NEWTON, Iowa (Staff) — Former Minnesota governor and pro-wrestler Jesse Ventura discussed his political future — and his “interest” in running for president — over the weekend while receiving an award for his sporting past.

Visitors packed a room at the International Wrestling Institute and Museum in this central Iowa town on Saturday to see Ventura, who was Minnesota governor from 1999 to 2002. He received the Frank Gotch Award for bringing professional wrestling to a new level through his work as a politician.

Ventura said he’ll never say never when it comes to getting back into politics, but added he might be interested in running for president.

“Now, that doesn’t mean I’m announcing today or anything, just that if I were to get into politics again, that would be the only office I’m interested in.”

“The Frank Gotch Award is presented annually to a person who brings great respect and dignity to the sport of professional wrestling,” said Mike Chapman, director of the museum. “Certainly, Governor Ventura has done that. He has brought a great deal of positive attention to pro wrestling and we are delighted that he was able to carve time out of his very busy schedule to attend our event.

“The proof that Jesse Ventura has a sizable impact on professional wrestling is in the press attention the announcement has received so far,” said Chapman. “The day it was announced that he was coming, it was front-page news in the local newspaper and was picked up immediately by the Associated Press. Within 24 hours, we had received calls from four radio and TV stations and several newspapers.”

“I’m humbled by this award,” Ventura said. The award is named after Frank Gotch, born in Humboldt, Iowa, who was considered to be the first great professional wrestling champion, holding the title from 1908-15.

Also honoured on the weekend at the museum’s annual induction ceremony were Maurice ‘Mad Dog’ Vachon and Billy Robinson. The deceased champions George ‘The Russian Lion’ Hackenschmidt and Joe Scarpello were also inducted.

That brings the number of inductions to the prestigious Hall to 22 members: 1999 — Frank Gotch, Ed Lewis, Lou Thesz, Verne Gagne, and special honoree George Tragos; 2000 — Dick Hutton, Dan Hodge, Joe Stecher, Earl Caddock; 2001 — Tim Woods, Jack Brisco, Farmer Burns, William Muldoon; 2002 — Bob Geigel, Dick ‘The Destroyer’ Beyer, Jim ‘Baron Von’ Raschke, Ed Don George, Ray Steele.

For more information on the Tragos/Thesz Hall of Fame section in the Dan Gable Museum National Wrestling Hall of Fame

Previous Frank Gotch Award Winners:

  • 2000 – Bobby Managoff, NWA world heavyweight champion in the 1940s.
  • 2001 – Tom Drake, former college wrestling and football star, winner of numerous professional titles, former Alabama assistant football coach under Bear Bryant, practicing attorney, a former member of the Alabama State Legislature and Speaker of the House.
  • 2002 – Dan Severn, winner of many amateur and collegiate wrestling titles, UFC heavyweight champion, NWA heavyweight champion.
  • 2003 – Jesse Ventura, Governor of Minnesota and highly-popular talk show host and guest, featured on the cover of Time magazine.