillian family, Juas was born in Lebanon and had a strong amateur wrestling career before being recruited into pro wrestling by WWE. He wrestled in NXT for several years before appearing on the infamous “Raw Underground” and being released earlier this summer. We’ll see where he goes from here.

United States – Ric Flair: We could debate this pick for years, and I do not exactly what the space to do it right now. For the time being, let’s just say: My column, my choice.

France – Andre the Giant: After what may be a controversial pick, here’s what should be a non-controversial one . . . or at least I hope it will be non-controversial.

Japan – Antonio Inoki: With Rikidozan, the grandfather of puroresu, actually being born in Korea, we have to go down to the next generation of puro superstars to make a choice here. Once you do that, it really comes down to Inoki and Giant Baba, and I’m going Inoki because I believe he made himself a bigger star internationally.

And that does it. Think that I’ve made a bad pick? Just yell at me in the comment section. Everybody else has.