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THE ED "STRANGLER" LEWIS PROJECT
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Steve Yohe



Joined: 01 Aug 2006
Posts: 2546
Location: Wonderful Montebello CA

PostPosted: Sat May 07, 2011 10:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

CHAPTER TWENTY-EIGHT

LEWIS WINS MID-WEST WORLD TITLE IN 1942
John Pesek was also still wrestling. For over ten years he had been “homesteading” in Nebraska, Iowa, and Ohio. His manager and promoter was Al Half, who idolized him and protected him from the idea of doing jobs. Pesek wasn’t like most wrestlers, he had money, owning a farm and championship stable of racing dogs. Pro wrestling was a part time job for Pesek and only the opportunity of beating former stars could get him in the ring. Over the years, he got revenge over all the wrestlers who had defeated him when he was part of the trust. Late in their careers he got such stars, as Joe Stecher, Wladek Zbyszko, Everett Marshall, Hans Steinkle, and Marin Plestina, to come to Columbus or Lincoln to put him over. Pesek, himself, hadn’t done a job since losing to Ray Steele in St Louis on November 23, 1933. Pesek and Lewis had wrestled at least four times, with Ed always winning. In 1942, Lewis needed money, so he was willing to join Pesek’s list.

Lewis, whenever in Omaha, had challenged Pesek to a “shoot” match, but the Ravenna Tiger had been busy racing greyhounds for most of the year. When a break in Pesek’s schedule opened up, promoter Max Clayton was able to match the two in Omaha for October 20, 1942. Ticket prices were scaled higher than normal cards with reserve seats going at $1.65 and $1.10 with general admission tickets listed at 55 cents. The attendance of 4,000, with the mark up in prices, made the card one of the highest grosses in Omaha in years.

Lewis’ age was 52 and he weighted 268 pounds, while Pesek’s age was a secret, but I believe he was around 48, and his weight was his normal 190 pounds. The match was billed as two out of three falls with a 90 minute time limit. Everyone claimed the match would be an old style shoot.

Once the match started, Pesek moved around with his old-time agility, as wary and cunning as ever. He usually was in the advantageous position and he had Lewis groaning whenever he applied an arm or leg hold. Most of Lewis’s weight was located above his waistline, giving him a “humpty-dumpy” shape. He seemed to have tremendous strength in his arms, and he concentrated solely on applying his headlocks. He had the strategy of a bully, badgering, shoving, letting his weight rest on Pesek, while staying on the offensive. There was a lot of interesting fencing for position, and the two men were on their feet much of the time. After about 25 minutes, Pesek got Lewis down and started to work on Lewis’ legs. Breaking away, Lewis started applying major headlocks, but Pesek dropped down and reversed Lewis into a leg lock to win the first fall in 40:05.

The Strangler then battled back to pin Pesek with a headlock in 5:55. During the third fall, Lewis hit Pesek on the jaw and Pesek retaliated. There was some scuffling, and at one point Pesek thought that the referee Harry Cadell was holding his arms, so Lewis could get in a few extra licks. Pesek pushed Cadell away and threw the huge Lewis out on the ring. His temper flaring, Pesek then threw the referee out of the ring on top of Lewis. When everyone got back into the ring, Pesek found himself disqualified. Most of the fans in the mid-west had never heard of Pesek losing, and he had everyone believing he was invincible, so the win by Lewis had to be considered a huge victory. (464)

John Pesek major rivals in the mid-west were Bill Longson and Orville Brown. He wasn’t really on the same level as Longson, who held the more nationally know NWA title and worked major territories like St Louis, Texas, The South and up into Canada. No one drew crowds like Longson and his only true rival probably was Lou Thesz, but Thesz was locked up with a US Army problem and out of the wrestling picture. Pesek and Orville Brown were thought of as being on the same level and worked the same area.

Brown was a farmer/cowboy who worked his way threw the minor shoot style of Kansas and Iowa to become a true pro wrestler. During the period of 1933 to 1936, he was considered a major wrestler and a strong contender to Jim London’ title. After wrestling fell apart as a national sport in 1937, Orville worked on the East Coast and then “homesteaded” in Columbus, Ohio. Brown was good looking, in a mid-west way, a fine worker, who was powerful and could take care of himself, in the ring and out. He got over well in Columbus but John Pesek was always in the way, refusing to job or drop his MWA world title. (465)

During this time period, which I call the dark ages of pro wrestling, the best way for a star wrestler to make money, was to get into promotion and control your own territory. Kind of creating your own world to work out of, and make money for yourself, instead of relying on some cheating promoter. Orville Brown was the prototype for this type of system. In 1940, he took over the Kansas City area of Kansas. From there he worked for other promoters in Des Moines, St Joseph, Topeka, Louisville, and in small town all over Kansas, Iowa, and Nebraska. 2,000 fans doesn’t sound like much, but at 65 cent to a $1 a head, a good wrestler could make $200 a night, five nights a week, covering the mid-west. There usually were only three matches to a card, the main event, a semi-main usually main up of locals, and a opening match usually made up of young boys working for a few bucks. Most of the cut went to the main eventers, who earned their payoffs by working long matches. $200 was more money than most people made in a month in 1940. (In 1951 the average income was $2,800 a year) With promoting, and two or three farms, Brown became a wealthy man.

The mid-western fan was much different than the fans in Los Angeles or New York. They didn’t pay their money to laugh, watching pure action and performers making fun of the sport. They had a tradition of true wrestling and that’s what they wanted to watch, serious wrestling. It was an area made for Strangler Lewis.

But wrestling was no longer promoted on a national level. These small towns knew very little about the storylines being used in other cities. The local newspapers rarely covered wrestling news from another territories, and the fans were kept in the dark about any storyline other than their own. So the mid-west was filled with different world titles. Champions could lose their title in one town and still be defending a world title in another town against the very guy who beat him and won his title. The promoters had no rules to control them, so they did what they thought could make them the most money.

Orville Brown was a fine booker and he wasn’t afraid to do a job or drop a title to keep a storyline going. He was limited in how many stars he could use, so he booked in such a way as to not “blow” anyone off. He wrestled some guys, like Bobby Bruns, a 100 times and kept it interesting.

On June 13, 1940, Orville Brown defeated Bobby Bruns for a Jack Pfeffer East-coast world title in Kansas City, Kansas, called the Mid-west World Title, which will be called the Kansas City MWA Title. On June 22, 1940, the Columbus Promoter Al Haft striped John Pesek of the Columbus MWA world title for being inactive and failing to meet contenders, mainly Orville Brown. (This MWA title had been awarded to Pesek after he had been stripped, for no good reason, by the NWA on August 16, 1938.) Orville Brown then wrestled Dick Shikat on June 27, 1940 for the vacant Columbus MWA world title, with Brown winning. So Brown in 1942 actually held two different MWA titles, but very few fans knew this, because each city had different storylines.

Orville hired Ed Lewis in October 1942, and the two worked together through out 1943.

The first meeting took place, two days after the win over Pesek, on October 22, 1942 in Kansas City. 3,600 fans watched Brown defend his MWA title by winning the first fall with an Indian death lock in 19:50. Lewis worked Brown over with headlocks and won the second in 11:20. Between rounds Orville asked for an extra five minutes rest and Lewis agreed. In the third fall, Lewis threw Orville out of the ring and was attempting to block his return but got hit with a tackle and pined in 5:20. (466)

Omaha wasn’t satisfied with the ending of the Pesek/Lewis match so a rematch took place on November 3, 1942. This time the result was different. Pesek attacked Lewis with no mercy, and Lewis resembled a high school football player going against a pro. After 26 minutes and 50 seconds of the first fall, Pesek wriggled out of a headlock to put Lewis into a hold called a “knee-over-toe hold”. Pesek had Lewis in the hold for over two minutes when referee Joe Zikmund screamed at Lewis “You’d better holler “uncle” or he’ll tear the hell out of your leg!” Lewis then lay exhausted, as Pesek was given the first fall. Fans then got up, knowing the result. The rest waited until Pesek returned to the ring before the 10 minute rest was over. Lewis could not continue. In the dressing room, Lewis attempted to raise his leg and groaned, “Cheez, dat guy practically de-legged me. At least der were no fouls, huh?” The match drew 3,700. (467)

Lewis’ leg must have recovered fast because on November 5, 1942 in Kansas City, Lewis defeated Orville Brown via a decision. The Kansas City MWA title didn’t change hands on a decision, but it did mean there would be another match.

On October 7, 1942 Montreal champion, Yvon Robert, defeated Wild Bill Longson in a title unification match in Montreal, winning the NWA world title. On November 6, Lewis was defeated in St Louis by the new champion Yvon Robert in 27:58.

On November 18, 1942, Lewis was back in Des Moines for another match with Orville Brown. It wasn’t a title match because Brown had lost his claim in Des Moines in a title unification match with Bill Longson back on July 22, 1942. Lewis roughed up Brown in the first fall and pined him using the headlock. It looked like Ed was going to be a cinch to soon finish his younger adversary, but Brown won both of the next two falls using a reverse toe-lock in 4:05 and 2:55. (468)

On November 25, the movie GENTLEMAN JIM opened nation wide and became one of Errol Flynn’s biggest hits and is still considered a classic even today.

It must have given Lewis some good luck, because the next day, November 26, 1942, Ed defeated Orville Brown in Kansas City for it’s version of the MWA world title.

On December 1, Lewis got some type of victory over John Pesek in Dayton, Ohio.

Lewis, was on a roll, as he defeated Orville Brown in Columbus on December 3, 1942 via count out of the ring in 26 minutes, winning that city’s version of the MWA world title.

The MWA champion then wrestled former NWA world champion, Wild Bill Longson, in Louisville on December 8, 1942. The promoter, Heywood Allen, claimed that it was he who changed Robert Friedrich name to Strangler Lewis when Ed performed at the old Buckingham Theater in 1913. That night he allowed any fan who could prove they had been present in 1913 to watch the show free. Lewis beat Longson on a disqualification.

