Nebraska Eel Uses Hold Medley To Win

Philadelphia Inquirer – April 14, 1928
By Perry Lewis

When John Pesek, the Bohemian eel, who makes his home on a Nebraska ranch, remarked a week ago that he would flatten Ray Steele in about half the time that Jim Londos required, he evidently wasn’t making an idle boast.

For last night at the Arena before a crowd of 4,500 mat fans Pesek reduced the burly Californian to a quivering mass of trembling flesh with a head scissors, with a combined arm lock and grapevine, in one hour, ten minutes and five seconds.

In the matter of mat science, Pesek proved that he has probably forgotten more about grappling than Steele will ever know and had it not been for the rough stuff that the Californian resorted to, combined with his amazing strength, the Bohemian would have probably won much quicker than he did.

Certainly the bout was rough, probably the most strenuous of the current indoor season. Almost from the first, Steele, using his unique straight arm defense, held Pesek off by jabbing his open hands into the smaller man’s face. Although this is within the rules as long as a man keeps his hand extended and does not use it as a fist, it is not one of the things that is being done in our best wrestling circles.

Pesek made no complaint to referee Billy Herrmann, but occasionally retaliated by using the elbow nudge and all the punishing holds in his repertoire. A number of times Steele sent Pesek head first through the ropes on the ring extension and on one occasion followed him through the ropes and in his rage attempted to make a roughhouse of the affair then and there. Had it not been for the coolness and quick action of referee Herrmann a serious mixup might have resulted.

The fans did not approve of Steele’s tactics and hooted him almost continuously. They did not realize, however, that the Californian was in there against a master wrestler who was determined to inflict as much punishment on his enraged opponent as he possibly could. Pesek did nothing, however, that was not entirely proper under the rules of wrestling.

The bout may well be considered in its three phases. The first extended over the first fifteen minutes, during which time the Bohemian permitted Steele to do most of the forcing. During the following thirty minutes there was more rough stuff than there was wrestling with Steele being the guilty party nine out of ten times. During this half-hour Steele was in a frenzy of range as he constantly showered verbal abuse on his elusive opponent who neglected no opportunity to goad his bigger and younger opponent.

The third and last stage, which saw the complete ascendancy of Pesek, was inaugurated after the first forty-five minutes and extended to the end. During this period, Pesek handled the burly Californian around just as he pleased. Darting in and out like a cat with marvelous speed, the Bohemian had Steele in difficulty all the time. Ray repeatedly resorted to the ropes in his efforts to escape and took plenty of punishment in breaking some of the Bohemian’s best holds.

Finally, in his desperation, Steele lunged desperately at Pesek, who was standing with his back to the ropes. The Tiger man sidestepped like a flash and Steele, slung back to the center of the ring by the hempen strands as a stone is flung by a sling shot, landed heavily on the back of his head.

The impact stunned Ray, who staggered as he finally regained his feet. Now he was easy prey for the versatile Tiger man who quickly clamped on a head scissors and then with an armlock and grapevine pressed his victim’s shoulders to the mat.

Steele did not seem to realize what it was all about and when Pesek released him, tried to renew hostilities with his conqueror. But before he could get to Pesek, who had taken his corner, the ever-alert Herrmann nabbed him and both wrestler and referee came to the floor with a thud. Herrmann, himself a great wrestler in his youth, had no difficulty in pinning the half-crazed Steele down and holding him until he had been quieted by Dr. Baron, the State Athletic Club’s official physician.

Pesek weighed 195 and Steele 208.

Fred Meyers, Jewish heavyweight wrestler, failed to appear for his match with Nat Pendleton, former Princeton mat star, for the opening preliminary.

In his place Jim Tofalos, a 205-pound Greek, who makes his home in Chicago, tackled Nat, but failed to make any part of a success of the enterprise. Tofalos hadn’t much more to recommend him as a wrestler than a well-waxed mustache and plenty of fat. As the result, Pendleton threw him about as he pleased in 4 minutes 58 seconds, with an inside crotch lift, followed by a half Nelson. Pendleton weighed 190 pounds.

Paul Jones, inventor and leading exponent of the figure 4 body scissors, and John Maxos, Greek Adonis, furnished the semi-windup. Jones weighed 200 pounds, while Maxos went 205.

During the first 15 minutes Maxos went out in front by virtue of his clever application of headlocks and scissors. Jones tried a number of times for his famous figure 4, but the Greek was too alert and escaped his deadly hold three times straight, wiggling himself free before Jones could get his legs properly locked.

At the thirty-minute mark, both applied split holds that were so complete that in each case referee Herman Wolfe advised first Jones and then Maxos to give up before serious injury resulted. Both refused, however, and ultimately escaped.

Immediately following this, Maxos hurled Jones down six times with a headlock. But when the Greek went after his seventh lock, Jones suddenly leaped in the air and secured a perfect figure 4 body scissors. For three minutes, the tortured Maxos fought to escape, but it was useless and his shoulders were downed in 32 minutes 20 seconds.


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