This is my version of the Wladek Bio (that I sent to Dave for the WON HOF issue). This hasn't been proof read or checked by anyone, so it's probably a mess. I am not a writer or a speller.
Wladek Zbyszko By Steve Yohe
Wladek Zbyszko was born Ladislaus Cyganiewicz in Krakow Poland on November 20, 1891. One of five children, Wladek’s older brother by ten years (born: April 1, 1880) was the great wrestler Stanislaus Cyganiewicz, who performer in America under the name Stanislaus Zbyszko.
Stanislaus studied at The University of Vienna, which was the center of Physical culture in Europe. His first sport was weight lifting, but found Greco-Roman wrestling more to his liking. It’s said he graduated from the University with a degree in Law, but regardless, he was a sophisticated gentleman who could speak many languages. From 1901 to 107, he wrestled in the Greco-Roman tournaments all over Europe, reaching the level of World Greco-Roman Champion of the World. His reputation was such that he became the first major superstar after George Hackenschmidt. After a short stay headlining in England, he was brought to America as a contender to catch-as-catch-can world champion Frank Gotch. Cyganiewicz took the name Zbyszko from a powerful Polish general who was famous for ripping the ears off of Turk soldiers. A series of matches led to a super match in Chicago on June 1, 1910. Stanislaus lost the match and a lot of respect because he was tricked and beaten easily.
Over the next few years, Stanislaus never regained his box-office draw, but he continued to win matches. He beat just about every major American star of the period, but Gotch refused to give him a rematch and the public didn’t see any reason to force Gotch into the match. But after Gotch started talking retirement, Stanislaus became the wrestler most fans and reporters consider the best wrestler in the world. On May 7, 1914, Stanislaus defeated Gus Schoenlein for a version of the world title in Kansas City, but the idea never stuck with the American fans. Soon after Stanislaus returned to Europe and Joe Stecher became popular, so the title claim was forgotten.
During these years, in interview with reporters, Stanislaus told stories of a giant brother, who would prove to be the best of all the wrestlers. His name was Wladek Zbyszko, so Stan had America waiting to see the young boy before he even turned pro.
Ladislaus Cyganiewicz followed his brother, going to the The University of Vienna and by taking the name Wladek Zbyszko. Like his brother, who he idolized, he got his body in condition by weightlifting and then moved on to wrestling. Unlike his brother, the style he worked on the most was catch-as- catch-can style. He also learned Greco-Roman, but I think Stan had told him America was the place to be, and didn’t want him to suffer the fate of most of the great Greco-Roman performers who couldn’t change styles and suffered defeat and ridicule in America.
Waldek Zbyszko wrestled in France in 1911 and defeated Dan Par in London, England the same year. When he arrived in America the publicity calmed he had won a catch tournament in Paris France that was made up with the 500 best catch wrestlers in Europe. Being the winner, he was given the title of Catch European champion. As to that being true, I have no idea and have never heard of the tournament from any other source, but that was the story. The year of the tournament also changes with each report.
Wladek was 6’1” tall and weighted 235 pounds of muscle. Strangler Lewis described him as “one of the most beautiful and nobly constructed of all wrestlers, with the musculature of Hercules and form of Adonis”. He had great ability as a wrestler and performer, good looks, and was without fear of anything. Unlike most Greco-Roman wrestler, he had quick feet and knew hooks.
His social graces were elegant and he had the ability to speak many languages, but in the ring his behavior was eccentric, sadistic, and cruelly dramatic. He was raw bone and, even in a work, his touch would hurt you. Thanks to his brother, he was a major star from his first moment in America.
Wladek arrived in America in 1913 and had his first match in March. He remained undefeated during the year but had few matches that would seem important today. He did had some handicap exhibition matches with major wrestlers like George Cutler and Bob Managoff, plus a 30 minute decision win over Dr Ben Roller on April 9, 1913 in Newark. In October, Zbyszko returned to Paris, France for a number of matches.
In January 1914, Wladek returned to the states and he continued his win streak. On March 10, he defeated the former American Champion Tom Jenkins in New York City. The plan seemed to be to build Wladek up into a contender for Alex Aberg’s Greco-Roman world title in the city. Wladek was also getting pushed in Chicago and Boston.
In 1914, Ed “Strangler” Lewis was just beginning to make a name for himself wrestling out of Lexington, Kentucky. Over the last year he had wrestled most of the major wrestlers, but unlike Wladek, he had losses on his record to most of them. Lewis seemed jealous of Zbyszko’s push in Chicago, and went out of his way to taunt Wladek into a match.
A match, between the two, was signed for April 4, 1914 in Detroit. Lewis, in his unpublished bio, claimed that Zbyszko took the match under the assumption that the match would be a “work”, and Lewis refused and wanted to shoot. But in fact, Lewis had a history of being uncooperative in first meetings with other stars (like Stecher), even in worked matches. Lewis claimed he resented Wladek from the first moment he heard him singing opera in the dressing room.
Lewis was a brilliant defensive wrestler (with a limited offence), and once the match started, all of Wladek’s moves were blocked and he couldn’t do anything with Ed. Wladek, sore that he had been fooled, started to foul using eye gouging, finger twisting, and elbows. Lewis complained to the referee and when nothing was done, he landed three hard punches to Wladek’s head. More fighting broke out and the police jumped into the ring to put a stop to the unlawful affair that had only lasted 20 minutes. It was 1914’s version of the Sheik vs John Tolos.
Lewis always claimed to hate Wladek Zbyszko, but the feud that resulted pushed the two to the top level of wrestling stardom. Both took turns putting each other over, and the result made both rich men.
The rematch took place on April 23, 1914 in Buffalo NY. Lewis battled Walked as an equal in the first fall, but after an hour, Zbyszko got rough. After two terrific slams on his head, the Strangler found himself pinned. Lewis was near being unconscious and was unable to return for a second fall. Zbyszko was declared the winner.
A few reports have Wladek traveling to Buenos Ayres in 1914. The story was that the young Zbyszko won a tournament and the local world title. The story seems to have as much validity as Buddy Rogers beating Antonino Rocca in Rio de Janeiro for the first WWWF title.
On May 17, 1914 in Springfield Mass., Zbyszko wrestled a 2 hour and 30 minute draw with Dr Ben Roller. A rematch, a few days later, had Wladek beating Roller in 50:00 when Roller couldn’t continue. As Dusty Rhodes couldn’t resist his finish, Roller couldn’t could avoid being injured in most of his losses. (Fans must have called it the Roller finish?)
Greco-Roman style wrestling was just about dead in America by 1915, but the large number of emigrants in New York City and the large number of Greco-Roman wrestling fleeing the European wars, made the selling of the style much easier in the city. Followers of the style were used to tournaments which lasted weeks, so opera promoter Samuel Rachmann staged two such tournaments during 1915. The first started in May 1915 and ended on June 25, with matches taking place almost every day.
Wladek Zbyszko and Greco-Roman champ Alex Aberg were the two most pushed performers in the tournament. Wladek had wins over Ben Roller, Renato Gardini, Pierre le Colosse, Ivan Linow, and Greco-Roman super star George Lurich. In the semi-final, Wladek defeated Ben Roller when Dr. Ben was unable to continue after 1:20:00 (Roller finish).
The final at the Manhattan Opera House on June 25, 1915 was between Wladek and Alex Aberg and for the Greco-Roman world title (New York Version). The match lasted three hours and forty minutes. It was a standup affair but brutal in the middle of the hot summer. At the end, Zbyszko was in bad shape and his second, Ben Roller, was asking for the match to be stopped. The referee, George Bothner, wanted to continue until a fall took place but the crowd and everyone present feared for Zbyszko’s health. So the match was stopped. Aberg looked like the winner but under the rules of 1915, the match was called a draw. Zbyszko was so dehydrated that he was semi-conscious and carried from the ring. He was in bed for three days before he became himself again. The public was promised a rematch.
That match took place on October 25, 1915. The three hour and forty minute match had became legendary by that time and promoter Samual Rachmann booked the rematch into Madison Square Garden. In a match described as “sensational”, champion Aberg pined Zbyszko using a head chancery and body hold in 1:04:00. The card drew a “remarkably large crowd”, which encouraged Rachmann into promoting another Greco-Roman tournament from November 8, 1915 to January 29, 1916.
The second NYC Greco-Roman tournament is remember for three things: 1) It marked the end of Pro Greco-Roman style wrestling in America, 2) it introduced the first nationally know mask man (The Masked Marvel) to America and 3) it reconfirmed the status of Ed “Strangler” Lewis as a major star and future champion.
Sense his loss to Wladek, Lewis had made his name known in the sport by holding the new world champion Joe Stecher off for two hours, before losing in a match at Evansville, Indiana on October 20, 1915. Stecher had won a version of the world title from Charlie Cutler in Chicago on July 5, 1915 and had been crushing the best wrestlers in the country in short time. In his short career, he had never even loss a fall. Lewis had run from Joe for two hours, knowing he had no chance actually wrestling with the champion, before falling from the ring faking an injury. The match actually was a disaster, with the mayor of Evansville holding up everyone’s purse, but when Lewis return to the East, his new manager Billy Sandow started spreading lies about a great match in which Ed had frustrated Stecher. Sandow lied so well that he had reporters believing the match was a draw.
The New York Tournament started as just a Greco-Roman event but the style was dying at the box-office so Rachmann had to introduce catch style matches to the concept, but no report claims there was a catch-as-catch-can tournament. Business then picked up with the introduction of The Masked Marvel and Strangler Lewis.
Wladek lost only two matches during the tournament. He and Ed Lewis wrestled five times. The first four matches were all draws, which included two long matches. A December 11, 1915 draw went 1:45:00 and on January 6, 1916 it lasted 1:03:00. Wladek lost to Lewis on January 17, 1916, when the Strangler pined him using a waist lock and bridge for the pin at 1:21:07.
