Why I’m The Champ

Jack Dempsey’s All Sports Magazine – June 1938
By Jim Londos

It often makes me smile when I pick up a newspaper and read that this or that fellow calls himself wrestling champion. There are several second and third raters going around billing themselves as title holders. I could take on them all – one after the other – and toss them in one night.

I feel that I’m the real world’s champion and the public everywhere must regard me as such because my matches outdraw all the stars and so-called title claimants about three or four to one.

It was only last fall that I returned from abroad where I won 57 straight matches without a defeat, winning from all the champions they had across the seas. In Greece, Turkey, South Africa, Egypt, France and England I not only drew record gates, but toppled over all the reigning champions.

My entire life has been devoted to the sport – and anybody with natural ability and the fondness I have for the game should succeed, especially if they have followed a strict dietetic and physical training system as I have done.

Just because a fellow successfully bucked the line or was able to stop some runner carrying the ball in football doesn’t qualify him to become a wrestling champion.

I became champion the hard way. I began when a mere stripling, and a sort of weakling at that, but by consistently following a program that I had in mind, I took on weight until I became a heavyweight. I have maintained the same weight – 200 pounds – ever since I defeated Dick Shikat for the title in Philadelphia June 6, 1930.

I don’t mind confessing that I was beaten before I became champion, but it was when I was still learning the countless holds and counter-holds that make up real wrestling.

One of the champions who beat me in the old days was Ed (Strangler) Lewis, a really great wrestler and a fine fellow, but long before he went into retirement I decisively defeated him in Chicago.

It makes me chuckle to myself when I consider the effrontery of young college athletes who think they can quit the gridiron and become capable matmen almost over night. It takes years and years of uphill struggle, all kinds of disappointment and self-denial to reach the peak. Despite the long experience that I have had I don’t mislead myself into believing that I know all there is to be learned about wrestling and I’m always on the alert to study new styles and methods.

It is true that Bronko Nagurksi is recognized as champion in this country, but I recently defeated Dean Detton, the man from whom he won the title last summer in Minneapolis and did it in quicker time than did Bronko. Dean is one of the really great wrestlers that we have in this country and I only defeated him after one of the hardest matches of my career.

I was seventeen months abroad and the big thrill of my life was when I wrestled in the old Olympic Stadium at Athens before 110,000 people. The crowds were correspondingly large in all the other countries.

In Paris I won recognition as world’s champion by defeating the best men the French Wrestling Federation designated for me.

Since I returned home I have been removing all aspirants to my championship as fast as they have come along. It was in Baltimore last fall that I defeated George Pencheff, the Australian champion, in less than an hour. The mayor of the city was there, so was the governor of the state and big figures in all walks of life, including Stanley Scheer, chairman of the Maryland Athletic Commission, who conferred on me a gold belt, emblematic of the world’s championship.

While abroad I also received gold belts as championship recognition in Egypt, South Africa, France and Greece.

Most everywhere aborad they have adopted the Australian system of wrestling and I wish they’d adopt it in this country as I am sure it would speed up all bouts. This style is along boxing lines, with ten-minute rounds, instead of three as in boxing, with the usual minute rest between rounds. The bouts on the other side, where this style generally prevails, are much faster than over here.

Clowning should be entirely cut out for the good of the game. Many of the boys should be sent back to the gyms to learn the fundamentals of the sport. I consider wrestling the greatest man-to-man sport and the quicker the promoters insist on the abolition of tom-foolery the better it will be for all.

I’m officially recognized as world’s champion in the countries I mentioned above and I’m willing to prove it to all state and country champions or anybody else here who goes around claiming the honor.

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