Category Archives: 1931

Society Likes Wrestling

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – March 19, 1931

If wrestling starts up here the society editors may find themselves overworked a little, for in the revival of the ancient game, the people with names that are dear to society editors are going in for wrestling in a big way. Continue reading

N.B.A. Refuses To Recognize Mat Champions

Associated Press – January 24, 1931

CHICAGO – The National Boxing Association does not recognize any champion in the field of wrestling, General John V. Clinnin, president of the organization, said today. Continue reading

On the Mat

Time – February 2, 1931

In Madison Square Garden, Jim Londos humped an enormous torso shaped like a single pile of white dough and topped with a tiny spike of head, wrapped his arms around Jim McMillen, U. S. wrestler who once played with Red Grange on Illinois’ football team. For 56 minutes, 54 seconds they grunted, sweated, flopped with terrific thuds on the canvas. Once Londos threw McMillen out of the ring. Then McMillen slipped Londos through the ropes. Then both fell down into the press bench, were helped in again, resumed grappling. At last Londos picked up McMillen, slapped him down, rolled him over with a quick half Nelson that won the match and kept one of the world’s heavyweight wrestling championships safe for Greece. Two nights before the bout, at a dinner in the Madison Square Garden Club, lion-headed, box-chested Londos had been presented with a jeweled gold belt supposed to symbolize the wrestling championship of the world. However, it is not the only belt with this significance. Don George, Michigan graduate, also claims the world’s championship because he beat Gus Sonnenberg two months ago. Not since herculean Frank Gotch retired in 1913, after a career in which he won 154 matches out of 160, has there been an undisputed heavyweight wrestling champion. In the last seven years two main groups of wrestlers have emerged to do business separately, each with its own champion: a group controlled by Promoter Jack Curley in the East, the other by old-time Billy Sandoz in the Midwest and on the Pacific Coast. Curley’s champion is recognized by the National Boxing Association, whose authority over wrestling is vague. Sandoz’ champion is supported mainly in Massachusetts, Michigan and California. To Curley goes credit for having revived wrestling, long discredited by its reputation as an incurably crooked sport, as a big money-maker in eastern cities.* It is still maintained by experts, and borne out in college wrestling, that when wrestlers are sincere they immediately fall to the mat and lie prone, grunting, until one succumbs from fatigue. No matter what can be said for its spirit, such sincerity is exceedingly weak as entertainment.

*Rev. Charley Urban, onetime University of Pennsylvania footballer and 220lb. wrestler, signed a professional wrestling contract with a Philadelphia promoter. “A preacher doesn’t get much money and the little I can make on the side will keep me in a cheerful frame of mind which . . . will be reflected in my sermons,” said he.

Lewis Regains Mat Title, Challenges Londos

New York World-Telegram – April 14, 1931

LOS ANGELES — (Special) — Those two college boys, Gus Sonnenberg and Ed Don George, have played around with it long enough. The veteran Ed (Strangler) Lewis last night beat the latter to win claim to the world heavyweight wrestling title for the third time, and today challenged Jim Londos to a match that would clear up the controversy over the crown. Continue reading

Wayne Munn, Ex Champion Wrestler Of World, Is Dead

Victoria Advocate – January 9, 1931

SAN ANTONIO, Texas, Jan. 9. – (INS) – Wayne Munn, former world’s wrestling champion, died at the base hospital at Fort Sam Houston here today.  He had been confined to the hospital for sometime suffering from Bright’s disease.

Munn served as a first lieutenant of the infantry during the World War.

Velcoff Unable To Return; Strangler Wins

Sacramento Union – December 15, 1931
By Steve George

Master of the mat, but of the old school of wrestling, Ed (Strangler) Lewis won by the aid of modern grappling methods last night before a representative crowd at Memorial Auditorium when Nick Velcoff butted himself out of the ring and fell easy prey to the champion’s famous headlock. After 47 minutes of grappling, with the world’s champion clamping all sorts of holds on the Bulgarian demon, Velcoff roughed it and butted Lewis to the mat a series of times. His next attempt found him doing a headlong dive into the row of seats beneath the ropes, falling with a thud against the floor. Lifted into the ring, Velcoff was half dazed, and two headlocks pressed him to the mat, where Lewis applied the power, rendering the gladiator almost unconscious. He was carried from the ring in a semi-conscious state and failed to answer the bell for the second fall. Continue reading

Strangler Lewis Displays Famed Headlock Tonight

Sacramento Union – December 14, 1931
By Steve George

A world’s champion, known the width and breadth of the universe for his prowess on the wrestling mat, will be the attraction on display tonight in Memorial Auditorium as Sacramento goes “big time” for the first time since the advent of the grunt and groan sports scene some four months ago. Ed (Strangler) Lewis, recognized in most states as the present heavyweight wrestling champion of the world and onetime undisputed holder of the title when wrestling was wrestling, brings his famous headlock into play in a finish match, two out of three falls, with Nick Velcoff, an able-bodied giant of Bulgarian extraction, who in a short span of time lifted himself into the limelight of Pacifc Coast wrestling. To predict Velcoff will beat the champion would be folly, but stranger things have happened and Velcoff, primed for the opportunity, is prepared to wage a bitter battle against the master of men on a wrestling mat. Continue reading

Strangler Lewis To Meet Velcoff Here On Mat

Sacramento Union – December 8, 1931
By Steve George

Edward (Strangler) Lewis, who needs no introduction other than his name to wrestling fans the world over, has finally consented to terms and inducements of local promoters and will display his championship form at Memorial Auditorium next Monday night. The “Strangler” has been matched with Nick Velcoff, the Bulgarian giant who has worked his way into a main-event spot here by a succession of easy triumphs. Continue reading

Mat Outlaws Meet Tonight

International News Service – February 11, 1931

NEW YORK — The so-called “rasslin'” outlaws come to town tonight bent on proving that New York will support two wrestling combines. The new Armory Athletic Club will stage its first show this evening, with Joe Stecher meeting Marin Plestina in the main event.

Pat McGill, the Irish champion, and Al Baffert, the youngster who has made a name for himself in California, will appear in the semifinal.

Harvest Time In The Thick-Neck Fields Of Mongolia

New York World-Telegram – July 8, 1931
By A.J. Liebling

Mr. Jack Pfefer admits he is an outstanding example of mind over matter.

Mr. Pfefer weighs 130 pounds when carrying the ivory-headed cane presented to him by Ghafoor Khan, and he is in the business of capturing, importing, instructing and browbeating wrestlers who run about six to the ton. Run they do, when Mr. Pfefer rages. Continue reading