On the Greco-Roman side of the tournament, Alex Aberg dominated, beating everyone including Strangler Lewis on December 29, 1915. The big Greco-Roman showdown between Zbyszko and Aberg took place on January 24, 1916. After 25:52, Wladek fell out of the ring and then quit. Everyone in the building, but Wladek, thought he was fit enough to continue and cries of “fake” and “quitter” followed him as he left the stage. Aberg was announced as the winner of the match and, on January 29, the Greco-Roman tournament.
On the catch style side, Lewis went undefeated and, after a win over Dr Ben Roller, his manager Billy Sandow claimed the catch world title. (Alex Aberg refused to wrestle any style but Greco-Roman.) At the time, this seemed weird because Jack Curley had just announced he was bring the true champion, Joe Stecher, to Madison Square Garden to defend against Wladek Zbyszko on January 27, 1916.
This may have explained why the Aberg/Zbyszko match had such a bad ending. Jack Curley had signed Wladek to a managerial contract and wanted him untouched for Stecher. Tournament promoter Samuel Rachmann had his own ideas and both promoters ended up in court. Agreements were made between the two, but Wladek was unusable by then because of the walk off, so The Masked Marvel (Mort Henderson) took his place and got beat by Stecher in two straight falls.
The Frank Gotch era in pro wrestling is considered a golden period in wrestling history, but the fact was it was golden only for Gotch and some of his friends. The Gotch booking led to a super champion, famous and rich, but it also created bad matches that killed territories and left a huge hole when he retired. Bookers (like Jack Curley) from 1916 on, was looking for something different. From 1916 to 1921, Wladek Zbyszko, Joe Stecher, Ed “The Strangler” Lewis with Earl Caddock, who may have been the greatest pound for pound wrestler in history, formed the “big four”. For the next 6 years these four superstars controlled wrestling storylines on a national level. Through precise booking, with each taking turns jobbing, they kept everyone of them strong while creating one major match after another. This became every ones golden age and some of the storylines would last into 1929.
Joe Stecher continued to dominate the sport during 1916. Most wrestling fans considered him unbeatable, and he may have been if he hadn’t been human.
On July 4, 1916, Stecher and Ed Lewis met in a finish match in front of 18,000 fan at Omaha. The match lasted 4:51:33. It was a terrible match with Lewis on the defense, mainly running, and Stecher unable to do anything about it. Not only was it boring, but many in the crowd had bet on Stecher to win in short time and when that didn’t take place, they bet more. The only people happy were the gamblers and the wrestlers who got they’re cut.
In the mid-west, Lewis’ reputation dropped to zero, but when he returned to the big cities, Billy Sandow told stories about how the great Strangler held Stecher to burial 5 hour draw that left the champion in the hospital, while Ed spent the night dancing. Nothing close to the truth… but it worked.
I believe Stecher to be the best wrestler post-Gotch, but he had a long lean body than couldn’t take the punishment of a Zbyszko or a Lewis. Joe Stecher was also (to some people) a strange type man, who lived only to wrestle, and cared about little else, even titles. The brains that held the Stecher group together was Tony Stecher. As the year came to a close, Joe was sore and had shoulder problems. He also got married on December 6, 1916. Tony also was planning a marriage (January 17, 1917).
So on December 11, 1916, Joe Stecher agreed to wrestle John Olin, a Greco-Roman Olympic silver medal winner, at Springfield, MA. Tony Stecher wasn’t present. After four hours and 40 minutes of “rough housing”, Stecher quit and walked off. Olin was declared the winner, but the Finn didn’t speak or understand English, so he didn’t claim the title. Without Joe admitting defeat, he remained champion in the eyes of the public.
Wladek seems to have been inactive or out of country during most of 1916, but he shows up late in the year and by April 1917 had beat well know contenders like Yussiff Hussane, Jess Westergaard, Charles Cutler, Dr. Ben Roller and Ivan Linow.
Much like Stecher, the Iowan Earl Caddock had been dominating the mid-west. Always weighting less than 190 pounds, he was skilled enough to easily defeat giants like Marin Plestina. He had a distinguished amateur career and had been trained by Frank Gotch and Farmer Burns.
A super match was made between the champion Stecher, and Caddock, both never pinned the their pro careers, for April 4, 1917 at Omaha. Wladek was present and challenged the winner.
Stecher won the first fall in 1:22:00 using his leg scissors. Caddock stunned the world by pinning Stecher with a full nelson in 1:35:00. Stecher then stayed in the dressing room and refused to return for the third fall. Caddoch had won the title.
It’s my opinion that Stecher was injured, tired, and newly married. He needed a break from the title, so he passed it on to a man he could trust, his friend Earl Caddock. It should be said that the gamblers once again made a killing.
By early 1917, Chicago promoters had gotten a hold of John Olin and was billing him as world champion, due to his win over Stecher. This championship is called the “Olin Line” by historians.
Promoters really had no interest in Olin, so on May 2, 1917 the Fin lost the “Olin title” to Ed Lewis in Chicago. After 2:37:00, Olin injured his shoulder and couldn’t continue. The referee Frank Gotch declared Lewis the true world champion. It really didn’t matter much to Lewis, he had been claiming the title sense 1915.
On May 11, Wladek Zbyszko defeated the same John Olin at Louisville. The win gave Zbyszko a Olin Title shot against Lewis in San Francisco on June 5, 1917.The “mark” promoter, Charley Newman, almost cancelled the match a number of times, once he realized that the wrestler’s guarantees only guaranteed that he was going to lose money.
After managers Billy Sandow and Jack Curley agreed to accept less money, the match started at 10:58. The match lasted the full two and half hour time limit with Wladek winning the only fall. The victory gave Wladek the “Olin Line” world title.
The Strangler got a rematch with Wladek on a big July 4 card at Braves Field in Boston. Wladek won the first fall in 57:45 by reversing a crotch hold into a body roll and pin. Zbyszko injured his right elbow and a knee during the 2nd fall and he was thrown out of the ring. Once he crawled back into the ring, Lewis pinned him with a half-nelson in 24:44. Zbyszko had to be carried to the dressing room for the rest period and everyone was surprised at his gameness in returning for the 3rd falls, but he was no match for Lewis and Zbyszko was pinned in 45 seconds. The match was billed for the Olin world title and Ed regained it. The crowd was said to have been one of the largest in Boston sports history.
On April 6, 1917, the United States joined WWI when President Woodrow Wilson ended his policies of isolationism and the U.S. congress declared war on Germany. The true world champion, Earl Caddock was a true patriot and did everything he could to join the war effort. On October 5, 1917, the U.S. Army accepted him and he was told to report to Camp Dodge, Iowa on December 26.
Both Lewis and Stecher felt the public pressure to join the war, but both took their time, unlike Caddock, and didn’t join the effort until July 1918. Wladek Zbyszko was drafted in 1917. He attempted to get an exemption because of a sister and mother in Austria, but it was refused. He then appealed his case all the way to President Wilson, only to fail. On Oct. 25, 1917, Wladek became a member of the National Army, Maine contingent, 303rd Heavy Artillery located at Ayers, Massachusetts. But he was soon discharged on a medical exemption because his cauliflower ears were affecting his hearing.
With the old champion Frank Gotch on his death bed and the present champion about to join the Army and go to war, Jack Curley staged another major tournament in New York City at the Lexington Theatre (December 3 to December 22). Curley’s promotional power was increasing and he wanted to influence the national storyline and resolve the title problem. The tournament was in catch style with the winner being billed as the world champion in the state of New York. I believe the last night would have Earl Caddock defending his claim verses the winner.
Both Wladek and Ed Lewis were participants in the tournament. On December 14, Caddock made his first appearance beating Dr Ben Roller with a head scissors and a crotch hold in 40:59. The next night be beat John Freberg. On the December 15 undercard, Wladek and Lewis wrestled one of their draws.
On December 16, Frank Gotch, who had never been defeated as world champion and still considered champion by many fans and reporters, gave up any claim he had by dieing from kidney failure at his home in Humboldt, Iowa.
Around this time, Caddock left the tournament. With him scheduled to be at Fort Dodge on December 26, I think the plan had been for him to drop the title to the winner of the tournament, probably Zbyszko. Wladek was the only one of the big four that didn’t have any draft problems. Caddock’s manager was Gene Melady, who was a rich sportsman that promoted most of the major cards in the mid-west and probably the most powerful man in the sport after the fall of Farmer Burns and Gotch. I think he saw Curley as competition, and didn’t like the deal that was offered, so he refused to have Caddock drop the title. He probably knew that the Army would allow Earl to continue wrestling while in camp waiting for orders to leave for Europe, and had ideas of promoting title matches of his own for the next year. I think Caddock and Melady had also made agreements to drop the title back to Joe Stecher.
On December 17, in front of a sold-out 3,000, Lewis defeated Zbyszko in 1:21:33. At first Ed’s headlock had little effect but, with each one, Wladek weakened. The finish saw Zbyszko wave to give up, but in those times the object of defeat was being pined and submissions were rare, so the referee, George Bothner, didn’t stop the match. Wladek’s manager Jack Curley then stepped on the mat and the match was stopped. It was the equal of a boxing manager throwing in a towel, but it may have been considered a DQ, but the newspaper called it a submission loss. The report claimed that the match ranked with the best ever held in the city.
Both suffered no more losses and met in the tournament final on December 22, 1917. After a long one fall match, Billy Sandow started an argument with a wrestler in Wladek’s corner, claiming the man was coaching his wrestler illegally. Lewis turned his head to watch the argument, and Zbyszko leaped in to pin Lewis with a scissors and a body hold. Time was 1:47:37 and it was a sellout with many turned away. Lewis wrestled under a handicap as his headlock was not allowed. Lewis showed superiority and would have been given a decision if he hadn’t gotten himself pinned.
Wladek Zbyszko was presented a belt by the state of New York and he claimed the world title. It would be the only title belt ever awarded a wrestler by the New York Commission. Nothing was said about Lewis’s Olin world title and it seemed to not have been at stake. Whatever, as he always did, Lewis continued to claim the world title. So the tournament to resolve the world title, ended up leaving the wrestling world with three title lines.
