Atlanta Constitution – December 28, 1887
Atlanta – The wrestling match in Concordia Hall last night between “Greek George” and John Muhler proved one of the most exciting sporting events ever seen in the south.
In the hall was an immense crowd of spectators, who showed intense interest in the match from the beginning to the close. Many prominent citizens were present. Mayor Cooper occupied a front seat, and enjoyed the sport as much as anybody else. Among other prominent gentlemen who were deeply interested, the following were noticed: Mr. Welborn Colquitt, Mr. H. W. Grady, Dr. Robert Westmoreland, Mr. G. H. Lumpkin, Captain Joyner, Dr. Amos Fox, Mr. Gentry, Mr. Cobb Jackson, Mr. A. J. Kennedy, Mr. Steve Ryan, Mr. H. H. Cabiness, Mr. C. S. Atwood, Dr. A. W. Calhoun, Mr. J. J. Orchard, Mr. H. H. Colquitt, Mr. J. H. Tennant, Mr. Ildo Ramsdell, Mr. E. B. Hook, Mr. Face, Mr. James O’Neill, Mr. Walter Venable, Mr. W. J. Pelot and many others.
It was half-past 8 o’clock when the footlights were turned up and the wrestlers entered their rooms. A young man enlivened the twenty minutes’ wait by playing a sprightly selection on the piano. The crowd became impatient and cries of “Play ball! Let her go, Gallagher! Start the match!” were heard in all parts of the hall.
Mr. Harry Hill stepped out upon the stage and was loudly applauded as he neared the footlights. He made a very neat announcement to the effect that the two greatest wrestlers living would contend for the championship of the world; that the match would consist of the two best in three, Graeco-Roman style; that the victor would receive seventy-five per cent of the gate money, and the other twenty-five per cent would go to the vanquished.
“Permit me, gentlemen,” Mr. Hill continued, “to introduce to you the combatants. Here is Mr. John Muhler.”
Thereupon Muhler stepped out and made a bow to the audience. He was vociferously cheered. He was naked down to his waist. He wore tights, a trunk and a pair of thick socks.
Mr. Hill announced, “Greek George,” and he came out and bowed. He, too, received a great deal of applause. His costume was the same as that of his antagonist, only its colors were different.
It was announced that Mr. James Lynch had been selected as the referee, and that Mr. Steve Grady would assist him. Judge Hinton Wright was requested to act as timekeeper.
The preliminaries being disposed of, the referee called time at precisely ten minutes before nine o’clock, and the two Greeks walked lightly upon the carpet. This carpet was sixteen feet square and nearly three inches thick. It was firmly tacked down to the floor. The contestants faced each other, shook hands, and then began.
The men presented a similar appearance as they faced each other. Both are wonderful specimens of physical development, and as the crowd measured with their eye the Herculean proportions of the athletes, there was an involuntary burst of applause, which caused the wrestlers to pause a moment to bow to the crowd before them. But not another moment was wasted. At it the Greeks went. From the first it was obvious that Muhler was the favorite, as indicated by such cries as “Go it, John!” and “Throw him, Muhler!” The men slapped each other on the shoulder with smart force and then they began.
Both men were striving to secure an advantage. Greek George took the attack and soon had his opponent’s head as indicated in the position of the above cut. It was thought by the spectators that “Greek George” had a sufficient advantage to throw Muhler. Not so. In a few minutes the tables were turned. Muhler, by a superhuman effort, wrenched loose his head and arms and forced his opponent to the carpet. This feat elicited great applause. The wily George was not to be caught in this way. By a dexterous twist of his back and shoulders he secured his favorite defensive position known as the
Muhler tugged like a giant to force George’s shoulders down to the floor, but all his efforts were futile. In a minute the wrestlers upon their feet. They went at it again, and for ten minutes strove earnestly to down each other. At the expiration of twenty minutes the referee said the first bout was ended, and there would be a short intermission so that the wrestlers could be wiped down.
The wrestlers came out apparently as fresh as when they started. They did some fancy work and then went at it like sluggers. At the end of twenty minutes Muhler was on his side and his adversary was sitting upon him and trying desperately to turn him over. After some very scientific work, Greek George got one of Muhler’s shoulders down. Just how it was done nobody knew, but eight minutes later, “Greek George” was lying upon his back. He could not get the bridge in time. It was a clean fall. The referee declared that Muhler had won the first fall in forty-eight minutes. The hall shook with applause.
The wrestlers came to time smiling for the second round. Muhler this time took the offensive. Some beautiful work was done by both men and they were liberally applauded. The contest became more and more exciting, and the crowd got more and more enthusiastic. At the end of twenty minutes the referee called “time.” During an intermission of fifteen minutes there was a very amusing slugging bout between Mr. Como, a wiry little fellow, and Mr. Noon, from County Galway, Ireland. Both men displayed considerable science. When “time” was called the spectators began showering upon the stage pennies, quarters, half-dollars and dollars. The boxers must have received some $15 and $20 between them.
At 10:45 o’clock the wrestlers came out again. There was some slugging and grappling for position. The men were up one minute and down the next. At the expiration of thirteen minutes, “Greek George,” by a surprising movement, threw his adversary upon his back. The referee gave the fall to George. Great applause greeted this announcement. Honors were easy, and the contest was still more exciting and uncertain. Both combatants seemed to be favorites from this point to the end.
It was exactly twenty before 12 o’clock when Judge Wright said to the crowd that the final round be begun in two minutes, and that if neither wrestler was victor before the clock struck twelve the match would be declared a draw. This announcement did not please the crowd. It was the general desire that the match be contested to the bitter end. When the men appeared upon the carpet they were heartily cheered. There was in the eyes of both a look of determination, which caused their admirers to expect some terrific work.
The exertions of the men were painful to behold. They worked as if their life depended upon the result. As the time passed they fought with increased determination. It wanted only three minutes to midnight. Both men lay upon the carpet, on their sides. If one of them could turn his adversary over, the victory would be his. But his could not be done. While both men were trying to accomplish this, the referee called “time.” Instantly the Greeks were upon their feet.
“Greek George” came to the front of the platform and said he would resume the match either next Thursday or Friday night. The details of this match will be given in tomorrow’s Constitution.