Make sure you ‘catch’ this unique wrestling documentary

Updated: November 1, 2022

Photo: Curran Jacobs (right), director and narrator of the documentary “For the Love of Catch”, and his cameraman, Adam Towner, presented their work at the premiere on Oct. 1, in Owosso, Mich., Curran’s hometown.

By Mike Chapman

If you like wrestling and history, there is a big treat waiting for you if you “catch” a new documentary that has just arrived in the marketplace.

Probably very few fans of mankind’s oldest sport are familiar with the term “catch-as-catch-can”. But now, thanks to a new film, the word “catch” will become much more common.

“For the Love of Catch” was introduced at a classy premiere in Owosso, Mich., on October 1, before a large and enthusiastic crowd. And since then, the word has spread quickly around the nation.

The documentary is the work of Curran Jacobs, captain of the 2012 Michigan State team who holds a master’s degree in theater arts and has appeared in several movies. He has done a wonderful job of combining his theatrical education with his wrestling background to produce a work that could become a classic in time.

This superb documentary was made possible through the efforts of many people. Foremost, of course, were Curran and his ace cameraman Adam Towner. They are a dynamic combination of talent, determination and enthusiasm, with a little humor sprinkled in as well.

I rode with them as they drove around the state of Iowa, first to sites in Humboldt, Iowa, to capture the story of the legendary Frank Gotch, a “catch” wrestler whose immense popularity as world heavyweight champion in the early 1900s helped make Iowans fall in love with the sport. Then it was on to Iowa City to interview icons Dan Gable and Tom and Terry Brands, NCAA and world champions who understand the importance of celebrating wrestling’s rich heritage.

Next, we visited New Salem, Ill., to hook up with Mark Johnson, the winningest mat coach in the history of the University of Illinois, a two-time All-American at Michigan, three-time Greco-Roman national champion and 1980 Olympian. In New Salem, the four of us stood on the very spot where a young Abe Lincoln wrestled Jack Armstrong in 1831. I believe this is the first time that location has ever been captured on film. In 2003, I wrote a booklet called “The Sport of Lincoln”, where I describe the match and its aftermath.

Curran interviewed other big names in the catch world, including Josh Barnett, Jon Strickland, Raul Ramirez, Jake Shannon, Erik Paulson and more.

One of the best moments comes when Curran met with Dan “The Beast” Severn at his training headquarters in Coldwater, Michigan. After his tremendous scholastic career — which included a Junior World gold medal in 1977, and two high-level NCAA finishes at Arizona State — Severn entered the world of mixed marital arts and became the first wrestler to win the UFC heavyweight title. He has since become a living legend in MMA circles.

Curran met Dan at this training facility to discuss how catch evolved into the pro game … and then Dan “challenged” Adam Towner, a big man himself, to a match. Adam was willing to step into the ring in what was billed as “The Cameraman versus The Beast”. It is a hilarious bit of film that made its point, as well. 

Compliments have been pouring in from all over, but perhaps the finest came from Randy Couture, who has been one of the most influential persons in raising the image of wrestling. 

A three-time All-American at Oklahoma State and several times national Greco-Roman champion,Randy took his combat skills into the arena of mixed martial arts and became an absolute legend winning numerous titles and setting many records. He parlayed that experience into a movie career, starring with Sylvester Stallone and other big names in all three of “the Expendables” movies, and appearing in many more films.

Randy played a key role in the catch documentary and had this to say on his Facebook site, with nearly two million follows:

“I had the honor of being involved in a documentary called ‘For the Love of Catch’ and I saw it tonight. Man, it is really, really well done. Curran Jacobs is a good friend of mine and Mike Chapman is one of the most influential historians for the sport of wrestling; they put this thing together and they did an amazing job. 

“It is very informative, fun and funny — and whether you are into wrestling or not, the history in the documentary is fantastic. So, I recommend it to any of you who want to watch something interesting, informative and historical…check out ‘For the Love of Catch’.”

The documentary is sponsored by the Red, White and Blue, a non-profit company run by Anthon Horus, while D.J. Perry, a veteran filmmaker, was the executive producer. Other producers were Alfred Gatt, Rick Jacobs, Greg Mason, and Bart Sadler. Dan Chipman was another skilled camera operator on the project.  

“For the Love of Catch” is available to rent or buy on Amazon Prime Video, and the DVD is available on Amazon. 

“A lot of love and passion was poured into this film for the sake of preserving such rich wrestling history; history that otherwise would be lost in time,” said Curran. “And I dedicate this to Randy Couture and Mike Chapman, without them this film would never have been made.”

Just as Randy said, I was honored to be a part of it and I also strongly recommend it to one and all.

(Mike Chapman is the founder of WIN Magazine, the Dan Hodge Trophy, the National Hall of Fame Dan Gable Museum, author of 30 books and was named to the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2007.)