THE WAWLI PAPERS:
WRESTLING AS WE LIKED IT
by J Michael Kenyon
Volume 2, Number 50 Tuesday, July 22, 1997
IN THIS ISSUE: Ray Steele Flattens King Levinsky; Charlotte, North Carolina, Results
LEVINSKY IS THROWN ON EAR BY STEELE
(Associated Press, November 20,1935)
ST. LOUIS, Mo. -- Whether a good boxer can whip a wrestler remained an unsettled
question today, but there was no doubt what a good wrestler can do to a hit-and-miss
It took Ray Steele, patriarch of the grappling industry, just 35 seconds in the first round of a
ten-round contest last night to pin King Levinsky, the late heavyweight boxing contender.
The bout, first "major" mixed battle in ring history, left some 12,000 cash customers
discontented and both principals drew a generous round of boos at the close of the brief
The action -- while it lasted -- was whirlwind enough.
The Kingfish, armed with the conventional 6-ounce gloves, ambled from his corner at the
bell and took a long-range poke at Steele's battered nose. It was a broad target, but the
King missed. Steele dived under his gloves and knocked him against the ropes.
The wrestler held Levinsky firmly from behind while the Chicago ex-fish peddler fanned with
a vain backhand at the Steele kidneys. Came then the referee and separated the two.
The Kingfish let go the long right haymaker he promised before the bout would lift Steele
into the aisles. It dazed the wrestler but he remained substantially in the ring.
He ducked the follow-up left and then circled Levinsky's knees with a quick dive, toppled
him to the floor and smothered the bewildered boxer with an octopus body block. For the
rest it was just a short exercise in mathematics for the referee.
Said the Kingfish in his dressing room after the bout:
"I was robbed. Twice I lifted my shoulder off the floor while the referee was counting ten.
Each time, according to the rules, he should have started all over again."
"Sure you were robbed, King," his supporters yelled loyally. The King blew smoke rings in
their faces from a big black cigar.
"Well, what do I care," said the pride of the Krakows, philosophically. "I made $350,000 in
the last six years in the ring.I fought 'em all, and I'll bet a $1,000 I can knock climbs in the
ring with me again."
Said Steele, the first "world mixed bout heavyweight champion":
"Sure, I'll meet him again. I can use $1,000. I always did say no boxer could last with a good
January 6, 1936 Charlotte NC
Rube Wright beat Jim "Goon" Henry, Masked Marvel beat Casey Berger, Karl Schultz
beat Dobie Osborne
January 13, 1936 Charlotte NC
Jim Browning beat Rube Wright, Masked Marvel beat Eli Fischer, Karl Schultz beat Joe
January 27, 1936 Charlotte NC
Masked Marvel beat Cowboy Luttrall , Henry Graber beat Jim Wright, Casey Berger beat
March 2, 1936 Charlotte NC
Floyd Marshall beat Rube Wright (referee, James Braddock), Henry Graber beat Little
Beaver, Eli Fischer beat Karl Schultz
March 9, 1936 Charlotte NC
Savoldi beat Floyd Marshall, Bill Middlekauf beat Karl Schultz, Little Beaver beat Roy
March 30, 1936 Charlotte NC
Floyd Marshall beat Doug Wycoff, Little Beaver beat Eli Fischer, Herman Hickman beat
May 4, 1936 Charlotte NC
Cowboy Luttrall beat Floyd Marshall, Doug Wycoff beat Rube Wright, Eli Fischer beat
May 11, 1936 Charlotte NC
Cowboy Luttrall beat Mike Mazurki, Dan O'Connor beat Eli Fischer, Andy Rascher beat
May 25, 1936 Charlotte NC
Chief Little Wolf beat Cowboy Luttrall, Bill Middlekauf beat Dan O'Connor (DQ) , Andy
Rascher drew Bruce Nolan
June 8, 1936 Chathat big bozo kicking if he ever
Dan O'Connor beat Bill Middlekauf, Cy Williams beat Doug Wycoff, Little Beaver beat
Bruce Nolan, Bill Watkins beat Ben Logan
June 22, 1936 Charlotte NC
Johnny Plummer beat Little Beaver (referee, Jack Dempsey), Henry Graber beat Roy
"Father" Lumpkin, Abe Yourist beat Scotty Dawkins
July 6, 1936 Charlotte NC
Henry Graber beat Jim Henry (DQ) , (Boxing Match) Al Massey beat Johnny Plummer (21
second knockout), Abe Yourist beat Walter Logan, Bruce Nolan beat Ben Logan
July 15, 1936 Charlotte NC
Herman Hickman vs Johnny Plummer (referee, Jack Dempsey), Red Ryan vs Bruce Nolan
July 20, 1936 Charlotte NC
Jim Henry beat Herman Hickman, George Harben beat Henry Graber, Red Ryan beat Abe
August 3, 1936 Charlotte NC
Jim Henry vs Herman Hickman, George Harben beat Scotty Dawkins, Ivan Vacturoff vs
August 17, 1936 Charlotte NC
(Matros Kirilenko beat George Harben (referee, Jim Hesslyn), Henry Graber beat Ivan
Vacturoff, Dobie Osborne beat Tommy Malloy
August 31, 1936 Charlotte NC
Matros Kirilenko beat Cowboy Luttrall (DQ), Red Ryan beat Jim Henry, Al beat Dean
September 10, 1936 Charlotte NC
Dick Powell beat Cowboy Luttrall, Red Ryan beat Jim Henry, Dobie Osborne beat Al
October 5, 1936 Charlotte NC
Henry Graber beat Red Ryan, Chief Saunooke beat "Dixie" Dick Powell (DQ) , Alan
Eustace beat Al Maynard
October 12, 1936 Charlotte NC
Red Ryan beat Cowboy Luttrall (DQ), Henry Graber beat Dick Powell, Al Maynard beat
November 9, 1936 Charlotte NC
Henry Graber beat Dick Powell (Referee: Jack Dempsey), John Grandovitch beat Chief
Saunooke, Everett Kibbons beat Bob Wagner (DQ)
November 23, 1936 Charlotte NC
Ernie Dusek beat Henry Graber, Cowboy Luttrall beat Bob Wagner, Al Maynard beat
December 7, 1936 Charlotte NC
Mayes McLain beat Cowboy Luttrall (DQ), Bob Wagner beat Red Ryan, Jack O'Brien beat
December 14, 1936 Charlotte NC
Bob Wagner beat Cowboy Luttrall, Jack O'Brien beat Ed (Strangler) White, Preacher
Hogue beat Ivan Vacturoff
January 4, 1937 Charlotte NC
Bob Wagner beat Cowboy Luttrall, Mayes McLain beat Red "Rosy" Ryan, Pat Newman
beat Jack O'Brien
January 11, 1937 Charlotte NC
Mayes McLain beat Bob Wagner, Alan Eustace beat Ed White, Pat Newman beat Buck
January 18, 1937 Charlotte NC
Dick Shikat beat Mayes McLain, Alan Eustace beat Cowboy Luttrall, Ollie Holm beat Buck
January 25, 1937 Charlotte NC
Matros Kirilenko beat Abe Coleman, Alan Eustace beat Bob Wagner (DQ), Paul Murdock
beat Ollie Holm
February 1, 1937 Charlotte NC
Mayes McLain beat Ed White, Bob Wagner beat Pat Newman, George beat Jack O'Brien
(DQ), Mayes McLain and Ed White won a 6-Man Royal,
February 8, 1937 Charlotte NC
Mayes McLain beat Matros Kirilenko, Bob Wagner beat Marshall Blackstock, Paul
Murdock drew Leo Alexander,
March 1, 1937 Charlotte NC
Dick Shikat beat George Zaharias, Alan Eustace beat Bob Wagner, Mayes McLain beat
Jack O'Brien, Jack League beat Ed White March 22, 1937 Charlotte NC
Ivan Rasputin beat Bob Wagner, Mayes McLain beat Alan Eustace, Ivan Mikaloff beat
April 12, 1937 Charlotte NC
Bob Wagner beat Ivan Rasputin, Black Secret (unmasked himself as Jerry Monohan) beat
Jack O'Brien, Ben Ginsberg beat Mayes McLain
April 19, 1937 Charlotte NC
Bob Wagner beat Jack League, Jerry Monahan beat Ivan Rasputin, Ben Ginsberg beat Lee
April 26, 1937 Charlotte NC
Jerry Monahan beat Bob Wagner, George Hagen beat Ben Ginsberg, Ivan Mikaloff beat
May 3, 1937 Charlotte NC
Jerry Monahan beat Cowboy Luttrall (referee Jack League), Mayes McLain beat Ivan
Vacturoff, Henry Graber beat Ivan Mikaloff
May 10, 1937 Charlotte NC
Ernie Dusek beat Mayes McLain, Eddie Cook beat Joe Dusek, Monahan beat Wally
Dusek, Henry Graber beat Buck Olsen
May 17, 1937 Charlotte NC
Eddie Cook beat Hans Schuman, Dean Kibbons beat Ben Ginsberg, Jerry Monahan beat
Jack League, Eddie Cook and Hans Schuman won a 6-Man Wrestle Royal
May 31, 1937 Charlotte NC
Dick Powell beat Jerry Monahan, Eddie Cook beat Bob Wagner (DQ), Sailor Billings beat
June 7, 1937 Charlotte NC
Eddie Cook beat Bob Wagner, Dick Powell vs. Henry Graber, Sailor Al Billings vs. Jerry
June 14, 1937 Charlotte NC
Eddie Cook beat Dick Powell, Sailor Al Billings beat George Hagen, George Hagen beat
July 1, 1937 Charlotte NC
(Thursday) Eddie Cook beat Tom Zaharias, Sailor Al Billings beat Dick Powell, George
Hagen beat Joe Marsh (decision)
July 8, 1937 Charlotte NC
Tom Zaharias beat Eddie Cook, Dobie Osborne beat George Cochran, Sailor Billings beat
July 26, 1937 Charlotte NC
Bob Wagner beat Tom Zaharias, George Widchecki beat Eddie Cook, Sid Marcus beat
Sailor Al Billings
August 2, 1937 Charlotte NC
Bob Wagner beat George Widchecki, Sid Marcus beat Tiger Joe Marsh, Jerry Burns beat
August 16, 1937 Charlotte NC
Cowboy Luttrall beat Bob Wagner, George Widchecki beat Jerry, Abdul Pascha drew with
Sid Marcus _____________________________________________
WE GET LETTERS ONCE IN A WHILE, TOO
Subj: Re: THE WAWLI PAPERS, VOL. 2, NO. 49 Date: 97-07-18 10:45:52 EDT From:
email@example.com (Edward Wiest) To: Oldfallguy@aol.com
Thanks for running the Stasiak piece--great journalism you never see in the "mark" press.
Edward Wiest ____________________________________________
A POTPOURRI OF MAT LORE, HISTORY AND LEGEND
The time is January, 1951 and we're looking at the television wrestling listings for the week
in the New York City area...Monday--9 p.m. WABD from Columbia Park, North Bergen to
11 p.m.; Tuesday--WATV Elizabeth NJ 8:35 to 10:15 p.m.; Wednesday--WJZ TV Ch. 7 from
Chicago at 10 p.m.; Thursday--WOR TV from Ridgewood Grove 9 to 11:15 p.m.; Friday--
WATV Ch 13 8:35 to 11 p.m. from Laurel Gardens, Newark; WOR TV from Jamaica Arena
Ch 9 9-11 p.m.; Saturday-- WPIX ch 11 9-11 p.m. wrestling from Bayonne NJ Naval Base,
WABD TV Ch 5 Wrestling from Chicago 11 to 12 p.m.
Ed (Strangler) Lewis, in a July 16, 1953 interview with Bill Bono in Spokane, Wash., claims
6,200 bouts and "not a blemish on me. I have the blood pressure of a man of 30. Oh, it's a
good game." Lewis, in the same interview, claims to have been a wrestler for "44, no, 45
years." Makes his home in Tulsa, says he has crossed the Atlantic Ocean 22 times, and has
been across the U.S. via plane no less than 279 times. In 1952, alone, he says he traveled
200,000 miles in the company of world champion Lou Thesz.
On April 13, 1933, Daisy Florence Savoldi wins divorce in Los Angeles. Says the only time
she knew Joe's whereabouts was when papers chronicled his progress from city to city. They
were married Aug. 20, 1931, were separated in October, 1932. Her settlement is $25 a week
for two years. It was after Savoldi's marriage to Daisy was revealed, late in the fall of 1931,
that he was excused from the Notre Dame football team and made his way into the wrestling
Two great names in wrestling history not often mentioned are Throckmorton Cohn and
Hercules Wergeles. They handled publicity in the 1930s for Jacques Armand Schuel (Jack
Curley), the famous wrestling promoter. Curley, in those days, was large, plumpish, with a
moon face, gray hair and a "mixed grill" accent. His health was none too good,either. Jack
Dempsey came to visit him in the hospital after a major operation in July, 1934. Jack Curley
died July 12, 1937, beloved husband of Bessie, father of Jack and Jean. Services were
conducted at Fairchild Chapel, 141-26 Northern Blvd., Flushing, on Wednesday, July 14, at
10 a.m. Burial was at Nassau Knowles Cemetery, Port Washington, Long Island. Curley
managed boxers, opera stars, swimmers, actors and circuses during a legendary career that
spanned some four decades.
A contemporary who went on to equal renown was Jake (Hassen) Pfeffer, the "great
impresario of the grimacers." Also known as the "weary wanderer from Warsaw," Pfeffer
was an erstwhile piano player who had been, literally, a spear carrier for Pavlova in 1918.
He wore his trousers up to the armpits, and generally sported a wilted white carnation in his
lapel. His shoes had elevated heels, an attempt to disguise his height: five feet tall, net, with
hat on. Pfeffer also carried silver knobbed cane, "clutched amidships, like a pole vaulter
about to take off." The same chonicler said he "sounds like George Arliss being put through
a concrete mixer." His office was on the 10th floor of the old Times Bldg, 42nd and
Broadway, "the double-crossroads of the world." Said Pfeffer of his matmen: "A few of
them can wrestle but I don't hold that against 'em." More Pfeffer: "I've never seen an
honest wrestling bout in my 20 years in the game. Maybe there was one, but I wasn't there."
On November 17, 1941, the Public Control Committee of the London County (England)
Council asked for a wrestling ban. Their statement, in part: "In our view, all-in wrestling
cannot be regarded as true wrestling. We do not consider that it contains any element of
sport, and we regard it as a degrading and unhealthy form of entertainment."
An advertisement headed "Champions All" -- appearing in papers around the country on
May 27, 1933 featured wrestling champ Jim Browning, boxers Benny Leonard, Maxie
Rosenbloom and Jack Dempsey, plus baseball pitcher Carl Hubbell all bedecked in Adam
The Ripley's "Believe It Or Not" for September 6, 1941: "Strangler Lewis engaged in 104
matches in one year."
Billy Watson went to England 1936 with Al Korman, Pat Flanagan and Tiger Tasker.
Relwyskow the promoter made him WHIPPER BILLY WATSON. He defeated Mike
Denitri in France for the European lightheavy crown by 1939, married Mary Patrician Utting
of England (kids Georgina, Phillip, John) and returned to Canada in the early '40s to become
a headliner for nearly three more decades.
On April 2, 1945, in Boston, George Herman (Babe) Ruth, 51, announced that he'll try his
hand at refereeing wrestling matches. He denied being broke. "I've been out of baseball for
11 years now and, since my old game does not appear to want me anywhere, I haven't had
much chance to keep in touch with the crowds." Ruth says he must have reffed 10 shows
while in baseball. He was booked into Portland, Maine, on April 3 and Boston April 4. Ruth
adds that he's "had some throat trouble recently" and has cut down his smoking.
In 1943, 146 licensed wrestlers put on 369 cards watched by 276,000 at Rockford, Alton,
East St. Louis, Sterling, Springfield, Aurora and Chicago, Illinois.
Jack Reynolds, former world middleweight champ, was indicted, age 38, on April 12, 1934,
by a Cincinnati grand jury for the second degree slaying of James Meyers and Philip Citron
on March 11, 1934. Reynolds was acquitted May 28 but his halcyon days on the mat were
over. A decade later, he was running AT shows in the Pacific Northwest.
Sandor Szabo was a pupil of Dr. Baylor Varga, a four-time member of Hungarian Olympic
team, Szabo was a member of the Greco-Roman wrestling and water polo teams. Later,
while wrestling in the area, he was a member of same water polo team in Santa Monica as
movie stars Buster Crabbe and Johnny Weismuller. Szabo appeared in "Once in a Blue
Moon" by Paramount, "Mission to Moscow" by Warner Bros., and "Passage to
Marseilles" by Warner Bros.
>From Punjab, in India, came Daula He had shoes but not any caula But his shoes they were
tight And he threw them one night At a wrestler who started to haula
On June 23,1927, the Associated Press reported from San Francisco's Dreamland Rink that
Angelo Tarmacchi defeated Alexander Yermerkoff in 9 minutes, 22 seconds "without using
any recognized wrestling hold."
MAJOR BOUTS FROM BOB ORTON'S EARLY MAT YEARS
Aug. 11, St. Louis Jack Hader Won Nov. 13, Tampa Lou Thesz Lost Dec. 1, Atlanta Jack
Hader Won Dec. 28, Atlanta Chris Zaharias Draw (NC)
Mar. 26, Omaha Emil Dusek Lost Apr. 5, Kansas City Sonny Myers Draw Apr. 16, Omaha
Mike DiBiase Lost May 21, Omaha Chest Bernard Lost June 5, Dallas Tim Geohagen Lost
June 6, San Antonio Angelo Cistoldi Won June 15, Houston Rito Romero Draw June 19,
Dallas Sonny Myers Lost June 20, San Antonio Duke Keomuka Lost June 22, Houston Art
Neilson Won June 26, Dallas Duke Keomuka Draw July 3, Dallas Dick Raines Lost July 4,
San Antonio Johnny Henning Won July 20, Houston Bob Gurley Lost July 27, Houston Tim
Geohagen Lost Aug. 8, San Antonio Buck Riley Won Aug. 14, Dallas Ellis Bashara Lost
Aug. 20, Tulsa Wayne Martin Lost Aug. 24, Oklahoma City Chief White Eagle Lost Aug.
