We now begin with the Class of 1995 as we take a look at The Polish Power himself: Ivan Putski!
Real Name: Jozef Bednarski
Birthday: January 21,1941
Weight: 284 lbs
Inducted by: Scott Putski
Notable Titles Held:
WWF World Tag-Team Championships
NWA Texas Tag-Team Championships (2x)
NWA American Tag-Team Championships
SCW World Tag-Team Championships
Notable Promotions Wrestled:
WWE (fka: WWF)
Jozef Bednarski was born in Krakow,Poland. At a young age he and his parents migrated to the United States. They lived in Texas where he started his wrestling career in 1968.
Earlier in his career he wrestled under the name "Jim Bednarski" but would transition into "Ivan Putski" which he would become better known for. He was a staple personality in the Dallas territories during the early 70's and frequently headlined the famous Sportatorium. He won the NWA Texas Tag-Team Championships twice with Jose Lothario. Around these times, Putski mainly wrestled as an "underdog" and would miraculously beat his opponents, they even introduced him as a concentration camp survivor to add sympathy from the fans. I don't think having a gimmick like that these days would be perceived as sympathetic but I digress.
In mid 1974 Putski joined the AWA and had a similar gimmick to that of The Mighty Igor. He never won a title for Verne Gagne's promotion but was still one of their memorable stars. The same year he joined the WWWF and feuded with many notable heels such as Bruiser Brody,Stan Hansen,and Ivan Koloff. On the Showdown at Shea event in 1976, Putski defeated "Baron" Mikel Scicluna. At the sequel of said event he defeated Johnny Rodz.
He won his first and only title for the company with Tito Santana as the WWWF World Tag-Team Champions beating The Valiant Brothers. They held the belts for 173 days before losing them to The Wild Samoans. When Vincent Kennedy McMahon took over the WWWF and would then become the WWF, Putski continued wrestling for the company and notably feuded around this time with "Rowdy" Roddy Piper and Sgt. Slaughter. His final high profile feud however and probably his most famous one was against Jesse "The Body" Ventura, who would often throw insults such as calling him "Ivan Paduski."
Around the 80's, The Polish Power slowed down in wrestling. Besides the WWF, he also wrestled for other independent promotions. On May 1981 he won the SWCW World Tag-Team Championships with Wahoo McDaniel. On November 1985, Randy Savage defeated him at the opening round of the Wrestling Classic tournament.
In 1995 he was inducted into the WWF Hall of Fame by his son Scott, whom he frequently tagged with in the latter years of his career. Putski had a small run for International Championship Wrestling in 1996. His final match took place on an episode of RAW in 1997 where he and his son Scott Putski defeated the other father-son duo of Jerry Lawler and Brian Christopher. After retiring from in-ring competition, he pursued a strongman career and to this day Putski still remains a healthy lifestyle.
Ivan Putski is one of the greatest pure babyfaces of all time! Especially in his prime, he would get nothing but cheers from the crowd. He may not be the best wrestler in terms of technical abilities, but he did not need to as he was already over with the fans to begin with.
What I like more about Putski is around the twilight years of his career, he wasn't afraid to put over younger stars at the time such as Randy Savage,Bret Hart,Ted DiBiase,and Bob Orton Jr.
Plus you never hear a bad word about the man, he just seems like an all around good guy. He may not be a household name like Hulk Hogan but Ivan Putski will always remain as a respected legend in the history of pro wrestling.