About Famous Georgians – Kola Kwariani

Born in the city of Kutaisi in Georgia on 16 January 1903, Kola Kwariani (Georgian: კოლა (კოლია) ქვარიანი) was a Georgian professional wrestler known by the ring name Nicholas Kwariani or Nick the Wrestler.

Kola Kwariani wrestling in a match in the U.S.A.

Kola Kwariani wrestling in a match in the U.S.A.

Kola saw wrestling for the first time at the age of 7 at a circus performance in Kutaisi and in 1917 began professional training in Tbilisi with the French wrestling coach, Joe Moreau. He moved to the United States in the 1930’s and fought 556 matches (data by wrestlingdata.com) during his professional wrestling career.

On April 21, 1931 at Promotional poster for a match between Jim Londos and Kola Kwariani at the Chicago Stadium on 21 April 1931.

Promotional poster for a match between Jim Londos and Kola Kwariani at the Chicago Stadium on 21 April 1931.

Kwariani was the only chess-playing professional wrestler in the United States according to Chess Review magazine. In the 1950s, he was a member of the Chess and Checker Club in New York City, also known as “The Flea House”.

Kola Kwariani playing chess with the actor Sterling Hayden, watched by the film director Stanley Kubrick.

Kola Kwariani playing chess with the actor Sterling Hayden, watched by the film director Stanley Kubrick.

Kwariani had a role in Stanley Kubrick’s 1956 film The Killing, as a chess-playing wrestler named Maurice Oboukhoff, who is hired to start a fight as a diversion during a robbery. Kubrick gave him one of the best speeches in the film: “You know, I have often thought that the gangster and the artist are the same in the eyes of the masses. They are admired and hero-worshipped, but there is always present an underlying wish to see them destroyed at the peak of their glory.”

Kola Kwariani as Maurice Oboukhoff in Stanley Kubrick's 1956 film The Killing.

Kola Kwariani as Maurice Oboukhoff in Stanley Kubrick’s 1956 film The Killing.

Kwariani died tragically in 1980 at the age of 77 following an assault by multiple assailants outside the Chess and Checker Club in New York.

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