27, Tulsa Fabulous Texan Lost Sept. 11, San Francisco Vincent Lopez Draw Sept. 18, San
Francisco LaVerne Baxter Won Oct. 2, San Francisco Al Galento Won Oct. 9, San Francisco
LaVerne Baxter Draw Oct. 16, San Francisco Lee Henning Lost Oct. 30, San Francisco
Chico Gracia Won Nov. 6, San Francisco Tom Rice Lost Nov. 13, San Francisco Tiger Joe
Marsh Lost Dec. 4, San Francisco Rube Wright Lost Dec. 11, San Francisco Tom Rice Lost
Jan. 17, Kansas City Ray Eckert Won Jan. 22, Kansas City Lou Thesz Lost Jan. 31, Kansas
City Babe Zaharias Won Feb. 7, Kansas City Enrique Torres Won Feb. 14, Kansas City
Dutch Hefner Won Apr. 10, Kansas City Sonny Myers Draw Apr. 17, Kansas City Sonny
Myers Lost-DQ Apr. 21, Omaha Joe Dusek Lost May 2, Kansas City Jim Henry Draw
May 8, Kansas City Bobby Lane Won May 12, Omaha Joe Dusek Draw May 27, Kansas
City Alo Leilani Draw May 31, Chicago Jim Dobie Draw June 12, Kansas City Ron
Etchison Draw June 25, Omaha Ernie Dusek Draw Aug. 2, Chicago Bill Krejoi Won Aug. 9,
Chicago Joe Adelma Lost-DQ Aug. 22, Chicago Jim Dobie Won Sept. 20, Chicago Jack
Carter Won Sept. 27, Chicago Jimmy Graham Won Oct. 4, Chicago Pete Managoff Won
Oct. 10, Chicago Ron Etchison Lost Oct. 11, Chicago Jim Dobie Won Nov. 3, Omaha Dave
Sims Lost Nov. 7, Chicago Verne Gagne Lost Nov. 14, St. Louis Killer Kowalski Lost Nov.
15, Chicago Balk Estes Won Nov. 18, Minneapolis Chest Bernard Lost Nov. 22, Chicago
George Scott Won Nov. 29, Chicago Larry Hamilton Won Dec. 1, Omaha Richard Dusek
Won Dec. 6, Chicago Jerry Woods Won Dec. 8, Omaha Bobby Becker Won Dec. 12,
Chicago Sonny Myer Lost-DQ Dec. 13, Chicago Don Beitleman Won Dec. 16, Cleveland
Verne Gagne Lost _________________________________________
Individual submissions relating to a wide range of professional wrestling history are
welcomed by The WAWLI Papers. Please contact the editor: firstname.lastname@example.org or
THE WAWLI PAPERS:
WRESTLING AS WE LIKED IT
by J Michael Kenyon
Volume 2, Number 51 Thursday, July 24, 1997
IN THIS ISSUE: Cowboy Luttrall Goes to Jail For Slugging Referee; First Girls' Match Draw Huge Crowd in Norfolk
SODA BOTTLES BANNED AFTER WILD MAT MATCH
(Norfolk, Va., Ledger-Dispatch, November 28, 1935)
By Charles Reilly
There will be no more pop-bottle throwing in the City Auditorium.
State Boxing Commissioner Ralph Daughton ruled at last night's boxing show, the wildest, maddest, and most insane one ever staged here, that from now on soft drink vendors must peddle their product packaged in paper cups.
Daughton issued the ruling during the semi-final event last night when an overzealous fan heaved a bottle at Cowboy Luttrall, the Texas badman, who was giving Narocki, of Poland, the works -- said works including, among other infractions of the Queensbury code, lip stretching, biting, kicking, kneeing, eye-gouging and finger bending.
The bout was finally won by Luttrall, after referee Nate Goldstein had been cuffed, kicked, tripped and socked in the mouth; after a cop was forced to restrain one of the fans from entering the ring; after another fan made a pass at Luttrall with a beer bottle when he was hanging through the ropes; after the press was forced to take cover under a barrage of pop bottles; after Sgt. Ed Bell, of the Norfolk police, entered the ring; after Luttrall hurled one of the ringside chairs into the ring, and last but not least, after one Ledger-Dispatch employee had his best hat reduced to a shapeless felt rag when the Texas was thrown over the ropes to the press table. (Note to Hanes: That accounts for the extra $5 on my expense account.)
The bout set an all-time new high for rowdyism, but it will have to be admitted that it was interesting and exciting.
Jim ("The Goon") Henry won two falls out of three over Rube Wright in the feature event, another rough and tumble affair. Wright, a smart stylist, matched straight wrestling tactics with Henry's lumber camp methods.
A moment of carelessness probably cost Wright the match. He had the Goon down for the third and deciding fall, but allowed his foe to edge through the ropes before the final count was made. He thought that he had won, when referee LaVerne Baxter pulled him off Henry and turned back to cross the ring. Henry floored him with a dropkick.
In the opening bout, Man Mountain Gurski, of the U.S.S. Arkansas, defeated Irish Danny McBride, of Boston, in nine minutes, and Walter Underhill, of Columbia University, scored over LaVerne Baxter, of Canada, in 16 minutes.
All were heavyweight bouts. ___________________________________________
LUTTRALL VS. GEORGE IN STRONG RASSLIN' SHOW
(Norfolk Ledger-Dispatch, Wednesday, December 18, 1935)
Tidewater's premier wrestling match of the current season, the Ed Don George-Cowboy Luttrall Joy Fund affair tonight at the City Auditorium, is expected to attract the largest crowd to assemble here for a mat show since the game was revived early in the winter.
Both George and Luttrall arrived in town early this morning, each in top physical condition and ready to go the limit to help make Christmas a happier event for Tidewater's underprivileged.
Luttrall was not at all disturbed over reports of the fine showing George made against Danno O'Mahoney, world's champion, at New York Monday night.
"He's not so tough," the big ex-range rider said this morning. "I know Don is smart and scientific, but I'll match his cunning with roughness and a few new tricks I have learned recently."
George had little to say. The ex-Olympic athlete, who was a one-time heavyweight champion of the world, prefers to let his record speak for itself. Local mat fans are well acquainted with his record and recently saw him in action against Young Joe Stecher. He won handily in what was probably the finest exhibition of straight wrestling seen here in recent years.
Luttrall is the roughest, meanest rassler to show in a local ring this year. He employs all the tricks of straight wrestling, plus a few special devices he picked up on the range and around lumber camps.
The main event tonight will be supported by two crack supporting matches.
Jim Hesslyn will meet Rube Wright in the semi-final event and Dobie Osborne will tackle Scotty Dawkins in the special bout.
Wright recently showed here against Goon Henry, losing the final, and deciding, fall after he thought he had won. He is a fine stylist with a rugged physique.
Dawkins, who meets Osborne, is another exponent of the rough and ready style of grappling. He also has shown here.
Tonight's main event will be refereed by George Cazana, local promoter. Cazana was forced to accept the arbiter's role when Don George announced that he would not wrestle with Cyclone Burns as the third man. Nathan Goldstein, local amateur wrestler, will handle the supporting events.
Tickets for the event may be procured at the Fairfax Hotel, Northrop Sport Shop and Law Building Shoe Shine Parlor. After 8 o'clock tonight the box office will be moved to the City Auditorium. Tickets are scaled at 75 cents and $1.10. ____________________________________________
RASSLERS PROVIDE PLENTY OF ACTION FOR FANS
(Norfolk Ledger-Dispatch, Thursday, December 19, 1935)
By Charles Reilly
Six cauliflower-eared wrestlers of assorted sizes, weights, shapes and nationalities today were soothing wounds received in honorable battle as Joy Fund accountants rechecked the gate of last night's grant and groan opera at the City Auditorium ot determine just how much money was realized to help spread cheer to Tidewater's underprivileged at Christmas.
Although officials were more or less disappointed at the house, which was not capacity by a long ways, they were satisfied that those who did lay their gelt on the line for sweet charity got 95 cents worth of real entertainment for every $1.10 invested. (The extra 15 cents goes to the government and state, you silly.)
Ed Don George, a grand athlete who finished his amateur career as an Olympic star and later won the world's professional championship, won over the rough and ready Cowboy Luttrall, the villain of the piece, in straight falls in the main event.
George was awarded the first fall on a foul by referee George Cazana after Luttrall had indulged in a little hair-pulling, kneeing and eye-gouging, to say nothing of a variety of plain and fancy strangle holds. A nice fellow, Luttrall.
The second stanza was much like the first with George trying desperately -- or at least apparently trying desperately to wrestle straight while the ex-cow nurse pulled a few more tricks out of his bag for the edification of the paying customers. (Wrestlers being business men first and athletes second, never bother about trying to please the deadheads.)
After about 16 minutes, the former champion slammed Luttrall to the sod with a neat arm lock, expertly applied a flying head scissors when he regained his feet and then pinned the hapless badman to the canvas to the satisfaction of M. Cazana, who appeared considerably relieved what with the rough treatment he had been subjected to during the proceedings.
Rube Wright defeated Jim Hesslyn in the semi-final match, an affair featured by some neat teethwork on the part of the loser. Leading with his bicuspids at the opening bell, Hesslyn continued to chew various and sundry parts of Wright's physique until the Rube got sore and tossed him on his ear with a Japanese figure-four to end hostilities.
Blood flowed freely in the opening event which ended in a draw between Scotty Dawkins and Dobie Osborne. It was more of a slugging, rather than wrestling, match.
After the bout, in the dressing room, Cowboy Luttrall declared that Norfolk fans were the meanest he has ever encountered. While he was returning to his dressing room, supporters of George blocked his path while others jammed burning cigarettes against his bare back. In the dressing room, his back looked like someone had let him have it with a shotgun at short range. _______________________________________
WRESTLING LAST NIGHT (December 18, 1935) -- AP
Trenton, N.J. -- Dean Detton, 215, Salt Lake City, defeated Vic Christy, 212, California, two out of three falls.
Bridgeton, N.J. -- Ernie Peterson, 180, Michigan, defeated Jack Gacek, 185, Milwaukee, two out of three falls.
Holyoke, Mass. -- Tommy Rae, South Hadley Falls, Mass., defeated Tony Colesano, West Springfield, Mass., two out of three falls.
Portland, Ore. -- Reb Russell, 215, Chicago, defeated Abe Coleman, 210, New York, two out of three falls.
Lincoln, Neb. -- John Pesek, 190, Ravenna, Neb., defeated Rudy LaDitzi, 210, Poughkeepsie, N.Y., straight falls; Jim Bartos, 187, Cleveland, defeated Jake Wyant, 182, Lincoln, Neb.,; Ed Krummel, 205, Minneapolis, and Ed Frerking, 207, Odell, Neb., drew. _______________________________________________
COMMISH WILL HEAR OF FIGHT
(Norfolk Ledger-Dispatch, Thursday, January 23, 1936)
The slugging interlude between referee Elder Craft and Cowboy Luttrall at last night's wrestling show at the City Auditorium will be brought to the attention of the Virginia Boxing and Wrestling Commission, according to an announcement made today by Joe Bauers, commission secretary.
Mr. Bauers was in the audience last night and witnessed the entire affair, which ended when a platoon of policemen escorted Craft and Luttrall to jail, where they were booked for fighting.
This morning in Police Court the cases were continued until next week.
The trouble started shortly after the Luttrall-Eli Fischer semi- final bout got under way. There was considerable conversation between the referee and wrestler before the first blow was struck by Luttrall. Craft, a former Navy boxer and still handy with his mitts, got in a couple of solid socks before cops and spectators entered the ring. Luttrall was given a nice shellacking by Molly Craft, a cop who was offf duty, while he was being held by other policemen.
It was all very exciting for the spectators, but apparently didn't interest Fischer, who slipped out of the ring when the trouble started and remained out of sight from then on.
Rube Wright scored a bit of an upset when he defeated Dr. Len Hall in the feature match, an interesting affair from start to finish.
The opening bout saw Henry Graber defeat Hal Rumberg. ____________________________________________
TOM HANES' SECOND GUESSES
(Norfolk, Va., Ledger-Dispatch, January 23, 1936)
There has been a lot of talk about last night's wrestling brawl that found its way into police court today.
After referee Elder Craft and Cowboy Luttrall, principals in the scramble, returned from the jailhouse whence they had been taken by the gendarmes, they told us their respective sides of the argument.
It seems that Luttrall called Craft THE bad name and Craft called Luttrall THE bad name.
And so the boys fought about it.
So it seems to us that the wrestling fraternity is certainly growing soft when its members start getting worked up over reflections upon their ancestry.
Since Craft is a professional referee and Luttrall a professional wrestler, they certainly can't say truthfully that they had never been called THE name until last night.
Personally we don't think they are what they called each other, but that is merely a matter of opinion. We don't have any proof to back our belief.
Luttrall has a better claim to the appellation than Craft because the Cowboy has been elected by an overwhelming majority. There seems to be no doubt about what he is, but the voters don't agree on the kind he is.
Some say he's one kind of a so-and-so and others use different adjectives.
So suppose Luttrall and Craft do turn out to be what each called the other. They've certainly got a lot of company and, as Henry Bowden once said, they can carry any election in the world if they ever get organized.
As a sports witer and radio announcer, we claim charter membership in the group.
If we resented it every time anybody called us that we would have to work 24 hours a day with no time out for meals -- and even then we couldn't catch up with our resenting.
So our advice to Craft and Luttrall is to quit worrying about the whole thing.
They can't help what they are. ______________________________________________
LUTTRALL GETS 90 DAYS' PROBATION, $50 FINE
(Norfolk Ledger-Dispatch, Friday, January 24, 1936)
By Charles Reilly
The Virginia Boxing and Wrestling Commission put Cowboy Luttrall, fat ex-cow nurse, on probation for 90 days and fined him $50 today as a result of the brawl he staged with referee Elder Craft at Wednesday night's wrestling show at the City Auditorium.
The official notice mailed to all commission inspectors today read:
"By action of the commission at a meeting held this date, Clarence "Cowboy" Luttrall, professional wrestler, was placed on probation for a period of 90 days from this date for using abusive and profane language to and striking a referee at a wrestling exhibition held in Norfolk on January 22, 1936."
Announcement of the suspension knocked George Cazana, local promoter, colder than an Eskimo's elbow. The wily Greek had booked the erstwhile range rider and Rube Wright as his feature match next Wednesday night and the commission's action came as a complete surprise. He was sure that the ring solons would overlook the incident since both Craft and Luttrall were jugged by the local gendarmes and must stand trial on a charge of fighting next week.
For the beneffit of those who were not at the show Wednesday night, it might not be amiss to state here that the brawl started a few minutes after the Eli Fischer-Luttrall semi-final event got under way. Luttrall struck the first blow, but Craft, showing a nice left hand and a right cross that will put Ken Overlin to shame, managed to get in several socks before most of the Norfolk constabulary entered the ring. Much to the disgust of spectators who were delighted at seeing a real fight, the officers separated the combatants. Molly Craft, a cop who was off duty at the time, took several Sunday punches at the groan artist. Neither of the participants was seriously injured.
Immediately upon receipt of the news, Cazana hopped a train for Richmond for a conference with Joe Bauers, secretary of the commission. ___________________________________________
LUTTRALL FINED FOR FIGHTING, MEETS WRIGHT
(Norfolk Ledger-Dispatch, Wednesday, January 22, 1936)
By Charles Reilly
It cost Cowboy Luttrall, the Texas badman, exactly $26 to take that Sunday punch at Elder Craft, the referee, during last week's wrestling show in the City Auditorium.
This morning in Police Court, Justice R.B. Spindle fined Luttrall $25 for fighting in public and dismissed the charge against Craft.
It is highly probably that Luttrall would have escaped with a much lighter fine had he elected to keep silent. However, he talked and too much.
Both Luttrall and Craft were arrested during the Luttrall- Fischer semi-final event last week. The trouble started when Cowboy put the clug on Elder after he had been disqualified for using abusive language. Cops entered the ring while they were scuffling and hauled them both off to the bastile.
The Cowboy will make what in all probability will be his final appearance here tonight, when he battles Rube Wright in the feature event of George Cazana's weekly presentation at the City Auditorium.
The Rube has what it takes to lick Luttrall and fans here hope he will come through.
Rube's brother, Jim "Frankenstein" Wright, meets Henry Graber in the semi-final event. Jim is reported to be almost as tough as Luttrall.
The opening event brings together Walter Underhill and Casey Berger.
The show is scheduled to start at 8:30 o'clock. _____________________________________________
GIRL GRAPPLERS SCORE HIT IN WRESTLING BOUT
(Norfolk Ledger-Dispatch, Thursday, March 18, 1937)
By Tom Reilly
Close to 2,000 persons, some skeptical, but all curious, jammed their way into the City Auditorium last night to witness the novel spectacle of two fair young lassies doing a bit of grappling, and, judging from the general tenor of the talk around town today, the mauling misses scored a smashing hit with their surprisingly rough, fast brand of wrestling.
The two young ladies, Clara Mortensen, women's champion, and Patsy Hayes, New York damsel, whose combined weight wasn't but a few pounds more than any one of the men on the program, are cdredited with drawing the largest crowd ever to witness and grunt and groan show at the auditorium. Even the times Jack Dempsey and heavyweight champion Jimmy Braddock refereed here, the crowds weren't as large as the one last night.
Blonde Clara was still in possession of her title today, but she experienced a great deal of trouble in downing her scrappy little opponent after 10 minutes of furious scuffling, most of which took place in the aisles. The gals were not only rougher than their masculine colleagues but also were far faster.
Starting off fast, Clara was tossing her opponent about with a devastating arm whip when she suddenly found herself seated in the lap of a first-row spectator, who bye the bye, didn't seem to mind it at all. The fight was about even until Clara knocked the breath out of Patsy with a body slam and slapped on a body press to win the joust.
Referee Buck Miles really got the worst of the women's bout, being resoundly smacked on several occasions by the irate contestants who didn't seem to think much of his careful refereeing. At one point, Clara grabbed Buck's feet and sent him crashing to the floor to the delight of the customers.
Promoter Moore said last night that he intended to bring Miss Mortensen back as soon as he can arrange to match her with a suitable opponent. Moore said he hopes to get Mildred Burke, who handed Clara her only defeat in five years of professional wrestling, at Chattanooga last month. Clara downed her in their second meeting, in what, Moore reports, was the hardest fight of her career.
The girls had to go the limited last night to outdo the men who staged a rousing show themselves. Bob Wagner, Southern California bad boy, threw big Mayes McLain in the main event, two out of three falls. Rowdy Robert captured the first fall with a body press after a series of body slams, and McLain came back to win the second fall in four minutes with a beautifully executed flying dropkick which landed both his feet on Wagner's chin. Wagner turned on the rough work to win the last fall in six minutes with a body slam.
The main attraction in the men's part of the program last night were the tattoo work which nearly covered the body of Jack "Bull" Curley, of Detroit, and the bristling black beard which adorned the aristocratic pan of Count Ivan Micheloff, absolutely the "last" of the Romanoffs (we hope).