On January 4, Wladek and Lewis wrestled another draw in Ed’s home town of Savannah, GA. Both were claiming the world title with the match was under Greco-Roman rules. It lasted 1:15:00. Fans didn’t like the style and the promoter said he’d stick with Catch wrestling from that point forward.
As champion, Wladek defeated William Demetral, Charles Cutler, Yusouff Hussane and pined John Olin in Madison Square Garden on January 29.
Earl Caddock was allowed to continue his wrestling career on his days off from teaching Fort Dodge bayonet classes. Wladek claim was that Stecher lost to Olin and Caddock had no claim to the title. Olin lost to Lewis and he had won the title tournament over Lewis and then beat Olin. A title unification match was signed by promoter Oscar Thorson for Des Moines for February 8, 1918.
On Feb. 8, 1918,either before or after the Caddock/Wladek match, a major meeting took place involving the top wrestling promoters, Jack Curley, Gene Melady, Carl Marfigi, and Otto Floto and the major newspaper man such as Ed Smith, Sec Taylor, and Sandy Griswold. Curley who was in the process of signing Wladek, Lewis, and Stecher to promotional contracts, proposed rule changes such as time limits, decisions, and one fall matches. It was Curley’s idea to reform wrestling to resemble boxing, with pins being like KO’s and decisions excepted as true victories. Curley walked away from the meeting with his rule changes; some of which lasted over time (NYC reliance on one-fall matches) while the less popular were later hidden or thrown away. Never the less, Curley and NYC had shown newfound power over the sport. No longer would booking and finishes be the responsibility of the managers. Promoters, mainly Jack Curley, would be calling the shots.
Caddock, the best pure wrestler pound for pound, had great support in the mid-west but many experts wondered if anyone 186 pounds could pin a monster like Wladek who was 235 pounds of pure muscle. Caddock won the first fall in 1:20:00 using a wrist lock. In the second fall, Caddock put a scissor hold on Wladek, but the giant stood up and slammed the champion to the matt, getting the pin in 31:00. For the rest of the match, Wladek was out wrestled but his weight and power stopped every pinning attempt by Caddock. After 2:30:00, referee Ed Smith gave the decision to Caddock. The match drew 7,000 in Des Moines, 4,000 of them from out of town.
Not being pinning, Wladek seemed to continue to claim the title, as did Lewis.
Joe Stecher had spent much of 1917 resting after dropping the title to Caddock, but he return in 1918 and seemed ready to dominate the sport again. On March 1, 1918, he and Wladek were booked into their first match together at Curley’s New York Madison Square Garden. They wrestled to the two hour time limit. Referee George Bothner ruled the match a draw, but most reporters thought Stecher should have been given the decision.
On March 19, Curley booked Wladek into a “packed” Madison Square Garden for a grudge match with Strangler Lewis. The match was called the fastest and wildest in the history of New York City. There was bad blood between the two from the opening bell. Zbyszko kept head butting Lewis and Ed put the Pole in the headlock a dozen times. Wladek’s eyes looked ready to pop but he managed to wriggle free from each attempt. At 38:28, Zbyszko butted Lewis and the strangler fell helpless out of the ring. The referee Billy Roche awarded the decision to Lewis on a foul. A riot followed in the sold out Garden and Wladek got a head cut from a fans cane. If Zbyszko was claiming a title, he lost it in this match.
On May 8 in Chicago, Wladek Zbyszko got another shot at Earl Caddock’s world title. Once again he lost a two hour decision. Caddock’s perfect physical condition and superior wrestling knowledge proved too much for the Pole, but fans were beginning to talk about Caddock’s inability to pin the large (at least 47 pounds with Wladek) contenders. Wladek, like his older brother, had a way of laying face down with no one able to turn them or put a major hold on them. (Stan Zbyszko used this trick verse the Great Gama in Europe in 1910). Most thought the match was boring and the new unsatisfying decision rule was disliked by fans.
Two days later, on May 10, Zbyszko had another match with Ed Lewis at Louisville. Wladek won the first fall in 1:34:00 with a double hammerlock. Lewis’ headlock took the second fall in 35 minutes. Lewis was the aggressor for the next 21 minutes until the time limit expired, so Lewis was awarded the victory.
Around May 28, 1918, Wladek Zbyszko was arrested in Boston and held at Ellis Island as a military prisoner. Having been born in Poland, he was questioned about Austria & why his brother Stanislaus was being held in a Russian prison camp. Wladek was freed by the government the next day.
On June 12, 1918, Wladek lost another decision, this time to Joe Stecher at Omaha.
Lewis then got a title unification match with Earl Caddock on June 21, 1918. Caddock wrestled rings around Lewis and got the decision, but was unable to pin the bigger man. This seemed to resolve any loose title claims, but Lewis being Lewis still claimed the “Olin Title”.
WWII had really become a hindrance to pro wrestling storylines. Ed Lewis entered the Army on July 27, 1918 and Joe Stecher followed The Strangler into service, joining the Navy on August 8. Earl Caddock’s eighty-eight left for the East Coast on August 4 with orders to sail overseas. Caddock was stationed at Hericourt, France by August 20. The swiftness of the move ended any idea of him dropping the title to Stecher or anyone else.
Lucky the war didn’t last long, the addition of new American troop was too much for Germany and the armistice was signed, ending the war, on November 11.
On November 26, 1918, Stecher was allowed to wrestle Wladek in New York City for the United War Campaign. Of course the match was draw and so terrible that the fans were throwing fruit at the wrestlers.
Both Stecher and Lewis were discharged in December.
Wladek started 1919 on a winning streak, beating the wrestlers on the level below the “Big Four”. He recorded wins over Dr Ben Roller, Charley Cutler, John Olin and even barefaced Mort Henderson. On February 12, he wrestled at Canton against the sports newest star, Jim Londos, and beat him in 1:42:00. As he usually did, the 190 pound Londos came out of the match a bigger star even though he lost.
Wladek then signed for another major match with Joe Stecher, this time in Sioux City on February 25, 1919. Under Jack Curley’s Decision rules, the fans were promised a winner. After two hours without a pin fall, the fans rioted and everyone involved had to be put under police protection. The next day, Zbyszko was awarded the decision, but no one cared. Wrestling wasn’t boxing, and the fans hated the “decision rule”. The idea, although it remained on the books, ended that day.
The solution, was the same one that saved Shohei Baba in the late 1980’s….clean finishes.
On March 3, 1919, Stecher and Ed Lewis met in Chicago. Lewis pinned Stecher clean in 2:12:37. It was Joe first clean lost in his career.
On March 10, 1918, Stecher and Zbyszko were matched again. This time in Kansas City Mo. Stecher won the first fall in 22:25 with a body scissors and arm bar. Wladek came back savagely to win the second fall with a reverse body hold in 2:14:25. Zbyszko then pined Stecher in 14:03. Total time was 2:50:53. It was Stecher first clean 2/3 fall loss.
On March 21, 1919, Wladek and Strangler Lewis wrestled in Madison Square Garden. The card was sold out with over 5,000 fans turned away. At 1:34:36, Wladek slammed Lewis for the pin. Lewis lost the match and his claim to the Olin world title.
In early March had come world that Earl Caddock was sick and planning on retiring. Jack Curley then began claiming the title for Wladek and after he defeated both Stecher and Lewis there seemed to be little doubt than he should be considered the undisputed champion.
The idea of Wladek as undisputed champion fell apart on April 1, when Caddock’s manager, Gene Melady, denied the retirement story. He claimed that Caddock had been sick from influenza, but was feeling better and had every plan to defend his title as soon as he could be allowed to return to America.
On April 28, 1919, Wladek defended his “Olin line” world title against the former holder Strangler Lewis. Chicago was Lewis’s best city and most of the gambling money made Ed the favorite. In this match Wladek totally outclassed Lewis with superior strength and conditioning, pinning Lewis with a body scissors in 2:14:09. Reports said that Zbyszko out worked Lewis from the bell and there was no fluke or luck to the win.
Zbyszko was a favorite in a rematch with Joe Stecher at Louisville on May 9, 1919, but Wladek was pinned by Stecher using a body scissors and arm lock in 1:45:15. Wladek lost the Olin line title and any other claim he had to the title. He would never regain it.
Chicago wanted another Zbyszko/Lewis match and got it on May 19, 1919. Lewis gave what was called the “greatest exhibition of grit and determination ever seen”. Zbyszko won the first fall with a reverse body lock in 1:36:52. Lewis then came back to win the next two falls in 48:35 and 12:56. As always, Lewis and Billy Sandow claimed the world title.
Sense coming to America, Wladek Zbyszko hadn’t lost to anyone but Aberg, Lewis, Stecher, and Caddock. That change on July 4, 1919 went he lost to John Pesek at Gordon NB. Pesek beat Wladek with a head scissors and wrist lock in 2:03:15. It was a huge win and it turned Pesek into a major star. Pesek was a vicious ripper who would rival Caddock for the title of “best pound for pound hooker in wrestling history’.
Ed Lewis illusions of being champion ended on July 4, 1919 in Omaha when Stecher beat him in two straight falls.
Caddock arrived back in the USA on May 23, 1919 and was discharged from the Army on June 1. He immediately when into training. Late in 1919, Curley came up with the idea of a double elimination tournament between the three major contenders, Stecher, Wladek and Lewis. The winner would get a match with Caddock for the undisputed title.
Wladek’s first match was in Lincoln NB on July 14 against Stecher. He lost, giving him his first defeat. Stecher then defeated Lewis on Nov. 3 in New York City.
On November 27, Wladek eliminated Lewis in Boston by countering Ed’s headlock into a body hold and a head chancery for the pin in 38 minutes. It drew a sellout of 6,500.
Zbyszko lost his shot at the title when Stecher beat him in New York City using a head scissors and wrist lock in 2:24:16.
To clear the air, Stecher beat John Olin and John Pesek before meeting Caddock for the undisputed title in Madison Square Garden on January 30, 1920. Wladek Zbyszko was ringside as Stecher pinned Caddock in 2:05:30.
Stanislaus Zbyszko could have been present that night himself. He had arrived back in America in mid-January, meet by his young brother Wladek. Stanislaus was in good health following his troubles in Europe but had gained weight. He began training and a comeback soon followed.
