Wrestling Riot As Match Ends In Chaos

Spokesman-Review – January 16, 1936

The weekly wrestling show last night before the season’s largest crowd at the Masonic Temple arena broke up in a riot between wrestlers, spectators and policemen, but ended before any one was seriously hurt. The police finally chased indignant spectators out of the ring, escorted the wrestlers and referee from the scene and restored order after five minutes of the wildest excitement.

It all came about during the final match between Brother Jonathan Heaton, 235, Salt Lake City, and Paul Boesch, 215, Brooklyn, N.Y. During the four rounds of their struggle, Heaton, who claims to have once been a deacon in the Mormon church, had been kicking and choking Boesch. Hat Freeman, recently appointed referee by the state commission, and outweighed some 70 pounds or so by the wrestlers, had tried more or less unsuccessfully to make Heaton stop these tactics.

Finally, in the fourth, Heaton had choked Boesch into apparent unconsciousness and after tossing Freeman into one corner of the ring, jumped on the recumbent Boesch and began kicking and beating him. Freeman haulted Heaton away, raised the prone Boesch’s right hand in token of victory, and tried to make Heaton leave the ring. Again, Heaton threw Freeman to the floor and dropped down on Boesch, choking and beating him.

Prior to this, several spectators saw that Freeman was unable to handle Heaton and tried unsuccessfully to get the seconds to interfere. At this point a half dozen angered customers made a rush for the ring. They swarmed through the ropes and fell on Heaton with a will. A second wave of charging men broke through the ropes and fell on the spectators; these were the police and firemen stationed in the crowd. A majority of the policemen were not in uniform, and there were a number of fights among them until they identified each other.

Finally, order was restored to the ring, Heaton being escorted through an angry crowd that booed and took pokes at him despite his uniformed escort. Boesch was then carried from the ring and the crowd gave him a cheer. Freeman left under his own power.

On the way to the dressing room a policemen not in uniform tried to get in and an usher barred his way. The policeman promptly poked the usher for obeying orders, and they had to be separated again later. The officer contended that he was a policeman 24 hours a day, whether he was in uniform or not, and he seemed to expect that everybody would know that. The officer “chose” several others in or near the dressing rooms.

Dr. Vince Valentine, state commission physician, declared shortly after the riot that Boesch had not been seriously injured.

Dave (the Wild Man) Johnson, 208, Duluth, Minn., won two out of three falls from Jack (Rebel) Russell, 209, former Northwestern football star, in a rough and tumble battle. Johnson took the first fall in the second round with what he called an “Australian thunderbolt” hold. Russell came back to even the match in the third round with an “Indian deathlock.”

Russell apparently had all the better of the fourth round, for he had Johnson’s shoulders pinned to the mat, but referee Freeman ordered the pair to their feet because Johnson was half out of the ring. Russell tried to argue the matter with Freeman and Johnson climbed on the talking Russell and flopped him for the third and deciding fall.

In the opening bout Jack Wagner, 205, Providence, R.I., and King Elliott, 208, New Zealand, battled through five rounds, each getting a fall and the match was called a draw.


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