Paul Max Boesch (October 2, 1912 – March 7, 1989) was a professional wrestling 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.
Paul Boesch was born in Brooklyn, New York on October 2, 1912. In 1929, he graduated from Long Beach High School. In 1932, he placed third in the North Atlantic Coast Lifeguard Competition. Shortly thereafter, he became a professional wrestler. Boesch's first well known match was a 90-minute draw against Pat Meehan in Calgary, Alberta, Canada on November 25, 1938.
During World War II, Boesch left wrestling to enlist in the United States Army, where he earned a Purple Heart, Silver Star and cluster, Bronze Star and cluster, and French Croix de Guerre with star. He also earned a Combat Infantryman Badge, a Distinguished Unit Citation, and Distinguished Citizen's Award from the 121st Infantry Association.
After World War II, Boesch returned to wrestling, competing all over North America. In 1947, he was injured in a car accident, forcing his retirement from the ring. It was at this time that Houston Wrestling promoter Morris Sigel approached him to work for the growing Texas promotion. 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 went live on television. He remained in that capacity for over 30 years as KHTV channel 39 (now KIAH, a CW Network affiliate) picked up the show for national broadcasting.
After Sigel died in 1966, Boesch bought out Houston Wrestling from Sigel's widow, realizing that he was in the best position to run the promotion and that he'd unintentionally been training the past twenty years for this time. It was at this point that Houston Wrestling gained its legacy as one of the most popular and lucrative promotions of its time. Promoters such as Gary Hart (World Class Championship Wrestling) and wrestlers such as Barry Darsow would repeatedly praise Boesch's abilities and honesty as a promoter. Boesch is also credited with the invention of mud wrestling, as he came up with the concept for the match when booking a feud between Gus Sonnenberg and Harnam Singh in Seattle, Washington.
Together with his nephew Peter Birkholz, Boesch promoted Houston Wrestling as a top show, creating 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. During the time of professional wrestling nationalizing 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 12,000 fans. During the show, personal friend (and then-Vice President) George Bush had a telegram delivered praising and honoring Boesch.
Death and Legacy
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.
Houston Wrestling's legacy has been praised by many, including articles and books written about Boesch and the promotion by various participants within the wrestling business. The Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame states that "his influence in professional wrestling cannot be overestimated" due to his expansive promoting throughout East and Central Texas.
During his life, Boesch wrote four books:
- Road to Hurtgen (1962), his story as a soldier in World War II.
- Much of Me in Each of These (1966), a book of poetry composed by Boesch himself.
- The Career of Paul Boesch-- One Man, One Sport, One Lifetime-- 50 years on the mat (1981), an autobiography.
- Hey Boy- Where'd You Get Them Ears? (2001), a secondary autobiography including his later memoirs..