Wrestling Bear Tough To Beat

Lodi News-Sentinel – February 26, 1976

Has Won 10,000 Matches

SAN FRANCISCO (UPI) – Why would anyone want to wrestle a 643-pound, 8-3 opponent who hasn’t lost in 10,000 matches?

“For excitement,” says bear trainer George Allen.  “It’s something people can tell their grandkids about.”

Allen expects about a dozen of the bay area hardy to try their skills with Victor, the only Alaskan brown bear ever trained to “rassle.”

The 12-year-old champion, an age equivalent to 84 human years, knows 18 professional wrestling holds including front face lock, arm bars, hammerlocks, guillotine, and of course his favorite standby – the bear hug.

“He’s extremely gentle for his size,’ said Allen, who raised Victor from age three weeks.  “No one’s ever been hurt by him.”

Anyone entering the ring with Victor must engage in physical wrestling.  If the opponent backs away, the bear simply gets bored and sits down.

Victor will be taking on all comers beginning Wednesday at the Oakland-Coliseum Arena, where he is a star attraction at the Northern California recreational vehicle, sports and vacation show.  The only criteria for entering the ring is to be at least 18 and male.

Despite his age, Victor is “extremely healthy,” and eats 30 pounds of produce a day, said Allen, whose hometown is Minneapolis.  This includes lettuce, carrots, apples and “all the Pepsi he can get hold of.”

No one’s ever pinned the mammoth mammal and during 195 not one opponent even picked the bear off its feet, the owner said.

“The only fella Victor ever had a hard time with was former world Olympic arm wrestler Moe Baker in Bristol Conn.,” Allen said.  “They went 20 minutes to a draw.”

John Scrum, Utica, N.Y., acts as referee.  The hefty former football semi-pro player said he watches for any unnecessary roughness such as punching.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Scrum said.  “Everyone knows the rules before going into the ring so there’s never any trouble.”

As for the defanged, declawed, neutered, vegetarian bear, the wrestling matches are just another day’s work.

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