On December 10, The Strangler defended the title and defeated Lee Wyckoff in Kansas City. This was a rematch of their 1936 Madison Square Garden match, which Lewis claimed was a shoot. Another Kansas City match took place on January 14, 1943 and Wyckoff beat Lewis, taking the Kansas City version of the MWA world title.

The Strangler then lost the Columbus version of the MWA title to John Pesek on January 28, 1943. Time after time Lewis attempted to get the headlock on Pesek but the speedy Tiger slipped out of the hold. The ending saw Pesek reverse a body slam into a leglock and Lewis submitted in 25 minutes. (469)

At 53 years of age, Strangler Lewis would never be able to claim another world title.

On February 4, Lewis lost to Orville Brown in Kansas City. This set Brown up for a title match with Lee Wyckoff on February 18, a match Orville won, regaining his Kansas City MWA world title.

In March, Lewis appreciation for a wrestling license in Florida was turned down by boxing commission chairman Frank Markle, saying Ed was too old to wrestle in the state. Lewis countered with a challenge to defeat any five boxers in one night or forfeit a $2,500 bond.

1943 saw Lewis getting pushed in Detroit. He beat Orville Brown twice (March 1 and March 15) and he got two wins over the last (almost) undisputed world champion Danno O’Mahoney (April 5 and April 19).

Lewis’ wrestling career was coming to a close and, from that point forward, would be looking for other type jobs to support his life style. On April 19, 1943, it was announced that Strangler Lewis was the new wrestling promoter at the Detroit Arena Garden. He replaced Louis Markowitz. Lewis’ first card drew 1,700. Lewis claimed he wanted a more dignified style of wrestling, but the newspaper pointed out that the only dignified thing at the show was Lewis, “dressed to the nines”, standing at the front door greeting patrons while a band serenaded them to their seats. (470) The matches were said to be ludicrous. Nothing came from this and Lewis went back to wrestling in Canada and the North-east.

In Toronto Lewis lost matches to Maurice Tillet (March 18), Leo Numa (June 24) and Earl McCready (July 8). He then return to Kansas to lose MWA title matches to Orville Brown in Kansas City (September 23) and Topeka (September 29).

On August 6, 1943, NAZTY NUISANCE a minor film, with Lewis in a small part, was released.

In Chicago, he lost to Kola Kwariani on October 13, 1943. He then spent November touring the East Coast, getting wins over Hans Kampfer, Golden Terror, and Babe Sharkey.

1944 saw Ed getting built up in Minneapolis by Tony Stecher for a big match with Bronko Nagurski. He beat Orville Brown (January 4), Ken Fenelon (January 11) and Ray Steele (January 18), before losing the big match to Nagurski on January 19 in St Paul.

On March 7, 1944, Babe Sharkey won a tournament in Baltimore. This gave him the right to wrestle Strangler Lewis for the Maryland world title on March 14. Sharkey won the match and the world title. Lewis also lost a title rematch to Sharkey in Baltimore on March 28.

Lewis then returned to Minneapolis for a match with his oldest rival Wladek Zbyszko on April 18. Wladek had never stopped wrestling and was a year younger that Lewis. He and his brother Stanislaus lived on a farmer near St Joseph, Missouri and was active in promoting wrestling in South America. He had wrestled around Kansas for years. At one point he even wore a mask and billed himself as The Great Apollo. Lewis won the match.

The next week in Minneapolis (April 25), Lewis was again beaten by Ray Steele.

Lewis then traveled to Montreal for a series of matches, losing to Frank Sexton on July 5, 1944. Sexton was in the process of becoming one of the top performers of the 1940’s. In June 1945, Sexton would defeat Steve Casey for Boston’s AWA world title (the title of Lewis, Sonenberg, and O’Mahoney) and keep it until May 1950. Sexton was the East coast version of Lou Thesz.

Lewis then returned home to the North-West to be near his sister and family. He seemed to be only wrestling part time and his weight got to the 300 pound level. He also owned a home in Tulsa, which he and his wife lived in off and on.

Only August 23, 1944, he had his last match with Wladek Zbyszko in Salt Lake City. Lewis won. A few days later on August 26 at Calgary, Lewis put over Ray Steele.

Gus Sonnenberg had joined the US Navy in 1943, but got sick at beginning of 1944. On September 9, 1944 Sonnenberg died from Leukemia at Betheada MD Navel Hospital at age 44. He was buried at Park Cemetery in Marquette.

On September 14, 1944, Bob Managoff, the man who took Bob Friedrich’s name, forcing him to become Strangler Lewis in 1913, died at his home at 2557 Division Street in Chicago.

On September 20, 1944 Lewis gave an interview saying he had just completed a 14 week tour of US Army, Navy, and Marine bases giving two hour classes on self defense. He claimed to have visited Japan a number of times and had learned Ju-Jitsu. His standard interview included stories of having wrestled 6,200 match (not possible), made and spent millions of dollars (don’t try to add up the numbers), and had traveled all over the world. He claims, at times, to have visited Japan five times. Once is possible, but the Japanese of today have no record of him. Lewis even claim he was a spy for American intelligence, having taken photo of varies buildings and military post while in Japan. (471)

He traveled to Wichita on December 6 to lose two straight falls to Orville Brown. Reports were being circulated that Lewis was about to retire again. They were denied by Ed.

In 1945, Lewis agreed to manage Cliff Gustafson in the North-West for promoter Tony Stecher. Gustafson was a former University of Minnesota wrestler, who had won the AAU and the intercollegiate title. Stecher had been promoting the wrestler since the end of 1938. Gustafson was a fine amateur, but as a pro, he was stiff, colorless and liked to hurt opponents. Stecher needed someone to guild Gustafson during a tour of Seattle, Portland, Winnipeg and other minor cities. Lewis was offered the job of managing Cliff, and Ed accepted. Lewis would help with interviews, second the wrestler in the ring and sometimes wrestle on the under cards. Ed needed a good job and he performed his duties well.

When not working with Gustafson, Lewis seemed to be visiting Army and Navy bases putting on shows with a group of wrestlers that included Babe Sharky, Henry Piers, and Milo Steinborn.

Gustafson’s tour was cut short on September 17 when he was injured at Seattle in a match with Seelie Samara. (471) The out of shape Lewis was forced to take Gustafson’s bookings and found himself doing a lot of jobs. Lou Thesz was stationed at Ft Lewis, in Tacoma, wrestling when off duty. During August and September, Thesz beat Lewis at least four times, most in straight falls. Lewis also did jobs for Seelie Samara, Rube Wright (three times), Dick Raines, and Pierre DeGlane.

On September 2, 1946, the Japanese surrendered, ending World War II and pro wrestling’s labor shortage.

Late in 1945, Lewis wrestled on the East Coast, with nothing important happening.

In 1946, Tom Packs was engaged in a major wrestling war with one of his old employees named Sam Muchnick. On January 9, 1946, Lewis wrestled for Muchnick, losing to Ed Virag. The match drew 4,015.

Following the death of Lewis’ father, his mother Molly Friedrich continued to live in Nekoosa but, in September 1945, she became ill. So she moved to Wisconsin Falls to live with a daughter, Mrs. Jay Buckley. On January 10, 1946, she died at 4 o’clock in the morning. Lewis was present in Nekoosa for the funeral and burial on January 12. (471a)

In February, Lewis did jobs for Ali Baba (February 5 and 6 in Baltimore and Philadelphia), and Babe Sharley (Boston-February 14). He then seemed to stick to refereeing for the rest of the year, in Toronto and then in Northern California.

Late in the year he attempted to market a rubber exerciser called the Strangler Lewis’ Health Builder. It resulted in another nothing. Lewis claimed he sold a million of the Health Builders, but also admitted he was broke. (473)

Lewis spent the last part of 1946 and January of 1947 wrestling for promoter George Zaharias in the area around Denver. After putting the young Everett Marshall over nationally in the famous Los Angeles match of April 16, 1930, Lewis had won many rematches and seemed to avoid any loss to Marshall, mainly because of Everett’s strong connection with Billy Sandow. The two hadn’t met during the years Marshall was recognized as world champion, but with Lewis needing money and Everett making a comeback in 1946, the match seemed to be a natural. The storyline started on December 30, 1946, when referee Lewis screwed up and cost Marshall a Denver match with a Frank Gonzales. Three Denver matches followed. Marshall won the first by disqualification on January 6, 1947. Lewis took the second meeting clean on January 20, and Marshall won the third clean on February 10. During this period, he also did two jobs to Tom Zaharias (January 8 in Colorado Springs) and Ed White (February 12 at Colorado Springs). He then returned to the North-West, both as a wrestler and a referee. He spent May wrestling in the South and lost two matches to Don McIntyre.

Unlike Lewis, Marshall wasn’t making a comeback in need of a payday. Since the late 1930’s, he had own a large farm, growing mainly onions and cantaloupes. Everett was probably a better farmer than a wrestler. On July 9, 1947, he announced his retirement and unlike many other stars, he never returned to the ring. In September 1963, Everett, looking to retire from farming, sold three million dollars of farm land (110,000 acres) to a group of swindlers and he ended up in bankruptcy court. He still had enough money to help finance the Colorado Boys Ranch, that gave many trouble youths a place to make good in the years that followed. The ranch is still active today. Everett Marshall died on February 10, 1973, at age 67, from complications following surgery. His wife, Harriet Marshall, died at age 92 in 2001. He left many friends and a daughter, Ann Schomburg of Denver, and a son named Bob. (473a)

Lewis moved back to Los Angeles, from Tulsa, in June, 1947, thinking it would be the easiest place to find work. On June 25, 1947 he wrestled his last title match, meeting California world champion Enrique Torres at The Olympic Auditorium. Lewis lost, but drew a crowd of 9,200. (474)

With the war and the depression over, pro wrestling started to come out of it’s Dark Age and once TV started showing matches it entered a period that rivaled the early 1930’s for prosperity. The biggest draw in wrestling during 1947 was ex-boxing champion, Primo Carnera.

