A Wrestling Farce

The Evening Telegram – March 11, 1884

Sorakichi Astonishes Bibby By His Lightning Tricks.

About four hundred persons assembled at Clarendon Hall last night to witness a wrestling match on which it was said the sum of $400 stake money depended.  The men engaged for the performance were Edwin Bibby and Matsada Sorakichi, who claims to be the champion of Japan.  They had previously wrestled in catch-as-catch-can style at Irving Hall, when Bibby won easily, the Jap having no knowledge of that way of wrestling.  Last night the tables were turned when Bibby undertook to meet Sorakichi at the latter’s game of Japanese wrestling.  According to Japanese rules the men enter the nine foot circle and the first to go outside the lines loses the fall, or should either of the contestants touch the floor with any part of the body except the feet it is a fall.  “Pop” Whitaker was chosen referee and endeavored to find out what the rules were but Bibby did not know and Sorakichi could not speak English.  In sheer despair Whitaker called “time,” and the men, stripped to the waist, faced one another.  The Jap at once rushed Bibby across to the side of the stage, then turned round and threw up his hands to claim a fall.  Bibby clutched him around the neck, but the Jap carried him across the stage and hung on to the ropes.  The Englishman continued to haul away at the Jap till Captain McCullagh told him to stop.  Another attempt was then made to get at an understanding regarding the rules.  Bibby said he knew nothing about any nine foot ring, but he would wrestle “anything down a fall.”  Sorakichi consulted with a Japanese lady and gentleman in the audience, and Bibby’s terms were accepted as binding.  Time was called again, the men faced each other, the Jap jumped at Bibby, then jumped back again and the Englishman came forward on his hands and knees, whereupon Sorakichi gave him a resounding spank on his back – the whole occupying six seconds.  The audience roared with laughter, and even Bibby joined in at the idea of his being tricked so easily.  The second fall was taken by the Jap in 26 ¼ seconds, and a third in 10 ¼ seconds.  The latter was not allowed, for some reason not altogether plain to the onlookers, and Sorakichi held up four fingers to indicate he had already won four falls.  He obliged again, however, and this time Bibby stood up straighter and got a neck and arm hold, but before he knew what was the matter the wily Jap jumped back and Bibby was down on his hands and knees.  Time, 52 ¼ seconds.  This fall was allowed and ended the match, which was the best three in five falls.

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