The New York Times – December 26, 1911
Thought Raicevich Won, Swarm Around Their Idol and Carry Him from Mat.
The Wrestling Match at Madison Square Garden last night between Giovanni Raicevich, the Italian heavyweight, and Stanislaus Zbyszko, the giant Pole, came to a sudden end in the second bout, when the Italian’s enthusiastic admirers mistook Referee Tom Jenkin’s slap on Raicevich’s broad back as a signal for a fall. Jenkins tapped the Italian because one of Zbyszko’s shoulders was off the mat.
Raicevich had Zbyszko pinned to the floor in the deadly clutches of a crotch and half nelson hold. One shoulder was on the green mat and the other was on the white canvass. The Italian knew he had his man down, and when he felt the referee’s slap he got up and walked to his corner. This was the signal for an uproar. Thousands of enthusiastic Italians jumped from their seats and rushed around the ring, and the special policemen were powerless to stop them. Raicevich was grabbed by admiring friends and carried in supposed triumph around the Garden. The big Pole Stood dumbfounded, waiting for the Italian to come back and wrestle some more. Referee Tom Jenkins was besieged with questions. He said it was no fall and that he slapped the Italian to make him get back in the centre of the ring.
Raicevich does not understand English and did not wait for any explanation. By the terms of the match, one fall for him meant victory. For half an hour after this happening the Italians, including Enrico Caruso, the Italian tenor, stood about and made the Garden shake with their cheers and yells. They were satisfied that Raicevich had won and one of the officials of the show said that if any one had insisted on the Pisa giant coming back to get the fall over again he was afraid the Garden would be torn down in a riot. So the match came to an unsatisfactory finish. According to the referee, neither man had complied with the conditions of the contest, and therefore it was no match at all. Zbyszko agree to throw Raicevich three times in an hour and a half, and if the Italian got one fall he was to be declared the winner. Raicevich says he got his fall fair enough, and declares he was a winner. The referee asserts that the fall was illegal because the victim, Zbyszko, was not on the mat.
The crowd didn’t number more than 4000, but it had the cheering power of 40,000, and it was very much in favor of the Italian. There were many Poles there to admire the Polish lawyer-grappler, but their cheers were hopelessly drowned in the mad outburst of applause which occurred every few minutes for the Italian.
Zbyszko won the first fall in 37:50, after he had let Raicevich wear himself out to an almost exhausted condition. When the Italian was panting like a deer Zbyszko got a combination cross-arm hold, and with all the power and weight of his herculean body crushed the Italian to the mat in the irresistible grip. Zbyszko weighed about 250 and the Italian 225. The big Pole was as strong as a lion, and mauled Raicevich around the canvas easily. Zbyszko doesn’t know many of the tricks and finer points of wrestling, for several times he had his opponent in a dangerous position when an ordinary wrestling hold would have finished him. When Zbyszko saw that he could get no effective clutch on his opponent he took things easy and let Raicevich pull, maul, and tussle away at his big body. Raicevich worked so hard trying to turn the Pole over that the perspiration poured off him in a stream.
Both wrestlers looked fat and anything like athletes. They were bulky and clumsy. Zbyszko seemed to have enough strength to push over a bridge, but he didn’t know how to use it. Raicevich’s arms were too short to get around the Pole’s great waist. Zbyszko was barefooted, and Raicevich often tried to get a toe hold, and his efforts to extract pain from the Pole’s big toe would have made Frank Gotch chuckle with glee.
Raicevich was tired after the first but he was rubbed and revived by willing hands. He cane out of his corner for the second bout with a spring step. Rushing at Zbyszko he threw him to the canvas hard with a leg hold. After a few minutes hard work he had a crotch hold and a half Nelson, and put every ounce of strength into a final effort to jam the Polish giant down. Slowly but surely the Pole went down, and the crowd saw that his shoulder were both pinned to the floor. They thought that Referee Jenkins’s slap meant a victory for the Italian, and they waited for no more. A wild scramble for the ring followed, men tumbling and falling over each otehr to climb to the ring and congratulate the Italian hero from Pisa. Hundreds of fish horns joined in the noise-making and such a nerve jarring, ear-splitting racket the Garden has seldom heard.
The management was unable to check the outburst of Italian enthusiasm, and although the referee said it was no fall Raicevich was declared the winner by his fellow-countrymen. When they finished cheering Raicevich they turned to Caruso and Scotti and kept up the noise until the singers had left the Garden. It was a great night for the Italians, and they did not pay any attention to a little technicality like one shoulder not being on the mat, even if the rules of wrestling do say something about it. Referee Jenkins was in a bad fix. He tried to explain what he meant by slapping Raicevich’s back, but his explanation was lost in the racket. Hats were thrown in the air, papers were sent flying, and everybody was so excited that the management could do nothing but let the excitement cool down and allow the people to file out of the Garden
Among the notable Italians present to enthuse over Raicevich were Enrico Caruso and Antonio Scotti of the Metropolitan Opera Company; Chevalier Barsotto, proprietor of Il Progresso; several members of the Italian Consulate of this city; Caesar Conti, the importer; Ernesto Ubertino, one of the Waldorf-Astoria chefs, and scores of others. The two top galleries were crowded with cheering Italians and Poles, but the arena seats were not half filled. Many of the boxes were occupied by parties which included many women.
The names of the wrestlers who took part in the preliminaries were assumed to fit the occasion. Young Sharkey, alias McDonough, became Ignace Galewski. He was thrown twice by Nicola Montagno, alias Young Monday. Montagno tossed Galewski down for keeps after twelve minutes of wrestling. Montagno, to show that he held no ill-will against his victim kissed him affectionately. Then he threw him again in four minutes. Johnny McLaughlin, the Irish lad, threw Victor Pierce of Vienna with a half Nelson in eleven minutes and thirty seconds.
Jim Galvin, who is champion of something or other in Ireland, and Neil Olsen, the great Dane, had a real old-fashioned slugging, gouging match. Galvin and the Dane are old actors at the game, and they made the emotional crowd believe they were going to tear their hair outb by the roots. Galvin won the first fal in ten minutes and forty seconds, and Olsen took the second with a flying fall in six minutes and forty seconds. Then Galvin wanted to fight—or made believe he did. Referee Johnny Dunn was in the fray, too, and just ducked on of Galvin’s gate-like swings. All this pleased the crowd. It was a well-acted draw.