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The Bronko Nagurski Museum

Bronko as a boy

Born in Rainy River Ontario in 1908 and crossing the U.S Border in 1912, Bronislau “Bronko” Nagurski, was a small town boy destined for fame on the gridiron and behind the wrestling ropes. His work ethic started at a young age; as he worked hard on his family’s farm and would walk 4 miles to and from school, both he has credited for his impressive strength that he would later use to dominate in every sport he played. Despite his success, he maintained his modest Minnesota values, leading him to become a beloved national hero.

For Bronko, the fame was irrelevant, his achievements, just another day on the job. A dedicated family man and citizen, Bronko never left the borderland, unlike many other athletes of the day who would move to larger cities to further promote their careers. He chopped wood with his sons, farmed the land his parents had previously worked, and ran a gas station. Bronko enjoyed fishing with friends and enjoying the great outdoors, which only the quiet solitude of International Falls could provide.


Before Nagurski crushed opposing teams and their players as a Chicago Bear, he dominated the fields of college football. Displaying great athletic ability, Bronko vaulted over players with relative ease. He was named All-American at both tackle and fullback while attending the University of Minnesota—the only player to ever be named to both positions in the same year, and led the Gophers to the 1927 Big Ten Championship. He would also later lead the Bears to 3 National Championships

In 1933, Bronko was persuaded by promoter Tony Stecher to join the ranks of the professional wrestlers, as many other football players were doing. Wrestling promoters rejoiced at the idea of Nagurski joining the grappler ranks. They knew his fame, along with his natural strength and agility, would make an ideal wrestling hero and would boost the sport which, like football, was suffering during the Depression.  

Of all his achievements, Bronko was most proud of his induction into the Pro Football Hall of fame as a charter member in 1963. A bust of Nagurski graces the hall of the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. He was also a charter member of the College Football Hall of Fame in 1951, and he remains a symbol of singular strength, ferocity, and intensity

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