Champion Wrestling Match: Ross And Daly

Globe & Mail – October 20, 1879

On Saturday evening Adelaide-street Rink was well filled with an immense crowd, brought together to witness the wrestling match between Ross and Daly. It is understood that the match was for $500 a side and a beautiful gold medal, emblematical of the championship of the United States and the British provinces. The contest was to consist of five falls, the first being catch-as-catch-can, the second Cumberland style or back hold, the third collar and elbow, the fourth Scotch style and the fifth Graeco-Roman.

DUNCAN C. ROSS was born in Glasgow, Scotland, in March, 1855. He served six years in the Scots Greys as rough-riding corporal; began his career as an athlete in 1869 at the Balaklava games in the royal barracks at Dublin. He never participated in any engagement, but was out on the Gold Coast with Sir Garnet Wolseley. He wears a great many medals, among the finest of which is the championship gold medal of the United States and the British Provinces, awarded to the best heavyweight athlete. In conjunction with E.W. Johnson, he won the general athletic championship of the world at Baltimore on the 10th and 13th of May, 1879. He stands six feet and a quarter of an inch high, measures 44 1/2 inches around the chest, and in good condition, as he now is, weighs 203 pounds. He was never sick a day in his life, never smoked, and never drank anything stronger than ale, and that was very moderately. He was married about four months ago to a young lady in Baltimore, but as the public are already in possession of the somewhat romantic story of the gallant athlete and his beautiful and accomplished bride, it is scarcely necessary to repeat it. Besides being a splendid looking man physically, with all the summetry of form and evidence of pluck and determination shown in a well-cut and squarely-set lower jaw, Ross has a much more cultivated and intelligent look than is usually found among the giants of the arena. Though the very reverse of garrulous, he talks like a man who in his youth had, to say the least of it, received a good English education, and in his later years had not allowed his intelligent faculties to be thrown in the shade by, or neglected on account of, his extraordinary physical development.

J.C. DALY was born in the county of Cork, Ireland, in 1853. He is in all respects a fine-looking man; stands 6 feet 1 1/2 inches in his stockings, measures 45 inches around the chest, and weighs something over 200 pounds. He is a stone-cutter by trade, but commenced his career as an athlete when only 15 or 16 years of age. He holds trophies of the heavy and light weight athlete championship of Ireland. Since crossing the Atlantic he has lived chiefly in New York. From his own statement he both smokes and drinks, but from his manner and appearance it is quite evident that he does neither to excess.

A large platform had been erected on the floor of the Rink some four or five feet high. This is covered with two inches or more of sawdust, and this again with carpeting, the stage being surrounded with a single rope attached to posts at the corners. To the north side of the stage were platform and tables for the press; and it may be added that the managers of the Adelaide street Rink seem to know better what reporters require in the way of accomodation, and to take more pains in providing it, than any man or set of men who have ever had charge of indoor or outdoor sports in this city. In the first place, reporters were where they could see; in the second place, they were where they could write; and in the third place, their quarters were not permitted to be crowded by people who had no business there. At a little after 8 o’clock Mrs. Ross took her place beside the stage, and was greeted with enthusiastic cheers from all parts of the Rink. Soon after this the referee and judges took their places upon the stage. Mr. Powell Martin acting as referee, Mr. Barry as judge for Daly, and Captain Humphries as judge for Ross. At 8:10 the contestants themselves, attired in tights, trunks, and thin guernseys, stepped upon the stage, each removing his boots as he did so.