On February 12, 1920. Wladek got a shot at the new undisputed world champion Stecher in Boston. Zbyszko tortured Joe with his toe hold for most of the match but at 1:32:30 got locked in Stecher’s body scissors and pinned.
12 days later, Wladek was in Kansas City to wrestle Ed Lewis. He lost two straight falls. On February 24, he wrestled a 45 minute draw with Jim Londos in Pittsburgh.
A rematch between Wladek and John Pesek took place in Des Moines on March 1, 1920 with the winner supposed to get a match with ex-champ Caddock. Zbyszko took the first fall in 41:30 with a body scissors and arm bar. Pesek then controlled the match and pined Zbyszko after a crotch and half-nelson (body slam?) in 17:30. Wladek’s strength and weight wore Pesek out in the third fall and he pinned the 195 pound wrestler in 46:55 using a headlock.
The idea that Earl Caddock couldn’t pin the bigger Zbyszko ended on April 12, 1920 when the ex-champ took two straight falls from Wladek at Louisville.
On April 30, Wladek subbed for Ed Lewis, in a match with Jim Londos in Norfolk. Zbyszko won two straight falls, both by DQ, when Londos kept using a strangle hold. The first fall lasted 2:20:00.
On September 16, Wladek wrestled a draw with champion Stecher in Montreal. Another draw took place with Jim Londos on October 10 in San Francisco. On October 15, he beat John Pesek again, only this time on a foul at Kansas City. He returned to Montreal on October 27 and got beat by Ed Lewis.
On November 23, 1921, Jack Curley staged a “contender’s match” between Zbyszko and Lewis with the winner getting a title shot. Lewis once again pinned Wladek using the headlock after 1:25:45 in front of 10,000 fans at the 71st Armory.
So on December 13, Lewis wrestled Stecher in New York and beat him for the undisputed world title. This match kind of marked the end of wrestling’s glory period in New York City. Lewis was a heel champion, who wasn’t popular like Stecher and Caddock and riots after every match was unhealthy for the class clientele. A new “mark” Boxing commission started changing rules for the worst and, with attendance declining, Jack Curley later dropped out of promoting, seeing better money in pro tennis.
In January of 1921, Wladek traveled to San Francisco to get decision wins over Jim Londos (January 14) and Ad Santel (January 21). He then lost to John Pesek in Kansas City.
Strangler Lewis’s first reign ended up being a bomb and short. The last straw seemed to be him only drawing 4,000 fans to a major match with John Pesek in Madison Square Garden on April 4, 1921. It probably upset Lewis and Billy Sandow, but Curley had them drop the title to Wladek’s brother Stanislaus Zbyszko on May 6, 1921. The match only lasted 23:17, the shortest title change in ring history. Stan had gotten himself into good condition, shaved his head, and lost 30 pounds in the last year. Fans saw him as a throw back to the Gotch era and his only known loss in America was to Gotch. He also was a very good friend of Jack Curley.
The two Zbyszko brothers refused to wrestle each other. Wladek, in fact, seems to just drop out until November. It’s possible that he toured South America or Europe during this period, but I no knowledge of it. My feeling are that Wladek worked in the front office of Curley and Jack Pfefer on the East Coast, but I’ve never seen that in print.
On December 12, 1921, Wladek did a job for Joe Stecher in Wichita. He then could be found wrestling a draw with the great amateur Nat Pendleton on the under card of his brothers win over Earl Caddock in New York City on January 6, 1921. It’s one of the few times the two ever appeared together on the same card.
Stecher and Wladek were then booked into Madison Square Garden by Tex Rickard on February 21, 1922 in a elimination match to determine a new American title holder (this was Gotch’s old title). Once again it was a contest between Wladek’s strength vs Stecher’s speed and cleverness. Wladek won 2/3 falls. The last two falls were “rolling or Flying” falls, which meant that the fall was awarded without the shoulders being pinned for three seconds. These rules were put in place by the “mark” NY State Athletic Commission. Hated by fans, the rules were killing the sport in the state. The packed card drew only 6,000 to the Garden. There wouldn’t be another Madison Square Garden wrestling card until March 1928. Wrestling’s first golden era was long gone.
Stan didn’t draw well as champion and Curley dropped out of promoting during his reign, leaving Tex Richard in control and later Billy Sandow. On February 20, 1921, Stan told the press that he would retire undefeated in May and then give the title to his brother Wladek. That didn’t happen.
On March 3, 1922, Stanislaus Zbyszko lost the title to Strangler Lewis in Wichita. Ed’s manager, Billy Sandow, had been in control and this title change really cemented his position.
Sandow’s company mainly consisted of him and his two brothers with Ed Lewis as champion and major contenders in Stan Zbyszko, John Pesek, Jim Londos, Renato Gardini, Mike Romano, and Joe “Toots” Mondt. At one point Stanislaus had lost 11 straight matches to Lewis. Unlike what you read in the book FALL GUYS, the period wasn’t a huge success. NYC, St Louis and the South was died and Los Angeles was just beginning to become a “sports” city.
Wladek stayed with the Curley promotion, which limited itself to town outside of New York state. Curley was engaged in a wrestling war with Paul Bowser in Boston and Wladek was always involved in storylines. Wladek was getting older and his style of wrestling was becoming old with him. With larger arenas being build all over the nation in the mid to late 1920’s, casual fans were needed to fill them and they wanted action over true wrestling.
Over the next few years, Wladek seemed to me to be working in Curley’s front office as a booker or a trainer. As for wrestling he just seemed to be filling holes when needed. The type wrestler he did meet seemed to be Europeans, some new to the country, or other hard core wrestler type, who people were interested in seeing wrestle a shooter type, like Zbyszko. He still had a good reputation and he did very few jobs.
In the summer of 1923, he traveled to Winnipeg to do two well known jobs for Jack Taylor. In December he beat both Dick Shikat and Hans Steinke, before putting Shikat over in Boston on Christmas day 1923. In 1924, he beat Jim Londos in Boston on November 3, when Jimmy was dq’ed in the first fall and pinned in the second.
In December of 1923, Wladek divorced his Cuban wife Amelia, saying that the five foot tall woman subjected him to cruel and abusive treatment. Laugh, if you like, but I know the feeling.
Wladek constantly challenged Lewis during Ed 2nd title reign, but Billy Sandow made sure Zbyszko and Stecher wouldn’t get near the title. But with network radio and newsreels shown in theaters, Strangler Lewis became the biggest star in wrestling history and most of what happen before 1922 was forgotten. Sandow’s style of booking was a lot like Gotch’s old form of booking. The object was to get The Strangler over and after three years they were running out of major contenders, so Sandow created a star out of a football player named Wayne Munn.
On January 8, 1925, Lewis seemed to drop the title to Wayne Munn in Kansas City. The match had a “screw finish” and Sandow protested, so it’s hard to figure out if Munn was to keep the title for any length of time.
Sandow tried to keep Munn out of the ring, while he was learning to look like a wrestler. For a while, Munn toured with a vaudeville group, doing some type of wrestling act. On March 17. 1925, Wayne was doing his “act” before a wrestling match in Memphis. The show was marred when Wladek climbed into the ring and challenged the Nebraskan. Munn was confused and ad-libbed “when?”. Wladek took off his coat and told Munn he was ready to begin. Munn left and the promoter, a boxer, named Billy Haack got into a fist fight with Wladek.
Stanislaus Zbyszko turned 45 on April 1, 1925 and he must have been wondering how longer he had as a major pro wrestling. Before 1922 he had gone years without doing a job, but by 1925 he had done 11 major jobs to Ed Lewis and had put over Pesek, Londos, Mondt, Steinke and was now being asked to job for Wayne Munn, a football player. A lot of wrestling purist hated Billy Sandow new gimmick and hated the turning of the sport into a circus. Considering Stan’s friendship with Jack Curley and Lewis’ hatred of his brother, it’s a surprise that Stan would be let into the ring with champion Munn in Philadelphia on April 15, 1925.
So Stanislaus double crossed the Sandow group and shot on Munn beating him in two straight falls to become the oldest world champion in history.
Stanislaus sold the title to Tony Stecher and Tom Pack. Wladek seconded his brother on May 30, 1925 as Stan dropped the title back to Joe Stecher in St Louis for $50,000.
In 1926 Wladek defeated Jim Browning, Jack Taylor, and Hans Steinke In 1927, he was pushed as a contender for Stecher’s title and lost matches to him in NYC, Atlanta, and Los Angeles. In 1928 he headlined in the new Madison Square Garden on March 26 losing to Hans Steinkle in front of 7,000.
He wrestled through 1931, mostly on under cards. There wasn’t many major events but he had a lot of draws with major people and did few jobs.
The big star in the wrestling world became Jim Londos. Ed Lewis hated the Greek and did everything he could to get Londos to defend his title against him. He was working on a mark commission in Chicago in 1931 and managed to get Illinois to recognized a world title with him in the match. The only person, of the title contenders, that would meet Lewis was Wladek Zbyszko. The match took place on November 2, 1931 and drew 7,244 and $13,064. Lewis won the first fall in 23:52 using his headlock. Wladek took the second with a flying mare, and Lewis won the third with a cross body block in 7:54. It was said to be a good match.
In 1932 he worked a lot in Kansas and in Ohio doing at least three jobs to John Pesek and a few for Everett Marshall. He wrestled and seemed to book for Al Haft and Billy Sandow in Hollywood during the summer.
At age 41, Wladek appeared in three Hollywood films during 1932. The first was a film called “Deception”, which was filmed between September 29 and October 13, staring Thelma Todd, Jack Oakie, Dickie Moore, and Leo Carrillo. It was written by wrestler/movie star Nat Pendleton and Hans Steinke also played a part. Wladek performs a long wrestling match with Tom Alley in at least one scene. Wladek film highlight was playing a part in a John Ford wrestling movie called “Flesh”. Seems the ending had a wrestling match between world champion, Wladek Zbyszko, and the film’s star Wallace Beery. “Flesh” was released on December 8, 1932. Zbyszko also made a minor appearance in the movie “Uptown New York”.
