Illinois Bans Heavies From Wrestling Shows

Associated Press – January 21, 1930
By Charles W. Dunkley

CHICAGO – Heavyweight wrestling in Illinois was placed under ban indefinitely today.

The Illinois State Athletic Commission gave the sport a stunning blow after failing to interest wrestlers of all factions to enter an elimination tournament proposed by the commission to decide the championship.

The commission decided to enforce the suspension of wrestling in the heavyweight division until such time as all championship contenders, or their representatives, appear before the commissioners and agree to satisfactory conditions for an elimination tournament.

Gen. John V. Clinnin, chairman of the commission, told of the efforts made by the commission to clear up the difficulties in the heavyweight class by announcing an elimination tournaemnt, with january 15 as the last day on which entries would be received.

“Certain wrestlers entered with qualifications, others entered unqualifiedly and there were so many stipulations presented we decided to suspend all heavyweight wrestling and cancel the tournament,” Gen. Clinnin said. “We also ordered all forfeits refunded.”

Gen. Clinnin said Jim Londos, Ray Steele, and Hans Steinke, the ponderous German heavyweight, had refused to enter the tournament unless Gus Sonnenberg, the champion, competed as a contestant rather than as a titleholder to meet the survivor. This trio insisted Sonnenberg’s name be tossed into a hat along with all other challengers and that he be forced to wrestle the opponent drawn for him.

Sonnenberg, in his agreement to meet the survivor of the tournament, stipulated he would not meet all challengers, but that he would engage the winner in a title match.

The wrestlers who placed forfeits of $2500 cash and agreed to wrestle with no qualifications were Ed (Strangler) Lewis, Marin Plestina, Stanley Stasiak and Joe Malcewicz.

John Pesek, one of the acknowledged championship contenders, made only a gesture to enter, withdrawing before the closing date of the entries, Gen Clinnin said.

The commission’s action was not taken without protest. Wrestlers and promoters were represented by attorneys who asked the commission to defer action for thirty days. The commissioners refused.

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