On December 7, 1947, promoters matched Lewis with Carnera in Miami. Ed claimed it was the 253rd time he had flown across the country. Primo won the match and Ed took another plane trip back to California. (475)

In later 1947, Jack Sherry was in Hawaii claiming he was the best wrestler in the world and was willing to meet anyone. Sherry, had for years been telling people stories about how he was tricked into jobbing to Strangler Lewis in the New York title match in Madison Square Garden (October 10, 1932). After that match, he spent years wrestling in England claiming to be a world champion. He was known as a feared hooker and, after the Lewis match, I have no knowledge of him losing. Honolulu promoters contacted Lewis in Hollywood, asking him if he wanted a match with Sherry. Lewis accepted for $2,500 and expenses if he won and nothing if he lost. For a month the 57 year old trained. Word got back to Honolulu that the wrestler getting off the plane was going to be the real Strangler Lewis. On the night of the match (Jan. 28, 1948), Jack Sherry didn’t show. With Sherry ducking Lewis, his place was taken by the young star, Butch Levy. Lewis won the match. It was the last match of Lewis’ career. (476)

In the early part of the year, Lewis took the position of Athletic Instructor and greeter at The Los Angeles Athletic Club. (477) I think Lewis and everyone else believed his future was in public relations, of one type or another. Part of Lewis’ job entailed talking to boy’s clubs, visiting reform schools and giving talks on juvenile delinquency. Ed was fat and looked old in many ways, but he was huge and still had the grace and balance of a champion. He was a good talker who always enjoyed public speaking.

On March 13, Lewis cancelled a match in Fresno with Flash Gordon claiming an elbow injury.

On March 29, 1948, Lewis’ California wrestling license was revoked after he failed the physical examination for journeymen wrestlers. The commission stated he would still be allowed to referee. This, in effect, was the date of Strangler Lewis’ retirement as an active pro wrestler. (478)

FOOTNOTES

464) OMAHA WORLD HERALD: PESESK”S DYNASTY TOPPLES By Robert Phipps, October 21, 1942

465) See THE ORVILLE BROWN RING RECORD By Steve Yohe and the members of the IHC, or ORVILLE BROWN By Steve Yohe

466) THE KANSAS CITY KANSAN, October 23, 1942

467) OMAHA WORLD HERALD: PESEK EVENS LEWIS” SCORE, November 5, 1942

468) THE DES MOINES REGISTER, November 18, 1942

469) INTERNATIONAL NEWS SERVICE, January 29, 1943---I’ve hear a rumor, coming from the Pesek family, that there was a gym shoot match, during this time period, between Lewis and Pesek. It’s said to have been a draw, but I know very little about this story.


470) UNITED PRESS, April 22, 1943

471) AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND STAR, September 20, 1944

471a) WISCONSIN RAPIDS DAILY TRIBUNE, January 10, 1946—The report claimed Mrs. Friedrich’s maiden name was Amelia Gueldenzopf. Born in Saxon Wiemer (March 22, 1866), Germany, she came to America at age 16 and settled at Sheboygan Falls. Married Jacob Friedrich in September 1987. She had 9 grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

472) TACOMA NEWS TRIBUNE, September 19, 1945

473) OAKLAND TRIBUNE, December 18, 1946

473a) To read more about Everett Marshall see the Bio by Steve Johnson in THE WRESTLING OBSERVER NEWSLETTER, September 28, 2009.

474) LOS ANGELES TIMES, June 26, 1946

475) MIAMI HERALD, December 2, 1947

476) HONOLULU STAR-BULLETIN, January 19, 1948—Jack Sherry claimed Lewis was old and fat and a match with him would look slow and tame. He thought the match would look fake to the fans, and he didn’t want to have a terrible match in front of them. Sherry stayed in Hawaii for a few months working for outlaw promoter, Whitey Grovo, billed as “the uncrowned champion of the world”, against the major promoter, Al Karasick. He then returned to the main land, wrestling “off and on” into the 1950’s. He died, working as a construction worker, in 1969. No one ever seemed to get rich being a trustbuster. Read Mark Hewitt’s book CATCH WRESTLING: ROUND TWO, page 247 to 251, for the complete version of this story.

477) See the section on the Los Angeles Athletic Club under LEWIS IN LOS ANGELES section. (1924)

478) ASSOCIATED PRESS and OAKLAND TRIBUNE, March 30, 1948
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Steve Yohe



Joined: 01 Aug 2006
Posts: 2546
Location: Wonderful Montebello CA

PostPosted: Tue May 10, 2011 9:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

CHAPTER TWENTY-NINE

LOU THESZ AND THE TWO NWAs
Lewis’ friend, Lou Thesz, never had any desirer to go over seas to fight Germans. He was a pro wrestler and that was his only obsession. With help from powerful friends, he rode out the war working in a medical company stationed at Fort Lewis. In April, 1946 he was transferred to Fort Sam Houston and was discharged from the Army on July 26, 1946.

Thesz was ambitious and it didn’t take the two time world champion (MWA and NWA titles) long to win another title. On September 11, 1946, Lou beat his good friend Bobby Managoff for the local world title in Montreal. He then returned to St Louis to once again became the town’s favorite babyface by beat Buddy Rogers in front of 11,085. On January 23, 1947, Thesz had his first match challenging Bill Longson for his St. Louis NWA world title. Lou, while still Montreal world champion (unknown in St. Louis), lost the match but the attendance was 15,180.

On February 8, 1947, the first TV station in St Louis inaugurated service in St Louis. The first 6 inch black and white TV sets cost $469, but costs were going to drop and most smart people saw it as the future of entertainment.

On February 20, 1947, Lou dropped his Montreal world title to Bobby Managoff, but won it back from Managoff on April 16, 1947. Meanwhile Longson lost his NWA world title to Whipper Billy Watson via a disqualification on February 21.

Thesz then pinned champion Billy Watson in St Louis on April 25, 1947. At that point, Thesz held both the NWA and Montreal world titles. No one could play the champion better than Lou Thesz. He was a classy looking man, who was a super athlete, fine performer, and the best pure wrestler of his generation. So he held both titles for most of 1947.

Late in the year, the Montreal promoter Eddie Quin wanted to put his title back on local star Yvon Robert. Tom Packs didn’t want to cheapen the more important NWA title, so they had Thesz first drop his NWA title back to Bill Longson on November 21, 1947 in St Louis, and then lose the Montreal title to Robert on November 26. The idea was that Lou would regain his NWA title down.

Around June 5, 1948, Lou Thesz with money and support from Canadian promoters Frank Tunney, Eddie Quin and wrestlers Bill Longson and Bobby Managoff, bought the St Louis promotion from Tom Packs. With the promotion, Thesz took complete control of the old National Wrestling Association world title.

In buying the promotion, Thesz found himself in the middle of the St Louis wrestling war with his old friend Sam Muchnick. The battle had been going on sense 1945, and Thesz’s company had always dominated Muchnick’s side, but things would change.

On July 18, 1948, (478a) a number of the smaller promoters from the mid-west met at the President Hotel of Waterloo Iowa. The group formed an organization to add in exchanging talent and battling Packs’ larger St Louis promotion. The group consisted of Pinkie George (Des Moines), Tony Stecher (Minneapolis), Sam Muchnick (St Louis), Orville Brown (Kansas City) and Max Clayton (Omaha). Group president Pinkie George had been using the name National Wrestling Alliance in Des Moines (mainly to confuse fans with Tom Packs National Wrestling Association) and the group agreed to continue using that name and use George’s world champion, Orville Brown (who was also the Kansas City MWA world champion). This alliance worked well and many other promoters liked the idea, because it was a way to create a monopoly, control talent and lower costs. Within a few months Al Half (Columbus) and Harry Light (Detroit) had joined. By 1949, even Paul Bowser was part of the group.

Two days later on July 20 in Indianapolis, Thesz defeated Longson to become the National Wrestling Association world champion.

You could tell Thesz was in charge because, almost immediately, Ed Lewis started finding work. On July 30, Lewis was the special referee for a Thesz/Managoff match in St Louis. Lewis was also getting referee jobs with Lou’s partners in Montreal (Eddie Quin) and Toronto (Frank Tunney).

On November 22, 1948, Ed Lewis was named chairman of a newly organized group called “The Wrestling Promoters’ Association of America and Allied Countries”. I don’t know who these promoters were but my guess it was Thesz’s NWAssociation, some New York promoters including Toots Mondt, grouped with Canadian promoters Frank Tunney and Eddie Quin. I think they were attempting to form an alliance of their own to battle the new NWAlliance. At a press conference held in a New York Hotel, Strangler Lewis was promoted to the position of “Mat Czar”. The job consisted of public relation, ending the battle over who was the true world champion, and bring back wrestling to New York’s Madison Square Garden. Lewis was to be paid $25,000 a year, but claims are that he received very little of that. Three weeks later, Jack Dempsey announced he was working with his friend, Lewis, to bring wrestling back to the Garden. Other than that, nothing really happens while Lewis was this wrestling Czar. In 1949, Lewis continued to referee off and on. Whatever he was making, wasn’t very much, and many people were upset in seeing the former great champion doing so poorly.

Sam Muchnick’s position in the St Louis war improved with help of the new NWAlliance and its champion Orville Brown. Jack Pefer also helped Muchnick by having his best wrestler, Buddy Rogers, jump from Thesz’s group. For years Rogers had been Thesz only major rival as the best babyface in St Louis. But Thesz, Longson, and Packs hated Rogers and did everything they could to keep him down by jobbing him every chance they got. In 1949, Rogers had turned heel, taking on a Nature Boy gimmick in Pfefer’s Hollywood promotion. Muchnick started using the heel Rogers and he became a huge draw again in St Louis.

By mid-1949, both St Louis promotions were losing money. Thesz didn’t enjoy promoting and wanted to spend all his time wrestling. Muchnick and Thesz had been friends before and talks resulted in both promotions joining as one. Both sides presented their agreement at the July 29, 1949 NWA convention. Members felt, that with nation wide network TV stations televising wrestling, promoters couldn’t no longer afford multiple champions. So agreements were made for Orville Brown and Thesz to meet in a title unification match in St Louis on November 29, 1949.

Orville had proved himself a fine champion, but most promoters thought Thesz would be a better national champion. The idea at the time was for Brown to win the unification match, have return matches, with Brown again coming out on top in every major city. When that seemed to be cooling off, Thesz would win the title and start the feud all over again until Brown was of no further use.

On September 11, 1949, Ray Steele probably the best true wrestler of the 1930’s, and good friend to both Lewis and Thesz, died in his sleep from a heart attack while hunting in Boise Idaho at age 49. He was buried at Lincoln Nebraska.

On November 1, Orville Brown was driving from a match in Des Moines to his home in Kansas City, when his car skidded underneath a jackknifed trailer-truck. Orville suffered brain damage and was in a coma for five days. When awaken, he was paralyzed on the left side. These injuries forced his retirement and he relinquished his NWAlliance world title.

On November 28, 1949, the National Wrestling Alliance named Lou Thesz as their new champion. The Alliance also agreed that Sam Muchnick would be in charge of the championship bookings. The St Louis group found themselves in control of the title and the Alliance, so Thesz reigned as NWA world champion for over six years.

LEWIS AND THE MANAGEMENT OF THE CHAMPION
The convention also named Ed Lewis as its “ambassador of good will”. It was seen as a playback position after all of Lewis’ years of serves. To help the ailing Lewis financially, each NWA member sent $25 to Lewis each month (other reports claim the amount to be $12,500). Lewis’ job had him working as a NWA spokesman, handling controversial issues and wandering from territory to territory ironing out snags between members. (478aa)

In 1950, there are claims that Lewis mentored Timothy Geohagen in Ontario.

On May 3, 1950, a minor film called the BODYHOLD opened in theaters. Lewis played a small part as a referee.

Lewis was still working, off and on, at the Los Angeles Athletic Club and one of the boys, he trained, turned out to be Gene LeBell. LeBell, who was to become an AAU National Judo Champion, a pro wrestler, a hall of fame Hollywood stuntman, and a MMA pioneer, was the son of Olympic Auditorium promoter Aileen “LaBell” Eaton. When not in school, Gene would hang around the Olympic getting in trouble. His mother would send him over to the L.A. Athletic Club to keep him out of her hair. LeBell would ride on his bike to the Club and spend his afternoons getting tied into knots by the giant Strangler Lewis. Gene says Lewis weight over 300 pounds and looked more like a barrel than a man. He learned a lot from Lewis and claimed Ed was impossible to take down. (478b)

With Thesz as champion, the NWA drew larger, with just about every major promoter allied or a member. During 1950, Thesz argued that he needed a manager to help him on the road. Thesz pushed for that person to be Ed Lewis. There were some older promoters, who felt that the sport owed something to the old champion, while others (like Al Haft), figured Lewis had made his money and spent it, so it wasn’t their responsibility to provide the old man with social security checks. But Thesz was a good champion and very powerful promoter. Everyone knew that to way to Lou’s hatred was to show disrespect toward Lewis.

So Thesz won the argument and Ed Lewis became Lou’s manager in November 1950. Ed would travel ahead of Lou to provide publicity for his major title matches by getting space in local newspaper. Ed was known and liked by sports reporters and him just walking into a pressroom was news enough to get space on any sports page. Reporters and fans may have not remembered any of his matches, but the name Strangler Lewis was a part of sport’s legend, that echo of others like Babe Ruth, Jack Dempsey, Bobby Jones, Jim Thorpe, and Bill Tilden. As Thesz’s manager, he was billed by promoters and newsmen as pro wrestling’s greatest star and legitimate wrestler. With Gotch dead, Stecher in a nursing home, and Londos running a farm, who was left to say different. Thesz knew the prestige he’d receive just having Strangler Lewis in his corner, would tell the world that the present champion was as good as any wrestler who ever lived.

Thesz and Lewis were a perfect team. Lou loved Lewis like a father and never got tired of him. Ed told him stories, some of them true, and showed him the best hotels and finest restaurants. Thesz was very good looking and a dignified champion, but he was reserved around some people and lived a disciplined life style. He was also careful in who he made friends with. In fact, Thesz was more like Jim Londos than Strangler Lewis. Lewis was gregarious and attempted to make friends with everyone. In the ring, Lewis was always disliked, and boos could be heard during every match, but in life, he was liked by just about everyone he came in contact with. Ed also was anything but disciplined. If he wanted food, he ate. If he wanted to party, he stayed up all night. If he had a shot at a women, he took her. If he had money, he spent it and worried about it later.

After a match, Lou would eat and then sleep. Lewis after seconding the champion at the arena, would go out drinking, playing cards, and having a good time. In the morning, Lou would get up and find Lewis in the hotel lobby, waiting to eat breakfast. Lewis would then leave for the next city, while Thesz went to the gym.

Lewis didn’t stay with Thesz all the time. He seems to have just worked the major cities and major matches. His cut, of every card he worked on, was 2 1/2 percent of the gate. (478c) Many promoters didn’t like the deal, but Thesz thought Ed made them money in the long run. (478d)

Lewis was enshrined in Wisconsin’s Athletic Hall of Fame as a charter member on November 28, 1951.

On October 10, 1954, Anton “Tony” Stecher, bother and former manager of Joe Stecher, who was the long time promoter in Minneapolis, died after a heart attack. His promotion was taken over by his son, Dennis Stecher, and Wally Karbo. Joe Stecher was still alive and in good physical health, living in a nursing home.

The first few years of Thesz’s title reign were big money winners, but by the end of 1955 the public grew tired of watching wrestling on TV, so business dropped off. In early 1956, the federal government started an investigation of the NWA claiming the organization was a monopoly, which it was. Most of the smart people in pro wrestling were terrified of the FBI and Thesz was one of them. So in early 1956 (some think December 1955), Thesz sold his share of the St Louis promotion to Sam Muchnick.

Thesz’s body was also suffering from all the years on the road defending the title. In March Lou injured his ankle (Thesz claimed he broke it) skiing with his wife in California. Needing a vacation, with the FBI investigation hanging over everyone’s head, Thesz made a deal with promoter Frank Tunney to let Billy Watson hold the title threw most of 1956. So on March 15, 1956, Thesz lost the NWA world title to Whipper Billy Watson by “count out of the ring” in front of 15,000 fans in Toronto. The referee was Jack Dempsey.

During these events of early 1956, Lewis lost his managerial job. With Thesz no longer a powerful promoter and without the title, there was no longer a use for Lewis. Ed returned to his home in Tulsa to live out what was left of his life with his wife Bobbie Lee West.

If Thesz’s ankle was broken, he was a very fast healer. Three weeks after the title loss, Lou was back in the ring with Watson on April 6 at St Louis. Lou lost that match via a disqualification, a result that got Thesz suspended in town for 60 days. Thesz had moved to the San Fernando Valley near Los Angeles and had grown a strong relationship with Olympic Auditorium promoter Jules Strongbow. After the April 6 match, Thesz continued to wrestle, working a least two matches a week for the rest on the year. He had other attempts to take the title away from Watson, wrestling the champion in Houston, Vancouver, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Thesz’s ankle was doing so well that the August 5 match in Los Angeles went to a 90 minute draw.

At the September 1956 conference, the National Wrestling Alliance renewed their pledge to Ed Lewis with a $7,500 annual salary. Thesz wanted Lewis back and Ed was used to work with other wrestlers like Dory Funk Sr., Bob Ellis, Pepper Gomes and Dick Hutton. (478e)

Lewis courted Bob Ellis into pro wrestling during 1956, and stories claim that Ed taught Ellis his “bulldog” headlock. (478f)

On October 15, 1956, The National Wrestling Alliance dissolved under a judgment filed in the U.S. district court of Iowa, by Judge William F. Riley. The agreement had the NWA agreeing to cancel all its existing rules, regulations, and bylaws and then drawing up a new code consistent with the terms of the court order. The agreement was made by the work of Sam Muchnick. It was safe for a Thesz return.

On November 9, 1956, Lou Thesz defeated Billy Watson in St Louis by KO to re-win his NWA world title.

Lewis was present at the Floyd Patterson/Archie Moore fight in Chicago on November 30, 1956 and was interviewed by RING MAGAZINE.

Between May 4 and May 12 of 1957, Japanese promoter/wrestler Rikidozan visited Thesz at his San Fernando Valley home. He offered the champion at least $30,000 (real money, unlike some of the other claims in wrestling history) to tour Japan defending the title against Rikidozan. An agreement was made for October 1957. Around this time, plans were also made for Thesz to tour Australia and Singapore.

The NWA and Muchnick didn’t this idea of Thesz visiting Japan. They weren’t getting a cut of the $30,000 and they worried about the title being stolen in a double-cross. Rikidozan changed their point of view by paying them the normal NWA booking fees and giving Muchnick his normal 3%. Sam also may have thought he was going to get a cut of Lou’s $30,000, but Lou never let that happen.

To prevent the possibility of a title double-cross overseas, the group got clever and developed a storyline that created two NWA world champions. On June 14, 1957, Lou Thesz seemed to lose the NWA world title to Edouard Carpentier in Chicago. In the third fall, Thesz hurt his back and was defenseless. Lou kept going to the ropes to save himself from being pined. The referee stopped the match, saying he was disqualifying Thesz for not defending himself. Carpentier was declared the winner and new NWA world champion. (479) Now, on an “unable to continue” finish, a title can change hands, and that’s what seemed to happen. But the referee used the word “disqualify” in announcing the verdict and NWA rules states that a title cannot change via a “disqualification”. It sounded like some type of a mistake, but it was just a way to confuse fans and create controversy. The idea by everyone involved was to create a back up champion, in case Thesz was double-crossed in Japan and dropped the title to Rikidozan or someone else on the trip. If Lou did lose somehow, the NWA would just claim he wasn’t champion, having lost the title to Carpentier.

The plan seemed like there was going to be a title unification rematch in St Louis on Thesz’s return. The promoters would then decide who they wanted as champion, but the plan didn’t work out.

After Lou’s June 14 loss, the official NWA champion seemed to be Carpentier, but both men defended what they called the NWA world title wherever they appeared. In cities where Thesz was appearing the fans weren’t told about Carpentier and they continued like nothing had happened.

On June 27, 1957, Thesz defended his version of the NWA title against Dory Funk (father of Dory JR and Terry Funk) in Amarillo. The booker, old Dr. Karl Sarpolis, created a storyline that had Funk paying Ed “Strangler” Lewis to manage and train him for the match. Lewis appeared in Funks corner, but the match ended up a draw after Lou injured his leg. The angle helped draw a large 8,000 in small Amarillo. (480) So it seems that Thesz was still attempting to make his friend Lewis a little money and they may have tried the same storyline in other cities.

A rematch between Carpentier and Thesz took place on July 25 in Montreal. The match, which drew 15,931, ended in a disqualification when Thesz once again injured his back and kept crawling under the ropes to save himself from being pinned by the Frenchman. Carpentier got upset because Montreal referee Yvon Robert refused to disqualify Thesz like the Chicago referee, so he punched him, getting himself disqualified.

On July 27, 1957, San Muchnik was quoted in THE MONTREAL STAR saying that the title couldn’t change on a disqualification and that Carpentier was still NWA champion. A 60 minute draw between Carpentier and Thesz followed in Chicago on August 16.

Around that time, Montreal promoter Eddie Quinn realized that he was drawing huge crowds, unlike St Louis and the rest of the wrestling world, using his own world title, and the prestige of his own top babyface having the NWA world title meant very little in Montreal And the NWA using Carpentier was going to limit his use of his own performer. Quinn realized that losing dates on his top face wasn’t going to make him any extra money. Quinn was also upset that the hated Jack Pfefer was allowed to hang around the NWA convention in St Louis that started in August. So Quinn pulled Carpentier from the NWA champion storyline, suggesting that the NWA should just rule that Thesz got his title back after the disqualification win in Montreal.

On August 25, 1957, the NWA, at its convention, ruled that the NWA world title belonged with Lou Thesz because the June 14 Thesz/Carpentier match in Chicago was a disqualification and a title couldn’t change on a disqualification. So Edouard Carpentier’s name was erased from record books, and as far as the NWA was concerned, he was never champion. Basically, the NWA just disowned their past storyline and moved on.

Carpentier was left with a title “claim” which he would use over the next three year, even dropping it in Boston, Omaha, and Los Angeles. This episode in wrestling history, pretty much ruined the idea of having only one world champion.

By this time, Thesz and Lewis were both fed up with the NWA. Lewis had lost a lot of money because cheap promoters felt his wasn’t worth his 3 percent and Thesz was wore out by his schedule and days wasted by minor payoffs in small towns. Lewis convinced Thesz that he’d be better off dumping the NWA and going out on his own. Lewis argued that Thesz was a star, who played the part of a champion better than anyone. He made Thesz believe that he could draw and the public would always consider him the champion, even without the NWA name association. This meant no NWA taking its cut of every gate, so Thesz might even make more money, without all the work that went with being NWA champion. Lewis also told Thesz about all the money to be made overseas.

During the trip to Australia, Singapore, and Japan, Thesz notified Muchnick by mail that he didn’t want the title any longer and that Sam should set up a title change as soon as he returned from Japan.

Muchnick and the NWA members need a new champion and the names worthy of the title were small in number. Most felt that Buddy Rogers would make a good heel champion, but Thesz didn’t respect Rogers and had always refused to put him over. Rogers was also under contract to Al Haft of Columbus and they worried about running into the same trouble they had with Eddie Quinn and Carpentier. This also eliminated Verne Gagne, who was owned by Fred Kohler. Another candidate was Pat O’Connor.

Ed Lewis had been a big supporter of Dick Hutton and his comments can be found in an 1956 magazines saying he felt the next champion would be Hutton. Living in Tulsa in 1953, Ed may have even played a part in the training of Hutton before turning pro and managed him for short periods of time, when not on the road with Thesz. Hutton was a three time NCAA National Champion on two national championship at Oklahoma A&M, a three times AAU champion, and a 1948 Olympic Games member. Lewis and most amateur officials considered him to be the finest wrestler of his generation. Thesz, who idolized Lewis and was influenced by him, told the NWA that he wanted to drop the title to Hutton. The organization, still wanting Rogers or O’Connor, had to go along with Thesz’s wishes, because no one in wrestling could intimidate Lou into losing if he didn’t want to. And he wanted to lose to the best true wrestler, Hutton.

After terrible trips through Australia and Singapore, Thesz ended his vacation with a very successful tour of Japan. He returned to America in November and wrestled a few matches around Montreal. On November 12, 1957, Thesz wrestled a draw with Buddy Rogers in Minneapolis. One wonders if this had been the promoters planed title change, but Thesz wouldn’t “play ball”. Thesz was then booked to meet Dick Hutton in Toronto on November 14, 1957.

The storyline for the match resembled the Funk match in Amarillo, Hutton had recruited Strangler Lewis to manage and train him to defeat his former student, Thesz. This time it worked. After 35:15 of a one fall match, Hutton caught Thesz attempting a “Thesz Press” and body slammed the champion twice. He then applied an abdominal stretch and Lou submitted. Sam Muchnick was present and raised Hutton’s hand.

Thesz and Hutton then wrestled a draw in St Louis on November 22, before Lou left on his European tour, which lasted until late February 1958. When he returned, Thesz was booked out of Los Angeles by promoter Jules Strongbow. He began billing himself as International Champion in Europe and continued as champion in the Los Angeles area for a few years. He also ran a resort hotel in Phoenix.

Ed Lewis continued living in Tulsa with his wife. His eyes were worst and his health, at age 68, wasn’t what it once was. The champion Dick Hutton also lived in Tulsa and in September 1958, Lewis traveled with Hutton as trainer/manager/publicist in Canada and Minneapolis. On December 26, 1958, he was present in St Louis to watch Hutton defeat Edouard Carpentier. That major match up drew only 4,607.

Hutton was poorly promoted and didn’t draw. He lacked color and needed a gimmick. On January 9, 1959, Hutton dropped the NWA title to Pat O’Connor in St Louis, submitting to an O’ Connor toe hold in a one fall match. After losing a number of rematches to O’Connor, he was used in Los Angeles by promoter Jules Strongbow and given a cowboy gimmick. He did very well as Cowboy Dick Hutton in Southern California, but was over shadowed by Lou Thesz, Freddie Blassie and The Destroyer and never won the WWA world title. He retired in April 1964 to marry the daughter of a millionaire and train race horses. After 31 years of marriage, his wife Katherine died from Lou Gehrig’s disease. Hutton passed away on November 24, 2003 at the age of 80.

FOOTNOTES

478a) NATIONAL WRESTLING ALLIANCE: THE UNTOLD STORY OF THE MONOPOLY THAT STRANGLED PRO WRESTLING by Tim Horn baker page 8—The date of the first meeting of the National Wrestling Alliance, July 18, 1948, can be found on page 8. I’ve also seen the date given as July 14, 1948.

478aa) NATIONAL WRESTLING ALLIANCE: THE UNTOLD STORY OF THE MONOPOLY THAT STRANGLED PRO WRESTLING by Tim Horn baker page 75—Tim has official NWA paper that he dug up researching the NWA, so I use sections from his book.The date of the first meeting of the National Wrestling Alliance, July 18, 1948, can be found on page 8.

478b) THE GODFATHER OF WRESTLING by Gene LeBell (The only authorized autobiography) Page 36 to 38. Hope I covered this topic well and LeBell is happy, because I don’t want sadistic Gene breaking my arm or nose. I grew up around the Olympic Auditorium and I was always afraid of Gene. Meeting him today at the CAC dinners is wonderful, but I still worry. Read more about Gene at www.GeneLeBell.com.

478c) NATIONAL WRESTLING ALLIANCE: THE UNTOLD STORY OF THE MONOPOLY THAT STRANGLED PRO WRESTLING by Tim Hornbaker-page 75-In 1951, the NWA formed an “Ed Lewis Committee” to preside over all matters related to Lewis. During the 1951convention in Tulsa (Ed’s home town), the membership ratified a measure that raised Thesz’s per match income to 15%, giving 2 ½ % to the NWA and 2 ½ % for Lewis’ wage. This is information from Tim’s research of NWA meetings. Other sources, like Thesz himself and the book HOOKER, claim Lewis received 3 % of the purse.

478d) I found a Frankie Cain (The Great Mephisto) story from the sheet WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO…?, Issue #52 (2002—by Scott Teal) that showed the Lewis/Thesz relationship in a cool way and I’m going to tell it, mainly because it’s my book and I can do anything I want: Frankie Cain :”Al Haft had a motel and a small restaurant in Reynoldsburg, Ohio. He also had a big farmhouse and a few cabins. There was a ring set up out there where some of the boys worked out. Speedy LaRance used to pick us kids up and take us out there. I never knew what Ed Lewis was doing there, but he would come down, get in the ring, and move around with some of the kids. He was having back problems, so he used to have me walk on his back. He’d say “Get up on my back,” and he showed me how to place my feet…not on the spine, but on each side of the spine.

One night , Ed and Lou had stayed overnight in one of Al’s cabins. Lou, of course, had a busy schedule and was always on the go, so he wouldn’t always be in the best of moods. He drove out one day looking for Ed. They had to get a cab to take them to the airport. He walked into the restaurant just after Ed had put in an order for pancakes. Lou got a cup of coffee and sat down at the counter, waiting for Ed to finish. Ed ate the pancakes, a big stack, and he starts looking at the glass case where they displayed the pies. Ed had bad eyes, so he was squinting, trying to see the pies. He asked the waitress, “What kind of pie is that over there?” She said, “That’s chocolate pie. That’s one of our best sellers.” He said, ”Give me a big piece of it. I mean….a big piece.” Thesz was getting anxious because he wanted to be sure they didn’t miss their plane. Lou says, “Ed, you just ate five pancakes loaded with butter and syrup. Now you’re eating a piece of pie. Don’t you think you’re going to a little extreme?” Ed says, “Well, I don’t worry about it, Lou. I’ll just drink a cup of hot coffee. That’ll kill all the carbohydrates.” Lou says, “What did you say?” Ed repeated himself. Lou says, “Well, by god! You know something that medical science doesn’t know.” Ed says, “That’s the trouble, Lou. You think you know every damn thing. That’s why you never learned how to wrestle.”

478e) NATIONAL WRESTLING ALLIANCE: THE UNTOLD STORY OF THE MONOPOLY THAT STRANGLED PRO WRESTLING by Tim Hornbaker, page 75

478f) NATIONAL WRESTLING ALLIANCE: THE UNTOLD STORY OF THE MONOPOLY THAT STRANGLED PRO WRESTLING by Tim Hornbaker, page 240

479) CHICAGO TRIBUNE, June 15, 1957 and WRESTLING LIFE magazine June 1957. To show how poorly the NWA title was drawling, the attendance was 5,682.

480) AMARILLO DAILY NEWS, June 27, 1957 and June 28, 1957—Funk beat Thesz with a spinning toe hold for the first fall in 30 minutes. Funk put the toe hold on out side the ring in the second fall and was disqualified. Thesz’s leg was injured in the process and the match was ruled a draw.
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Steve Yohe



Joined: 01 Aug 2006
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Location: Wonderful Montebello CA

PostPosted: Tue May 10, 2011 11:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

CHAPTER THIRTY

THE STRANGLER’S LAST YEARS
In 1959, Lewis returned to Wisconsin Rapids for the funeral of his sister Hattie Buckley. The only relatives left in Wisconsin Rapids were nephews Patrick Buckley and Ben Buckley. His other two sisters lived in the state of Washington.

In October of 1959, Lewis helped in the pro training of Danny Hodge, three-time national collegiate wrestling champion at Oklahoma University, who’s record in school was 46-0 with 36 pins. In early 1960, Lewis seconded Hodge in some of his early pro match. Lewis was so impressed with Hodge that he gave him one of Billy Sandow’s old headlock machines. Lewis had two such machines in 1960. Today, one resides in the National Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum in Stillwater, Oklahoma, and the other is on display at the Dan Gable International Wrestling Institute and Museum at Waterloo, Iowa. (481)

Paul Bowser promoted a Boston Garden card, on July 15, 1960, that saw Lou Thesz and Ed Carpentier draw with Killer Kowalski & Hans Schmidt. Three days earlier, Bowser suffered a heart attack at his home in Lexington and was taken to the Concord Emerson Hospital. After two surgeries, Paul Bowser died on July 17, 1960. He was buried at Lexington’s Westview Cemetery.

By the 1960’s, Lewis was legally blind after all the years of suffering from Trachoma. He returned to being fully retired, supported by his wife, and donations from acquaintances. (481a) He took to religion and preached in many Christian Science churches through out the mid-west, playing the part of a repentant sinner. He claimed to have been “completely devoted to expounding the message of the Lord.” He once was quoted as saying “They sit out there and listen because they’re afraid that, if they don’t, I may get mad and put a headlock on them.” (482)

Joe Malcewicz, Paul Bowser’s best pure wrestler and one of Lewis’ top rivals during the 1920’s, became the major promoter in San Francisco in 1935. He was a good man known for his honesty and fair payoffs. Lewis always listed him with Stecher and Jim Browning as one of the three top hookers he wrestled in his career. In 1961, Malcewicz was put out of business in San Francisco by Roy Shire, Ray Stevens and local TV. He died on April 20, 1962 at the age of 65. (482a)

Sam Avey continue to run a strong wrestling promotion in Tulsa Oklahoma into the 1950’s. On September 20, 1952, a lightning strike burned down the Coliseum, leaving him without a major arena. In January 1958, he sold his promotion to Leroy McGuirk. Avey was vice president of Farmers and Merchants State Bank, and served as NWA treasurer until August 1960. Sam Avey died, at age 67, on August 9, 1962.

Lewis’ good friend Lou Thesz remained one of wrestling’s greatest stars. Pat O’Connor reign as NWA world champion, was over shadowed by Buddy Rogers, and on June 30, 1961 the two drew 38,000 and a gate of $125,000 in Chicago. Rogers won the title and returned much of it’s past glory over the next year and half. But Rogers was controlled by Eastern Promoter Vincent J. Mc Mahon and the old school NWA promoters were upset by the few dates they were getting with the champion. The fact was that the North America territory was too big for one champion to cover. Buddy Roger drew well but his body was shot from years of being a top worker. His work suffered, although fans really couldn’t tell, and he missed a lot of actions due to injuries. So Sam Muchnick and the other NWA promoters wanted their title back and on the East Coast, Toots Mondt was talking Vincent J. Mahon into forming a new organization, with it’s own champion.

The NWA needed a new champion and the person they picked was old Lou Thesz. On January 24, 1963, Thesz pined Rogers in Toronto winning the National Wrestling Alliance world title for the third time. Thesz being asked back as champion has to be considered one of the greatest complements in pro wrestling history.

Thesz remain champion for three years, losing it to friend Gene Kiniski (by disqualification) in St Louis on January 7, 1966.

On November 7, 1965, Thesz had a wrestling date in Tulsa, so he flew into town a day early so he could visit with mentor Lewis. Lewis seemed in good spirits and wanted Lou to take him to Oklahoma City so the two could visit a hotel they used to enjoy during their traveling days. So the two took a day long trip to the Skillern Hotel. Ed spent the day reminiscing about his career and the people he had know and were gone. He seemed to enjoy himself and the two drove back that night, so Lou could defend his title against Sputnik Monroe. Thesz then left the territory, not realizing that the trip was Ed’s way of saying goodbye. Several weeks later, Thesz got word that Ed was in bad shape, after a series of strokes, and had been hospitalized at the Veterans Hospital in Muskogeees.

In early 1966, Lewis was honored by his hometown of Nekoosa. A ten foot high marker was erected in the city by the South Wood County Historical Corporation. The large plaque memorialized his career and listed the names of many of the great men he had wrestled. A number of his old friends were present, but Lewis was unable to attend because he was confined to a nursing home. The marker still stands today at the intersection of Prospect Avenue (State Highway 73) and 9th Street.

On August 6, 1966, Thesz stopped in Muskogee, to see Lewis, on the way to some matches in Florida. Lou got to the Veterans Hospital early in the morning and Lewis was sleeping in a wheelchair. The nurses told Thesz that Ed had had a bad night and had been medicated, so Lou left and got on his plane for Tampa. Later that day he got a phone call from Jack Pfefer, who had visited Lewis the afternoon following Thesz. Pfefer told Lou that the doctor felt Lewis was “fading fast”. Pfefer told Lou to get back as soon as possible. (483)

Ed “Strangler” Lewis died in his sleep on August 7, 1966 at age 76.

Funeral services were held at the Ninde Funeral Home in Tulsa. The private service was officiated over by Willard Russell, a Christian Science reader at Tulsa’s Golden Chapel. Lewis was cremated and later buried at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia, in section 53, grave 3546. (483a)

The two Zbyszko brothers, Wladek and Stan, continued to live together on their pig farm near Savannah, Missouri, north of St Joseph, Missouri. The two were involved with the development of pro wrestling in South America and it’s claimed that Johnny Valentine and Harley Race worked and received some training on their farm. The 88 year old Stanislaus Zbyszko died on the farm after a heart attack on September 23, 1967. Wladek Zbyszko, one of Lewis’ greatest rivals, died on June 10, 1968 and is now resting at the Savannah Cemetery. I believe, if my counting is correct, that he was 75 (Born November 20, 1891).

Billy Sandow, Lewis’ manager and friend from 1915 to 1932, who should be given full credit for finding Lewis, training him and making him one of sport’s greatest stars, was a, behind the scene, promoter of wrestling in Kansas after leaving St Louis in 1939. The professional break up seemed to have also ended the friendship, because after 1932 Shandow is written out of Lewis’ story. Sandow died on September 15, 1972 at the age of 88.

Aurelio Fabiani, the promoter of Philadelphia and Los Angeles, died at Thomas Jefferson Hospital in Philadelphia on April 26, 1973 at age 82. The man who brought great wrestling to Philadelphia and turned Jim Londos into a superstar has yet to be admitted to any Wrestling Hall of Fame.

Joe Stecher out lived Lewis by almost eight years. Ed’s greatest rival, after over 35 years of being institutionalized, died at the Veteran’s Hospital of St Cloud, Minnesota on March 29, 1974, at the age of 80. His remains were shipped to San Francisco, where his wife lived, and Joe can be found at Cypress Memorial Park, Coma California (Niche P, Tier 1, in the Garden of Serenity). In public, Lewis always stated that Stecher was the best wrestler he ever met, but he lacked heart. In private, with friendly insiders like Thesz, he’d say he didn’t know who was the better wrestler, and admitted he’d have been beaten in short time if he had gone to the mat with Stecher without stalling.

Jim Londos lived out his life just as he had planed it. Wrestling’s greatest box office star, had a career that lasted from 1915 to 1959. His last years of life, were spent as a rich gentleman farmer in Escondido, California. In the 1960’s, he sold most of his farm, becoming even richer, and today a large portion of the city of Escondido rests on it. Unlike Lewis, Londos would never said anything disrespectful about his old bitter rival. When asked about their September 20, 1934 battle in Wrigley Field, Chicago, that broke the all time gate record, Londos always played down his victory, making a point of saying that Lewis was old and past his prime. Perhaps he knew Lewis popularity made him invulnerable to critics. Londos suffered a heart attack at Palomar General Hospital and died on August 19, 1975. He was buried at a prime spot, next to his wife, at the Oak Hill Memorial Park, on a green hill over looking his city of Escondido.

Toots Mondt remain a power on the East Coast. He played a major part in the promotion of wrestling at Madison Square Garden and formed with Vincent McMahon the Capitol Wrestling Corporation, which later became known as the WWF or WWE. He also played a important part in the careers of Antonino Rocca and Bruno Sammartino. By 1960, Mondt acted only as a shareholder and was semi-retired, used only in an advisory capacity. He retire complete in 1969, and moved from Jackson Heights, Long Island, to St Louis. He died from pneumonia on June 11, 1976. He was 82.

On June 2, 1975, the Ed “Strangler” Lewis belt was auctioned off in Boston. (484)

John Pesek never did another job after the Strangler Lewis series of match in 1942. His last match took place on January 28, 1959. Like Jim Londos, he never dropped his (MWA) world title in the ring. He also ran a productive farm (9 miles south of Ravenna, Nebraska), but Pesek also had one of the most famous kennels of racing dogs in the nation. He was the only man ever enshrined in the Greyhound Racing Hall of Fame and the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame. It’s said that Pesek revolutionized the sport of dog racing, bring the super dog “Just Andrew” from Australia to America. “Just Andrew” is also in the Greyhound Hall of Fame, with 30 of his offsprings. In 1978, it was claimed that 80% of the greyhounds racing were descended from “Just Andrew”. John Pesek died from a heart attack, while eating breakfast in Ravenna with his two older children, Elizabeth and Jack, on March 12, 1978. He was buried at Highland Cemetery, west of Ravenna. (485)

In 1979, Bobbie Lee West, Lewis’ wife for over 29 years, passed away in Tulsa.

Jack Dempsey remained a sports icon. He continued to make public appearances and ran a famous restaurant in Manhattan. He took a hands-on approach and spent much of his time greeting awestruck tourist at the door. The press called him sport’s greatest gentleman. He died from strokes and heart failure on May 31, 1983, at age 87, and is buried in the Southampton Cemetery in Southampton, New York. Gene Tunney, Dempsey’s conqueror, preceded him in death by five years (Nov. 7, 1978). Dempsey’s 3,000 word obituary was written by Red Smith and printed on the front page of the New York Times. Tunney’s death was reported on page 22 with an unbylined obituary of 750 words. (485a)

Lou Thesz’s career basically ended after a tour of Japan in April 1982. Still in tremendous condition, he remained a legend for his workouts in the gym. In 1984, most insiders felt he was more than a match for WWF world champion Hulk Hogan. At times, he still would accept special matches, but that ended in December 1990 in Japan’s Tokyo Dome when he injured his hip in a match with Masa Chono. Like with Lewis, he stayed in the sport by acting as a special referee and accepted positions with promotions like the UWFI in Japan. With a career that rivaled any in wrestling’s history, he was honored by the Cauliflower Ally Club in 1991 and later that year replaced Archie Moore as the Club’s President. For the last portion of his life he functioned as pro wrestling’s elder statesman, and even was a part of the best pro wrestling history site on the internet, The Lou Thesz Forum at Wrestling Classics.com. He also became a great help to a new generation of wrestling historians, and never showed his annoyance with nobodies who knew historical dates and questioned his memory. Lou could not have a conversation without praising his old friend and mentor, Ed Lewis. Lou Thesz died on April 28, 2002 from complications following open heart surgery. He was 86 years old.

It would be impossible to have a legitimate Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame without the name of Strangler Lewis on it’s rolls and Ed is in all of the major ones including: The Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame (the initial class of 1996), The Profession Wrestling Hall of Fame (PWHF of Amsterdam, New York) (the initial class of 2002), Wisconsin’s Athletic Hall of Fame (initial class of 1951) and The International Wrestling Institute and Museum George Tragos/Lou Thesz Hall of Fame (initial class of 1959).

There is some argument to the idea that Ed “Strangler” Lewis was pro wrestling’s greatest shooter, I believe Stecher, Gotch, Caddock, Pesek, Steele, and some of the older and lighter performers have just as much claim to that title as Ed. And I don’t believe he surpassed Jim Londos, Gotch, or even Hulk Hogan as a wrestling “star”, but when you follow Ed Lewis career, you follow the history of the sport.

FOOTNOTES
481) OKLAHOMA SHOOTER: THE DAN HODGE STORY by Mike Chapman page 107 to 109

481a) Lewis lived on South Cincinnati Avenue in Tulsa, and the internet report I’ve found claims he lived with his wife and daughter. If true and the daughter wasn’t from some past Bobbie Lee West relationship, it would be a rare appearance of Bobada Friedrich, the child formed from Lewis’ marriage with Dr. Ada Scott Morton. Bobada would have been in her 30’s.

Frankie Cain served as driver for Lewis during these years and got to know him well. For this project, historian Steve Johnson, who is a editor for THE WASHINGTON POST and a author of many major wrestling books including a forth coming book on Jim Londos, has gone out of his way to write a short article on Frankie Cain’s friendship with Lewis.

A FRIENDLY STRANGLER
By Steve Johnson

Ed Lewis was to wrestling in the Roaring Twenties what Jack Dempsey was to boxing, a larger-than-life figure that was equally at home glad-handing the citizenry as he was mauling opponents. His nickname, “Strangler”, lifted from Evan Lewis, no doubt helped; when some newsboy hawking a tabloid shouted “Strangler Lewis Tops Stecher!” the inflection in his voice was probably no different than when he shrieked “Latest on the Manassa Mauler!” or “Sultan of Swat Belts Two!”

Lewis wielded tremendous influence in and out of the ring, but it was not all-encompassing. Growing up around the Columbus, Ohio, wrestling circuit, Frankie Cain followed Lewis’ career as a youngster, discussed it with other wrestlers and eventually came to know Lewis to the point that he chauffeured him across the country when the legend’s eyes started to fail. “He wasn’t a big draw, himself. He had to wait until he got the right opponent. Like everyone else, he was no exception. He wasn’t like a Buddy Rogers who could draw without the belt, which he did for years. But Ed, back in those days, he was respected for his wrestling ability. I’d seen him when I was very young and of course, he was over the hill then, but from what the old-timers told me, he was no different than any world champion, as you had to have the right opponent to get those main gates.”

What made Lewis stand out from the pack was his hail-fellow-well-met personality, a stark contrast to his in-ring character, whose grinding headlock grip provoked its sgare of hisses. “If someone told him who was in the restroom, that he had some fans there, Ed would jump up and go meet him. Actually, he would have made a great politician. Oh yes, oh my, how he could talk!” said Cain, who later became famous as The Great Mephisto. “Ed was probably the only person I’ve seen who could walk into any newspaper around the country when he was managing wrestlers, and they were thrilled to meet him. He presented himself very well.”

His friendly nature probably represented an asset when Lewis aged and remained an active wrestler, since his weight fluctuated between overweight and obese. “I just thought by looking at him in his later years, it must have been a struggle for him to keep in top shape,” Cain said. But he came to the ring smiling and he waved at the people. Always had that big smile. That, I think, helped him.”

482) THE WRESTLER (magazine), February 1967—THE STORY THEY COULDN”T TELL ABOUT ED (STRANGLER) LEWIS BY THE MAN WHO SHARED HIS SECRET—The man, with this untold secret, didn’t leave us with his name. I liked his Lewis quotes and don’t have a great feel for Lewis’ religious pursuits.

482a) NATIONAL WRESTLING ALLIANCE: THE UNTOLD STORY OF THE MONOPOLY THAT STRANGLED PRO WRESTLING by Tim Hornbaker, page 294

483) HOOKER: THE BIOGRAPHY OF LOU THESZ by Lou Thesz with Kit Bauman, pages 181 to 182.

483a) Mark Hewitt one of world’s great wrestling historians and a good friend, who’s writing style I’ve attempted to copy over the years, has written a tribute to Strangler Lewis just for this project and I’ve selected this spot to insert it.


Ed “STRANGLER LEWIS—THE GREATEST
By Mark Hewitt

Ed “Strangler” Lewis boasted that from 1914 through 1940 he was never legitimately defeated in a wrestling match. Was that just bluster, braggadocio, or ballyhoo? There are many opinions on just who was the greatest professional wrestler of all times. Who could have beaten who? Some contend that Frank Gotch ranks as the unbeatable champion heavyweight; other names come up like Joe Stecher and Lou Thesz. How would modern legit grapplers like Kurt Angle and Brock Lesnar or a MMA fighter like Fedor Emelianenko fare against the old-timers? Certainly without a time machine, all this is just conjecture. However, I am in the camp that maintains that Lewis would have ended up on top of the heap in a tournament involving all the greats of all eras.

“Strangler” Lewis was an amazing combination of skill, strength, cunning, and endurance. In fact his stamina was nothing short of phenomenal. He was powerful as a bull. Lewis knew the grappling arts from A to Z. He had an uncanny ability to sense when an opponent was ready to make a move or go after a certain hold, and he was able to block it. “Tigerman” John Pesek, considered by many as one of, if not, the greatest pure catch-as-catch-can wrestlers who ever lived, acknowledged Lewis’ mastery on the mat. Pesek remarked stoically, “The Strangler knew how to use his heft expertly.”

Lewis’ rise to the top really took off on the Lexington/Louisville circuits of Bill Barton and Jerry Walls. When he partnered with the enigmatic Billy Sandow, Lewis exploded onto the national scene, becoming a dominant figure in the pro wrestling heavyweight ranks for the next few decades. Ed Lewis entered into the popular culture of his period. Once his competitive days were past he remained an elder-statesman of the pro wrestling world.

The wild and wooly world of professional wrestling has always been full of smoke and mirrors and circus-like showmanship. But there is also an underlying tradition of tough “shooters” and occasional bonafide contests. Ed “Strangler” Lewis could hold his own on the mat with anybody.