In 1933 he was back on the East Coast and did a few jobs for Ed Don George, Dick Shikat, Steinke and one for Lewis (Newark December 8).
In 1933, Stanislaus Zbyszko retired. After then the record only has him wrestling in six matches, four in Poland around June 1937 and one each in 1939 and 1940.
In 1934 Wladek and a group of American wrestlers barnstormed through South America. Stan may have been with them and they bought into a promotion at Luna Park in Argentina. In Brazil, Wladek wrestled Helio Gracie the Jiu Jitsu fighter who led the Gracie family of fighters. It took place on July 28, 1934 when Wladek was 43 years old. After ten 3 minute rounds the match was ruled a draw. I have no idea if it was a shoot or a work. I would bet work.
He also fought George Gracie on October 7, with no result known.
On June 20, 1935, Wladek Zbyszko won a world title tournament in Luna Park Argentina, beating Abie Kaplan in the final.
At some time in 1935, Wladek beat boxer Erminio Spalla in a mixed match, beating him in the third round. The fight was at San Paulo, Brazil.
Late in 1935, he toured Europe. It’s believe he had a match with Henri De Glane in Paris but we have no date or result. He seemed to spend much of 1936 in Spain.
On August 18, 1936, Wladek was reported dead by the International News Service. The report had Wladek killed during street fighting in Barcelona, Spain on August 6. The Polish consular had informed Ismail C. Pace, director of Luna Park Stadium in Buenos Aires, who informed his former manager Jack Curley. This story was false. Zbyszko later claimed he was barricaded in a Pullman car on a railroad near Cordova for six weeks. Wladek then escaped from Barcelona and the Spanish Civil War on the French warship, L’Adroit, which carried him safely to French Morocco. He claimed he left $300,000 in Barcelona. He then traveled to Poland and wrestled in England during October.
All these years I believe Wladek lived in Maine. He returned in 1938 and wrestled off and on. By 1939, the Zbyszko brother bought and ran a farm near St Joe, Missouri. For the rest of his career he worked out of the mid-west. My guess is he liked to wrestle and keeping in shaped. On July 6, 1939, at age 48, he worked a 1:27:00 draw with Orville Brown in Kansas City. Some major names he worked with and put over in these years are Orville Brown, John Pesek, Everett Marshall, George Tragos (a win), Lee Wyckoff, Edward Virag, Wladyslaw Talun, Ray Steele, and Roy Dunn.
Wladek was injured in an auto accident in late 1940 and was out of the ring for a year working on his farm.
In 1941, Coller’s Magazine printed a story exposing pro wrestling. The story used a photo of Wladek wrestling. Wladek filled a $3,000,000 libel suit against Coller’s saying the photo hurt his reputation and impaired his earning power. The suit was laughed out of court when attorney’s introduced letter’s from Jack Pfefer showing that in 40 matches in 1938 Wladek had received a maximum of $25 and a minimum of $4 per match.
In 1942 Wladek wrestled in Wichita under a mask and using the name The Great Apollo. He removed the mask before a match with Al Getz on April 1, 1942. Maybe it was a joke.
In 1943, Wladek may have spent some time serving as an interpreter during WWII. The report claimed he spoke thirteen languages. If true, he didn’t leave the country.
Wladek Zbyszko had his last match with Strangler Lewis at Minneapolis on December 7, 1944. He lost.
He seemed to retire around October 1944 but had one match in 1945 and two in 1947. In July 1950, he had a three minute match with Jumbo The Bull. The 59 year old won the match.
The two brothers , Wladek and Stanislaus, continued to live together on their farm near Savannah, Missouri, north of St. Joseph, Missouri. They continued to be involved with the wrestling promotion in Argentina and it’s claimed that Johnny Valentine and Harley Race worked and received some training on their farm. The 88 year old Stan died on the farm after a heart attack on September 23, 1967. Wladek Zbyszko died on June 10, 1968 and is now resting at the Savannah Cemetery. He was 75.
This one is another superb, unique Yohe biography worth reading multiple times.
If I wanted to make a buck off of a collection of your posted bios, which I don't, I'd put in "sub-heads" and some photos and peddle the package outside wrestling shows. (Fact is, at this point, I do okay redeeming other people's tossed-away deposit-bottles.)
Let me add my words of praise to the others. No one tells a story like Steve Yohe. The results come alive when he weaves them into his narrative of wrestling history, promotional wars, ego clashes, etc. Plus his intuition always seems to ring true. Thanks, Steve, for sharing this with us.
Great work Steve! It would be cool to learn more about Wladek's time in Argentina. Do we know if the promotion that he bought into was later purchased by Martin Karadagian? Both used the arena at Luna Park.
quote:Originally posted by Steve Yohe: I fixed it...I think. These were notes sent to Dave & he was going to edit it....so it's his fault. I just posted it because it will be the last thing I'll ever write.--Yohe
I hope that was sarcasm Steve. I and many others really enjoy your posts.
quote:Originally posted by Steve Yohe: I fixed it...I think. These were notes sent to Dave & he was going to edit it....so it's his fault. I just posted it because it will be the last thing I'll ever write.--Yohe
I hope that was sarcasm Steve. I and many others really enjoy your posts.
Half of the Internet that follows wrestling's history probably relies on Yohe. Those are a lot of votes if we have to draft him for Presiden...oops, wrong draft...
...draft him to do more major biographies and historical investigations.
Originally posted by Steve Yohe: I fixed it...I think. These were notes sent to Dave & he was going to edit it....so it's his fault. I just posted it because it will be the last thing I'll ever write.--Yohe
I understand where you are coming from, trust me. From probably late 2008 until earlier this year, I was on a hiatus from researching wrestling history to work on other things. You probably just need a little break and will find yourself coming back to it in due time. There is much more to research and understand, and you'll be needed.
Originally posted by Ken Viewer: Half of the Internet that follows wrestling's history probably relies on Yohe. Those are a lot of votes if we have to draft him for Presiden...oops, wrong draft...
...draft him to do more major biographies and historical investigations.
Serious question. Now, we all know that Steve Yohe is the man - a great researcher, a great friend and someone who I admire. But Ken, do you ever feel embarrassed by the copious amounts of praise you lay on Steve whenever the opportunity presents itself? I think he knows by now that you enjoy his work. This endless avalanche of praise every minute is bizarre.
"Around May 28, 1918, Wladek Zbyszko was arrested in Boston and held at Ellis Island as a military prisoner. Having been born in Poland, he was questioned about Austria & why his brother Stanislaus was being held in a Russian prison camp. Wladek was freed by the government the next day."--Yohe
Dan Anderson has found a interesting DOJ documents that shines new light on Wladek's arrest. He has given me the permission to share it on WC:
May 31, 1918 MEMORANDUM FOR COLONEL VAN DEMIAN: SUBJECT:- ZBYSZKO
On Saturday, May 25, 1918, I want to Ellis Island at 11 A.M., and found that Zbyszko had been arrested on Thursday night after his wrestling match and brought to Ellis Island the day before. At that time he was of the opinion that his arrest was for entering the country in October, 1914, under the name Emilian Sozanski.
Accompanied by Major A. Spingarn, I took Zbyzsko in a private room and read George Lurich's deposition before the Counter-espionage Section of the General Staff in Petrograd, and informed him that his deportation to Russia had bee requested by the Russian authorities. He became very such excited and began a long statement in which he vehemently denied all the charges Lurich made against him. I let him go ahead for a considerable length of time to see what he had to say, and I then told him that we were not interested in trying out the question of fact, as that was a matter for the Russians. I stated, however, that we were anxious to learn the truth of the matter for the other reasons and if he would make a full and truthful statement of his relations with Colonel Nekrasoff and his activities as an Austrian agent, he would not be deported and would not be prosecuted criminally. He insisted that he had nothing to state and continued his complete denials of ay complicity in the plots charged against him by Lurich. He stated that he had only seen Eugene Rodziadowsky, the Austrian Vice Consul twice in his life: when he went to see him about a passport to go to South America and later on when he reported to him after the outbreak of the war. He said it was necessary for him to report, as he was an Austrian subject and he had his mother in Austria, as well as some property there. He stated, however, that he was a Pole, and as such was anti-German and pro-Ally.
After spending a couple of hours urging him to make a full statement of the whole truth, I sent for Bruno Schill, an agent employed by Major Thwaites of the British Intelligence in New York, and who was one of Zbyzsko's chief accusers in connection with Lurich. Before taking Schill in the same room with Zbyzsko, I interviewed Schill, and he told me that he believed Lurich's whole story was true. I asked Schill if he was willing to go in and face Zbyzsko, and he expressed some concern, saying that Zbyzsko had tried to throw him out of a window of an office building on Broadway some time before. He asked me if I had a loaded revolver and I told him, yes, that he did not need to be afraid and he then came in with me. The rest of the afternoon was spent in a lively wrangle between Schrill and Zbyzsko which was not productive of any definite results.
In the evening Zbyzsko's manager, Jack Curley, called on me accompanied by a friend of Zbyzsko's, named Jos. Feiner, and Zbyzsko's lawyer, Friedman. They asserted that Zbyzsko was thoroughly honest and reliable and certainly had not been engaged in any enemy activities. They claimed that Lurich was no good, was a drub fiend and thoroughly unreliable. They told one story that was rather interesting and which subsequently proved to be true: Lurich became suspicious of Bruno Schill and thought he was working for the Germans by reason of his lack of interest in the case. He laid a trap for him, in which he had witnesses present to overhear the conversation, but nothing came of it.
About 10:30 P.M. I met Major Twaites at his apartment 3 East 35th St., New York, and spent an hour of more talking with him concerning the case. Major Thwaites said that he was inclined to believe that there was something in Lurich's story and it certainly should have been investigated at the time. However, on sending a report to London of the matter, he had received a peremptory cable to drop the whole thing and make no investigation. He understood this to mean that the British did not care to get into a mix-up with the Russians as showing their Allies to be unreliable.
