Up From Down Under

Oregon Sunday Journal – December 8, 1940
By Richard H. Syring

“Australians and New Zealanders know they’re at war; are convinced they are going to win, but don’t talk about it.”

This was the impression obtained by Ted Thye, retired world famous Portland wrestler, who now is American agent for Stadium, Limited, of Australia and the Dominion Wrestling Union of New Zealand.

He returned the other day from a winter (the seasons are just the reverse of ours) spent in the antipodes.

“They are figuring on a long war and nothing but victory,” continued Thye. “But there is more war talk in this country than down there. For small countries, they are well fortified. They have great faith in the United States. They’re sure Uncle Sam is not going to sit idly by and allow Japan to take any of the South Sea islands.

“All the young men are in uniform, women are taking the places of men. In one bank, where 60 men worked, there are now but five, with women taking over the jobs.

Thye said the fare is approximately $650 from Sydney to San Francisco. He plans to return to Sydney by air next June. But, in the meantime, he must sign up wrestlers and boxers transportation, contracts and make for Australia and New Zealand. After all, that is his business.

From the time he wrestled his first match in Spokane in 1912 to the last one in Baker, Ore., on July 4, 1935, Ted participated in some 3,000 wrestling matches. In succession he held the world’s middleweight and lightheavyweight title. Three times he tried for the heavyweight crown, but he never could wrest it from Jim Londos, Gus Sonnenberg or Don George.

In 1923 he went to Australia as the first American wrestler and for six straight seasons he returned. Then he became the American agent for Stadiums, Limited, of Australia.

“My duty is to sign wrestlers and fighters,” he explained, “and issue all arrangements. The corporation has stadiums at Sydney,Brisbane and Melbourne. The Sydney stadium seats 16,000, Melbourne 10,000 and Brisbane 6,000.

“The season starts down there about mid-May, which is the beginning of their fall, and ends about mid-November. My duties in Australia include publicity and general matchmaking details.

“The fight cards are arranged in four, six and 10 rounds, with the winning fighter progressing to the longer bouts. The men wrestle eight 10-minute rounds.”

In the antipodes, there is none of the exhibitionism of the American wrestling ring. No wrestler tackles the referee or a spectator.

“Referees are instructed that if the man on bottom is not trying, both men must get to their feet,” he said. “If a wrestler is not in the best of shape, the match is canceled. They wrestle for the best two out of three falls.

“The most aggressive wrestler gets the decision. The winner gets 60 per cent, and the loser 40 per cent. I am convinced that system is better than in America, where a flat guarantee and percentage is offered.

“Big name fighters and wrestlers who go to the antipodes have to produce. If they don’t they are given money and the return trip home. That also goes for fighters and wrestlers accused of ungentlemanly conduct.

“In New Zealand the sports are under the Dominion Wrestling Union. The association is made up of 12 to 25 men. All the profits go into the amateur union fund. To wrestle or fight in New Zealand you have to get a police permit.”

Thye said about 22 athletes are signed each year. Several years ago he toured India, France and England for wrestlers and fighters. Right now, with foreign exchange such as it is, his instructions are to sign only athletes from countries not on the dollar standard.


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