CATCH-AS-CATCH-CAN — The referee made a few remarks to the crowd, reminding them that Toronto had always been considered a city of fair play, where no boat-cutting or buying or selling of contestants of any kind could be tolerated; that the present contest was intended to have been decided at Hamilton, but this Ambitious City had failed to keep order, and the contestants were obliged to come to this city to decide the question of superiority. He was sure the immense audience present would feel flattered at the compliment thus paid them and maintain the best of order while the contest was in progress. He then explained that the first fall would be catch-as-catch-can, or what school boys were in the habit of denominating “rough-and-tumble.” He then read the following rules to govern the contest: Both contestants to be attired in full athletic costume. Fingernails to be cut close, and no attempts to grasp the flesh of the body allowed. Contestants could use their feet for the purpose of tripping, but any attempt at kicking would be recorded as a foul; both shoulders and one hip to touch at one time to constitute a fall.

At 8:20 time was called, and the men went together. Daly got the best of the clinch, and Ross, twisting out of his arms, threw himself flat upon the stage, face downwards. Daly tried hard to roll him on his back, but, failing in this, he endeavoured, by forcing his head upon the stage and raising his body, to turn him endwise. In the meantime he had to keep a sharp lookout for Ross, who was constantly on the lookout for the dangerous neck hold. After the struggle had been in progress about two minutes Ross regained his feet and broke from his antagonist with the cheers of the crowd. For a few seconds the men paused for breath, and then, coming together again, Daly was once more succesful in catching Ross by the waist, while the Scotchman fastened a vice-like grip upon his antagonist’s neck. Daly worked hard to swing his antagonist clear of the ground and plant him on his back, while Ross, who was husbanding his strength, kept the Irishman’s head in chancery, and managed to light on his feet as often as he swung him from the ground. Daly now changed his tactics, and reaching down, caught the Scotchman by the leg, when the referee, evidently for the instant confounding this with the Graeco-Roman contest, cautioned him against such action, and the men mutually relaxed their holds. Mr. Barry, judge for Daly, walked across the stage, and in a low tone explained to the referee that his man had committed no foul, while Ross smilingly assented, and the contest was resumed. As before, Daly caught Ross by the waist, but as he attempted to force him backward the wily Scotchman went down upon all fours and escaped him. The contest had now been in progress a little over six minutes.

For some time they struggled about the floor, but a minute and a half later Ross again regained his feet and broke away. As they came together again each seized the other by the head, each clasping his fingers tightly over the nape of his opponent’s neck. The struggle now became intensely exciting; the ponderous muscles of the contestants suddenly swelled into knots and ridges over their backs, sides, and shoulders, and it became a question of sheer strength; lower and lower they stooped, each endeavouring to twist away from his opponent, till Ross’ knees touched the carpet, then with one mighty effort he suddenly twisted his neck out of his opponent’s grasp, and turning his face from him bent his head downward till his scalp touched the stage, while Daly’s heels flying into the air described a complete semi-circle, and the Irish giant lay fairly upon his back. Time, 9 1/2 minutes.

BACK-HOLD, OR CUMBERLAND STYLE — At 8:35 time was called, and the men came together, the referee having previously explained that in this contest should any part of the body other than the feet touch the carpet it shall be deemed a fall, and that should either of the contestants break his hold it shall be recorded as a fall against him. In this contest it was evident from the outset that the Irishman’s tremendous reach must be greatly to his advantage. Each passed his right arm over his antagonist’s left shoulder and locked his hands together over waist. For a few seconds they waltzed about the stage, and then Daly swung the Scotchman back over his knee and planted him upon the carpet with considerable force. Time, 2 minutes. As soon as the result was made known by the referee Daly was enthusiastically cheered by his many friends in the audience. Both men now left the stage for a few moments.