On Sunday, May 26th, I went to Ellis Island at 9 A.M. and gave Zbyzsko a long cross-examination, which lasted about three hours. He stuck to his main story, claiming that he knew no German at all; that he had only met Nekrasoff twice in his life, and on the whole, from a legal standpoint, I would say that he made a very good witness in his own behalf. I confronted his with he made a very good witness in his own behalf. I confronted him with Myrthis Coney's statement that she had seen hi and Nekrasoff together, and asked him if Myrtis Coney had been with him at either of his two interviews with Nekrasoff. He said, no, and said that Myrtis Coney was not telling the truth in saying that she had ever seen him and Nekrasoff together. I also confronted him with his affidavit made August 5, 1917, which Chirurg furnished Lieut. Brazol of the Russian Commission, to the effect that he had only met Nekrasoff a few times. He claimed that he was not responsible for the language of this affidavit but it represented what he understood to be the truth of it. A stenographical report of this examination of Zbyzsko was taken by Miss. Buckley and will be made part of the file when transcribed.
By noon on Sunday I felt that I had exhausted all the possibilities of forcing any confession from Zbyzsko by means of his fear of being the whole truth; that he was entirely innocent of the charge, and if he had to be sent to Russia, he was willing to go. In the meantime I had sent for General J. Sosnowski, who was a General, according to his own claim, in the Russian Red Cross until the fall of Warsaw. Sosnowski is one of the leading members of the K.O.M., he is reported as pro-German and is under some suspicion by this department. With all these things in mind, however, I thought it was not a bad idea to have him talk to Zbyzsko, as they knew each other, and Sosnowski had no reason to believe that what I told him was not entirely true: that Zbyzsko and the entire conversation took place in English. Sosnowski and I spent fully an hour drilling Zbyzsko as hard as we could, and when we were through with him he was almost a nervous wreck, in other words, in hysterics. He insisted, however, that he had nothing to confess: that he had spent the last 24 hours in hell, and that he was almost tepted to make up something to satisfy us but that he could not do it; that he was a loyal Pole and entirely pro-Ally and that if we want do it; that he was a loyal Pole and entirely pro-Ally and that if we wanted him to go back to Russia he willing to enlist in any army that would fight the Austrians for Russia. We finally gave up, and although Sosnowski swaid he still thought there was something back of it, he did not feel at all sure that Zbyzsko had playing any such leading part in the matter as Lurich accused him of and possibly had been merely the means of introducing Nekrasoff to Eugene Rodziadowsky, the Austrian Vice Consul.
In this connection Zbyzsko always maintained that he had only seen Rodzindowsky twice in his life: once he went to get his passport to South America and the second time when he reported to the Austrian Consul at the outbreak of the war. He said he had to report as his other was in Austria and he also had some property there, and otherwise he would have been treated as a desterter from the Austrian army and never allowed to return. He said, however, that he would never have fought for Austria, as he was strongly pro-Pole and pro-Ally. In this connection, Major Spingarn had a long conversation with Zbyzsko, in which he gave his reason, based on Polish politics, for being pro-Russian and pro-Ally rather than pro-Austrian and pro-German.
Zbyzsko also claimed that he was under the impression that Rodziadovsky had left American with Dumba and was not here while the transactions complained of by Lurich took place. Sosnowski telephoned to some friends of his and ascertained the Rodziadosky was here and left with Tarnovaski some time in 1917.
After Sosnowski and I had finished with Zbyzsko, I sent the latter in alone in a room and got hold of Myrtis Coney and impressed on her that Zbyzsko was going to be sent to Russia to be shot and it was up to her to save his life by getting him to tell the truth. I the let her talk to Zbyzsko for some time alone and she finally came out refused to talk to her; said that everyone was against him and that he did not care what happened to him and that he had nothing to say. Her statement was also taken stenographically and she verified what she had told Lieut. Brazol. She also identified Bruno Schill as the man whom she thought was connected with the German Consulate and who was a friend of Zbyzsko's. She said Schill was the only man she saw at the German Consulate. Schill denied this story; said she saw another man there, but that the papers she showed the German Consul were unimportant; that she claimed that through the acquainance of George Brandes (Nekrasoff's secretary) she could obtain the information about the sailing of ships. Miss Coney denied this very vehemently and protested that she was a loyal American and was against the Germans. She also stated that Zbyzsko told her that she was mistaken if she thought she saw him with Nekrasoff. She did not claim to be in his company with Nekrasoff but said that she had seen him once in a hotel with a man she thought was Nekrasoff. She said she was not sure about the identification.
After I had finished with Miss Coney, I left Jack Curley, Zbyzsko's managers, talk with him with similar results, and when I left Ellis Island Sunday evening at 6:30, Zbyzsko had arrangements with Curley concerning his property here, under the impression that he was going to be deported sort and he subsequently wrote me that he had a long talk with Zbyzsko, in the presence of Mr. Schill, at Ellis Island, that he tried very hard to get something out of him but without any success.
It is a very difficult matter to make any decision as to where the truth lies in this matter in the absence of the accuser, Lurich, Zbyzsko was put through as tough a drilling for two days as any man I ever saw, and if he had been guilty of anything, the probabilities are that he would have broken down and confessed. He is a big husky fellow, with a rather straight-forward convincing manner, and he would not give one the impression of having been engaged in any activities.
On the other hand, everyone who ever spoke to Lurich was convinced of his entire sincerity. There is, however, one part of Lurich's story that leads one to disbelieve that somewhat theatrical circumstance of the alleged break in on Zbyzsko and Ziroludskaya at the Copley-Plaza Hotel, Boston, Dec. 25, 1915, and the white slave charges which brought Zbyzsko into Nekrasoff's power. In Lurich's story he claims that in October, 1915, Nekrasoff was living at Mrs. Goldsmith's house, No. 42 West 97th St., New York City, she was the intermediary between Nekrasoff and the Germans and that Nekrasoff met representatives of the German Embassy there. He also claims that Nekrasoff knew Bernstorff before he came to America. If all this is so, Zbyzsko's connection with the affair is not clear and the white slave story seems rather theatrical and far fetched in connection with the gigantic conspiracy of treason. It seems to be that the best conclusion we can reach in this affair is a Scotch verdict of "hot proves", and as the matter has no present counter-espionage hearing, it would seem inadvisable to press it further.
Of course, it does not necessarily mean, even if Zbyzsko is innocent of any intention of wrong-doing, that Colonel Nakranoff is also innocent. However, I do not believe anything can be gotten from Zbyzsko. Mr. Schill informed me on June 1, 1918, when I saw him at Mr. Parker's office, in the Bureau of Immigration, that Zbyzsko was almost a wreak, and when he left Ellis Island on Tuesday, May 28th, and during the time he had spent there he had lost twenty-six pounds. If, under these circumstances, he disclosed nothing, I do not see what other means could be taken to extract the information from him.
Captain, U.S.N.A. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Yohe: I relate this to the story of Stanislaus Zbyszko's famed match with Aberg in Russia. George Lurich was Alex Aberg's manager and brother-in-law. The two were controlling wrestling in parts of Russia around 1918 and to oppose them in any way was dangerous. Aberg owed Stanislaus 6,000 rubles and he refused to pay. He and Lurich informed on Zbyszko to Petrograd police, saying Stan was a Austrian spy. This was during the "Kerensky revolution" and there were spies everywhere & it didn't take much to get thrown in prison or shot. Aberg claimed that Stan faking the role of a famous wrestler to cover up his spy activities. The police then forced Stan to wrestle Aberg to prove who he was. After two hours Zbyszko won and the police forced Aberg to pay the money owed. The story, told in many versions, became a part of Stan's PR from 1920 to 1922.
Seems the accusations got back to America. Maybe Lurich was trying to get back on Stanislaus thru his close brother Wladek.
Aberg died from Typhoid on Jan. 22, 1920. George Lurich followed, also due to Typhoid, on Feb. 15, 1920. The two were buried in the same grave at the Armavir (Russia) Germany Cemetery.
Got a note from major historian Mark Hewitt:
Hope all is well. I recently came across your bio of Wladek Zbyszko, and, like all your biographical articles, it was an excellent piece. Very informative and detailed summary of the life and times of Wladek Zbyszko.
Here's a few notes:
The Zbyszko name, first adopted by Stanislaus, apparently translates to "Bear" and was taken from the popular Polish Nobel Proze-winning writer Henryk Sienkiewicz's novel The Knights of the Cross: The Crusaders. Zbyszko (Bear) was one of the characters in the novel. Sienkiewicz also wrote Quo Vadis.
As to the South American tour: Stanislaus and Wladek took a troupe of American pro wrestlers to South America in 1934. They set up their base at Luna Park in Buenos Aires, Argentina and held their first tournament on Jan. 6, 1934. Their troupe inlcuded Jack Conley, Einar Johannsen, Jack Russell, Renato Gardini, George Godfrey, Martin Zikoff, Bill Lyon (Leon?), LaVerne Baxter, Everett Kibbons, Tony Marconi, Al Perreira, Justiano Silva, Andres Castanos and Count Karl Nowina. Nowina seems to have really been their actual nephew, the son of one of their sisters. Both Stanislaus and Wladek wrestled on the tour, although Nowina and Silva proved to be big stars among the South Americans. The troupe debuted in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on May 12, 1934; billed as "Luta Americano". Several Brazilian pro wrestlers took part on the cards, including Dudu, Manoel Fernandez, Oscar Baptiste, and Ismael Haki. Roberto Ruhmann had been promoting professional Greco-Roman, jiu-jitsu, luta livre and capoeira matches in Brazil since about 1930. Stanislaus issued a challenge to Ruhmann and to the Gracie brothers at the start of their Brazilian tour. Ruhmann gladly took part but the Gracies were reluctant.
Eventually Helio Gracie faced Wladek in a jiu-jitsu rules contest held 7/28/1934 in Rio. They grappled to a draw. (my take is that it was a legit contest, held under strict jiu-jitsu rules. Wladek overpowered and took down Helio, but could do nothing with him on the ground under the rules of the contest...but who knows...compare Royce Gracie versus the bigger and more powerful Dan Severn in an early UFC). Wladek spoke highly of Helio after the contest and talked about bringing him to the US. Wladek later took on the maverick Gracie brother George on Oct. 6, 1934 in Rio in a submission wrestling match without gis and forced him to give up to an armbar.