Curley, the mean, surly walking art gallery, won over Joe Marsh, Wyoming cowboy, in 19 minutes. The art work which Curley carried about on his epidermis was much more interesting than his wrestling.
When Alan Eustace, Kansas veteran, bounced a few right hands off the chin of Micheloff, the count forgot his early training as gentleman among the Russian nobility and applied a very unaristocratic stranglehold on his foe. Referee Miles promptly disqualified him. The count said after the bout that he suspects referee Miles of being a Communist.
WRESTLING AS WE LIKED IT
by J Michael Kenyon
Volume 2, Number 52 Sunday, August 3, 1997
IN THIS ISSUE: Bill Miller's Hooded "Reign of Terror" in Verne Gagne's AWA Territory
Back in 1961 & 1962
ED LEWIS AND OLIN WILL CLASH TONIGHT
(Norfolk Ledger Dispatch, February 12, 1919)
Tonight in Pickwick Hall "Strangler" Ed Lewis meets John F. Olin in a finish match. They
go to a decision.
Little need be said about the merits of the men. They both have been seen here. Olin has
been in Norfolk on more than one occasion this season. Lewis has not been seen here for
During the war Lewis has been acting as instructor in wrestling at Camp Grant, Ill. He is
said to have profited greatly by his arm experience.
Tickets for the match are one fifty and three dollars, the latter for ringside reservations.
'STRANGLER' LEWIS IS WINNER OF BOUT
(Norfolk Ledger Dispatch, February 13, 1919)
Ed "Strangler" Lewis won two out of three falls from John Olin at Pickwick hall last night
before the biggest crowd of the season. So great was the demand for seats that promoter
Norman Hofheimer was obligated to turn away nearly 200 applicants for tickets half an hour
before the match began.
Lewis won the last falls in his characteristic "rush" style with the toe-hold. The first bout
was won by Olin with an arm and headlock. It went 16 minutes. Lewis won the last two in 43
and six minutes, respectively.
As an exhibition of clean, clever wrestling the match was a great success. Though Lewis
outweighed his opponent by nine pounds and showed considerably greater speed and skill,
Olin's remarkable strength and wonderful bridging ability brought the house to its feet time
after time during the match.
During one of the intermissions Hofheimer announced that Zbyszko (Wladek) had
challenged Lewis to a finish match to be arranged at any time that would suit the latter.
Manager Hofheimer said that he could arrange for the match either at the Armory hall at
prices that have prevailed heretofore or at Pickwick hall at considerably advanced prices.
He explained that in order to get the proposed match for Norfolk it would be necessary for
him to offer a purse of at least $2,500. ___________________________________________
FROM MILLER TO MR. 'M' -- AND BACK AGAIN
(Wrestling Revue, April, 1963)
By James Allan
As the giant wrestler in the crimson hood shouldered his way through the milling crowd, a
wispy old lady hurried up to him and thrust out her autograph book.
Curtly, he waved it aside. "I don't give out autographs," he snapped, his eyes glowering
through the holes of his mask.
A reporter for a Minneapolis paper gasped at this breach of manners. "Surely," he told the
grappler, "you can't be so callous as to turn down a request like this."
Relenting, the giant reluctantly signed the book. "At least," he said, "she didn't come
tearing at me with a 2-by-6 board like one of them did."
Who was this brute who got the "2 by 6" treatment -- and worse -- everywhere he appeared?
He called himself the "Mysterious Mr. M," or -- more simply -- just "Mr. M."
He was so violently disliked that when a recent poll was taken among the world's leading
mat performers, he won hands down as the "meanest, roughest, toughest."
At the crest of his fame as a hooded mystery man, "M" was asked if he regretted the lonely
life he was forced to lead while dodging the avidly curious. "No," he said bluntly.
Didn't he ever feel a secret craving for popularity? "M," who had been scooping up about
$75,000 a year for his acts of terrorism, laughed mirthlessly. "With that kind of dough," he
rasped, "I can't afford to be popular."
On another occasion, he growled: "I have a natural talent for making enemies. I don't like
people in any capacity. I'll go 1,000 miles out of my way to eat if it means avoiding people."
An exaggeration? Sure. But the statement indicated the fervor of his feeling. As for the fans,
they hated his guts and clamored to see him get his comeuppance.
They clamored so hard, as a matter of fact, that when the masked behemoth invaded
Omaha, Neb., about a year ago, he set a one-season record of 165,000 paid admissions for
Commenting on the secret of his magnetism, a wrestling reporter said: "He is just about the
meanest maverick to hit the Omaha scene . . . Two years ago, Dick the Bruiser was the big
draw. Last season, the Japanese terror, Mitsu Arakawa, kept the fans slobbering for justice.
But that 'Mr. M' -- he's just too much."
It didn't seem possible that "M" could get meaner -- but he did as he romped through the
Midwest, challenging all comers and barring no holds.
"Where are those tough and rough guys who were supposed to rule this territory?" sneered
the 6'5", 300-pound brute when he hit St. Paul and Minneapolis.
"I've been around four weeks and can't find anybody willing to wrestle me. I've practically
begged five guys to get into the ring with me but they all say they're 'busy.'"
One guy who wasn't "busy" was Roy McClarity. After the bout, he moaned: "The guy just
isn't human. He seems immune to pain and his strength amazed me."
"M" had to dangle hard cash -- $1,000 to be exact -- to lure other victims. They came forth
slowly and, one after another, they failed to pin "M" within the specified 20-minute time
One man, however, offered to wrestle him for nothing. It was a rash gesture. But then, Hard
Boiled Haggerty was too hot for revenge to be concerned about money.
H.B. had built up a blazing hatred for "M" since the mystery man had put him out of
commission. "I want to pay him back for what he did to me," Haggerty fumed.
The bout was billed as a "death match" to determine pro wrestling supremacy in
Minneapolis. "That's the only way to settle their hard feelings," said promoter Wally
In a deathy match, the winner is the guy who walks away under his own power. Haggerty
tried his damnedest, but he couldn't break "M's" 19-bout winning streak.
When "M" went after Verne Gagne, one of the best in the business, the fans licked their
chops and said gleefully: "Now M will get his lumps."
Verne and the mysterious one met on a cold, raw night in January, 1962. The turning point in
that furious bout came when Gagne tried to ram "M" into a turnbuckle.
Referee Maurice LaPointe stepped in to separate them. Gagne lost his balance and toppled
over with "M" on top of him. Before the stunned Gagne could recover, "M" nailed him to
In Minnesota, Verne's stamping grounds, this was tantamount to treason. Now everybody
wanted a crack at the brute.
Said one matman: "We're tired of that guy setting his own rules in every match. It's about
time someone ripped off his mask and relieved him of that $1,000."
"M" laughed wolfishly and upped his prize to $2,000 "to give those lugs an added
incentive." Next in line was a fast-rising "aerialist" named Doug Gilbert.
The crowd went wild when Doug pinned the Hooded One in 16:52. He walked off with the
prize money but, under the terms of the bout, "M" retained his mask.
"M" kept the Twin Cities in a fever of excitement as he shrugged off the lone setback and
started chewing up a flock of new victims.
Mauled in the process were a couple of old ones -- Gilbert and Gagne. After using a
backbreaker to stop Doug in 24:13, "M" arrogantly refused to meet Verne again.
"I've defeated him three or four straight times now," the masked terror said, "and that's
proof enough that he's slipped and is on his way down."
Verne burned. As usual, he had accepted his last bout on "M's" terms -- Gagne was barred
from using his dreaded sleeper hold.
The masked man had concocted a clever plan and he put it into effect the moment the bout
got under way. The idea? To goad Verne into applying the sleeper, thus causing him to be
But he almost outfoxed himself. "M" got a little too exuberant when he belted Verne with a
chair -- and referee Larry Hennig moved in to disqualify HIM!
Verne would have none of it. "I don't want to win that way," he told Hennig. "I want to beat
that mug the regular way . . . "
"M" promptly set to work again, butting Gagne across the ring. As Verne staggered under
each butt, one fan hollered: "He's got something hidden in his mask!"
It appeared that way, but Verne was too enraged at this point to care. Blast his agreement
not to use the sleeper. He was going to give this "M" a bloody lesson.
Trapping his foe in a corner, Gagne applied the dreaded hold and refused to let go even
though three people were tugging at his arms.
Referee Hennig had no choice but to disqualify Gagne. "Why did you do it, Gagne?"
someone asked him after the bout. "I lost my head," he said, "when M started using every
Snorted "M": "Gagne lost and he's groping for excuses again."
The anti-"M" campaign shifted into high gear. "Take off his mask! Take off his mask!" the
fans chanted every time he wrestled.
Up in Winnipg, where he carried his philosophy of how to lose friends and alienate people, a
reporter once got close enough to ask: "Do you ever take off that mask?"
"Very seldom," he said. "When I finish a match, I lock my dressing room and take it off
before I shower. The only other time I remove it is when I get back to my hotel room."
The mystery man didn't know it, but his crimson mask, with its big, white "M" stitched
across the forehead, was nearing the end of its reign.
Rabid Winnipeg fans were hoping the huge Canadian idol, Yukon Eric, would turn the trick
and some 7,500 flocked to the local arena to see them clash.
The hooded giant laid down one stipulation to promoter John (Cyclone) Macalpine: that he
would pull off his own mask, and only if Eric pinned him.
The climax came midway in the bout when Eric reverted to "M's" tactics and started
kicking, gouging, rabbit-punching and using his boot like a meat-chopper.
"M's" second, Texas Bob Geigel, leaped into the ring, grabbed the boot and began beating
Yukon over the head with it.
With a roar, Yukon hurled Bob out of the ring, then slammed "M" into the ropes. As "M"
started sliding through the standings, Yukon grabbed for the mask. Off it came!
The crowd's gasp sounded like a cannon blast. A few got a fleeting look at "M's" face just
before he covered it with his hands and scrambled from the ring. But he was moving too fast
to be identified. Geigel and Krusher Kowalski sprang to his aid and, as "M" was racing for
the dressing room in a bent position, the house lights went out.
Shrieks and whistles pierced the blacked out arena. When the lights snapped on again,
blood-splattered Yukon Eric, dazed and bewildered, was standing alone in the ring, holding
up the torn mask. The fans stamped for "M's" return. But he refused to show.
Some three months later, in July of 1962, "M" returned to the Winnipeg Arena to meet his
old foe, Verne Gagne. Verne had been vainly chasing him all over the Midwest and Canada
for another match.
Finally, "M" agreed to meet him. This time there weren't going to be any restrictions.
Verne challenged him to a death match to settle their feud once and for all. "M" had a
typical answer: "Okay, but remember, you're asking for your own funeral."
Verne was wise to "M's" habit of running away when trapped and he made one more
stipulation: that the bout be held in a ring enclosed by a wire cage. Surprisingly, "M"
offered no objection.
Verne started off by bouncing "M" off the steel cage poles. "M" retaliated by butting him.
But there was more to the butt than flesh and bones. Verne turned to the referee to
remonstrate: "He's got a piece of metal under that mask!" Catching Gagne off guard, "M"
dropped him with a vicious kick.
That did it. Verne drummed "M's" head against the steel poles, bounced him like a yo-yo
six times, and was about to put him out of commission with a sleeper when Bob Geigel
tossed a metal chair over the 9-foot-high wire cage.
"M" grabbed it and rushed at Gagne. Backing him into a corner, he swung the chair
downward. Verne ducked just in time and the chair went crashing to the mat. Verne picked it
up and walloped the bejabbers out of the mystery man.
The Arena was a bedlam as referee Thor Hagen counted to ten. The fans swarmed around
the cage, yelling: "The mask! The mask!" As "M" stirred, promoter Macalpine opened the
padlocked gate and Geigel rushed in to help his groggy pal.
Right on his heels were three of the top wrestlers from earlier bouts that evening -- Doug
Gilbert, "M's" old enemy, Ilio DiPaolo and Joe Scarpello. They were going to make sure
"M" took off his hood.
When "M" started fussing, Scarpello grabbed him by one arm and Gilbert by the other
while referee Hagen held down his legs. DiPaolo then ripped off the hood. There was a
moment of stunned silence. Then one fan shouted: "It's Big Bill Miller!"
The masquerade was over.
Every wrestling fan knew Bill Miller, the Fremont, Ohio, giant who copped a string of titles
along with his brothers, Ed and Danny, before he went solo . . . Bill Miller, who earned his
doctorate as a veterinarian at Ohio State University in 1951 . . . Bill Miller, OSU's first
nine-letter man (three each in football, track and wrestling) . . .
The ironic part about the unmasking was that it had been accomplished by the same guy who
had beaten "M" in the finals of the Big 10 college wrestling championships -- University of
Minnesota star Verne Gagne!
Though the curtain had been raised on Big Bill Miller's past, one big point was still obscure:
Why had he covered up his tracks by donning a mask? It's an interesting story.
"Doc" Miller wasn't making much headway when he turned pro in 1952. He had all the
equipment -- skill, strength and blazing speed. But he needed hard experience to bridge the
gap between college and pro wrestling.
He was just beginning to hit his stride when he came up against veteran star, The Great
Scott. He was mauled so savagely that he wound upo in the hospital. Lying in bed, Bill made
a dramatic decision that changed his entire career.
As he explained it later: "The Great Scott ran my head into a turnbuckle. From there on I
figured the best way not to have it happen again was to give it to the other guy first!"
But his new role as a brutal grappler soon began to prey on his mind. He had built up a
following in the Midwest as a nice guy. Then, suddenly, he changed. "They couldn't
understand it. I felt as though I had let them down . . ."
Bill seriously considered reverting to his old ways. But he had learned that fans don't shell
out to see nice guys.
He mulled over his problem for a long time. Finally, the answer came. It was simple -- he'd
wear a mask! He'd have to go "underground," of course -- but at least he wouldn't be
hurting all those fans who had grown to like him.
"Doc" Miller was naturally distressed when Gagne "exposed" him. But he says: "In a way,
I'm glad it happened. It was a pretty lonely life. I was on the run all the time to keep my
But if you think "Doc" has mended his ways, you're dead wrong. Matter of fact, Bill, who is
now 34, is meaner than ever. "That's what the fans want," he says with irrefutable logic,
"and I can't let them down now, can I?"
THE WAWLI PAPERS:
WRESTLING AS WE LIKED IT
by J Michael Kenyon
Volume 2, Number 53 Tuesday, August 5, 1997
IN THIS ISSUE: Deaths of Browning, Znoski, Romano Stun the Mat World in 1936--Jack
Curley RING Column
THREE MATMEN GO WEST
(Ring Magazine, September, 1936)
By Jack Curley
Three deaths within two weeks of famous matmen give the lie to those who would belittle the
noble sport which has weathered the centuries, and is going stronger than ever. I don't know
when I ever felt worse about the passing of friends.
There is an old saying, and it seems to be a true one, that good things as well as bad things
come in threes. First came the death of Steve Znoski, a likable big fellow, of Polish descent,
who was born in Connecticut. Then came the death in a hospital in Rochester, Minn., of Jim
Browning, former world's champion and one of the greatest wrestlers as well as finest men
who ever lived. To climax the trinity of deaths came the tragic demise in a ring at
Washington, D.C., of the veteran Mike Romano.
Both Znoski and Romano had been in my office just before their respective deaths. Mike,
an Italian, as loyal as they come, visited me the afternoon before he died. He was never
more jubilant in his life. He was enthusiastic over the prospects of meeting Dave Levin, the
new world's champion, in the West. Another thing that excited him was the receiving in the
mail, a few days previously, of a church medal.
I guess Mike died as he would have wished, as they say in the West, "with his shoes on" or
in other words, in action. Mike had always given his best efforts to wrestling. He was proud
of the fact that he was a wrestler.
At times against Ed "Strangler" Lewis and other stars in the West, Mike had been one of
the principals in bouts that drew up into the twenties of thousands. Mike was a clean living
man, but the strenuous work of tussling three or four times a week for fifteen years or more
must have taxed his courageous heart to the breaking point.
Steve Znoski had walked in his sleep or in a delirium out of his hotel window in New York
and dropped twenty-five feet. The doctors who attended him said he hadn't been hurt by the
fall, and two nights later he wrestled, only to be stricken that night with the dread spinal
meningitis, which probably developed as the result of the fall.
It had only been a few weeks before that, that another one of our wrestlers, Jim Kendricks,
a former Holy Cross star, died of the same disease, gamely and unknowingly entering bouts
two or three nights before being stricken.
Browning had been ill for several months. Letters from his farm at Vernon, Mo., told how he
had dropped in weight from some 225 pounds to 140. He was driven in an ambulance all the
way to Rochester, Minn., for an operation by the famous Mayo brothers, but his long illness
had so sapped his strength that he wasn't able to survive the shock of operation.
The past year or so has seen the passing of many good grapplers, such as Jack Shimkus,
Charlie Hansen, Jack Hurley, Cowboy Russell, and several others whose names I can't
recall just now travelled to the Great Beyond.
During the past six months two of our ace promoters, Joe "Toots" Mondt and Paul Bowser,
withstood major operations.
In the course of a season dozens of wrestlers are badly hurt and out of the game for weeks
at a time.
Grapplers give their all to entertain and amuse the public. They are always trying their
utmost to give the fans a run for their money. Matmen are noted for the fact that they work
just as hard when there is ten dollars in the house as when there is ten thousand.
The matmen stoically take the raps directed at the sport, more times unjustly than justly,
without uttering a murmer. And when a death comes in the ring as was the case with Mike
Romano it is mute testimony that they all carry on -- even to the bitter end.
We have heard so much about crooked wrestling matches. The ample proof that the
wrestlers go into the sport with all they possess, and do their utmost to give the fans a run
for their money is the vast number of injuries these wrestlers suffer in line of duty and the
number of fatalities during the past four years. The average fan hoots and hisses a grappler
when he wrestles according to Hoyle, and therefore these men are forced to give acrobatic
stunts and risk bodily injury in order to please the spectators.