COLLAR AND ELBOW — At 8:42 Ross again stepped upon the stage, Daly following three minutes later. The referee explained that in this contest the man winning the fall must throw his opponent upon his back. At 8:46 time was called, and thecontestants advancing secured their holds and went right to business. Neither one appeared particularly adroit at this style of wrestling, and it soon became apparent that Daly’s immense reach was again in his favour. Ross seemed inclined to hurry the pace, and tried several times to catch Daly’s left leg, but as often narrowly escaped being forced over backward. After three minutes’ play of this kind, they broke away and took breath for a few seconds. They closed again quickly, however, and Ross was thrown upon his hands and knees after less than half a minute’s play. A minute and a half later the Scotchman was thrown upon his side, and two minutes later upon his hands and knees, and forced down till he lay flat upon his stomach, but Daly could not roll him over. After they had been at it eight minutes they loosened their holds and paused for rest, while Ross putting his fingers through a hole in the carpet took out some sawdust to dry his hands. Daly complained of this, but Ross assured him he had no objection to his doing the same thing. Daly declined, however, and the referee decided that Ross had committed no breach of propriety. Half a minute after they had come together again Ross was thrown squarely upon his back, and though several in the audience shouted no fall Ross himself admitted that he had been fairly down. Time, 12 1/2 minutes. Both men again left the stage for a short rest.

SCOTCH STYLE — Ross reappeared on the stage at 9:16, immediately followed by Daly. In this contest it was explained that the wrestlers were to seize each other just as in the Cumberland back hold, but to gain a fall the winning man must make either both shoulders and one hip or both hips and one shoulder touch the carpet and hold him there till the referee and judges should decide it was a fall. At 9:20 time was called, and as the men came together Daly secured the better hold. Two minutes later Ross managed to throw Daly upon the carpet by twisting him over his shoulders, but in trying to force him flatly upon the stage Daly suddenly caught his head and, rolling over, brought Ross with him and came near securing the fall himself. He failed to do so, however, and they were soon upon their feet again. From this to the finish both men struggled hard. Daly grasped the heavy leather belt which Ross wore around his waist, and Captain Humphries claimed that he had no right to do so, but the referee decided against his claim. At length Ross managed to get Daly’s head in “chancery,” and going down with him had him all but down; but Daly had by no means given it up yet. He formed a bridge, the extremities of which were his feet and his shoulders, and though Ross rolled him over repeatedly he always managed to save himself in this way whenever his shoulders were on the carpet. At length, however, Ross had rolled his manc lose to the north end of the stage, and then one final turn planted him on his shoulders right at the edge of the stage. For an instant Daly formed his bridge, but just as he did so Ross pushed his left foot clear of the stage, and instantly his left hip and both shoulders rested fairly upon the carpet, and the referee declared the fall in favour of Ross, Daly appealing. Time, 12 minutes. This was the best contest int he match, and evidently the one in which each contestant calculated on winning the odd fall. Both men left the stage for a few moments as before.

GRAECO-ROMAN — The falls now stood two and two, but it was evident to any careful observer who watched the match up to this point that Ross must win bar accidents. The rules of Graeco-Roman wrestling are already so well understood that very little explanation is necessary. The contestants are not allowed to take any hold below the waist, and no tripping is allowed, both shoulders to touch the stage or no fall. This contst did not excite much interest, as it was evident that Daly had no chance against Ross in this particular style of wrestling. Almost his first grip would have lost him the fall, with strict ruling, as he locked his hands below Ross’ waist. Capt Humphries complained to the referee, who told the contestants to “go in” again. A foul was claimed and not allowed, and another, and another; but the referee said he wanted to see the match decided on its merits, and not on a foul. At length, after the men had been struggling sharply for a few seconds, Ross rested his hand upon Daly’s thigh, upon which he was promptly cautioned. Soon after this Daly locked his hands about Ross’ thigh, and as loud cries of “foul” resounded on every side, he loosed his hold. Again the referee was appealed to, but he decided that as each had, in the excitement of the moment, committed an unintentional foul, he would order them to go on with the contest. After one more foul by Daly, to which but little attention was paid, Ross flung him over his shoulder, and planted him squarely on both shoulders, winning the final fall in 24 minutes, including the time lost in discussing the fouls. The whole match occupied just two hours.

The referee then handed the medal to Ross, the band played “God Save the Queen,” and in a few minutes the large audience had dispersed in a very quiet and orderly manner.

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