Paul Max Boesch
October 12, 1912
|Died||March 7, 1989 (aged 76)|
|Debut||1938 (as wrestler)|
1947 (as announcer)
1966 (as promoter)
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Service/||United States Army|
|Years of service||1942-1945|
|Battles/wars||World War II|
Battle of Hürtgen Forest
|Awards|| Combat Infantry Badge|
Silver Star and cluster
Bronze Star Medal and cluster
Purple Heart Medal
Distinguished Unit Citation
Croix de guerre with star (France)
|Other work||Professional wrestler, professional wrestling announcer and promoter|
Paul Max Boesch (October 2, 1912 – March 7, 1989) was a professional wrestler and promoter, most famous for his work as an announcer and promoter for Houston Wrestling. He also spent several stints working with the Universal Wrestling Federation, World Class Championship Wrestling, Jim Crockett Promotions, and the World Wrestling Federation.
Boesch was born in Brooklyn, New York, on October 2, 1912. His family eventually moved from Brooklyn to nearby Long Beach, where Boesch graduated from Long Beach High School in 1929. A gifted athlete, he became a lifeguard at the Long Island beaches near his home, and he was skilled enough as a swimmer to place third in the North Atlantic Coast Lifeguard Competition in 1932. Boesch began wrestling professionally during the 1930s. His first notable match was a 90-minute bout against Pat Meehan in Calgary on November 25, 1938 that ended in a draw.
With the outbreak of World War II, Boesch suspended his wrestling career to enlist in the United States Army. He graduated from officer candidate school in 1942 and earned a commission in the 121st Infantry Regiment of the 8th Infantry Division. Boesch deployed to Europe with his unit after the D-Day landings to take part in the offensive against Nazi Germany. As commanding officer of Company G, 1st Lt. Boesch led his rifle company in one of the bloodiest and most desperate battles of the war on the Western Front, the Battle of Hürtgen Forest. His unit took heavy casualties during the fighting, and Boesch himself was seriously injured by a German artillery shell. For his service, Boesch was awarded numerous decorations, including the Purple Heart, the Silver Star with oak leaf clusters, the Bronze Star with oak leaf clusters, and the French Croix de Guerre with star. He also earned the prized Combat Infantryman Badge and the Distinguished Unit Citation, awarded to the soldiers of the 121st Infantry for their meritorious efforts in the Hürtgen Forest. After the war, he was honored with a Distinguished Citizens Award from the 121st Infantry Association for his outstanding community service with charitable groups including the Boys Club of America. Boesch authored a well-regarded memoir of his experiences in World War II entitled, Road to Huertgen: Forest in Hell.
After World War II, Boesch returned to wrestling, competing in matches across North America. In 1947 he was injured in a car accident, forcing him to retire from competition. It was at this time that Houston Wrestling promoter Morris Sigel approached him to work for his growing Texas organization. Boesch became an advisor to Sigel as well as a radio announcer, and two years later became the promotion's first television commentator when the show debuted on local television. Boesch's wrestling broadcasts remained a fixture on Houston television for over 30 years, airing on station KHTV channel 39 (now KIAH, a CW Network affiliate).
After Sigel died in 1966, Boesch bought out Houston Wrestling from Sigel's widow. Boesch had essentially been training for this opportunity for 20 years, and he quickly brought the organization to new levels of success and visibility. Under Boesch's leadership, Houston Wrestling quickly attained gained a reputation as one of the top regional wrestling promotions of its time. Promoters such as Gary Hart (World Class Championship Wrestling) and wrestlers such as Barry Darsow would repeatedly praise Boesch's acumen and honesty as a promoter and businessman. Boesch is also credited with the invention of mud wrestling, a concept he devised for a major match between Gus Sonnenberg and Harnam Singh in Seattle, Washington.
Together with his nephew Peter Birkholz, Boesch entered Houston Wrestling into affiliations with Mid South Wrestling, World Wrestling Federation, Universal Wrestling Federation, and World Class Championship Wrestling to ensure that top talent from all over the country would appear on his weekly Friday Night shows. As professional wrestling became a major entertainment business in the 1980s, most of Boesch's affiliates joined the National Wrestling Alliance. Boesch eventually shut down Houston Wrestling in favor of signing with Vince McMahon and the World Wrestling Federation, an affiliation that lasted only four months.
After 55 years of working in the industry as a wrestler, announcer, and promoter, Paul Boesch retired on August 28, 1987 due to health concerns. The now-WWE hosted the Paul Boesch Retirement Show in Houston in his honor, which drew a sell-out crowd to the Sam Houston Coliseum. During the show, personal friend and then-Vice President George Bush had a telegram delivered praising Boesch for his lifelong commitment to service.
Boesch died on March 7, 1989 after suffering a heart attack in Sugar Land, Texas. He was inducted into the Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame as a charter member in 1996. He was inducted into the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2005 as a non-wrestler participant in the business.
Paul Boesch's contribution to the wrestling industry has been praised by numerous observers as well as by former wrestlers themselves. WWE commentator Jim Ross has publicly stated that he believes Boesch is worthy of enshrinement in the WWE Hall of Fame. The Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame states that "his influence in professional wrestling cannot be overestimated" due to his expansive promotion of the sport throughout Texas. Through his efforts, Boesch turned Houston into one of the top promotions on the regional wrestling circuit. In addition to his professional accomplishments, Boesch was active in numerous philanthropic endeavors throughout his life. He was a highly visible fixture in the community during his many years in Houston, serving in charitable organizations like the Boys Club and promoting the benefits and necessity of physical fitness for America's youth. To generations of Houstonians and Texans in general, Boesch was the face of professional wrestling.
During his life, Boesch wrote four books: