United Press International – March 13, 1978
RAVENNA, Neb. – John “Tiger Jawn” Pesek, a former world heavyweight wrestling champion, died Sunday at his home of an apparent heart attack. He was 84.
Pesek, who had gone undefeated for 25 years in international competition and who could not be pinned even when he was in his 60s, was eating breakfast in his Ravenna home when he collapsed.
A daughter, Elizabeth, a retired registered nurse, administered emergency procedures but was unable to revive Pesek.
Funeral arrangements were pending at Love & Rohde Mortuary in Ravenna.
Pesek, whose wife, Myrl, died in 1966, is survived by three sons, Jack, a former University of Nebraska football player, Kevin and Stephen, and four daughters, Elizabeth, Mary Lee, Virginia and Catherine.
Born on a farm near Ravenna, Pesek flourished in an era when Nebraska was a hotbed of wrestling and devoted more than 50 years to professional wrestling.
The 1920s were the golden years for Pesek. He began a winning streak in those years and went 20 years without losing a match. He was named the world champion by the National Wrestling Association in 1932.
Pesek was still wrestling in exhibition matches in the mid-1950s. His matches with Joe Stecher of Dodge, Neb., have become ring classics. He also met and defeated Ed (Strangler) Lewis, Wladek Zbyszko, Charlie Hansen, George Zaharias, Ray Steele, Jim Browning, Jim Londos and Everette Marshall.
Pesek, who was inducted into the Lincoln Journal’s Nebraska Sports Hall of Fame in 1957, also was one of America’s leading greyhound dog owners. Trained by his brother, Charlie, Pesek dogs won dozens of national coursing events.
“Just Andrew” and “Gangster,” both Australian greyhounds of Pesek, were honored in the Greyhound Hall of Fame in Abilene, Kan.
The racing magazine, the Greyhound Review, said that bloodlines of Pesek imports from Australia are present in more than 70 percent of all greyhounds.