Chicago Tribune – July 2, 1916
By Joe Stecher
I was born on a farm near Dodge, Neb., twenty-two years ago. I am proud of the title farmer. My parents are farming people and, from an early age, I knew what it meant to plow and sow and harrow.
I attribute much of my physical prowess to the fact that out of door life, the virgin soil, developed my strength, made my muscles firm, and my nerves steady. There is nothing, after all, like fresh air, sunshine, and good food to foster perfect health. No one can improve on nature’s handiwork.
I started in the wrestling game when a mere boy, testing my muscles out in the barnyard with my playfellows. Gradually I downed one boy after another and achieved a local reputation as a wrestler.
My ability as a wrestler grew until people came from miles around to see me wrestle with some local celebrity.
There was little attention paid to me until a couple of years ago, when Farmer Burns, considered one of the greatest wrestlers of the decade, and the man who discovered and trained Gotch, brought Yussif Hussane, the Turk, to Dodge. Now Hussane was rightfully considered one of the world’s best wrestlers, and he and his friends figured my defeat would be easily accomplished. My friends wagered a lot of money that I would win.
To make a long story short, I won over Hussane. From that time I was well started to success. All the leading wrestlers challenged me and I accepted all comers. The strange part of it all is that when I gain a victory my opponents always demand another match, for, with their managers, they are almost invariably confident that the second contest will result differently. The history of my ring contests will prove that the return match is invariably decided in my favor more quickly than the first one.
Charlie Cutler, one of America’s best wrestlers, was matched with me for the American championship. We wrestled in Omaha. Cutler’s friends evidently believed the contest would surely end in Cutler’s favor. There was Cutler money almost everywhere. My “farmer” friends had confidence in me, however, and they won between $35,000 and $40,000 on the contest.
The scissors hold, to which many attribute my success, came to me naturally. Gotch specializes in the toe hold. The reason I have been successful with the scissors hold is that when I discovered that I could defeat the other young fellows I developed the muscles in my legs in much the same way a boxer develops his arms. My brother Anton also has aided me materially in my training. Anton knows the game thoroughly and has participated in many wrestling matches.
When one of my wrestling matches is over I want to know when the first train leaves for Dodge. There is both pleasure and profit in farming, and I would advise all boys born and reared on farms to remain there. The farm is the place to gain and retain good health.
Another thing, boys, refrain from the use of liquor and tobacco. I have never used either. I cannot, and succeed in my profession. I am not a crank, but at the same time should I use liquor or tobacco even sparingly, the other fellow not using it, would have something one me.
Safety first is a mighty good slogan. I have tried to observe it with these rules:
No tea or coffee. No tobacco. Eight hours sleep. No liquor. Plenty of fresh air. Plenty of sunshine.