Strangler’s Mother Was Wrong

Sacramento Union – February 25, 1953
By Bob McCarty

Robert Friedrich was in town Monday night for the Memorial Auditorium mat show but few, if any, would have recognized the man had he been introduced at ringside by that name. But bulging Bob rated a big hand when introduced via his ring handle, Ed (Strangler) Lewis.

Why the switch in names? Well, Robert’s mother was against wrestling, fearing that her 6-1, 250-pound son might be hurt in the catch-as-catch-can business, so Robert worked under an assumed name. Looking at the Strangler today, you would have to like him over a Sherman tank if they met head-on.

Lewis is up to 275 now and says he feels great at 63. The Babe Ruth of the grunt and groaners maintains that wrestling is the greatest of all sports for conditioning and gets no rebuttals. Sane persons do not argue with the Strangler.

Lewis, who insists he has never strangled anyone, says the “Strangler” tag was pinned on him by sportswriters. Ed’s headlock was similar to Evan (Strangler) Lewis’ pet hold so the scribes passed it on to Robert Friedrich.

Lewis, who ruled the mat game for years, is now manager of Lou Thesz, the current world’s heavyweight champ, and doing right well. Thesz packs them in at every stop and Lewis is cut in for his piece.

Thesz put the SRO sign out here in his Monday match with Enrique Torres and the Mexican made Lou hustle to gain a draw. Lewis termed it a “tough match” and we are not one to argue with the man of his proportions – even if he has left town.

Lewis has a good thing going in Thesz as he has not lost a bout in three years. He had 198 wins last year and a few assorted draws. But at 36 Thesz is a tyro when compared to Lewis.

Lewis, a Lexington, Ky., boy, started tossing other people in the air when he was 14 and his last airplane spin landed when he was 57. He was in 6,200 bouts. Unlike Dewey (1.000) Elliott, Lewis did not keep a record of his batting average but reports he did gross more than $15,000,000 in gate receipts.

Ed is one of those who maintains the mints make the dollar round to keep it rolling and did just that. He hinted that he moved the horses up a few lengths with some of his bobs in the good old days but insists he is older and wiser now.

He knows he has a good meal ticket in Thesz and predicts a brilliant future for the St. Louis grappler. It is difficult to knock success but for a while Monday it looked like Thesz should have been outside the ring and the Strangler in with Torres.

However, virtue was rewarded and Thesz, who is likened to one of Tennyson’s knights by Lewis, gained a draw with the challenger to keep his win streak going.

Some of the patrons called Thesz anything but a knight as he and Lewis walked to the dressing room after the match but the mat combine took the jeers – and the major portion of a $4,776 house – with a grin.

They had a date with Leo Nomellini coming up in San Francisco the next night and counted upon more catcalls – and cash.

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