Tag Archives: Black Sam

Sporting and Athletic

The Sunday Call – January 2, 1887

Col. J. H. McLaughlin, the ex-champion wrestler, is now a conductor on a western train.

Homer Lane, once the undisputed champion collar-and-elbow wrestler of the world, is now doing exhibition wrestles every night at a resort on the Bowery, New York, with Viro Small, “Black Sam,” as a vis-à-vis.  What a terrible come down for the old man!


Viro Small, Noted Colored Wrestler

The National Police Gazette – June 3, 1882


“Black Sam,”

In this issue we publish a picture of Viro Small, better known as “Black Sam,” of Vermont, the colored wrestler.  He was born at Buford, South Carolina, in 1854.  He stands 5ft. 9 ¼ in. in height and weighs 184 lbs.  In 1870 he went to St. Albans, Vt., where he resided until 1881, when he came to this city to give exhibitions at wrestling at Owney Geoghegan’s Old House at Home.  While sojourning in Vermont he won numerous matches, defeating Jack Callan, W. Downey and others.  On April 27, 1882, in this city, he defeated Wm. Johnson, of Rutland, Vt., in a collar-and-elbow match for a purse.

The Shooting of Black Sam

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle – September 4, 1882

In the Essex Market Police Court, New York, this morning, William McCullen, who shot Viro Small, a colored pugilist in Owney Geoghegan’s saloon, known as Black Sam, was brought to the bar, and Justice Smith hold him to await the result of the colored man’s injuries.  Detective Boyer, of the Tenth Precinct, had the prisoner, who is also a boxer, in custody, and produced a certificate from House Surgeon Vanderpool, of the New York Hospital, which states that the patient is in good condition generally, though the wound is considered dangerous.  The bullet, which entered at the neck, cannot be reached.

Hicks Thrown By “Black Sam”

The New York Times – October 16, 1883

There was a large gathering yesterday afternoon at Harry Hill’s to witness a wrestling match between George Hicks and Viro Small, better known as “Black Sam.”  Each side put up $250, and Mr. Hill acted as referee.  Among those present were “Jem” Mace, Charles Mitchell, Harry Montague, Harry Woodson, and George Taylor, the “Black Diamond.”  The match was collar and elbow, two out of three falls.  Black Sam was evidently the favorite, and his herculean proportions showed the contestants to be badly matched.  Hicks acted on the defensive in the first round, which lasted eight minutes, and resulted in his overthrow by the formidable right leg of Black Sam.  The second round lasted 10 minutes, the colored man being thrown, much to the disgust of the majority present.  The third round was tedious, and lasted nearly 20 minutes.  Three times Hicks nearly threw his opponent, but was finally overcome by the superior strength of the black man.

Collar And Elbow

New York Herald – May 26, 1882

A collar and elbow wrestling match between W.L. Kennedy, of New York, and “Black Sam,” a colored individual from St. Albans, Vt., took place at Harry Hill’s sporting resort yesterday afternoon.  The match was for $100 a side, best two out of three falls, the usual rules governing.  Instead of the ordinary jackets the men were rigged in harness in the nature of straps which crossed the shoulders, encircling the waist and the arms above the elbows.  Kennedy was the favorite – $25 to $20.  James McGill, a retired wrestler from Vermont, acted as referee.  “Black Sam” was upon the defensive entirely in the first bout, but in 7m. 10s.  Kennedy secured an inside grapevine lock, which being broken he changed to a cross-buttock and Sam went down like a log with shoulders and hips touching the floor, whereupon Kennedy was given first fall.  After resting fifteen minutes the men resumed operations, and in three minutes Kennedy essayed an inside lock.  The black was thrown, but it was not a fall.  Various locks were then attempted by the men, without success, when Sam broke his hold on two occasions, but was only warned, whereas the penalty, if strictly enforced, would have been the loss of the fall.  At the expiration of thirty minutes Sam, with an outside click, brought Kennedy upon his knees and twice afterward had him down on his side, but failed to follow up his advantage and obtain the fall.  Kennedy’s right arm strap having become stretched, it came below his elbow, when Sam, persistently pulling upon it as hard as he could, used the foul hold to break Kennedy’s hold and was successful.  The black appealed the referee, and that official gave the fall against Kennedy on the ground that he had broken his hold.  It was a one-sided decision that failed to please the audience.  This bout occupied one hour.  For the third bout the men worked zealously just six and a half minutes, when, after a hurried consultation with the wrestlers, the referee declared the match a draw and all bets off.


Brooklyn Daily Union-Argus – September 30, 1882

William McCullom, a boxer, who shot Viro Small, otherwise known as “Black Sam,” also a boxer, in Owen Geoghan’s saloon in the Bowery, on the evening of Sept. 3, was sentenced yesterday by Judge Cowing to State Prison for eighteen months.