State Official Fights Slurs On Wrestling

Los Angeles Times – May 11, 1939
By Chester G. Hanson

SACRAMENTO, May 10 – Another member of the State Athletic Commission who has seen no violation of the wrestling rules was uncovered today by the Assembly special committee investigating boxing and wrestling in California.

The see-no-evil man was George Payne, chairman of the commission. He is a newspaper publisher of San Jose, has been on the commission since 1935, and has been chairman for two or three years. In that time he has attended anywhere from 25 to 50 wrestling bouts, he said.

In reply to questions from Assemblyman Chester Gannon, chairman of the committee, Payne said he had seen no infractions of the rules as set up in Section 5 of the commission’s book of rules.

“You never saw wrestlers strike each other?” Gannon asked. No, Payne said he had not. He had seen passes made but no connections. No, he had never seen a wrestler gouge or scratch an opponent, or interfere with or rough up a referee. He had heard of a referee’s shirt being torn. Asked what he had done about it, Payne said, “We attempted to take care of it.”

If Gannon were to say he saw such things on nearly every match he attended here in Sacramento, well that was what Gannon saw and Payne wasn’t vouching for what Gannon saw.

Now, as to the administration of funds under the jurisdiction of the commission, particularly with reference to seeing that the Veterans’ Home at Youngville got as much as possible, Payne thought the commission had done the job in an economical and efficient manner.

Gannon said that the opion of a number of the veterans’ organizations interested in the project was to the contrary.

The committee was handicapped in its questioning of Payne today because Assemblyman Norris Poulson, who had prepared financial data on the subject and was ready to question Payne, was taken ill last night and was in a local hospital today.

But Payne had some figures when Gannon asked him how come that 54 per cent of the intake from boxing and wrestling goes to support the commission. He said that in 1936-37 the intake was a little more than $247,000, the expenses were about $116,000 and Yountville got $131,000.

He thought the San Francisco office of the ommission was necessary as well as the office in Los Angeles.

Junketing trips by the commission? Payne said the commission met in Los Angeles at the time of the Louis-Roper fight because the commission had important business there at that time in connection with the fight. Certainly it was at state expense. Certainly two members of the ommission and the secretary went to New York at the time of the Carnera-Baer fight but it was for an interstate meeting of athletic commissioners and lots of good came out of it and that was before Payne was a member.

But the information gained could have been secured at the cost of a postage stamp instead of the $800 it cost the athletic fund, Gannon opined.

Payne will be back next week when it is expected Poulson will be on his feet again.

E.A. Feddersen, a onetime Oakland promoter, was on the stand for some time telling of his experiences in getting a license.

William L. Wilson, department commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, spoke for his organization as well as for the Spanish War Veterans, the Jewish War Veterans and the Order of the Purple Heart.

He said the veterans were interested in seeing that Yountville got as much as possible from the proceeds of wrestling and boxing, but they felt the commission was not doing an efficient job of administration. Too extravagant. Junketing could be cut down, personnel could be reduced, perhaps the San Francisco office closed and the money saved be turned over to the veterans’ home. The Legislature was to some extent responsible, perhaps.

Feddersen testified that frequent deductions were made from receipts of his club and turned over to Chaplain Leslie C. Kelley, former member of the commission, as church donations.

He said the instances he mentioned occurred around 1935 when he was associated with Ed Lynch, San Francisco promoter.

Feddersen also testified his experiences included requests to “kick through” for gubernatorial campaigns, and make “payoffs” to avoid competition.

The witness informed the committee he protested the $25 payments to Kelley but was told by Lynch it was for “the good of the business.”

Feddersen maintained he once hid behind a curtain in Dreamland Auditorium in San Francisco and observed Lynch had Kelley something he assumed was $25 obtained from the box office.

Feddersen said he took the matter to Kelley and that the clergyman denied he received payments from Lynch but added he believed it possible Lynch had found a way to make anonymous contributions to his church. The pastor, the witnesses testified, said, “We get many anonymous contributions.”

First political contribution, Feddersen continued, was made in 1934 to aid the gubernatorial candidacy of John R. Quinn. A $100 contribution was made by him, Feddersen said. He testified he also turned over $450 for a campaign of former Governor Merriam, upon the representation of former Commissioner Claire V. Goodwin that it would be “a good thing to do.”

Although he contributed to the Merriam campaign, Feddersen said, at the insistence of Goodwin, the latter was not reappointed after Merriam was re-elected. Edward Geary was named to succeed him.

Northern California promoters organized, hearing they were in danger of losing their licenses. A meeting was arranged to protest to Governor Merriam.

The witness said while waiting in the governor’s reception office he talked with Mark Lee Megladdery, the governor’s secretary, and told him about the contribution. Megladdery, he testified, said there was no record of it.

The check, the witness declared, was made out with the name of the payee blank. Later, he said, when the check was return from the bank it had the name of Jerd Sullivan stamped into the blank space.

After the meeting, details of which were not disclosed by the witness, he said he again talked with Megladdery in the presence of George Payne, commission member, and Megladdery told him he thought everything would come out all right.

Some time later the witness said commission member Dr. Harry Martin remarked to him “so you’ve turned rat.”

Near the end of 1934, the witness declared, when Jack Ganson entered the wrestling picture, Feddersen and Lynch lost their Dreamland license to the Dreamland Corp, with Ganson as promoter.

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