IN WRESTLING'S SPOTLIGHT
(Ring Magazine, September,1936)
By Eddie Merrill
Everett Marshall of La Junta, Colo., joined the ranks of world heavyweight title claimants
by taking Ali Baba into camp in Columbus, Ohio, on the night of June 29, a victory that had
been forecast throughout the country. It was a foregone conclusion that with the battle of the
rival wrestling trust members at top heat, the group headed by Billy Sandow would not be
overshadowed by the Curley-Mondt-Bowser-Fabiani combine in the East which only a few
weeks previously had manipulated the defeat of Ali Baba by Dave Levin in Newark via the
foul route. Thus, while Levin has top claim to the world laurels, the Marshall forces, which
deny the loss of the crown in Newark by the Armenian, now are parading Everett as the
All of which is very interesting, though a bit complicated to the wrestling fan, who has seven
"champions" dished out to him from which to take his choice. It now seems that the only
solution to the unheard-of mess is to have a national tourney in which each of the titleholders
be given an opportunity to have it out on the level, the winner to be the recognized world
I think that the arrangements made by the New York Commission to have Ed "Strangler"
Lewis and Lee Wyckoff, top men of the Curley and Sandow groups, respectively, battle it
out, with the winner to meet Dave Levin, first conqueror of Ali Baba, and the victor of that
bout to tackle Marshall, would be a fine thing for wrestling. From such a tournament would
emerge the real world champion.
I have been in communication with Strangler Lewis and he has agreed to such an
arrangement if Marshall and Levin can be induced to enter. The RING, to help the sport,
will donate a $500 belt to the winner. How about it, boys? Is this an inducement worthwhile?
In his bout with Ali Baba, Marshall gained the fall in 29 minutes and 30 seconds with a body
slam and a cross body spin.
The bout started out in grand style, and although neither grappler was ever in danger during
the first 15 minutes, they stepped around the ring at a lively pace to give the crowd a grand
thrill every second of the match.
After a give and take battle, Everett looked down at his corner where Billy Sandow, fiery
manager of the former Denver, Colo., grappler was seated.
Billy nodded and gave Everett the "word."
Then the fun began. Everett opened up a savage attack that had Ali on the run. Five or six
"bopping" rabbit punches had Ali reeling.
Sandow motioned for the full-nelson. Everett slipped behind the Karput, Turkey, native and
set the hold and the beginning of the end was in sight.
Four times the 209-pound Turk slipped out of the hold. Everett quickly slipped on another --
his fifth consecutive neck-cracking full-nelson.
Ali's tongue flopped out and he groaned. His eyes rolled and he waved his arms, seeking the
He found them, but it was the blow that knocked the crown spinning out of the grasp of the
New York trust moguls.
When Ali finally grabbed hold of the ropes, he slipped himself under them in order to force
the referee to break the hold.
Instead of staying there, Everett Marshall gave him a quick shove and both tumbled from
Ali fell to the dust of the pitcher's mound below but Marshall managed to remain on his feet.
Ali managed to climb back into the ring as the count neared 10. Marshall rushed out to meet
his foe. He clamped on another standing full-nelson, shaking the champion like a puppy
would a rag doll, until the sawdust seemed about to fly.
Suddenly he released his hold, slipped under the Turk, raised him high in the air. Then came
the crash that shattered the throne of Ali.
The death of two famed wrestlers within one week, Jim Browning, former world heavyweight
champion, and Mike Romano, a World War hero, shocked their colleagues and the mat
fans, and provided food for thought for those who tossed aside the science of wrestling for
acrobatic and rough-house stunts. In the days when Earl Caddock, Dr. Roller, Strangler
Lewis, Stanislaus Zbyszko and other stars of their caliber paraded before the public, one
seldom heard of the death of a wrestler brought about through a ring accident or directly
attributed to active competition.
During the past three years nine husky, strong, sturdy grapplers, each with a good
reputation as a wrestler, have passed into the Great Beyond either through blood poisoning,
broken collarbone or some internal injury. The reason? Simple enough -- the wild,
unorthodox style of wrestling adopted by the majority who feel that the public demand such
type of entertainment.
Although Jim Browning died from what was officially termed "pulminary embolism," which is
a blood clot on the lungs, I have been told by physicians of the Boxing Commission that the
knocks which Browning took through flying tackles, and kicks in the chests, wounded him
and brought about his death. In the case of Romano, who was decorated in the Italian Army
for World War bravery, he was tossed to the canvas by Jack Donovan in a headspin and
remained unconscious until he died.
Thus, in one week, the sport lost two fine, colorful performers. Perhaps eventually those who
are making their living by wrestling and those who are promoting the sport will get together
and return to the good old days of honest-to-goodness wrestling, minus the frills, the kicks,
the biting and what-not that have brought about so many casualties in two years.
Stanislaus Zbyszko, former world heavyweight champion who is now promoting wrestling in
Argentina, has a new heavyweight find whom he praises to the skies. Zbyszko, in sending the
picture of his protege, failed to give his name but writes:
"I am sending you a photograph of as great a prospect as I have ever seen in the wrestling
game. My new 'find' is a giant Paraguay Indian, full-blooded, weighing 243 pounds and as
strong as a bull. He stands more than six feet, and has won many prizes as the strong man of
his country. I think he is a wonderful wrestler and, under my tutelage, I hope to develop him
into a world champion.
"He is wonderfully light on his feet -- a remarkable thing considering his weight. The tribe of
Indians to which he belongs won't shave and are men of iron. They possess a head of hair
that is like a bush . . . The public here is highly educated in the wrestling art and men who do
not possess the technique can make no headway. I am trying to obtain the services of
several high class wrestlers for next season, but won't bring any men here who cannot
deliver the goods.They must be good or this is no place for them."
>From Charley "Spider" Mascall have come these Pacific Coast and Northwest mat notes:
Blacksmith Pedigo, skillful welterweight mat star, has been seen in several noteworthy
matches out this way. The burly ex-smith, who is appearing in California, has already
downed Earl McCann, Bobby Pearce (my choice as a leading contender for the welter title),
Pat Finnegan and Johnny Stote, a clever youngster from Eastern wrestling circles.
Dave Levin, the handsome Jewish boy who won the heavyweight bauble from Ali Baba
Yumid via the foul route, is scheduled to meet Vincent Lopez in Los Angeles for the
heavyweight title of the world (other claimants please take notice). Levin is a husky
ex-butcher boy and the first Jewish matman ever to gain a wrestling title in any division of
the sport. Mark these Jewish grapplers who have fought hard for a place in the limelight --
Paul Boesch, Abe Coleman, Dr. Freddie Meyers, Eli Fischer, Herb Freeman, Benny
Ginsberg, Sid Westrich and Abe Goldberg.
Sheik Ben Ali Mar Allah, the Persian welterweight, has been honeymooning in Honolulu
with his bride of a few months. The little lady is a former Los Angeles girl.
Pat Finnegan, a former dancing master of Cincinnati who likes to pose as an English
nobleman, has been noticed on the RKO movie lot in recent weeks. Finnegan is featured in a
film entitled "Smart Set" which will be released shortly.
George Pencheff and Tommy Nilan, two clever Australian heavyweights, are giving a good
account of themselves in California. Both are fast and agile and should go far in the mat
game either in America or Australia.
Meet Everett Marshall, the Colorado mat star, who beat Ali Baba in Columbus a few weeks
ago and now declares that he alone is the world heavyweight champion. Marshall, born in
1908 of German-Irish parents, attended the Universities of Iowa and Denver. In 1926 he
was named on the All-American football team of Colorado and three years later Everett
made his professional wrestling debut by downing Joe Robbins (then champion of Kansas).
During his seven years of mat warfare Marshall has beaten Dick Shikat, Joe Stecher, Ray
Steele, Joe Savoldi, John Katan, Ernie Dusek, Hans Kampfer, Abe Coleman, George
Zaharias, Chief Chewacki, Dick Raines, Orville Brown and others. A year ago, Everett
made a grave mistake by deserting the legitimate heavyweights for the light-heavy circuit
controlled by Jack Pfeffer and since that break the La Junta man has met the leaders of the
junior heavyweight division.
Although his career as a wrestler has been terminated by the dreaded eye infection,
trachoma, Sammy Stein has developed into one of the finest referees in the state of
California. During Sammy's younger days he played amateur football at Closter, N.J., and
later on the professional teams of Stapleton, Brooklyn, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Before turning to the pastime of wrestling, Stein spent some time as a boxer and helped
train Phil Scott when that worthy invaded American fisticuffs.
In May of last year, Sam's wrestling career came to a dramatic close when his entry for the
Los Angeles heavyweight tournament was politely refused. Months later, the California
Athletic Commission granted this game challenger of champions a license enabling him to
act as a referee. Between his duties as the third man in the ring Stein finds plenty of time to
play "bit" parts in the movies. Sammy, a former All-American professional end, holds
victories over Paul Boesch, Howard Cantonwine, Earl McCready, Nick Lutze, Ed
"Strangler" Lewis, Roland Kirchmeyer, Mayes McLain, Charlie Santen, Tiny Roebuck and
an array of mat stars too numerous to mention.
Among the last-minute entries for the gigantic international heavyweight tournament being
held at Vancouver, B.C., were the names of: Dave Levin, Ed "Strangler" Lewis, Leo Numa,
George and Babe Zaharias, Vic Christy, Pat Meehan, Chief Little Wolf, Steve Savage, Tor
Johnson, Hangman Howard Cantonwine, Dick Daviscourt, Pat Fraley, Rusty Westcoatt,
Ray Steele, Tiger Jack Nelson and the veteran Al Karasick. There are approximately fifty
matmen entered in the tourney which promises to be the greatest wrestling attraction ever
held in the Pacific Northwest. The famed Dusek family, aka "The Merry Madcaps of
Matdom," are due to descend on unsuspecting Pacific Coast fans in the course of the next
week or two. Joe, Rudy, Emil, as well as Ernie, will join the youngest of the riotous tribe,
Danny, who has faced the best in the Northwest recently. The entire quintet is entered in the
Golden Jubilee tournament in Vancouver. The winner of this affair will meet the world
Curfew Chatter: Ed Don George, Abe Goldberg, Luigi Bacigalupi, Bob Montgomery and
Paul Orth are campaigning in California . . . Our deepest sympathies to Dick Shikat (now in
Germany) who lost his wife in an automobile accident . . . Nat Pendleton, ex-wrestler, turned
in a superb performance as Eugene Sandow in the picture "The Great Ziegfeld" . . . Lou
Daro arrives home from Japan soon . . . George Zaharias won money when Max Schmeling
stopped Joe Louis . . . Juan Oliquivel is being groomed as a second Vincent Lopez . . . Man
Mountain Dean will be seen in the picture "The Playboy" starring George Raft . . .
THE WAWLI PAPERS:
WRESTLING AS WE LIKED IT
by J Michael Kenyon
Volume 2, Number 54 Wednesday, August 6, 1997
IN THIS ISSUE: Carnation Lou Daro Inks Joe Stecher For 1926 Los Angeles Bout With Ed
JOE STECHER SIGNS FOR STRANGLER LEWIS
(Los Angeles Times, Friday, August 20,1926)
By Braven Dyer
After weeks of challenges, counter-challenges, charges of one kind and another, plus no end
of check waving, the wrestling war in our midst apparently came to an end yesterday -- that
is, the preliminary ballyhooing ceased and the real battling, to take place on the mat, will
soon begin. Joe Stecher, heavyweight champion, signed with Lou Daro, local grappling
impressario, to defend his title against Ed "Strangler" Lewis, former titleholder, at the
Olympic Auditorium on September 8.
Stecher has been wrestling in Los Angeles for more than a year, appearing under Daro's
banner. Last summer the forces of Billy Sandow, Lewis' manager, attempted to make
inroads on Daro's successes here, but failed. Two weeks ago Sandow and Lewis came back,
started hurling challenges at Stecher, posted a $5,000 check with the State Athletic
Commission and even went so far as to offer to "meet Stecher in some telephone booth," or
any place removed from the public eye, so as to "settle this matter once and for all."
Stecher's signature went on Daro's program yesterday and the mat king stated he will post a
check with the commission today -- so the stage is all set.
The match will draw a huge crowd and it's a mystery to us how Los Angeles gets it when
Chicago, Kansas City and other cities are said to be willing to pay twice as much dough as
can be raised here for the affair. The only way we can figure it out is that the two bone
crushers -- evenly matched as they must be and bearing such a terrible grudge against each
other -- just can't wait to get to some mid-Western city. Daro must have come along while
they were just itching to lock horns. It's a cinch the portly impressario had no trouble making
each believe the other a bum. Now if he can only keep 'em steamed up until next month.
Some fighter who resents the intrusion of the wrestlers of late claims the match will result in
a draw -- with another title bout in the East later -- but we know Lou wouldn't allow that and
besides the two men hate each other too much to grapple to a draw.
Oh, yes, the Stecher-John Pesek match next Wednesday night has no bearing on the
Lewis-Stecher affair. If Joe loses to John it will be Ed's tough luck.
COMMISSION TO FORCE SCHEDULED MAT GO
(Los Angeles Times, Sunday, August 22, 1926)
By Bill Henry
The wrestling showdown has arrived.
Strangler Ed Lewis and Joe Stecher, both of whom claim the world's heavyweight
championship, are either going to meet in Los Angeles right now or they're going to come
pretty close to forfeiting the $5,000 checks they so boldly put up.
Capt. Seth Strelinger, chairman of the State Athletic Commission, has decided that since the
boys seem to be so anxious to tear each other apart and still don't seem to be able to get
together for that purpose, he will step in and provide a little assistance by acting as
matchmaker. For that purpose he proposes to call a conference for tomorrow afternoon in
his office of all parties concerned. Something is going to come out of that conference if it's
only $10,000 for the State Athletic fund.
Several days ago Strangler Ed Lewis, who claims the world's championship, appeared before
Cap Strelinger, accompanied by his manager, Billy Sandow, and carrying a $5,000 certified
check. This, they said, was to bind a match between Lewis and a person named Stecher, who
appeared to be claiming the title around here. Messers. Lewis and Sandow said that this
Stecher person was a big bum and a four-flusher, and they'd meet him any time, any place
and didn't care who got the money.
Some 24 hours later, Cap Strelinger was favored with another visit, this time from Tony
Stecher, who introduced himself by means of another one of those $5,000 certified checks.
Tony said that his brother, Joe, the world's champion, heard there was somebody named
Lewis around here claiming the title and they craved a chance at him. Mr. Lewis, they said,
was a big bum and a four-flusher and Joe'd meet him any time, any place and didn't care who
got the money.
All of this sounded interesting to Mr. Strelinger, who doesn't claim to know all about
wrestling but just claims to be an ordinary businessman. To him the bout looked like a cinch.
He notified all parties in the action and then learned (1) that Lewis would be glad to meet
Stecher but unfortunately had signed with Promoter John DePalma for three matches and
would be unable to wrestle for anyone else, and (2) Stecher would be glad to meet Lewis but
he had already signed for a number of matches with Lou Daro and could only do so under his
What Mr. Strelinger figures now is that he'll get Stecher and Daro and Lewis and DePalma
together tomorrow in his office and tell them that the best way for Stecher and Lewis to get
together on the mat is for Daro and DePalma to get together on the promotion end of it and
then all the boys will be happy. If that isn't the judgment of Solomon, what is it?
SEXTON AND THESZ CLASH AT OLYMPIC
(Los Angeles Times, Wednesday, October 20, 1948)
Frank Sexton, Ohio powerhouse, and Louie Thesz, National Wrestling Association mat
champion, lock horns tonight at Olympic Auditorium.
Sexton, recognized in the East as heavyweight mat monarch, drew in two sizzling matches at
the Olympic with Enrique Torres early this year. The other night Sexton tossed the mighty
Bronko Nagurski in San Francisco before 8,000 fans.
Bobby Managoff of Chicago teams up with Terry McGinnis to battle the Zaharias brothers,
Babe and Chris, in the star semifinal. The tag bout is for best two out of three falls.
One fall matches: Jose Macias vs. Senator Hartford, Black Panther vs. Rocco Toma, Roy
Gunkel vs. Vic Holbrook. _________________________________
FRANK SEXTON AND LOUIE THESZ DRAW
(Los Angeles Times, Thursday, October 21, 1948)
Frank Sexton and Louie Thesz wound up all even after an hour of grappling last night at the
Performing before a crowd of 8,600, Sexton annexed the first fall and Thesz the second.
Neither could put over the clincher before the deadline.
The Zaharias brothers, Chris and Babe, scored a team match victory over Bobby Managoff
and Terry McGinnis.
Other results: Jose Macias def. Senator Hartford; Black Panther def. Rocco Toma, and Vic
Holbrook drew with Roy Gunkel (ED. NOTE--The latter was referred to as "Dunkel" in
both stories.) _______________________________________
THESZ RISKS MAT TITLE AGAINST BOLO TONIGHT
(Los Angeles Times, Wednesday, October 12, 1953)
Tonight the Olympic Auditorium features the title tiff between Lou Thesz, NWA
heavyweight king, and the Great Bolo, his foremost rival and the man who held him to a
no-fall, one-hour draw a few months ago.
They'll battle three falls, two-hour time limit, championship conditions. And there are other
One of these other provisos is extremely distasteful to Bolo. The NWA has ordained that if
he wins he must henceforth discard his mask. They'll have no truck with camouflaged
Bolo points out that his mask is his trademark. What would the Smith brothers be without
their whiskers? The Demon Domino acceded to the NWA stipulation, of course; he had to in
order to land the match. But he says his consent was procured under duress.
Champion Thesz says he'll not only defeat Bolo, but add insult to injury by snatching off his
Thesz, managed and advised by the great Ed (Strangler) Lewis, is the master of many holds.
But in Bolo he faces an adversary who specializes in judo and ju-jitsu in addition to catch as
Both are giants; over 6 feet in height and weighing in the vicinity of 240 pounds. That's quite
a vicinity, since neither has an ounce of fat or excess avoirdupois.
Price scale tonight is $3 top plus tax; quite different from Lou's last two title affairs with
Baron Leone. One was priced at $10 top, the other, $12.50 top. Good seats are still
Promoter Cal Eaton has arranged an exceptional program.
Leo Garibaldi, No. 1 in the hearts of lady fans, tackles Dangerous Danny McShain, who
ain't even No. 9 in that respect; three falls, 45 minutes.
Lord James Blears will wage war on the San Diego Adonis, handsome Don Arnold, in the
Wild Red Berry battles Frenchy Roy, the Canadian lumberjack, and in the opener turbulent
Tom Renesto ties into the powerful Italian ace, Aldo Bogni.
THESZ RETAINS MAT CROWN WITH 2-FALL WIN
(Los Angeles Times, Thursday, October 13, 1953)
Lou Thesz, the National Wrestling Alliance's world heavyweight champion, retained his title
before 7,200 fans at the Olympic Auditorium last night by downing his foe, the Great Bolo, in
straight falls. The word "straight" is a figure of speech.
The Great Bolo, a gentleman who has been performing in various local rings with a mask on
his face, dropped his disguise after the match and was found to be one Al Lovelock.
Ringsiders were unanimous in declaring Bolo looked better with the mask on.
