REAL NAME: John Anson
BORN: April 7, 1949 in Vancouver, B.C.
6′ 4″, 290 pounds
AKA: Karl von Shotz
Sometimes an evil German wrestler can change.
Witness John Anson, aka Karl von Shotz.
After debuting in Calgary’s Stampede Wrestling under his real name at age 17 against Ivan Koloff (“30 seconds to defeat,” recalled Anson), Anson got the call to go to Montreal, where they needed a German heel. One shaved head later, Anson became Karl von Shotz.
As von Shotz, Anson was a successful tag team wrestler, including multiple reigns as the Detroit version of the NWA tag team champs with Kurt von Hess.
But back home on the west coast, and in Stampede, he was still known as Handsome John Anson.
As a single, his greatest success came in Stampede Wrestling, where he was a two-time North American champ in 1976. He also held titles in Hawaii, Portland, Newfoundland and Japan.
“Stampede was unique,” Anson explained. Stu Hart was “an excellent promoter” and wrestlers wanted to come in to the territory to learn and improve their skills. “And Bret Hart used to carry my lunch bag,” he laughed.
Anson had four shots at the NWA World Title, against four different champs — Lou Thesz, Dory Funk Jr., Gene Kiniski and Harley Race — but never came away with the belt.
During his 13-year career, Anson went across Canada and the U.S., Hawaii and Japan and wrestled more than 6,000 matches.
“I was one of the few Canadians that went international,” explained Anson. “I did a lot of travelling around.”
He was almost always a bad guy, and Lord James Blears once called him the world’s most hated man. At times, he was managed by Bobby ‘The Brain’ Heenan and Eddie ‘The Brain’ Creatchman.
Anson wrestled for the last time in 1983 in Hawaii.
“I got in early, I got out early,” said Anson, “There were a lot of tough wrestlers, and it took its toll.”
He knows that he quit just a little too soon, as Vince McMahon was about to take the WWF national with the whole rock’n’wrestling connection. “I just quit too soon.”
After retiring from wrestling at only 35, Anson lived off the money that he had invested and owned a marina and a resort for a time near Vancouver.
He did give promoting in Ontario and Newfoundland a try in the ’80s with The Sheik (Ed Farhat) and Jack Kane, but didn’t stick with it.
These days, Anson enjoys relaxing on his yacht.
Thanks to Katelind Ingvartsen for her help with this bio.
Growing up in the 70’s was a great time to be a wrestling fan, you got to see wrestling from some many promotions. In the Toronto area, television stations carried Stampede, Vancouver, Grand Prix, George Cannon’s promotion and others that you might remember outside of the Tunney promotion. Because of this many of us got to watch STARS develop and shine. Handsome John Anson was one of those stars. I got to see him as a heel in Vancouver and for George Cannon’s promotion. But, with Cannon after a fight with von Hess.. Karl von Schotz was a great babyface. The Handsome One we will miss your great interviews in Vancouver.
Tom Ruff, Orillia, Ontario