George Gracie was the one Gracie who did take part in many professional wrestling matches over the years, as well as jiu-jitsu rules bouts, luta livre contests, and vale tudo fights. George was usually at odds with his brothers and there was even an attempt to hold a George versus Helio contest. George was willing, but oldest brother Carlos nixed Helio's participation.
Wladek's boxing match with Ermino Spalla took place July 9, 1934 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. It was a boxing contest, not a mixed match. Both men wore gloves and were supposed to stay within boxing rules. Wladek was getting beat pretty bad, when in the 3rd round he resorted to roughhousing, slammed Spalla, and began stomping him. Wladek was disquailified. Wladek also claimed to have boxed George Godfery, but whether it was on this tour or not I don't know. Godfrey was with the Zbyszkos in South America and both boxed and wrestled.
Attached find an updated file for my Rio research (based on Rio newspapers and translated by a Brazilian friend of mine).
Any word about the Strangler Lewis bio? I'm really looking forward to it.
All for now, Mark
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil-1930’s (a work in progress)
Research mainly in the daily newspaper Correio Da Manha
1928-Geo Omori, Japanese jiu-jitsu expert comes to Brazil.
9/1928-Geo Omori begins taking on all comers with Queirolo’s Circus in Sao Paulo.
1930-Geo Omori, the Gracie brothers, Roberto Ruhmann and Dudu are all active in the professional fight circuit in Sao Paulo. The five Gracie brothers are Carlos, George, Oswaldo, Gastao and Helio. Carlos learned jiu-jitsu from the legendary “Conde Koma” Maeda. The Gracies both taught the art and engaged in pro fights. The Gracie family has become known throughout the world for their martial art Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
1/5/1930-Sao Paulo Carlos Gracie drew Geo Omori, jiu-jitsu.
1/19/1930-Sao Paulo Carlos Gracie drew Geo Omori, jiu-jitsu…George Gracie vs. Johnnes Toom; jiu-jitsu vs. boxing contest.
11/29/30-Rio Tavares Crespo vs. Jayme Martins Ferreira; luta romana (Greco-Roman wrestling)…Crespo appeared regularly in both wrestling and boxing matches…Ferreira was both a wrestler and a capoeira practioner…capoeira is an African-influenced Brazilian martial art. He later trained in jiu-jitsu under the Gracies.
12/4/30-Rio Manoel Fernandes, of Portugal vs. Williams; luta romana.
1931-The Gracies and Omori have both relocated to Rio and have rival jiu-jitsu academies.
9/1931-Rio Tavares Crespo vs. Alcindo Pacheco; luta romana.
10/15/31-Rio Jayme Martins Ferreira vs. Bijoca; luta romana…Pantojo vs. Carioca; luta romana…plus three boxing bouts…promoter: Oscar Ribeiro.
10/22/31-Rio George Gracie vs. Mario Aleixo, jiu-jitsu vs. capoeira contest…there was a big rivalry in Rio at this time between Gracie Jiu-Jitsu and capoeira
11/1931-Rio Theatro Republica George Gracie beat Jayme Martins Ferreira, jiu-jitsu vs. capoeira contest…Oswaldo Gracie vs. Bahiano, jiu-jitsu vs. capoeira contest…Andre Jansen vs. Eurico Fernandes, capoeira fight…Caio vs. Mane, capoeira fight…earlier in the year Oswaldo Gracie defeated Joao Baldi, the 330-lb. professional wrestler.
12/3/31-Rio George Gracie vs. Mario Aleixo, jiu-jitsu vs. capoeira fight…Jayme Martins Ferreira vs. Geo Smith, luta livre (catch-as-catch-can)…Euclydes vs. Mane, capoeira…Jack vs. Waldemar, capoeira…plus a Batucada demonstration (the percussion music associated with capoeira)…Smith is billed as a German wrestler.
12/30/31-Rio Theatro Republica Geo Omori vs. Samsao, luta livre.
1/1932-Rio Geo Omori beat Tavares Crespo, boxer…Helio Gracie beat Antonio Portugal, boxer…these were jiu-jitsu vs. boxing contests…Helio’s pro debut. He was the youngest of the brothers.
2/1932-Rio Theatro Republica Roberto Ruhmann, professional wrestler and strongman is holding fight cards featuring wrestlers, boxers and capoeiristas…Ruhmann has a match with Joao Baldi.
3/1932-Rio Theatro Republica Roberto Ruhmann beat Adam Mayer, luta livre…Joao Baldi vs. Manoel Fernandes, luta livre…Oscar Baptiste vs. Manoel Costa, luta livre…Annibal Prior, boxer vs. Jose Soares; boxing vs. luta livre match.
4/1932 (or possibly late 3/1932)-Rio Theatro Republica Roberto Ruhmann vs. Manoel Fernandes, luta livre…Tavares Crespo vs. Geronica Barbosa, luta livre…Jayme Martins Ferreira vs. Jose Sampolo, luta livre…Wilson Pavina vs. Kid Burlini, boxing…Veludinho vs. Corsico, capoeira.
4/1932-Rio Theatro Republica Tico Soledade beat Joao Baldi, luta livre…Jayme Martins Ferreira beat Amilcar Fortes, luta livre…Jose Alvaro da Cunha beat Vico Tadeg, luta livre; referee: Roberto Ruhmann…plus three boxing matches.
5/1932-Orlando Americo da Silva, known as Dudu, a popular Sao Paulo pro wrestler is in Rio and issues a challenge to Roberto Ruhmann…Dudu is skilled at both luta livre and jiu-jitsu.
6/1932-Rio Sao Cristanao Athletic Club (SCAC) Dudu vs. Roberto Ruhmann, luta livre…Tavares Crespo vs. Alvaro Cunha, luta livre…Annibal Prior vs. Bruno Spalla, boxing…plus other boxing and capoeira matches.
7/1932-Rio Geo Omori vs. Yousouf, luta livre…Dudu vs. Adam Mayer, luta livre…Tavares Crespo vs. Alvaro Cunha, luta livre…Mineyeshi vs. Saburo Sendo, jiu-jitsu…plus preliminary bouts and demonstrations.
7/1932-SCAC Rio Dudu vs. Manoel Fernandes, luta livre…Tavares Crespo vs. Roberto Coelho, luta livre…plus other luta livre and boxing bouts.
9/1932-Theatro Joao Caetano Rio Helio Gracie beat Takashi Namika, jiu-jitsu…Tavares Crespo vs. Jayme Martins Ferreira, luta livre…plus other luta livre and jiu-jitsu bouts.
9/1932-SCAC Rio Geo Omori vs. Manoel Fernandes, luta livre…Fred Ebert vs. Dudu, luta livre exhibition…Jayme Martins Ferreira vs. Amilcar Fortes, luta livre…Saburo Sendo vs. Ouchida, jiu-jitsu, referee: Takashi Namika…plus boxing and capoeira bouts…Ebert is a globe-trotting German-American pro wrestler.
10/1932-Rio Geo Omori drew Fred Ebert, luta livre…plus boxing matches.
11/5/32-SCAC Rio Helio Gracie, 143 lbs. drew Fred Ebert, 191.4 lbs., vale tudo (no-holds-barred submission wrestling, some striking permitted, pinfalls do not count.)…Dudu beat Kid Walker, Ebert’s touring partner, luta livre…Dudu vs. Geo Omori, luta livre exhibition…Manoel Fernandes beat Roque Filho, luta livre…Tavares Crespo drew Manoel Parada, luta livre…the Gracie/Ebert match was stopped by the police after one hour and 45 minutes due to the night-time event curfew.
12/1932-Rio George Gracie vs. Fred Ebert, luta livre…canceled due to Gracie’s illness…George trained for the match with Dudu…he was no longer associated with his brothers.
12/16/32-Stadium Riachuelo Rio (may have been held on the 17th) Geo Omori vs. Roberto Ruhmann, luta livre…Joao Baldi vs. Manoel Lima, luta romana…Manoel Fernandes vs. Lindolph Meirelles, luta livre…Ismael Haki vs. Joao da Sorija, boxing…Annibal Prior vs, Bruno Spalla, boxing…plus other luta livre and boxing bouts.
12/27/32-Fred Ebert issued a challenge to meet Roberto Ruhmann “under any conditions”…Ebert seems to have left Brazil shortly after this challenge…he shows back up in America in 1935 and wrestles around the country until about 1950. (in 1929 and 1930 he had been in Australia and New Zealand.)
1/26/33-Recife Joao Baldi vs. Jose Floriano, luta romana.
4/1933-SCAC Rio George Gracie drew Geo Omori, jiu-jitsu…plus other jiu-jitsu, luta livre and boxing bouts.
5/23/33-Theatro Republica Rio Roberto Ruhmann beat Pernarella.
5/30/33-Theatro Republica Rio Herminio da Oliveira, “O Estrangulador da Policia Especial” (The Strangler of the Special Police) vs. Lindolpho Meirelles, luta livre…plus other luta livre and boxing bouts.
6/10/33-Stadium Riachuelo Rio Dudu vs. Yousouf, luta livre.
6/11/33-Sao Paulo Roberto Ruhmann vs. Joao Baldi.
8/3/33-Rio Herminio da Oliveira vs. Manoel Fernandes, luta livre…Silvano Costa vs. Waldemar Moraes, boxing.
10/31/33-Stadium Brasil Rio George Gracie beat Manoel Fernandes, luta livre…plus two pro and three amateur boxing matches.
12/1933-Rio Dudu beat Leconte, luta livre…Carlos Gracie vs. Jose Cayat, jiu-jitsu exhibition…Jayme Martins Ferreira vs. Roberto Coelho, luta livre…Cayat was a Gracie protégé. (Note: This may have been the Leconti, an Italian wrestler, who was managed by the Gracie brothers’ father Gastao, Sr. in connection with a circus.)