Thesz took the first fall in 34m, 6s. with a flying body scissors, cutting the Great Bolo down
to size. He won the match 9m. 46s. later on a referee's decision.
In the semifinal, Leo Garibaldi and Danny McShain wrestled to a 10m. 48s. draw. The bout
was called at 10 p.m., the witching hour set by the State Athletic Commission for grappling
In another match, Lord Blears and Don Arnold, the San Diego Adonis, struggled to a
30-minute draw. An Adonis in wrestling is anyone who is not an absolute spook.
Wild Red Berry disposed of Frenchy Roy in 17m. 4s. by resorting to a Gilligan Twist, which
has nothing whatsoever to do with a B-girl of Irish heritage.
In the opener, Aldo Bogni beat Tom Renesto in 11m. 7s. through the use of a giant swing.
BOCKWINKLE, RICE TOP LEGION CARD
(Los Angeles Times, Monday, November 21, 1955)
Big Tom Rice will test young Nick Bockwinkle at the Hollywood Legion Stadium in the
one-hour headliner tonight.
And Rocky Valentine will wheel $1,000 into the ring, the jackpot if anybody beats him in the
Beat The Champ program that starts at 8 o'clock p.m. He meets two top men, Sammy Berg
of Montreal and Ted Christy, San Fernando rancher.
Wild Red Berry clashes with Gentleman Gene Dubuque in the semi-main.
Two more matches are Vic Christy against Dutch Hefner and Tony Martin against Enrique
Romero of Mexico. _______________________________________
ROCKY VALENTINE RETAINS MAT CHAMPIONSHIP
(Los Angeles Times, Tuesday, November 22, 1955)
Rocky Valentine retained his role as champion in the Beat The Champ special at Hollywood
Legion Stadium last night by defeating Joe Pazandak and going the time limit with Sammy
Berg. (ED. NOTE--Johnny Valentine worked in California at this time as "Rocky"
Tom Rice won the second and third falls to beat Nick Bockwinkle in the main event before
Wild Red Berry def. Gene DeBuque, Dutch Hefner def. Vic Christy and Tony Martin def.
THE WAWLI PAPERS:
WRESTLING AS WE LIKED IT
by J Michael Kenyon
Volume 2, Number 55 Wednesday, August 6, 1997
IN THIS ISSUE: Finally, After Much Ballyhoo, Stecher And Lewis BOTH Signed for An
October 6, 1926 Bout
LINK TO THE CANADIAN WRESTLING HALL OF FAME
Date: 97-08-05 11:48:15 EDT
From: email@example.com (Chris Newman)
Here's a link that leads to quite a bit of info, including photo's, stories and obits on a number
of the WAWLI alumni:
JOHN PESEK FACES JOE STECHER
(Los Angeles Times, Sunday, August 22, 1926)
Joe Stecher, world's heavyweight wrestling champion, takes his title into the ring with him
Wednesday night against John Pesek at the Olympic Auditorium.
Stecher has faced a number of challengers in Los Angeles, but none who even closely
compared with the famous "Nebraska Tigerman." The way close followers of the
bone-bending profession have it figured out, there is a strong chance of the title changing
Spring street's betting market, thrown into an exciting scene of ultra heavy wagering, has
made the match an even-money proposition.
Stecher, because he is champion, a real one, with a mighty pair of legs that mean curtains
when he clamps on the body scissors from the right position, is regarded as a good bet.
Also the theory of "string with the champ and you'll only lose once" is a good one, often
tried and proven. Then, too, Stecher won a grueling, five-hour tussle from Pesek last April
29 at St. Louis.
It matters not, possibly, to the "dopesters" how Stecher's victory came about or that Pesek
made far the more impressive showing, but Stecher won and that is that as far as the cold
records are concerned.
Either man may have improved or gone back during the past few months, but that seems
Stecher is in tip-top shape. Tony Stecher, brother and manager of the champion, realized
that the "Tigerman's" recent trip to Southern California mean that "uneasy would like the
king's crown" and he has trained his brother accordingly for one of the toughest matches in
Stecher, a tall, mighty, smart grappler, is a cautious and skillful worker on the mat who
wastes not a move.
Pesek, weighing 190 pounds, of deceiving stature which would make one believe he scaled at
much less, is as elusive as an eel, wrestles in a way remindful of the Bengal "Tiger" in
battle, and appears to move about five times as fast as Stecher.
Both are punishers who do most of their damage with thier legs. Stecher's best bet, the body
scissors, has made most of the best heavyweights say "uncle," or words to that effect, at
one time or another.
Pesek's punisher and his pet grip is the double wrist lock. It is a finisher if applied correctly
and in the style only the "Tigerman" knows.
Both men use their legs like arms and their feet like hands in their wrestling. The agile
"Tigerman" twists his limbs around with lightning-like speed that usually bewilders his
Pesek did a far more impressive job of beating young Nick Lutze recently than did Stecher.
The comparative showings of the men in bouts with Lutze are facts influencing a lot of
betting in Pesek's favor.
However, Pesek, a veteran who knows every trick, hold and tactic, is not taking on a
youngsters like Nick Lutze next Wednesday night. Instead, he is facing a man who, like
himself, has been wrestling for better than 12 years, and is not easily bewildered by any
super bit of mat strategy.
(ED. NOTE--Stecher and Pesek wrestled two hours to no-fall draw decision in this bout.)
LOU DARO TO PUT ON BOUT AT AUDITORIUM
(Los Angeles Times, Tuesday, August 24, 1926)
By Braven Dyer
The Solomonesque sagacity of Capt. Seth Strelinger wrought a miracle yesterday. Sitting in
judgment for all the world like a principal bringing a lot of unruly schoolboys in line,the head
of the State Athletic Commission called the bluff -- if such it was -- of our warring wrestlers
and secured the signed contracts of Joe Stecher and Ed "Strangler" Lewis for a title match
to be held at the Olympic Auditorium here on the night of October 6 in the year of our Lord,
Sunday the captain notified the wide world and the warring rasslers in particular that it was
time for all hands to come to an agreement and that he could help 'em out if they would call
around at his office. To those who didn't know the captain his task appeared about as easy
as finding a three-legged ostrich.
Shortly after lunch Strelinger greeted Antone Stecher, manager of the scissors expert, and
Lou Daro, Olympic Auditorium promoter. Stecher had posted a $5,000 check guaranteeing
to meet Lewis for the title. Daro had signed Stecher for the match -- same to be held at the
A little later, Billy Sandow, Lewis' manager, and John DePalma, Vernon promoter, darkened
the doorway. Sandow had posted a $5,000 check guaranteeing to meet Stecher for the
crown. DePalma had signed Lewis for three bouts at Vernon, said agreement running for
All the captain had to do was to get the managers to agree on a date and then make one of
the promoters give up the match. Which sounded about as easy as swallowing a typewriter
"I understand your brother Joe is willing to wrestle this Ed Lewis," said the captain
pleasantly, addressing Antone.
"Yes," replied Tony, quietly.
"You are ready to meet him any time?" inquired the captain.
"Yes, sir, any time suits us," returned Antone.
"Very well, that's settled," opined Strelinger.
"I understand your man Lewis wants to meet this fellow Stecher," said the captain
pleasantly, turning to Sandow.
"That's right," returned Billy.
"You are ready to meet him any time," inquired the captain.
"Well, not exactly," declared Sandow. "You see, Lewis is signed with Mr. DePalma and we
ought to abide by our contracts with him."
"I am sure Mr. DePalma will agree to release you if he is given a say in the title match. Am
I right, John?" inquired the captain.
"Yes, if I get the championship match it's all right with me," declared DePalma immediately.
"Wait a minute, wait a minute," interposed Mr. Daro. "I have Stecher's name to a contract
to defend his title for me."
"That's all right, Lou," said the captain. "We'll get back to that later."
Mr. Daro sat back and smiled as the captain assured him that everything would come out all
"Now, John, what I mean is this -- if you have some say in the promotion of the bout you are
willing to release Lewis from his contract binding him to wrestle for you alone."
"Sure thing, captain," said DePalma.
"All right. I'd like to have the bout staged within three weeks -- say two weeks," mused the
"Oh, I say, Mr. Strelinger," interposed Sandow, "that's too soon. Lewis absolutely can't
wrestle until after the 28th of September. He can't be in shape before that time and it isn't
fair to make him wrestle before then. Oh, no, we can't do it."
"Hold on a minute," declared the captain. "I understand Mr. Lewis is supposed to be a
champion, that he has challenged Stecher to meet him any time, any place, the sooner the
better. I think we have had enough delay and enough talk and it's about time the match was
held. You are ready any time, aren't you, Tony?"
"Any time suits us," replied Antone.
"But Capt. Strelinger, this is a world's championship match and really we musn't rush into it
so quickly," said Sandow. "You know it is only right that I should look out for my man's
interests and he says he needs a month to get ready."
"Well," drawled the captain, always ready to give a little if the ultimate goal can be more
quickly reached, "I guess it's Lewis and Stecher that have to do the wrestling, not us.
Maybe we should take 'em into account a little bit. What do you say to the 28th of
September or the 6th of October?"
"Either date is perfectly O.K.," answered Sandow. Stecher nodded his assent. Daro and
DePalma did likewise.
"All right, that's settled," and the captain rubbed his hands. "Now Lou and John, suppose
you two retire to the next room and decide which one of you is to promote the bout.
September 28 is your date John and October 6 is yours, Lou. Get together."
Messers. Daro and DePalma withdrew, smiling to themselves. Then minutes later the
captain stretched his arms, stood up and said, "Those boys seem to be taking a long time,
maybe I can help 'em out a bit."
Forthwith he retired to the anteroom and brought the two rival promoters back into his
"What seems to be the matter? I thought this thing would be all settled by now," said
"Why, I think I ought to have the bout," said DePalma.
"I should promote the match," said Daro.
"Well, you can't both have it," declared the captain. "Let me see, the Olympic Auditorium
can draw a gate of umpty-umpty thousand dollars with a $5 top price and the Vernon
Coliseum can draw a gate of such-and-so-many thousand dollars with the same top. I believe
I see the way out of this. Mr. Daro has been pouring good hard dollars into the State
Treasury for more than a year, while you, Mr. DePalma, have been promoting only a few
weeks. I think Lou should have the match, not only on his past record, but also because he
can accomodte more fans and you know we must let all the people see this bout that want to.
Taking it all in all, I think Lou should be the promoter. Of course, that's just my own
personal opinion and you may think otherwise, but just go in the other room again a minute,
Lou and John, and see if you can't fix things up."
Three minutes elapsed and then -- "I am so heppy. Mr. DePalma is also so heppy. The
match, captain, will be held at the Olympic Auditorium and everything is all fixed up." With
that the ebullient Mr. Daro shook hands all around and then sat down heavily.
Half an hour later the contracts were drawn up, it being agreed that if either man is defeated
before October 6, the match is off. Stecher, so they say, faces such a possibility at the
Olympic tomorrow night when he meets John Pesek.
Stecher and Lewis last clashed in 1920, Big Ed winning the title from Joe in New York on
December 13 of that year. The available information -- wrestling record books are as scarce
as abalone feathers -- indicate that the two men have grappled seven times. We don't claim
to know how the matches went. If you are a Stecher follower Joe won all but one and if Big
Ed is your favorite he's never been defeated.
(ED. NOTE--My records, possibly incomplete, show that there, in fact, had been at least ten
meetings between Lewis and Stecher up to this point, the most recent of which had occurred
October 4,1921 in San Francisco when the latter was awarded a referee's decision after two
hours of wrestling produced no falls. Beginning with the famous October 20, 1915 bout in
Evansville, Ind. --described in The WAWLI Papers Vol. 1, No.1 and won by Stecher on a
count-out -- the series continued with various bouts in such locales as Omaha, Chicago,
Norfolk and New York City. Stecher, by this count, had five wins, Lewis three, and two
ended in draw decisions.)
The title match here will be a finish affair, with one fall only.
As we were leaving the meeting one of the managers drew up aside. "You know what I bet?
The match will never be held. Lewis, he will lose to someone before October 6."
We passed through the doorway and outside met the other manager. "Don't count on that
match. Stecher will lose to Pesek or somebody else before October 6."
After watching Mr. Strelinger in action yesterday we believe it would be wise for each
grappler to appoint himself a committee of one to see that he is not defeated before October
6. The captain might take a notion to confiscate those checks.
THE WAWLI PAPERS:
WRESTLING AS WE LIKED IT
by J Michael Kenyon
Volume 2, Number 56 Thursday, August 14, 1997
IN THIS ISSUE: Six Matmen Die On WWII USO Tour; The Life and Lockup Times of
Fred (Wild Bull) Curry
SIX WRESTLERS DIE IN CRASH OF PLANE
(Associated Press, March 15, 1945)
NEW YORK -- Professional wrestling may be escaping the headlines in this country but the
mat sport definitely is big time among the servicemen.
This was revealed today by USO-Camp Shows after a War Department announcement that
an Army transport plane had crashed in Europe on March 3, killing 16 persons. Six of the
victims were professional wrestlers.
"That type of entertainment has gone over very big with servicemen," one USO official said
today, "and this definitely is not the first group of wrestlers to be sent overseas."
He explained that the matmen put on exhibition matches, participate in feats of strength and
demonstrate the application and breaking of holds. Usually the show ends with the
entertainers challenging any and all comers in the audience.
George Matkovich, known professionally as George Mack; Jack Ross; Lester (Kid)
Chapman; H.A. (Al) Sabath; Gaius W. Young and Ben Reuben were the six athletes to die in
the crash. All except Young listed Chicago as their home.
Young was from Minneapolis and played football with the St. Cloud, Minn., Teachers during
his collegiate career.
Jack Ross performed in his last match in this country at the Hartford Auditorium on January
25, losing to Jack Sexton in two straight falls in a semi-final match.
CASEY REGISTERS SECOND STRAIGHT MAT WIN
(Hartford, Ct., Daily Courant, March 16, 1945)
By Max Liberman
Making his second local mat appearance since being discharged from the U.S. Army, Steve
"Crusher" Casey, claimant to the world's heavyweight wrestling title, held up his claim by
defeating Maurice "The Angel" Tillet, another title seeker, in best two out of three falls on
last night's feature mat attraction at the Hartford Auditorium. Last week Casey won over
The powerful Irishman, apoparently none the worse for more than two and half years of
army life, had no soft touch, for Tillet gave him a rugged battle all the way and had a bit the
better of the going as he gained the first fall, much to the amazement of a good part of the
1,000 fans who witnessed the performance.
A sum of $110 was turned over to the Hartford Chapter of the American Red Cross from a
collection taken up last night.
Casey wasted little time in evening the match after falling to the Angel's bear hug and a
body press at the 16 minute and 50-second mark and concentrating on the Angel's legs
gained the equalizer after seven minutes and 41 seconds of skillful wrestling with a body flip
and body press.
Casey used the same strategy to win the deciding fall in eight minutes and 33 seconds.
During the intermission periods, both the Angel and Casey were kept busy signing
autographs for the many seekers. It was about an even bet as to which of the two was the
favorite on that score. But with the fans, as far as winning, Casey was the choice.
The semifinal between Zeus Wilcheski and Leo Numa ended up with Wilcheski the winner.
It was a bristling bout all the way through. Numa, who usually has the crowd on his side,
found himself outside the fence last night when he started in to use roughhouse tactics.
Wilcheski, who starred at Boston College as a football star, gave Numa a bit of his own
Both matmen were smart in the use of wrestling holds. Wilcheski's legs proved a big feather
in his cap as on more than one occasion he had Numa at his mercy with various selections of
leg holds, the best of which was a "spider cradle hold." Wilcheski took the first fall in 37:51
with a flying leg scissors and then went on to win the match when the allotted time of four
minutes was used after a five-minute rest period.
In the opener, Stanley Sykowski, who in the past fe weeks has established himself as a
crowdpleaser, went to a 30- minute draw with Kenneth (Tiger) Joe Tasker.
ORCHID MAN VS. HANS SCHNABEL
(program, International Amphitheatre, Chicago)
(Friday, April 29, 1949)
Gorgeous George, the magnificent, returns to Chicago to wrestle Hans Schnabel, Teuton
terror, on Friday night, April 29th in the International Amphitheater, 42nd and Halsted Sts.
The occasion will mark the third time the Hollywood Orchid Man will have appeared in a
Chicago ring and each time to a sensational capacity gathering.
On his first appearance here Gorgeous George packed the Amphitheater to the rafters, with
11,000 fans. In his second start he wrestled a sensational match with Walter Palmer, drawing
upwards of $15,000. This third appearance looks like a sure sellout as he meets the most
formidable foe of his career in Schnabel.
Gorgeous George, who possesses eighty-eight robes and has a valet, a beautifician and a
hair dresser in his retinue, is rated the most colorful person to have ever donned wrestling
trunks. The entire movie fraternity and the other stars of stage, screen and radio are ardent
devotees of Gorgeous George. He has such pals as Jack Benny, Bob Hope, Burns and
Allen, Red Skelton and famed stars which takes in even the operatic field.
The ladies, especially, heaven bless 'em, are great fans of Gorgeous George. Bobby sockers
crowd the first rows wherever he wrestles and when he tosses them his bobby pins, lifted
from his marcelled locks, many swoon with the greatness of it all.
He can expect no such adulation, however, from Hans Schnabel. The west coast Teuton, who
is still in a rage because of the bad decision given against him when he wrestled Walter
Palmer, is eager to take his revenge out on someone and he lets it be known that Gorgeous
George will be the victim of his vengeance. Hans declares that he will his blockbuster and
body backbreaker on the Hollywood Orchid Man.
The entire card of bouts is studded with brilliance. In the semi-feature, Promoter Fred
Kohler will introduce to America, Argentina Rocca, the sensational South American Gaucho,
who is scheduled to wrestle Frederick Von Schacht, turbulent 240-pound Milwaukee giant.
Rocca has enjoyed reams of copy about his thrill exploits in the ring in Buenos Aires and
other Latin cities. The twenty-six-year-old wrestler who was born in Treviso, Italy, is over
six feet tall and weighs 226 pounds. He specializes in a flying head scissors and drop kick
and with a hold that catches his adversaries at a distance from one end of the ring to the
other. He uses two kinds of drop kicks, one an orthodox one introduced by Joe Savoldi and
the other purely of Rocca's origination.
He jumps six to eight feet in the air, making a perfect split touching his toes with his hands
and from that position drop kicks his opponent's back. We have no record in the wrestling
annals of such a hold.
