Born Feb. 3, 1915, in Tallinn. Soviet athlete, Honored Master of Sport (1943), Honored Worker in Physical Culture and Sport of the Estonian SSR (1964). Became a member of the CPSU in 1945.
Kotkas was an Olympic champion (1952, Helsinki), European champion (1938–39, 1947), and USSR champion (12 times from 1940 to 1956, including overall champion four times, in 1940 and from 1943 to 1946) in heavyweight Greco-Roman wrestling. In 1947 he was Soviet champion in freestyle wrestling, and in 1943 he was the Soviet champion in the hammer throw. Kotkas has been awarded the Order of Lenin, two other orders, and medals.