Over the years, many, many wrestlers have shared their stories of Hans Schmidt, and, in particular, his boots.

“Oh he was bad. He was stiff. I was warned about him,” said John Quinn, wincing with recollections about Schmidt’s boots. “I wrestled Schmidt on TV. I came out of the ring and I had boot laces down, across my chest. A guy counted the grommets in the boots — it was in my chest, inlaid in my chest. He said, ‘You just finished wrestling Hans Schmidt.'”

Quinn was hardly the only one with a Hans Schmidt story.

Hans Schmidt poses for the camera. Photo by Roger Baker.

JOHNNY POWERS: He loved to show how tough he was, so he really laid the boot in. You’d look down at your chest and say, “Damn, I’ve got lace marks on my chest. I’m not too happy with that.” He’d laugh, “Heh, heh, heh.” Then he’d take you in a headlock and he’d get out of it, and he’d feed you his head for a headlock, and he wouldn’t have shaved his head. I don’t know if you ever got a guy with a three-day-old stubble under your armpit. Damn! Then he wouldn’t let you go, so you end up with him scraping the skin off your armpit, and you’d be wanting to get rid of the headlock, and nobody would know it outside. You’d say, “Goddamn, let go, Hans!” But he wouldn’t let go of the headlock you had on him. Instead, he’d shred your armpit. And he’d laugh, “Heh, heh, heh.”

“THE GREAT MEMPHISTO” FRANKIE CAIN: Unless you put a stop to it, he’d kick you and leave laces on you. I told him, I don’t want one of those kicks. I’m a little man. I was a babyface, 175 pounds. And I was going to do a job for him on Tampa TV when they first got TV and I’d seen him leave lace marks on guys and I told him, don’t kick me like that. You’ll hurt me. And he was just looking at me and Cowboy [Luttrall] said you got to be able to take that. “Bullshit. I’ve been around a long time.” At that time, I’d been working AT [athletic training or carnival] shows for years and I said oh no, don’t you kick me like that. You’ll break my damned ribs. … We had a match and nothing happened. We used to call him footsie because that’s what he did. That was his main thing to run across the ring and kick you halfway across. I got along with him all right but in my mind’s eye I can see him hurting someone.

BILLY RED LYONS: I enjoyed working with Hans, we had a lot of laughs. Laugh about the match afterwards. We would potato each other, maybe he got me tonight and tomorrow night when he wasn’t expecting it, I’d get him. He was quite a guy.

LUTHER LINDSAY, in Wrestling World, December 1963: Hans Schmidt had kicked him in the head. “I thought a Missouri mule had escaped the barn.”

VERNE GAGNE, Portsmouth (Ohio) Times, December 21, 1953: So you think wrestlers don’t get hurt? How about the guy who lay dead in a ring in Washington while the fans hollered, ‘Fake’? Fellows like Schmidt and [Killer] Kowalski are brutal. Schmidt kicked out four of my front teeth. Another time he dislocated one of my ribs. I was helpless, and he could have pinned me easily if he’d known it. Instead, he gave me a body slam, and the rib jumped back into place.

DON CURTIS, to author Dale Pierce, September 2004: You haven’t lived until you get the boots put to you by Schmidt. I think he must have worn a size 20, from the feel of them. I called him “Footsie!”

— with files from Steven Johnson