An Australian Tag Team match on the show features Cyclone Anaya, Cobra twist expert
from South America, teamed with Morris Shapiro, the Jewish New York heavyweight,
against the team of Rudy Kay and Ivan Kalmikoff. The latter duo is the toughest, roughest
and most sensational since the days of the Kay-Williams combine. The pair with Kay using
his body slam tactics will have the crown in an uproar the likes of which has not been seen in
Cyclone Anaya is a one-man team in himself; however, paired with Shapiro, the team seems
unbeatable. Shapiro, a full nelson expert, is rated on of the most powerful wrestlers in the
game. The cobra twist and the full nelson, as used by both Shapiro and Anaya, will keep Kay
and Kalmikoff in a state of befuddlement. In this match, Kohler will be present to strengthen
the ring before the two teams go into action, as it seems certain that Rudy Kay's body slams
will present a strain to the ring boards and the joints holding up the platform.
Howard Cantonwine of Iowa and Kola Kwariani of Russia, two behemoths weighing over 240
pounds each, will open the show in a match that is studded with action.
The entire card is the greatest of the season of matches that have been presented in the big
Amphitheatre Arena. _________________________________________
Tickets on sale for
GORGEOUS GEORGE-HANS SCHNABEL SHOW
April 29, 1949
at ADAM HAT STORE, 51 W. Madison Street
Prices: $1.50-$2.50, taxes paid __________________________________________
WILD BULL RIDES HERD IN HARTFORD LOCKUP
(Hartford, Ct., Courant, Sunday, January 30, 1983)
Fred Curry, with muscled arms, a gnarled face, a cauliflower ear and a mane of wiry, black
hair, roams the "cage" in Hartford Superior Court.
His dark eyes dart from beneath bushy, black eyebrows; when he growns, his face is
shadowed with fearsome wrinkles. But when he smiles, showing his gold-capped teeth, his
face becomes a sun.
They used to call him "Wild Bull" Curry, back when he traveled the country as a pro
wrestler and boxer. Now he's just plain "Bull" to most people, although there are other
names -- "The Werewolf," "The Monster" -- muttered by some of his charges.
Deputy Sheriff Bull Curry guards, and sometimes tames, the city's most dangerous criminals
-- the murderers, the rapists, the burglars and, most of all, the escape artists -- in the
Hartford courthouse lockup. At 6 feet and 215 pounds, he looks fierce; his reputation
confirms it. Fellow sheriffs say he is indispensable -- few, if any, of them want his hot seat in
Curry's quickness with troublemakers is legendary.
A few years ago, two prisoners handcuffed together fled into an alley leading to the court
parking lot. Curry shouted a warming, but they kept running. He threw a padlock, hitting one
of them in the back. The man fell down, pushing his companion face first into the steel door
that locks the sheriffs' van inside the garage. Within seconds, said a sheriff, Curry jumped
them and muscled them back into the lockup.
Another time a notoriously tough inmate tried to hang himself in his cell.
"He was halfway to three-quarters of the way gone," said Curry's huge former sidekick,
Bobby Quinn. "Bull took him down and pressed so much water at his face, the guy wished he
was dead. He kept gasping, 'I'm OK, I'm OK.' Bull told him, 'If I'm going to save you, I'm
going to make sure you're OK all the way.'"
But Curry can be tender, too.
A mother began crying and screaming as her 16-year-old son was led off to begin a prison
"They're going to ruin my boy!" she shrieked. "They're going to kill him!"
The courtroom was in chaos. The judge froze and the spectators watched the mother fall to
the floor. Curry stood next to her son inside the cage and put his arm over the boy's
"While he's with me, ma'am, nobody's going to touch him," he shouted.
The mother's screams turned to low maons. Consoled by sheriffs, she left the courtroom.
Curry (this is his ring name; his give name is the Lebanese 'Koury') has been a boxer, a
wrestler, a Hartford police officer and a Texas sheriff -- he spent about 15 years working
part time as a sheriff in Houston between wrestling and boxing matches all over the world.
Curry refuses to say how old he is -- "When you're in shape like me, what the hell difference
does it make?" -- but friends say he is in his 60s.
He joined the Hartford police just as his wrestling career was budding during the Depression
in 1939 -- "You had to grab a buck while you could," he said -- and patrolled his old, tough
neighborhood on Windsor Street.
"He was rough enough that when the force was down men, they'd send him out on the street
alone," said Chief Dupty Sheriff Francis M. DeLucco, who has known Curry for many
But in the mid-1940s, Curry began to make better money in the ring as his reputation as a
colorful wrestler expanded.
"I was getting . . . what? . . . $42 a week as a copy. I just couldn't make it on that." He
resigned from the force so he could spend more time wrestling.
In the mid-50s, Curry moved to Houston and took up residence as one of the stable of
wrestlers in the city's Coliseum, where he grappled with such ringmen of the day as Lou
Thesz, Danny McShain and Duke Keomuka.
"Houston was closer to South America and the South Pacific, where I got a lot of bouts.
Later, I went all over the world wrestling a half-dozen times," Curry said. Meanwhile, he
sidelined as a sheriff tracking criminal suspects in Galveston County.
Finally, in 1972, the wild life and the traveling took its toll -- Curry came down with jaundice
in Tokyo. He couldn't get the treatment he need there, so he flew to Alaska. There, too,
treatment was unsuccessful, so finally Curry returned to Hartford, where he recovered after
seven hours of surgery.
"The doctors told me to take it easy," laughed Curry, "so within 30 days I was working out
in Johnny Datro's gym in the South End. After that I took my (wrestling) shots here and
there . . . five, six, seven a month. In 1979, I got tired of it and got out."
Curry's retirement from wrestling didn't mean an end to the strenuous life, however. Three
years earlier he had been appointed a sheriff and was immediately thrust into the cage in
"I don't know why I got into this law enforcement stuff. It's always been a mystery to me,"
Ask Curry why he wrestled and boxed for 35 to 40 years and the answer is clearer:
"You've got to put on a show. You've got to give the crowd some entertainment like that
Yankee manager Billy Martin, like Muhammad Ali. You've got to be a little different,
believe me . . . And, when you get in the ring you let that guy in there with you do the
worrying. When I walked in that room, I made goddamn sure the people knew who Wild Bull
Anyone at Hartford Superior Court who doesn't know who Bull Curry is soon finds out -- like
the recently arrived judge who at the end of a busy day asked a sheriff if there were any
suspects left to be arraigned.
"No," the sheriff answered. The judge leaned discreetly forward, pointed toward Curry
inside the cage, and whispered, "How 'bout him?"
A 10-year-old girl sat in court in the midst of a loud, dramatic scene -- a convicted murderer
yelling at his defense attorney in front of the judge as sheriffs and spectators watched
tensely. The episode held no interest for her, though; she leaned toward her father, pointed
at Curry, and asked, "What did he do, Daddy?"
Defendants soon learn that Curry tolerates no nonsense. A man on trial for murder refused
to cooperate with anyone -- his lawyer, the judge, the sheriffs -- and at one point refused to
go downstairs to the lockup during a recess.
Curry walked out of the cage and into the courtroom. He looked right at the man and cocked
his index finger toward his chest. The man got up in silence and walked down to the lockup.
Sheriffs, lawyers and court employees insist Curry's looks, his reputation as a professional
fighter and, even more signficantly, his ability to cajole dangerous and emotionally upset
prisoners, make him indispensable in a potentially explosive courthouse.
The court on Washington Street averages between 10 and 12 attempted escapes a year.
Prisoner suicide attempts are almost as common. On a recent week in January, 14 men
accused of murder were mixed with the average 30 prisoners in the downstairs lockup that
feeds the court hearing room upstairs.
Several summers ago, Curry said, he sensed something was wrong when most of those dozen
or so men in the humid general lockup began asking to go to adjacent individual cells.
Fortunately, Curry said, the last one out warned him in a whisper, "Hey, Bull, you'd better
watch out!" When Curry went inside to check, he caught "a real creep" around a corner
ready to hit him over the head with a metal toilet seat freshly ripped off the toilet.
"How can I stand it down here?" he asked, repeating the question. "The thing doesn't
bother me, because I've been raised that way. I was raised on Windsor Street, and that's
like being raised in Hell's Kitchen."
An annual average of 8,000 prisoners spend the court day with Curry and his two sheriff
assistants in the cellar court lockup.
"You never know from one morning to the next what's going to happen," Curry said in his
gravelly voice. "Sometimes there's 35 to 40 guys in here . . . Every guy who comes down
here cases the joint. They case where the keys are; they case where you are, and don't you
forget it. You'd better change your habits or they'll get you.
"If you don't let them know who you are and get their respect, you're in trouble. They'll run
you right out of the building . . . You do a favor for one and they'll all get the idea. I don't
consider myself a good guy or a bad guy. I consider myself a fair guy," said Curry, who has
spent six years working in the lockup, and who makes $40 a day and vehicle-expense
mileage to and from prison and the jails.
Quinn, who is bigger than Curry and now works the equally dangerous city courthouse
lockup on Morgan Street, said, "If they didn't have Bull down in that lockup, they'd be in
serious trouble . . . He's the one who keeps it all under control . . . Some of those guys
(prisoners) have totally lost it when they come to court, but Bull calms them down. He just
tells them what is going to happen and they've got to accept that."
Other sheriffs who have known Curry for years believe his reputation as a ruffian is
"Fred Curry," said Gayle Fisher, a special deputy whose head wouldn't reach Curry's chin,
"he's a real pussy."
THE WAWLI PAPERS:
WRESTLING AS WE LIKED IT
by J Michael Kenyon
Volume 2, Number 57 Wednesday, August 20, 1997
IN THIS ISSUE: Great Piece From a Reader On The Life (and Continued) Times of Jim &
AND HERE IS AN EXAMPLE OF A WONDERFUL SUBMISSION
To: firstname.lastname@example.org From: Rabbit716@aol.com Subject: Thought you might like
this article Date: Tue, 19 Aug 1997 21:11:55 -0400 (EDT)
While I'm writing, could you please sign me up for your newsletter.
CASEY BROTHERS: THE TOUGHEST FAMILY ON EARTH
( Galveston County Daily News, July 28, 1997)
By Carol Christian
DICKINSON, Texas - Jim Casey is an Irish legend. Born in 1912 in the village of Sneem on
the southwest Irish coast, Casey is one of seven brothers who in their younger days claimed
to be "the toughest family on Earth."
No family ever disproved that claim by defeating them in their premier sports of rowing, tug
of war, wrestling or boxing. In 1982, the seven brothers were inducted into the Irish Sports
Hall of Fame, the only family ever to receive that honor.
Jim Casey said the Casey brothers and their three sisters attributed their strength and
natural athleticism to their father, Michael "Big Mick" Casey, and mother, Bridget Sullivan
Today, Casey lives with his wife, Myrtle, on a 26-acre lake in Dickinson. Their son, James
J. Casey, and his wife, Keri Ann, own the family business, Casey's Country Kennels at 401
The last few months have been a little rough for the elder Caseys, starting with a house
flood April 18 caused by a broken washing machine hose. A week later, Jim Casey had a
stroke that put him in the hospital for a week, followed by five weeks at a rehabilitation
hospital. Since the stroke, he also has been treated for cancer in his left eye.
Now, after a remarkable recovery, Casey is able to walk and talk and said he hopes soon to
be rowing again in the backyard replica of a racing scull that he designed and built. The
replica has been used by rowing students from throughout the area and by NASA astronauts
Casey came to the United States in the late 1930s with two of his brothers, Steve and Tom.
They all made names for themselves in rowing and wrestling or boxing.
Steve, who died of cancer in 1987, was known as Crusher" Casey when he won the NWA
world wrestling championship in 1938 at Boston Garden.
A song about this victory, "Steve Casey of Sneem," is well known in Ireland. Steve Casey
was one of five people whose portraits were commissioned to be placed in a hall of honor in
Sneem. One of the others was George Bernard Shaw. At Steve's funeral, a friend remarked
that Steve had always said the only man he ever feared, on the water or in the ring, was his
younger brother, Jim.
It was through his wrestling exploits that Jim Casey met his wife, a Galveston native. On a
Monday night in early 1945, she attended a wrestling match at the Balinese Room with her
boss and his wife.
"We would go every Monday night and sit in the front row and tell the wrestlers what to
do," recalled Myrtle Casey, now 76. On this particular night, Casey was thrown out of the
ring and landed on the laps of his future wife and her friends.
"He lost the match because we held onto him too long, asking him, 'Are you OK?' " Myrtle
The next week, when Myrtle was selling tickets at the Isle Theater on Market Street
between 21st and 22nd streets, she looked up and saw Casey coming down the street. He
asked, "Don't I know you?' She replied, "Yeah, you sat in my lap last week."
They were married in January 1946 in San Francisco because Casey was based there as he
traveled the country as a wrestler. In 1947, he retired from wrestling and opened a sports
bar, Crusher Casey's, in Boston with his brother Steve.
Jim and Myrtle lived from 1947 until 1962 in Dorchester, a Boston suburb where their three
children were born. Their daughter, Patricia Curtin, is married to a native Irishman, Charlie
Curtin, and lives in Pattison between Sealy and Katy. The Caseys' son, Steve, is deceased.
In 1962, after selling their house and business in Boston, the Caseys were on their way to
California and stopped in Galveston County to say goodbye to family and friends.They
rented a house in La Marque for a month, and ended up buying some property in Alta Loma,
where they lived for the next 10 years before settling in Dickinson in 1973.
"I'm glad we didn't get to California," Myrtle Casey said.
Of the Casey brothers, four are still living. Paddy, 87, lives in London and Ireland; Mick, 84,
lives in Sneem; and Dan, 80, lives in Dublin. The only surviving sister is Josephine, 77, who
lives in Ireland.
Until his stroke, Jim Casey was physically active. Still endowed with ramrod-straight posture
at age 85, he is fond of showing off the mahogany boats he has in an outside shed. One is the
racing scull he and Steve and Tom used to win a championship in November 1940 on the
Charles River in Boston.
"We had the right size and style to make the boat fly," Casey said, attributing the good
Casey posture to his mother's side of the family.
In 1983, Casey organized a family reunion in Sneem. All seven brothers were still alive, but
two were unable to make the trip. The five who were there, all in their 70s, climbed into the
four-oar boat they used to win championships in 1930, 1931 and 1932. Although they had not
rowed together in 50 years, they still moved with natural unity and grace, as shown in a
videotape made by Myrtle Casey and described by Dickinson freelance writer Jim Hudson
in his book, "The Legend of the Caseys (The Toughest Family on Earth!)."
"Their oars broached and cleared the water in perfect unison," Hudson wrote in his 1990
"Backs erect, arms outstretched, they propelled the boat through the shimmering water as
smoothly as a raindrop sliding down silk. Many of those crowding the shoreline found it
difficult to cheer because of the lumps that formed in their throats. They knew they were
watching the final performance of the greatest oarsmen and the greatest individual athletes
Ireland had ever seen." ______________________________________________
A PEAK AT THE WHATEVER HAPPENED TO . . .? SITE
The URL of Scott Teal's sensational web site is:
Lou Thesz "N.W.A. World Heavyweight Champion"
The entry for the word "legend" in Webster's Dictionary says, "see Lou Thesz" ... well, at
least it should. Lou Thesz is a "true" living wrestling legend who held the National
Wrestling Alliance version of the World Heavyweight Title a total of six times. His last
match was in Japan in December, 1990. Lou was 74 years old at the time.
"How did your business relationship with UWFI come to an end?"
I was approached originally to coach their boys. They had me going to the gym to observe
everything they were doing, because they had to be competitive. I did that for several years
and it was working well. I'd get up into the ring and say, "What you're going to witness
tonight is not show business. This is a contest. I hope you appreciate what you're seeing,
because this is the real thing." They were supposed to be what the sheets call a "shoot
group", and that's what they did for awhile. The people were educated and even knew what a
hook was. We had several guys get hurt pretty well. One night, I was watching some of the
matches. I saw they had Vader (Leon White) in there, (Nobuhiko) Takada, and another
match. They were doing some stupid stuff. Headlocks that you could see daylight through ...
the claw that Fritz von Erich used like you're going to crush somebody's head ... the arm
stretcher, where you put one foot on his head, the other on his body, and pull on the arm. All
that stuff that you know is bogus crap. Things that just didn't make sense. That's okay if you
sell it that way, but when you sell it as the real thing, you have people there who have done
some amateur wrestling. That's how I got smartened up, you know. I was an amateur
wrestler, went to the matches, and said, "Wait a minute. It doesn't happen that way."
Anyway, I went back to the dressing room and said, "What are you guys doing?" They said,
'What are you talking about?' I said, "What are you guys doing. You're performing out
there, you're not wrestling." They said, 'Well, we'll talk about it later.' "No, we're going to
talk about it now, because I've been telling people that what they're going to witness tonight
is a contest. This is show business." They still weren't ready to talk about it, so I said "Fine.
Don't call me, I'll call you. I'm gone and my belt is going with me." They said, 'Well, Takada
is our champion and he has to have it.' I said, "No, he doesn't have to have my belt. Get
your own belt." So, I took the walk.
They let the whole world know that they weren't really into wrestling ... they were into show
business. Just the very fact that they didn't come to me in a business way, straightforward,
and say, 'Hey, we have a couple of things we can draw some money with, with Vader and a
couple of guys. If you'll go along with us, we'll hold it to that.' I would have had to think
about it. Instead, they just went ahead and treated me like one of the marks. Thirty days
later, they had problems and their best wrestlers started leaving. So, now they're relatively
out of business. They're working with New Japan, but New Japan is going to absorb them
just like a sponge.
What actually happened ... they (UWFI) had a guy working with new talent down there in
Nashville. I sent in at least four or five competetive guys that could really do it. They had
good credibility and visibility. People knew that they were good wrestlers. The guys running
the school didn't seem to like any of them, so I stopped sending talent, and so did Billy
Robinson. They lost about a dozen guys that they could have used and ran out of gas. They
had to remake the matches and every one of them was a retread. They used different
finishes, but the same crap.
They can do what they want, but they just won't use my belt to do it. (Antonio) Inoki had a
hokey belt that they developed about twenty years ago, and Koji (Miyamoto) told me that
Inoki sold it for $300,000. He said that my belt should be worth about a million at that rate. I
said, "Sell it."
"Do you feel like your own career was advanced because of your association with George
Tragos?" I gained a lot of respect when I started working out with Tragos. Everyone was
fearful of Tragos, because he had hurt a lot of people. Tragos would break your arm in a
heartbeat. Guys told me, 'Don't work out with him. He's gonna hurt you.' Well, he never did,
and not too many people wanted to mess with me, because I rubbed elbows with him.
