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A trailblazer in pro wrestling inducted into hall of fame

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We look back on the life and career of Gust Karras.

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) As we continue to look at the 2022 St. Joseph Sports Commission Hall of Fame class, we look back on the life and career of Gust Karras.

A professional wrestling promoter who made his living here in St. Joseph, in fact ran Big 2 Wrestling right in the KQ2 studio. 

The saying goes legends never die. And that is appropriate when describing the life and career of professional wrestling promoter Gust Karras.

“He was called remarkable, unassuming, most prominent citizen athletic booster,” Bill Karras, Gust’s son says. 

For more than 40 years, 1930s until his death in 1976, Karras entertained thousands across the Midwest, especially right here in St. Joseph, with the carnival, the Globetrotters and his biggest contribution, professional wrestling.

“Without a Gust Karras there wouldn't be a Harley Race and again, it's on many different levels,” Leland Race says.

“Sponsored many free matches are charged and donated portion of the income to the crippled Children's Society. Veterans March of Dimes the Buchanan County society relief,” Karras says. 

Names like Sonny Meyers, Happy Humphrey and of course Harley Race all wrestled for Karras.

“He was involved in a really serious car accident. They were at the doctor and they were going to amputate his leg. Lo and behold, Karras came in, says no you're not they took them to a different hospital, long period of time, real physical therapy and of course, surgeries, etc, etc. For quite some time later. It's back to wrestling and that was all thanks to Gust Karras,” Race says.

St. Joseph became a wrestling mecca for many years broadcasting live shows an idea built by Karras himself.

“He went to the studio set up the ring, and have live wrestling matches with an audience in the studio,” Karras says.

It's been almost 50 years since Karras’ passing but without his desire to entertain the crowd who knows what the pro wrestling scene would look like today, especially in St. Joseph.

“To Gus Karras to his family. Thank you guys for the opportunity to give somebody the chance to prove themselves because he did and I think he represented Gus to the fullest extent,”  Race says.

“Someone told my mother that there will never be another Gust,” Karras says.

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