Nagurski Wins Over Joe Savoldi

Washington Post – November 11, 1938
By Lewis F. Atchison

Coming events did a little shadow-casting before, perhaps, last night in the brightly lighted battlepit at Turner’s Arena where Minnesota tossed Notre Dame for a goal in the feature wrestling bout. What with the Gophers and Irish meeting on the gridiron tomorrow, last night’s finish may have been an omen.

Bronko Nagurski, of the Minnesota eleven of a decade ago, was the victor last night, and his victim was a large portion of the 1930 Notre Dame championship, Joe Savoldi. Nagurski used 33 of the 90 minutes allotted him in pinning the Italian with a flying tackle and body press.

Their match culminated an evening of wild excitement, most of it supplied by the Golden Terror, he of the orange-tinted long drawers and violent temper. Mr. Terror reversed the usual proceedings by inciting the fans to riot before rather than after the match, giving rise to a rumor that he had to catch an early train.

The Terror disposed of Walter Gray, an unidentified, bespectacled gentleman, and Frank Brown, the last – named being his official opponent. He polished off Gray with a wild right to the shoulder, chased the bespectacled gentleman from the hall in a fast sprint and finished Brown in 26 minutes with a body press, after throwing him from the ring three times. A police escort was needed to get the Terror into and out of the ring.

But the enraged fans had their ruffled feelings smoothed somewhat by referee Jules Strongbow, a wrestler himself, who objected to the Terror’s actions at the end of the bout, and promptly felled him twice with right elbows to the jaw. This gave rise to another rumor that Strongbow would be imported at an early date to unmask the Terror.

In the preliminaries, lest they be overlooked, Chief Chewacki threw Sammy Menacher in 19 – minutes with a body press; Chief Little Wolf pinned Herbie Freeman with his famed “deathlock” in 21 – minutes; and the Cardiff Giant fell on Tom Mahoney for an 8 – minute triumph.

Working before a distinguished audience, generously sprinkled with Minnesota and Notre Dame alumni, Nagurski and Savoldi wrestled cleanly and scientifically for 10 minutes before breaking out with the routine stuff. But for a while it appeared that Joe might forget his lines again, as he did in a match with Jim Londos several years ago, and accidentally win, but Nagurski was in rare form and not to be whipped.

The burly Gopher was guilty of a little horse-play at times, jamming his feet up against the ropes, twisting Savoldi’s fingers, and gently strangling him, but Joe survived all the rough work only to lose by an ordinary flying tackle and body press.

They were getting increasingly rougher when Nagurski first served notice of his intentions by backing Savoldi into the ropes and butting him in the mid-riff and out of the ring. He repeated the maneuver, and the second time Savoldi climbed back into the enclosure with fire in his eyes and a litter of peanut shells on his back. He caught Nagurski off guard and felled him with a flying tackle, then pounced on him while referee Strongbow started the count. Strongbow reached two before noticing Nagurski’s legs were out of the ring.

Again Savoldi rammed his opponent with a flying tackle, and again he clamped on a body press. Again it was no go, for Nagurski’s head was under the ropes. As the Italian marshalled his muscle for one final dive, Nagurski suddenly came to life, bowled him over with an old Minnesota line rush, 1929 vintage, and fell on him to win.

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