I saw it in Evansville. A young man had won a few matches and they had him in there with
Tragos. The promoter told Tragos, 'This boy is going to beat you tonight.' Tragos just
looked at him and said, 'I don't think so.' (laughs) The promoter said, 'Listen, I should tell
you, in fairness to you, this kid can wrestle a little.' George said, 'Well, let's just see how
little he can wrestle.' I was right at ringside, because I knew the heat was on. When George
was fired up, there was hell to pay. He went out there and, within a couple of minutes, he
wristlocked this kid. You could hear the tendons snap a long ways away. When tendons snap,
it's like a gigantic rubber band snapping. It was an unfortunate incident, because two weeks
later, the kid lost his arm. We didn't have antibiotics or anything at that time. George hurt a
lot of guys, but they were wrestlers. The only time he would do anything like that is if they
were loudmouths. __________________________________________
Ivan Kalmikoff -- "Memories by his son, Gary Bruce"
Ivan Kalmikoff was one-half of the hated Kalmikoff brothers (with Karol), who claimed they
defected from a Soviet Union sports team to wreak havoc on wrestlers in the U.S. and
Canada. Both Karol and Ivan were well established on the mat before getting together, with
their careers dating back to the late '30s. Both were very strong, fundamental wrestlers in
the mode of 1950's heels. At one point, they had a book published entitled "Know Your
Wrestling," in which there were photographs of them demonstrating holds on each other.
Karol had wrestled previously as Karol Krauser. He was initially billed under his real name
of Krauser, both in the Amarillo and Dallas areas, during their early days as a tag team
competition. Another interesting footnote -- another wrestler of the era, Karl Krauser,
changed his name to Karl Gotch to avoid confusion with Karol.
Karol died of a heart attack in 1964 while wrestling in Salt Lake City, Utah. Ivan died from
heart failure just last year, on June 9, 1996 at his home in Northville, Michigan. The funeral
was held at Holy Family Church in Novi, Michigan. He was buried at Rural Hill Cemetery in
Northville. He was 78 years old.
This interview is with Gary Bruce, Ivan's oldest son, and was conducted in August, 1996.
Did you ever worry about dad when he was in a particularly brutal match? In other words,
when do you stop worry about dad, and when do you realize that dad has a job?
I think when I was very young, up until the age of ten, it was wrestling. Two things really
struck me about it. One was the fact that he was wrestling, which, of itself, is a peculiar thing
to have your father do. You know, it's not mainstream . . . and he was well-known. The other
thing was that he played up the Russian bit so heavily. So what I remember most about
being a kid is -- "This is what your father does," and "You're a dirty Ruskie." "Aaawww,
what did I do to deserve this?" Of all the jobs that my father could have . . . then, of course,
when Kruschchev started stirring things up, I was like, "Now what?" I remember thinking,
"Oh, boy. School's gonna be great tomorrow." And since we moved a lot, I was always
confronted with "Your father's a wrestler," "You're a Russian," . . . and "I can beat you up.
This is all the way through grade school. Actually, because there was so much of the Cold
War going on, there was more animosity about him being a Russian then there was about
him being a wrestler. And to make matters worse, dad didn't downplay it. In fact, he played it
up. He'd walk around town wearing this long woolen coat, a tall Russian hat, and red leather
boots. It was always like, "Alright, dad. What's next?"
I started working out with weights, and on the mat, when I was about eleven years old. One
day, he just said, "Look, this is the office." I said, "What do you mean, the office?" I'm
looking around for a room and a desk. He started to fill me in on the business end of
wrestling. It wasn't a total surprise. I mean, on some weekends, we'd go over to a guy's
house and have dinner. . . and this is the guy that, just last week, dad was going around with
on the top of the card. You didn't have to be real bright to start figuring things out (laughs).l
He explained that being a success wasn't winning. Success was being on the top of the card.
Once you accept that, you can understand the concept the losing. It might have been a
disappointment when he let me know what was going on. "Oh, man. My father's a phony. He
isn't what I thought." On the other hand, when you watched him, you realized that he was
really a great athlete. You couldn't take that away from him. You had to say, "This man has
talent as an athlete, and a showman . . . and he IS on top." So, within this business, he's
considered a success. This is what he chose to do and he's the the top of his form. Of course,
as a kid, you're confronted with kids saying, "Your old man's a phony." Let me tell you.
That statement right there is one of the things that precipitated more fist fights than
anything. After awhile, you just try to ignore it, but many times, it proceeds to "Your dad
doesn't know to fight," and "You don't know how to fight." The next thing you know, it's
push-push-push. They're going to show that they can beat you up, and in thier mind, that's
symbolic of them beating dad and the profession up. Well, you know enough to know that
even though it's a work, most of the guys are tough and can hold their own against anyone in
a fight or a wrestling match. It's like, YOU know that, but you can't explain it to THEM. You
can't wise them up.
You also wrestled for a short time. Tell us about yourself.
I started training with dad in '61 or '62, when I was twelve years old. When we moved to
Detroit, I started working out at Louie Klein's gym. Louie had a ring in the front of his gym.
I worked with Lou, my dad, and four or five of the boys. The day I turned sixteen, I got my
professional license in Michigan. My first match was in Jackson. There was a little TV
studio where they did two tapes every other week . . . a live show, then a tape. My very first
match was withmy dad. We worked together and did a whole bunch of bits that we had
learned when he trained me. We got in there and dad says, "Do what I showed you at the
gym." He even took the time to put me over a little bit . . . although I went down at the end
I did the two tapes. That would've been the end of August '66. I worked as Gary Brown. My
dad just dreamed the name up on the spur of the moment. I wrestled around the Detroit area
for about four years, while I was going to college. I went to Michigan State for Political
Science and Communications. I was just doing it to earn money while I was in school. I knew
I wasn't going to do it forever, and I never really created a persona or character to go
beyond that. There was no real persona to it. I was just another gibroney who wasn't going
over. I figured that nobody in the world knew about it. Afterwards, I walked back into my
room at college . . . you know, I'm back to being "Joe College" again. Well, about three
guys are standing there. "Oh, we saw you on TV (laughs)." I realized that I just didn't want
to deal with it, or explain it. Once that started, then the guys from the wrestling team would
be, "Oh, I bet you couldn't do this," and "I bet you couldn't do that." I filled in and worked
the little spot shows, and Cobo a few times, which was kind of fun -- a good way to get beaten
up. I went up to Hamilton (Ontario) and did TV shots there, TV out of Jackson and
Southfield, in Michigan, down toToledo, and did house matches when they were running the
I worked with Tiger Jeet Singh in Hamilton. That guy was so huge, I really didn't know what
to do. I'm like 215. He's 270 -- maybe more. The boys were up in the control room watching.
They had come out to see what the kid could do. All I did was bend down and do a leg pickup
. . . put him on his butt. Tiger got so bent out of shape. He came at me hot and heavy, and
went right to the finish. I went back to the dressing room and the boys were laughing, giving
Tiger the business over it. I think Tiger could have gone without that. He was okay after
that, though, because the boys kind of told him that he got put over at the end. They all
treated me real well, which showed the respect they had for my dad. My dad said, "You did
right. Always go back to basics. When you're confronted with somebody you don't know, go
back to basic wrestling." And my dad was always big on basic wrestling techniques. A lot of
times, when these guys get older, and are used to being put over, you get the idea that the
young guys are in there to be their punching bag. Well, I came at it from having watched my
dad work. You know, put the guy over a little bit, so it looks like you beat up somebody. If
not, you might as well throw a bag of cement around.
The complete interview with Gary Bruce can be found in issue #27 of Whatever Happened
to ...? Our "Finishes" column pays tribute to George Temple, Neil Superior, Ivan the
Terrible, and Cowboy Lee Carlson. Two legends of pro wrestling from Amarillo, Terry Funk
and Ricky Romero, share their memories of their friend, the late Ken Farber. Also, a report
on All Pro Wrestling's "Night of Champions and Legends," while "Stuff", a report by
former Seattle promoter Dean Silverstone, concludes the issue.
THE WAWLI PAPERS:
WRESTLING AS WE LIKED IT
by J Michael Kenyon
Volume 2, Number 58 Thursday, August 21, 1997
IN THIS ISSUE: Wartime Mat Clips From Tampa As We Continue To Sneak Peaks At
Scott Teal Website
A PEAK AT THE WHATEVER HAPPENED TO . . .? SITE
The URL of Scott Teal's sensational web site is:
THE HISTORY OF PROFESSIONAL WRESTLING
By Scott Teal
Tampa, Florida: 1943
Professional wrestling was a big draw in Tampa, Florida for many years. With the advent of
World War II, many of the wrestlers were drafted and shipped overseas or assigned to duty
on bases in the U.S. With a lack of talent available for wrestling promoters to draw from,
wrestling hit a lull during the war years. In 1943, pro wrestling gradually made a comeback
with several promoters trying to find their niche in the sport. The series of articles that will
follow over the coming months will chronicle the rise of professional wrestling in Tampa,
Florida ... a town that would become the hub of exciting wrestling action in the modern age of
The Tampa Daily Times: March 2, 1943
MAT CARD PLANNED HERE NEXT MONDAY
Wrestlers Lined Up for Show
Bob Gregory, great lover of the wrestling fraternity and former husband of Princess Babs
(daughter of the Maharajah of Sarawak), today found himself with more potential mat foes
as a result of a challenge he recently expounded in the columns of The Times. Confronted
with such a situation, promoter Jim Downing seized upon the opportunity to bring wrestling
back to Tampa, and plans to present his first show at the City Auditorium next Monday.
Answering the challenge of Private Bob, now a commando trainee at a St. Petersburg Army
base, were Walter (One Man Gang) Underhill; Sgt. Joe Harbin of Bob's own 918th Army
Squadron at St. Pete, and (Bruiser) Bill Ludwig. Underhill and Ludwig are well known to
Tampa mat fans as the result of appearances here when wrestling formerly was a large part
of the local sporting picture. The Gang is employed as a foreman at McCloskey's shipyard,
and Ludwig is doing his bit for defense as a truck driver for the Hunt Truck Lines. There
also are other formerly prominent grapplers doing defense jobs in the Tampa area.
Most colorful of the lot, however, is Private Gregory, who, besides being a former wrestling
champion of Europe, also has served as national director for an infantile paralysis correction
school in the U.S., air raid protection supervisor for a Southern California district, including
the city of Los Angeles, and has had parts in a number of Hollywood moving pictures. Just
who will be Gregory's first opponent here has not yet been decided, but promoter Downing is
talking turkey with all grapplers in the Tampa area who would like to appear on his opening
First wrestling show of 1943 Tampa City Auditorium Promoter: Jim Downing March 8, 1943
- 8:30 p.m.
Note: Assisting promoter Jim Downing with the wrestling shows is Stuart Wider, former
Pacific fleet champion who works as a night watchman at the Tampa shipyard.
Note: All of the wrestlers who appear on the card are engaged in some form of war work.
Note: Vincent Lopez, former Mexican champion serving in the U.S. Army with Adair
Najahara, will challenge the winner of the feature bout.
1. Walter "One Man Gang" Underhill beat Sgt. Joe Harbin (forfeit) 2. "Bruiser" Bill
Ludwig vs Pvt. Robert Gregory (match cancelled due to Gregory's ankle injury) 3. Adair
Najahara beat "Butcher Boy" Billy Williams 4. Bill Ludwig beat Pvt. Lupe D. Sesanto
'ONE MAN GANG' ACCEPTS MAT WIN GRUDGINGLY (Tampa Daily Times: March 9,
Rough, tough Walter Underhill, the "One Man Gang" of the mat world, asks nothing but
that he be given a fair chance to finish a job he starts -- no matter how gruesome it might be.
So when his two-out-of-three fall match with Sgt. Joe Harbin of the 918th Army Squadron at
St. Petersburg was stopped because Toothless Joe had a trench cut in his forehead, The
Gang raved and ranted in protest. The match stood at one fall each when Sergeant Harbin
was led from the ring, a towel wrapped around his head to stop the flow of blood from a gash
unruly Walter had opened over his eye with a playful poke with his elbow.
Harbin Took First Fall
Even after his hand had been raised as the victor, The Gang stood his ground, demanding
(with appropriate gestures) that Bleeding Joe be brought back so he could finish him off
proper. It was a matter of pride with The Gang for he'd been no little embarrassed a short
time before when his lighter Army rival had squeezed him into submission with a hook
scissors to win the first fall of their match on the opening card at the City Auditorium before
some 500 patrons. It was a playful poke by Underhill's elbow that caught Sergeant Joe on
the forehead and opened a gash above his eye. Blood flowed so freely that Joe had to be led
from the ring with a towel wrapped around his head. Army officers on the spot refused to
allow Sergeant Harbin to go back for the third fall, and The Gang reluctantly gave way to
the Army. The match was the feature on Promoter Jim Downing's opening card after
Romantic Robert Gregory, the former European champion, was unable to go through with
his scheduled bout with Bruiser Bill Ludwig.
Gregory appeared in the ring before the opening match and explained he could not meet
Ludwig because of an ankle injury he received last week, but that he hoped to do so on the
next card here.
In the first half of last night's double feature program, Adair Najahara of the Army base at
Clearwater, left Tampa's Billy Williams writhing in agony on the canvas after a three-fall
session of rough treatment. Butcher Boy Billy employed a flying tackle to kayo his Mexican
foe in nine minutes to take the first fall. But Adair recovered and took the next two with an
assortment of well-aimed dropkicks to Billy's ample tummy and chin. In the opener, Bill
Ludwig pinned Pvt. Lupe D. Sesanto of Clearwater in 11 minutes with a cradle hold.
Promoter Downing said he planned another mat show in two weeks.
RETURN GRUDGE MATCH GOES TO UNDERHILL
Tampa, Florida - March 22, 1943
After each man had won one fall, Sgt. Joe Harbin began using his most violent tactics. A few
well-placed dropkicks by Walter Underhill, followed by a clubbing assault with his husky
forearms soon had Harbin down and out. The Gang couldn't resist one last kick as he passed
the prostrate Harbin on the way to the corner. In came Vincent Lopez to defend his fellow
soldier. Nothing more damaging than a couple of dirty looks passed between Senor Vincent
and The Gang, but that was enough for promoter Jim Downing to announce that the two
would be matched in the main event on the next program.
2 out of 3 falls-- Vincent Lopez drew with Bill Ludwig
Lopez won one fall, but was unable to gain the second before the 45-minute time limit
expired. The match was ruled a draw.
Tiger Jack Curley beat Pvt. Lupe D. Sesanto (22:00)
Billy Williams drew with George Tsonovich
Note: George Tsonovich is with the Clearwater Army training camp. Tiger Jack Curley is
with the Drew Field Medical Department.
Note: Romantic Robert Gregory was unable to appear again because of an ankle injury, and
was still not recovered enough to reenter the ring.
MONDAY MAT SHOW HERE IS CALLED OFF
(Tampa Daily Times: March 29, 1943)
The Monday night wrestling show scheduled was cancelled as the result of an order from
Colonel Householder of the St. Petersburg Army base forbidding soldiers under his
command to perform in athletic contests off their Army bases.
Promoter Jim Downing said there was nothing he could do but call off the show since most of
the wrestlers on the card were from the St. Petersburg and Clearwater base. He added,
however, that he hoped to be able to continue staging mat show with wrestlers who are not in
the Army. _____________________________________________
UNDERHILL BOOTED OUT, BUT STILL WINS
(Tampa Daily Times: April 17, 1943)
It must have seemed mighty strange to Walter (One Man Gang) Underhill, to hear the fans
cheering for him for a change. But they were actually on his side last night when he won over
Big Chief Saunooke on a foul in the main bout on the grappling card at the City Auditorium.
It took a lot of suffering on Walter's part to gain the sympathy of the patrons who usually
hiss and boo his unethical assault methods in the ring. But Chief Saunooke got all the hisses
and boos last night and Walter was the fellow who could do no wrong ... The climax came
after the Chief and Walter each had taken one fall and were on their way to the deciding
The Chief, whose 320-pound tank-like torso made 220-pound Walter look actually small,
began booting Underhill about the mat like a soccer ball as they met for the third fall. When
the referee began pleading with him to be a good boy and play fair, the Chief pushed the
referee around a bit too ... whereupon the referee turned to the prostrate Walter, who lay
groaning on the canvas, and raised his hand as the winner. At the end, Walter was writhing
on the floor, his hand held aloft as the winner, while Chief Saunooke appealed helplessly to
the crowd about the injustice of it all.
In the 45-minute semi-final, Charlie Harbin, substituting for John Mauldin of Atlanta,
plopped his bay window down on bearded George Romanoff twice in succession and it was
more than the overmatched Russian could take.
A lively opener saw Tiger Jack Curley of Drew Field and Red Dugan of Des Moines, Iowa,
battle to a draw, with Dugan spending the evening climbing in and out of the ring.
Bill Ludwig won over Billy Williams in 17 minutes of another one-fall match scheduled for 30
'GANG' RUBS OUT MARKOVICH, DUGAN WINS
(Tampa Daily Times: May 22, 1943)
The tremendous proposition of finding someone who can beat Walter (One Man Gang)
Underhill still is unsolved today. Mike Markovich came all the way from Chicago to try it
last night and succeeded only in getting himself bounced around like a rubber ball by the
McCloskey steel crew foreman. Unruly Walter, who likes to play rough, battered
Markovich into submission in straight falls, all the while drawing warnings from referee Paul
Butler to be a little more gentle.
K.O. Red Dugan of Des Moines took the measure of Tiger Jack Curley of Drew in another
rough bout in which the two boys engaged in an added contest to see who could throw the
other out of the ring the most times. Curley bowled over Dugan in 58 seconds flat to start
the match. But thereafter, Red the Ripper made him pay dearly for his audacity. The end
came in about 34 minutes.
Bill Weiterman, MacDill Field's human replica of the General Sherman tank, made a
popular hit with the fans present in winning over Billy Williams through disqualification in
one of the 30 minute matches. In the other, Sgt. Eli Gutierrez of MacDill won over Pete
Markov of Chicago.
Note: Sgt. Eli Gutierrez and Bill Weiderman, a former pro football star, are stationed with
the 21st Bomb Group at MacDill Field.
K.O. GETS ROUGH, TANK GETS MAT WIN AS 'GIFT' (Tampa Daily Times: May 29,
Bill (the Tank) Weiderman of MacDill Field holds a grappling triumph over K.O. Red Dugan
of Des Moines today because K.O. was a baaaad boy in their feature match at the City
Auditorium last night. After the match had gone two falls, with the Tank winning the first and
Dugan the second, K.O. became more enraged at the referee than his opponent. The trouble
started when the referee tried to make K.O. be a good boy and play fair. But K.O. wouldn't
be good. In fact, he became wilder than ever and turned his wrath on the referee as well as
Weiderman. A few playful pokes in a three-way swat party, and Dugan found himself
disqualified. But he carried the battle on until finally knocked out of the ring. Then, groaning
and muttering, he retreated to the safety of his dressing room.
