Wrestling Crowd Has Its Laughs

Davenport Democrat & Leader – March 4, 1941
By Ed Young

(NOTE TO J. OD The obit reporter or one of your picture show critics would have been the best qualified to have handled the assignment that accompanied a couple of passes to the so-called wrestling show. Today in Davenport competitive wrestling is either dead or has slipped down from the category of an athletic event to that of a stage show.E.W.Y.)

So they had elephants in the Shrine circus, too.

Well, to be exact, eight of them Monday night stomped around a ring in the Eagles’ hall.

As good of way as any to describe the performance would be to put it Shakespearean:

Little Boo Peep,

Come blow your horn,

And rescue a sport

That’s deep in the corn.

The several hundred fans who loitered in Eagles hall waiting for the scheduled four-match show to start witnessed both a late beginning and a rather abrupt end.

Henry Kolln, third man in the ring, stole whatever plaudits the sparse crowd offered, be it by voice or hand. It was Henry who, in the final match, took on 550 pounds of Hans Steinke and Walter Talun and did a creditable job of entertaining an otherwise restless audience.

The big barefoot boy from Poland, Walter Talun of the Stan Zbyszko stables, wowed spectators with his 295 pounds of flesh, stretched out on a six-foot-eight bone framework and, during the course of 14 minutes of physical exercise (advertised as wrestling), gave a good account of himself against the veteran Steinke.

Henry (the referee) repeatedly warned Steinke against use of the strangle hold. Steinke, taking offense at these warnings, slapped Henry on the jaw and that was the end of the match booked for a maximum of one hour. Yes, there were many, many, many booes!

The mustached Talun’s hand was raised in victory.

Prior to curtains, however, customers were given a hilarious treat when Steinke tossed both the referee and the Polish pal out of the ring. Then, to bring the crowd to its feet laughing loudly, he leaped out onto the floor to continue the bout.

Dick Stahl pinned Joe DeVorek, substitute for Red Novak, in eight minutes. There were a few laughs.

Hans Bauer and Fred Burrell wriggled and squirmed to a draw at the end of 30 minutes. To these gents the crowd was most generous in appreciative applause. A few hands clapped.

Towering Ole Olson went through all manner of contortions to defeat Alex Kaffner, colored, in 17 minutes and 20 seconds in a match that included everything from biting to a near hanging. At one time the elongated Swede managed to entwine the colored lad’s head in the ropes and, by the simple process of tightening strands on the opposite side of the ring, gave the howling onlookers enough comedy to justify the price of admission. Here, too, as in the main event, Henry (the referee) came in for a few pokes and a general roughing.

The entire program (and program sounds more appropriate than sporting event) was, beyond a question of a doubt, very, very amusing. It was exactly what the “wise” guys expected.

The audience was given one thrill, the pleasure of seeing, in person, Stan Zbyszko, former world champion.


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