Steve Yohe has done an excellent job of both researching the life and times of Lewis and of penning an interesting and highly-readable biography about this legendary character.

Mark S. Hewitt
2010

484) JOHN PESEK—THE WRESTLER FROM RAVENNA by Valerie Vierk (granddaughter of John) Mary Lee Pesek (daughter of John) and Geoffrey Pesek (grandson of John)

485a) TUNNEY By Jack Cavanaugh, page 400 to 401

485) Over the years, historians have tried to follow the path of the “Lewis Championship Belt”. After Joe Stecher dropped the undisputed title to Lewis, he kept his belt (The Stecher Belt). The “Lewis Belt” was awarded to Ed in Kansas City in January 1921 by The Central Athletic Club. When Lewis lost to Stanislaus Zbyszko on May 6, 1921, Stan got the belt along with the title. After defending the title against Lewis on November 28, 1921 in Madison Square Garden, Zbyszko was awarded another belt by promoter Tex Rickard. This belt is called the “Rickard” or :Zbyszko belt”. In boxing, the tradition is for the new champion to ware the title belt out of the ring, but in the dressing room, it is given back to the old champion and a new belt is made and later awarded to the new champion. Rickard was a boxing promoter and he gave “Rickard belts” to all the boxing champions, so he gave the same honor to Zbyszko. When Lewis re-won the undisputed title from Stan on March 3, 1922, he got both the “Lewis Belt” and the “Rickard Belt”. The “Rickard Belt” is never mention after the May 30, 1925 title title match with Wayne Munn. When Lewis defeated Joe Stecher in St Louis on February 20, 1928, Stecher again kept his “Stecher Belt” and Lewis just kept using his old belt.

Billy Sandow and Lewis sold the “Lewis Belt”, with the title, to Paul Bowser with Gus Sonnenberg victory on January 4, 1929. Sonnenberg gave up the “Lewis” belt after losing in Los Angeles to Ed Don George on December 10, 1930. Lewis did not get the belt back after the double-cross of George on April 13, 1931. Bowser probably gave the belt to Henri DeGlane after the bite match in Montreal on May 4, 1931 and passed it back to Ed Don George after losing on February 10, 1933.

George used the belt for a period of time, but by April 23, 1935 Bowser sent the “Lewis Belt” to Lou Daro of Los Angeles. It was awarded to the winner of an International Tournament. Vincent Lopez won the tournament and the “Lewis Belt” on July 24, 1935. Why would Bowser give up his valuable belt? Danno O’Mahoney had been in the tournament and a favorite to win it, but was pulled after Bowser got Jim Londos to agree to job his NWA/NY title to Danno. Lopez used the belt for the rest of 1935 but probably Daro returned it to Bowser in 1936. After that the belt was used over the years as Bowser’s AWA championship belt going from Yvon Roberts (?), to Steve Casey (February 11-38) to Marv Westenberg (as The Shadow)(March 3, 1939) to Gus Sonnenberg (March 16, 1939) to Steve Casey (March 29, 1939) to Maurice Tillet (May 13, 1940) to Steve Casey (May 13, 1942) to Sandor Szabo (March 29, 1944?) to Yvon Robert (June 14, 1944?) to Steve Casey (May 13, 1942) to Maurice Tillet (August 1, 1944) to Steve Casey (August 15, 1944) to Sandor Szabo (April 25, 1945) to Frank Sexton (May 5, 1945) to Steve Casey (June 6, 1945) to Frank Sexton (June 27, 1945).

From photos the size of the “Lewis Belt” or AWA belt changed, and the feeling of many historians seems to be that there was more that one belt being used. The second belt is not the “Rickard belt”, because I have photos, and it looks nothing like the “Lewis Belt”.

In 1949, Bowser joined the NWA and he gave the AWA title and use of the belt to Frank Sexton, who was being promoted by Al Haft. It seems Sexton had more than one belt. Frank gave one of them to Don Eagle after dropping the title to Don Eagle on May 23, 1950. Photos of Eagle from Columbus show him with the belt or a version of the belt. Eagle was kind of a head case & it seems that the title & belt went to Bill Miller (May 1, 1952) and then Buddy Rogers (May 1952). After losing to Eagle, Frank Sexton still claimed the title in Europe and took a very good looking version of the “Lewis Belt” to France, where he dropped both (title and belt) to Felix Miquet in Paris on January 22, 1951. There are photos in the February 1952 issue of Boxing and Wrestling Magazine of Felix Miquet presenting the “Lewis Belt” to the man who had defeated him for the European world title, Ivar Martenson.

I believe the “Lewis Belt” that was used by Buddy Rogers, was returned to it’s owner Paul Bowser and it remained in his possession until his death in 1960. Atty. George Colbert, executive of the Bowser will, found the belt among Bowser’s belongings and put it up for auction in the process of settling the estate. It was purchased by a Boston jeweler, who planed to strip the diamonds and gold. Once he realized the history of the object in his possession, the jeweler changed his mind. A few years later, he sold the belt to George Franklin, head of the Allston Moving Company and a major wrestling fan. He displayed the belt in the window of his office for 18 months, before selling it to local Boston outlaw promoter Tony Santos.

On April 27, 1967, Frank Scarpa won a tournament for the vacant “Big Time Wrestling World Time”. After the win, Scarpa was presented with the “Lewis Belt” and there are photos of Scarpa wearing it in Santos’ programs next to a Ed Lewis’ photo with the belt. Scarpa remained Santos’ world champion, until his death in January of 1969. In late 69 or the early 70’s, Santos lent the belt to Cowboy Ron Hill, who used it as a Light Heavyweight title belt. I talked to Hill years ago and he said the belt was dirty and rusted when he got it from Santos, but he cleaned and polished it. Later it was returned to Santos.

On June 2, 1975, the “Lewis belt” was put up for auction, using a sealed bid system, by Santos Promotion (P.O. Box 193 Back Bay, Boston, Mass. O2117). It was billed as the original world’s heavyweight title belt, with a picture of Lewis wearing it. It had 34 diamonds 20 pt each and a large center diamond that was 7 ½ carats. The weight of the gold belt was 2 ½ pounds. No one knows what happened after that. I think it was striped and melted down by a jeweler and is in some women’s jewelry box today. To me, that Ed “Strangler” Lewis’ belt is the Holy Grail of wrestling artifacts.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I want to thank the major researchers who’s work is the backbone of this project. J Michael Kenyon is the major collector of Strangler Lewis information and he guide me during the year I worked on this project. I always consider Ed Lewis to be his baby and I never would have taken the task, if he hadn’t given me the permission. I’ve lived off the research of Don Luce for years and he’s helped me in every project I’ve ever worked on. Also want to say thanks to Mark Hewitt who’s specialty is the time period I enjoy the most. Dan Anderson was a huge help in writing the early history of Bob Friedrich’s career in Wisconsin. Other names I should mention are Koji Miyamoto (Lou Thesz’s unofficial son and historian), Tim Hornbaker, Steve Johnson, Scott Teal, Greg Oliver, Kit Bauman, Jack Cavanaugh (author of the great boxing book, TUNNEY), John Williams, Haruo Yamaguchi, Dave Meltzer, Fred Hornby, Libnan Ayoub, Alex Meyer (Stecher historian), Frankie Cain, Mark Nulty (of Wrestling Classics.com), Steve Phersons (whoever you are) and my wife Maria Yohe. Also should mention the staff of the Amateur Athletic Foundation’s Paul Ziffren Sports Library, mainly Mike Salmon and Shannon Boyd. I and all the names above, are dedicated to seeing that pro wrestling has a written history, something thought impossible 15 years ago.
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PostPosted: Wed May 11, 2011 12:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

OK...that's it.--Yohe
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Tomer



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PostPosted: Wed May 11, 2011 7:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Going to repeat it again, but awesome work, Steve - I liked the commentary on the events to clarify on the backroom politics of the time.
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PostPosted: Thu May 12, 2011 6:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Agreed.

John
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 22, 2011 3:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So Steve... what did you think of Meltzer's piece on Lewis-Stecher?

John
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 22, 2011 8:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I read it late one night last week & thought it was the worst thing he had ever written but then I slept on it & decided to not think about it. So I never when back to reread it. I had my say & it's all I can do. Feels like wasted time.---Steve Yohe
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 22, 2011 8:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

John....what did you think of it?---Yohe
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 22, 2011 10:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thought it wasn't good at all.

John
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kjh



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PostPosted: Thu Aug 25, 2011 9:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bryan and Dave talking about Stecher vs. Caddock on their latest radio show was pretty amusing. About how it was clearly a shoot because it looked so different from the other matches that there's footage of from that era. Then Dave started talking about how Dory vs. Jack (which wasn't a shoot) was so different looking from the other matches of their era. Um... :-/
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 25, 2011 10:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I wonder how many matches from 1910-1925 Dave has seen to have a grasp of what "matches from the era" look like.

Caddock-Stecher was a work. The finish of an exceptionally well booked series of matches leading to it.

I really need to drag over Dave's piece on Stecher-Lewis so that Yohe can comment on all of it. I know he through it was poor, as his post above gives a hint of.

John
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 25, 2011 2:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I just read the thing once, at 4:00 in the AM before going to sleep, and thought it was terrible. Then I realized I was getting upset over nothing & decided to forget about it. I stayed away from it at WC. Now I'm not even sure what upset me because I never went back to it & only parts were read to begin with. I respect Dave & don't want to rip on him or his work.

But if John posts the damm thing, I'll probably go off on it. But it will just draw attention to it & at this point no one cares, so it's a good idea to just drop it.

Yohe
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 25, 2011 2:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Really someone wants to believe Stecher/Cadock was a shoot when a newspaper reporter in Chicago was giving up the results months a head of time. It's up to everyone to believe what they want.--Yohe
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 25, 2011 2:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Steve Yohe wrote:
Really someone wants to believe Stecher/Cadock was a shoot when a newspaper reporter in Chicago was giving up the results months a head of time.


"But Carlos, the finish was a DQ."
-Yohe

:)

John
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