In the first half of the double-feature program, Tiger Jack Curley of Drew Field, and Sgt. Eli
Gutierrez of MacDill, wrestled to a one-hour draw. Each won one fall in a scheduled
Jack Russell, soldier from the Clearwater Army camp, failed to show up for his scheduled
opening bout with Bill Williams, the erstwhile Tampa butcher boy.
THEN CAME THE HIATUS IN TAMPA WRESTLING . . .
Wrestling took a hiatus in Tampa until January 1, 1945, when promoter Price Daulton began
promoting under the auspicies of Post 121, Veteran of Foreign Wars.
"The History of Professional Wrestling" -- Volume 1
Tampa, Florida: The Post-War Years, 1943-1949
This examination of wrestling is a continuing series that will fill several volumes. Volume 1
covers the period between 1943 and 1949, the post-war years that saw the rise of pro
wrestling in Tampa ... a city that would become a hub of exciting wrestling action in the later,
modern age of pro wrestling. You'll read about the full-scale wrestling war between rival
promotions in 1946 and 1947; the events that moved wrestling from the downtown Municipal
Auditorium into Fort Homer Hesterly Armory; the appearance of the first version of the
Florida Heavyweight Title; and the beginnings of the promotion headed by C.P. "Cowboy"
Luttrall. The first volume is literally packed with information. It includes all of the finishes
for the matches during those years, plus many reprints of newspaper clippings that are, for
the most part, lost or unavailable to anyone else.
THE WAWLI PAPERS:
Wrestling As We Liked It
by J Michael Kenyon
Volume 2, Number 59 Friday, August 22, 1997
IN THIS ISSUE: Strangler Lewis Says Lopez Is Best; Other Mat Musings From Ring
Magazine, Circa 1936
STRANGLER LEWIS SINGS LOPEZ'S PRAISE
(Ring Magazine, January 1936)
Most heavyweight wrestling and boxing champions have a menace, no matter how invincible.
the general public considers them. John L. Sullivan had his Peter Jackson; Jack Dempsey,
his Harry Wills; Jimmy Braddock his Joe Louis, and so on down the line. Of course, in the
mat world, the Senegambians in the wood pile are not colored men, as there few if any
colored wrestlers in the world worth while, but Danno O'Mahoney, the new undisputed
world's champion, has his Vince Lopez, the Mexican who is regarded the king of grappling
west of the Rockies.
When Jim Londos was champion, he refused to meet Chief Little Wolf in California and was
suspended in the state and his title vacated. The commission ordered an international
tournament in which sixty-four stars of the mat domain entered. Among them were
O'Mahoney, Strangler Lewis, Jim Browning, Ernie Dusek, Sandor Szabo, Man Mountain
Dean and lots of others of the best and it was Lopez who was the sole survivor and he was
declared world's champion by California.
So, on the Pacific Coast, they don't know O'Mahoney, the Irishman, was world champion,
despite his victories over Ed Don George and the Greek and other celebrities and the fact
that Danno is recognized in most states as the title-holder. They consider Lopez the dandy of
them all and should he ever meet Danno, they feel sure he will prove his supremacy. They
saw O'Mahoney in action and they don't consider he is in the same class as the colorful
The Mexican is being managed by Ed "Strangler" Lewis, four times world's champion. The
Strangler was a big factor in guiding Vince to the throne in California. Lewis considers Lopez
the best all-around man that has been developed in a quarter of a century and feels, as does
Lopez, that if he can get Danno to meet him, he'll be the undisputed king.
Although he was a fairly finished grappler when Lewis got hold of him, which was after the
tourney got well under way and he himself had been eliminated, Ed took Lopez daily into the
gym and taught him some of the important things that he himself had learned during his long
wrestling career. Ed says that Lopez is the quickest to learn of any matmen he has ever
"Lopez," declared Lewis, "is the first wrestler I ever had that I considered good material to
manage. After the many times I have held the title and the general esteem the public has for
my judgment, I couldn't afford to handle a wrestler in whom I had no faith.
"I think that Lopez will prove even a better man than I have been considered at my best and
I don't think there is a man in the sport today who has a chance in with him. I have met
Danno O'Mahoney, who has made such a good record since he arrived in this country about
a year ago and I feel sure that Vince will conquer him should they ever meet.
"Lopez is most anxious to get matched with the Irishman. In his and my opinion, Lopez, not
O'Mahoney, is the true title- holder because, in the international tourney in California that
Lopez won, Danno, among many others, was eliminated. The Irishman wasn't champion then,
because it was before he had met either Londos or George, but the tournament was one in
which were represented all the world's best matmen. To win over them all was a remarkable
achievement for Lopez." ____________________________________________
THE WAWLI PAPERS, some 145 issues dating back to the beginning of their publication in
June, 1996, are all archived at one of the outstanding wrestling web sites:
http://www.twc-online/com -- check them out, along with a wide variety of other fascinating
wrestling information! _____________________________________________
THE ONLY COMPLETE HISTORY OF WRESTLING
(Ring Magazine, May 1936)
In the February issue of The Ring we asked wrestling fans who have enjoyed the
Milo-to-Londos-to-O'Mahoney series that started three years ago and was completed in the
March number, whether they thought that the story, with corrections and additions, should
be put into book form. We told them that such a book would be costly to produce and that if
we received 1000 subscribers we would get out a limited edition -- limited to that number and
autographed by the authors, A.D. Phillips, the octogenerian sports writer, and Nat Fleischer,
Editor of this publication.
We are glad to announce that at this writing we have received orders from 207 readers, each
of whom seems pleased to pay $3.00 for this work.
We now make our second appeal. Are you with us? Would you like to possess the most
authentic history of wrestling ever placed on the market, a book which will cover the sport
from the time of the Egyptians to the present day and will carry close to 300 photographs in
addition to the life stories of every wrestler of prominence through the ages?
Here's your chance. Let me hear from you.
Nat Fleischer, The Ring, Madison Square Garden, N.Y. City, New York
(Ring Magazine, May 1936)
By Edward Merrill
After an absence of a year, Jack Dempsey was back on the Boston mat as referee on
February 25, at the Mechanics Building, a "royal," for which Promoter Charley Gordon is
famous, being the event. Four matmen, one of the number being Ted Germaine, who a year
ago had pitched Dempsey out of a local ring, were the combatants. Prior to the February 25
bout, Germaine had announced that he would again pitch Dempsey out of the ropes, to which
the ex-heavy champion retorted that a real sock to the jaw would be Ted's purse if he tried it
. . . As it turned out, Buck Jones, a colored matman, pulled Jack over the ropes, and was
biffed in the midriff for doing it. Later, Germaine, in concert with Pat Schaeffer, worked
Dempsey outside the ropes, and got away with it for the time. Later on, however, when
Schaeffer got into an altercation with the ex-champion, Jack bowled him over with a blow to
the chin. Germaine promptly hopped atop Schaeffer, as is the way in "royals," and pinned
him for the fall and the bout . . .
Down in Dixie, according to our live-wire correspondent, Bernice Sandboe, things are
humming in the mat sport. Here are her "Dixie Doin's":
O'Mahoney and his manager (Jack) McGrath certainly managed to create an unpleasant
mess here in Houston. Adding insult to injury, O'Mahoney tossed Leo Savage bodily out of
the ring one night and the following night proceeded to commit the unpardonable and mortal
sin of wrestlers, and "run-out" of a match in Galveston, leaving Promoter Ralph Hammonds
with a house full of disappointed and irate fans.
Both actions were decidedly unsavory and certainly did nothing to prove O'Mahoney was a
fit champion or a good sport. We in Texas are happy to know that Shikat has deposed him.
Meanwhile, natural complications pile up, making the whole affair a most disagreeable
mess. The jilted promoter sues, the commissioner vacates O'Mahoney's throne in Texas,
the N.W.A. suspends him, and endless quibbling and unpleasantries ensue. All because one
man couldn't play the game straight. And that man was our champion! (ED. NOTE--The
"run-out" referred to was the celebrated "double-cross," wherein the Texans were going to
"steal" O'Mahoney's belt by having Juan Humberto flop the champ in Galveston. McGrath
got wind of the plot, however, and O'Mahoney was a no-show that night, only to be
double-crossed by Shikat in New York less than a month later.)
Comes word that Billy Edwards (nicknamed Hair, Eye and Tooth Edwards being his favorite
wrestling "holds" are pulling hair, gouging eyes and biting) and Gus Sonnenberg were both
injured in a car wreck re4cently. Wrestlers lead a hazardous life traveling late at night after
a bout in order to get to another town for an appearance the next evening. But they prefer to
make their hops at night so they can sleep all day and awaken refreshed and rested in the
evening for work.
One of the greatest dangers of their traveling at night is that they are likely to be so
physically exhausted from a hard work-out on the mat that they will fall asleep at the wheel.
Too, the majority of the wrestlers have poor eyesight which is no assistance to night driving.
Frequently, a wrestler's wife will travel around with him, driving the car at night so he can
catch a few hours' extra sleep. You seldom hear of the wrestlers being seriously hurt in the
ring, but any number of them have been in terrible car wrecks and at the moment I can think
of only George Kotsonaros and Pat Flanagan, who were killed at the wheel.
Tiny Roebuck gets my vote for pulling the best pun of the month when I informed him that I
was from Des Moines. Tiny chirped up: "De gold moines or de silver moines?" . . . Darna
(Barney) Ostopavich, the overgrown Pole, has scoffed my first effort to write a story on him
for the mat fans . . . so you have to carry on without a story on Mister Ostopavich (ED.
NOTE--Ostopavich, by the 1950s, was working as Barney "Chest" Bernard throughout the
Midwest and is reputed to have been a far better humored fellow than would be indicated by
the aforementioned note) . . . You should see Jack Warner's purple suit . . . it's a lulu . . .
Don't keep secrets from your Ring reporter, George Harbin . . . little birdie told me that you
middle-aisled last week with a little girl from Dallas . . . someone stole Red Ryan's wallet
and the poor kid lost $125 . . . Red sang over a local radio station recently and you should
have heard him warble "Frivolous Sal" . . . when Karl Davis returns to Houston he's going
to find that a local sports scribe has a great big bone to pick with him . . . I think the most
amazing thing I've ever seen Leo Savage do was to remain upright when Gus Sonnenberg,
no less, flying-tackled him . . . and the hard-headed Gus fell in a daze to the floor at Leo's
feet . . . did you see Chief Little Wolf's Christmas card? . . . it's a picture of the Chief with
his pet dog and reads "Xmas greetings from two good pals to a pal" . . . thanks a lot, Chief .
. . speaking of Indians, I've never seen two people look so much alike as "Firpo" Wilcox
and Sun Jennings, both redskins . . . Doc Sarpolis never misses a Major Bowes program . . .
and a Toscanini concert on Sunday afternoon can keep him home from the golf links . . .
Irvin Cobb was among the celebs present at the O'Mahoney-Savage tussle . . . one of the
fans presented Bob Wagner with a big bouquet of posies and a box of cigars in the ring . . .
Solly Slagel pulled one of the cutest tricks on record the other week . . . he got a headlock on
his opponent and the referee at the same time, one on each arm, and then flipped them over
in a flying mare . . . the latest meanie to rile the fans down here is Cy Williams, and he's
plenty rough . . . Bill Sledge, Houston boy, is certainly making good in a big way . . . since his
arrival in California, Bill has thrown Dick Daviscourt, Jack Washburn, Joe Malcewicz,
Stanley Pinto and Kimon Kudo . . . Tiny Roebuck is also barnstorming the west coast.
>From the Pacific Coast and Northwest, we get the following from Charles "Spider"
Several issues ago I announced the arrival in Western Canada of a Hindu grapple artist
whom I believed to be the famous Inman Rick Gama. My beliefs were incorrect as this giant
East Indian turned out to be a notable Indian wrestler named Ganda Singh. Ganda comes to
America with a splendid reputation and is recognized as India's second ranking grappleman.
He has defeated many Hindu wrestlers, among whom are Tiger Daula, Sundar, All Bux and
Haidar . . . During the last month, Jack Reynolds, veteran master of the welterweight
division, stepped out of his class to annex the junior middleweight title. A few weeks later
Reynolds faced the Japanese ace, Tetsura Higami, and the rubber-like oriental walked out
of the ring with the crown. It's a funny thing, but since the arrival of Higami and the so-
called junior middleweight belt in California less than four months ago, the titles has been at
varying intervals in the hands of Pat Finnegan (ED. NOTE--Later, known as Lord
Lansdowne, a precursor of Gorgeous George), Jack Reynolds and its original owner, Higami
. . .
Miniatures of Matmen: Michael Leroy McGuirk was born in Oklahoma on December 10,
1910. He attended college at the Oklahoma A and M and there learned to wrestle under the
watchful eye of the celebrated Ed Gallagher. During his school years, McGuirk won the 145
and 160-pound National A.A.U. crowns. Leroy turned professional in 1932. Two years later,
at Tulsa, Okla, McGuirk defeated Hugh Nichols to become light-heavyweight champion of
the world. The titleholder has turned back the challenges of Dude Chick, Red Lyons, Ted
Christy, Barney Coznek, Jack McDonald, John Kilonis, Jimmy Lott, Charro Francisco
Aguayo, Les Wolfe, Elmer Guthrie, Jimmy Logas and Mustapha Pasha . . . Charles "Steve"
McPherson, late of Kansas City, Cleveland and Boston, has been appointed to succeed Ted
Thye as assistant to Virgil Hamlin, genial generalissimo of the grapple game in the
Northwest. McPherson will make his headquarters in Portland, Ore . . . Coastal gallery gods
gasped when . . . "Yukon Jake" Jackson scored a two out of three fall win over Stacey Hall .
. . Al Baffert dropkicked the jovial Irishman, Jack McArthur, for a one-fall win . . . Gino
Garibaldi tossed Emil Dusek but went down before Ed "Strangler" Lewis . . . Bob Kruse
vanquished "Rebel" Russell and Mayes McLain . . . Jack Hagen threw Jack Lipscombe but
was trounced by Otis Clingman . . . Daula, the Hindu tiger, won twice from Ed "Strangler"
Lewis . . . King Elliott, handsome New Zealander, pinned Chief Thunderbird . . . Stanley
Rogers downed Wayne Long . . . Ganda Singh, another Hindu matman, continued his
triumphant march by bowling over "Sad Sam" Leathers and John Freberg . . . Francisco
Aguayo, who was soundly trounced by Leroy McGuirk in Old Mexico some months back, is
being exploited as a challenger for the Mexican heavyweight title held by Vincent Lopez.
Aguayo is wrestling under the banner of Monsieur Jack Reynolds . . . Walter Miller,
veteran Los Angeles middleweight, recently returned to the Coast from New Zealand where
he has been managing the affairs of the Canadian, Earl McCready. The New Zealand
wrestling season has just closed after a very successful year for all concerned . . .
Joe Marsh, Otis Clingman, Dick Costello, Jack Curtiss, Ernie Piluso and Jack Lipscombe
were the contestants of a thrilling "battle royal" in Portland last month. When the smoke of
battle was over, Ernie Piluso and Dick Costello were the only grapplers left standing. The
pair were given the main event and Costello was awarded the "battle royal" when he pinned
Piluso. The following week Piluso avenged his defeat . . . Ed "Strangler" Lewis, on his
recent trip to gay Paree, won more money playing bridge than he did wrestling. Ed is a real
bridge fiend . . . Chief Chewchki (Chewacki), who Lou Daro calls King Chewaki, took
several feet of wire from nowhere and wrapped it around the swarthy neck of the Italian
torso twister Gino Garibaldi. A near riot followed and the Indian Prince from Oklahoma was
suspended. Later in the month the Chief was wrestling in another California city when an
enraged fan attacked him with a knife. Oh boy, do the fans love Chewchki . . . A junior
heavyweight tournament, open to all comers under 190 pounds, is being planned by Charlie
MacDonald, matchmaker at the Hollywood Legion Stadium. The tournament, which starts
sometime this month, is expected to draw the pick of the light-heavyweight division to the
movie city . . . Al Baffert, French Canadian strongman and now a resident of Los Angeles,
raised the ire of the Oakland wrestling commission by kicking Murrel (Preacher) Hogue.
The commission smacked a suspension of 100 days on the rough and ready ex-Canuck . . .
Curfew Chatter: As this goes to the East word comes from 'Frisco that Jack Reynolds
handed the "Mysterious Mr. X" a neat licking and the fans forced the hooded matman to
remove his red mask. It was announced that Mr. X was Cyclone Mackey of New York City .
. . Billy Sledge upset the ringside dope by backdropping Kimon Kudo for a win in 11 minutes
and 45 seconds. Billy also has disposed of Dick Daviscourt, Joe Malcewicz, "Gentleman"
Jack Washburn and several others during his California campaigning . . . Man Mountain
Dean is back after sunning himself in Florida. He looks fatter than ever . . . Jan Sitkowsky,
Abe Kaplan, George Wilson, Charlie Santen, Big Boy Steele, Joe Woods and Danny
Winters of Boston are campaigning in California . . .
Wrestling News from the Midwest, sent by Jimmy Amann of Ohio, follows:
My WRESTLING RATINGS which I issue monthly seem to be making a hit the world over
and seem to have stirred up plenty of interest . . . Paul Bozzell, Little Rock light-
heavyweight, is going great guns around Toledo, Ohio, as is Charlie Carr, Shreveport, La.,
middleweight. Bozzell is now among the first 10 in my ratings which are sold for 25 cents in
cash and self-stamped envelope at 1904 Young St., Cincinnati, Ohio, care of the writer,
Jimmy Amann, and which rates over 1,500 of the leading heavy, lightheavy, middle and
welterweight wrestlers the world over . . . Johnn Stote, rated welterweight champion in most
states, has hied himself off to the West Coast where he hopes to force Jack Reynolds, the
co-claimant, into a deciding match for the world's championship . . . Bert Rubi lifted the
world's light- heavy championship from the Great Mephisto. Rubi, a Hungarian, looks like
the best goods on the 175-pound throne since Clarence Eklund and Hugh Nichols. Rubi is
challenged chiefly by George Dusette, the French Canadian, and Frank Malcewicz, young
brother of Joe from Utica, N.Y. . . . Japan has several good challengers in American
wrestling rings, such as Oki Shikina, heavy; Iota Shima, Tetsura Higami and Don Sugai,
welterweights . . .