12/1933-Rio George Gracie drew Geo Omori, vale tudo.
1/6/1934-Luna Park Buenos Aires, Argentina The first professional catch-as-catch-can wrestling tournament was held by Stanislaus and Wladek Zbyszko and their North American troupe featuring Count Karl Nowina and Andres Castanos.
1/19/34-Stadium Brasil Rio George Gracie vs. Dudu, luta livre…match didn’t take place.
3/1934-Rio Dudu vs. Geo Omori, luta livre…plus boxing matches.
4/1934-Roberto Ruhmann beat Taro Miyake…Taro Miyake was a pioneer Japanese martial artist in the west. He spent some thirty plus years traveling the world teaching his techniques, fighting challenge matches and taking part in professional wrestling. He was well-known on the North American wrestling circuits.
5/9/34-Rio Helio Gracie vs. Taro Miyake…match postponed.
5/12/34-Rio Zbyszko troupe’s Rio debut… “Luta Americano”…Stanislaus Zbyszko vs. Einar Johannsen…Andreas Castanos vs. Jack Russell…Martin Zikoff vs. Dudu…Jack Conley vs. Mossoro…Alvaro Santos vs. Jaboty, amateur boxing match…Castanos, a Spanish wrestler and boxer was the winner of a big tournament the troupe held in Buenos Aires.
5/15/34-Rio George Gracie vs. Shigeo, jiu-jitsu…LaVerne Baxter vs. Bergomas, catch-as-catch-can…plus boxing matches…Baxter was part of the Zbyszko troupe.
5/1934-Rio (Zbyszko troupe) Konde (“Count”) Karol Nowina vs. Jack Conley…Wladek Zbyszko vs. Einar Johannsen…Bill Lyon (Leon?) vs. Jack Russell…Dudu vs. Martin Zikoff…Nowina is billed as the Zbyszkos’ nephew and along with Castanos were the stars of the troupe…these matches are listed as “catch-as-catch-can” to distinguish the American style from Brazil’s Luta Livre, which were supposed to be legitimate contests (but pro wrestling is pro wrestling around the world no matter what it is called.)
5/1934-Stanislaus Zbyszko challenges Roberto Ruhmann and the Gracies to wrestle his troupe.
5/1934-Rio Boxing card included Zbyszko troupers LaVerne Baxter vs. Renato Gardini, catch-as-catch-can.
5/22/34-Rio (Zbyszko troupe) Zbyszko (Wladek or Stanislaus?) vs. Martin Zikoff…Conde Karol Nowina vs. Andreas Costanos…Bill Lyon vs. Einar Johannsen…Manoel Fernandes vs. Oscar Baptiste.
5/1934-Rio (Zbyszko troupe) Conde Karol Nowina vs. Bill Lyon…Wladek Zbyszko vs. Martin Zikoff…Stanislaus Zbyszko vs. Manoel Fernandes…Oscar Coete vs. Roque Filho…Renee vs. Mossoro…George Godfrey vs. Joe Zeeman, boxing.
5/1934-Rio (Zbyszko troupe) Andreas Castanos vs. Jack Russell…Wladek Zbyszko vs. Incognito…Dudu vs. Einar Johannsen…Jack Conley vs. Kochenko…Renee vs. Alcindo Pacheco…Jose Setton vs. Maurice Levy.
6/1934-Rio (Zbyszko troupe) Stanislaus Zbyszko vs. Jack Russell…Andreas Castanos vs. Bill Lyon…Jack Conley vs. Conde Karol Nowina…Ismael Haki vs. Kochenko.
6/7/34-Rio (Zbyszko troupe) Wladek Zbyszko vs. Jack Russell…Jack Conley vs. Bill Lyon…Martin Zikoff vs. Charles Senda…plus two amateur boxing bouts.
6/1934-Rio (Zbyszko troupe) Zbyszko (S. or W.?) vs. Jack Conley…Conde Karol Nowina vs. LaVerne Baxter…Andreas Castanos vs. Jack Russell…Justiniano Silva vs. Kochenko…Abraham vs. Manoel Fernandes.
6/24/34-Stadium Brasil Rio Helio Gracie beat Taro Miyake, jiu-jitsu…plus two boxing bouts…there was talk of a rematch but it never occurred.
6/1934-Stadium Riachuelo Rio (Zbyszko troupe) Justiniano Silva vs. Jack Russell…Conde Karol Nowina vs. Tony Marconi…LaVerne Baxter vs. Martin Zikoff…Carlos Stringari vs. Abraham.
6/1934-Rio (Zbyszko troupe) Wladek Zbyszko vs. Jack Conley…Bill Lyon vs. Charles Senda…Martin Zikoff vs. Jack Russell…Ismael Haki vs. Abraham.
6/30/34-Rio George Godfrey beat Valentin Campolo, boxing, 10 rounds, point decision.
7/1934-Stadium Riachuelo Rio (Zbyszko troupe) Wladek Zbyszko vs. LaVerne Baxter…Jack Conley vs. Tony Marconi...Carlos Stringari vs. Martin Zikoff…Manoel Lima vs. Abraham.
7/1934-Rio (Zbyszko troupe) Justiniano Silva vs. Conde Karol Nowina…Bill Lyon vs. Joe Varga…Ismael Haki vs. Abraham.
7/1934-Rio (Zbyszko troupe) Justiniano Silva vs. Bill Lyon…Carlos Stringari vs. Jack Russell...Joe Varga vs. Martin Zikoff…Ismael Haki vs. Pantera.
7/1934-Dudu, “Brazilian luta livre champion” challenges Justiniano “Baroneza” Silva to a catch-as-catch-can match.
7/15/34-Rio (Zbyszko troupe) Andreas Castanos drew Wladek Zbyszko…Conde Karol Nowina drew Jack Russell…Dudu beat Pantera…Joao Bladi beat Manoel Lima…Carlos Stringari drew Bill Lyon.
7/20/34-Stadium Brasil Rio Roberto Ruhmann drew Conde Karol Nowina, luta livre…Jayme Martins Ferreira vs. Herminio da Oliveira, luta livre…Ruhmann’s and Nowina’s purses were held up due to suspicion that the bout was “worked”…a lot of controversy was generated since the match was billed as “luta livre” and not as “catch-as-catch-can”. The Zbyszkos received a lot of bad publicity over this and eventually left Brazil.
7/1934-Rio (Zbyszko troupe) Justiniano Silva beat Andeas Castanos…George Godfrey beat Jack Russell…Carlos Stringari beat Martin Zikoff…Ismael Haki drew Manoel Fernandes.
7/1934-Stadium Riachuelo Rio (Zbyszko troupe) Conde Karol Nowina beat LaVerne Baxter…Justiniano Silva beat Martin Zikoff…Andreas Castanos drew Jack Russell…Abraham beat Manoel Fernandes.
7/1934-Rio (Zbyszko troupe) Conde Karol Nowina vs. Tony Marconi…Justiniano Silva vs. Jack Russell…LaVerne Baxter vs. Martin Zikoff…Carlos Stringari vs. Abraham.
7/1934-Rio (Zbyszko troupe) Stanislaus Zbyszko vs. Justiniano Silva…Conde Karol Nowina vs. Jack Russell…Renato Gardini vs. Martin Zikoff…George Godfrey vs. Bill Lyon.
7/28/34-Rio Helio Gracie drew Wladek Zbyszko, jiu-jitsu…plus two boxing bouts.
7/29/34-Rio (Zbyszko troupe) Justiniano Silva vs. Joe Keller…Conde Karol Nowina vs. Jack Russell…Renato Gardini vs. Bill Lyon…Carlos Stringari vs. Stanislaus Zbyszko…George Godfrey vs. Martin Zikoff.
8/1934-Rio (Zbyszko troupe) Roberto Ruhmann vs. Bill Lyon…Stanislaus Zbyszko vs. Andreas Castanos…Jack Russell vs. Carlos Stringari…Mossoro vs. Abraham.
8/12/34-Rio George Gracie vs. Jack Conley, luta livre…plus boxing matches. (possibly changed to the 15th.)
8/1934-Rio George Godfrey vs. Mauro Galusso, boxing.
9/1934-Sao Paulo George Godfrey vs. Jack Conley, boxing.
9/13/34-Rio (Zbyszko troupe) Wladek Zbyszko vs. Justiniano Silva…Conde Karol Nowina vs. Ismael Haki…Jack Conley vs. Bill Lyon…Abilio Alvarez vs. Mossoro.
9/16/34-Rio George Gracie vs. Renato Gardini, luta livre…Gardini replaced the injured Roberto Ruhmann.
10/1934-Rio (Zbyszko troupe) Renato Gardini vs. Justiniano Silva…Al Perreira vs. Conde Karol Nowina…plus boxing matches.
10/6/34-Rio Wladek Zbyszko beat George Gracie, luta livre (submission wrestling…no pinfalls)…Conde Karol Nowina drew Renato Gardini, catch-as-catch-can…plus boxing bouts…Wladek won with an armbar.
10/7/34-Stadium Riachuelo Rio (Zbyszko troupe) Justiniano Silva drew Everett Kibbons…Al Perreira beat Bill Lyon…Murillo de Carvalho vs. Milton Soares, boxing.
10/1934-Rio (Zbyszko troupe) Renato Gardini vs. Al Perreira…Jack Conley vs. Martinez, of Argentina.
10/1934-Rio (Zbyszko troupe) Al Perreira vs. Martinez…Justiniano Silva vs. Jack Conley…plus boxing matches.
10/1934-Rio (Zbyszko troupe) Justiniano Silva vs. Martinez…Renato Gardini vs. Everett Kibbons…plus amateur boxing matches.
10/20/1934-Stadium Riachuelo Rio (Zbyszko troupe) Conde Karol Nowina vs. Al Perreira…Jose Cayat vs. Joao Pecanha…plus boxing.
11/7/34-Rio Dudu vs. George Gracie, luta livre…match to be held for the Brazilian championship…George left the ring before the match started in a dispute over the rules which would have allowed elbow strikes…George wanted a pure grappling match.
11/8/34-Carlos Gracie challenged Dudu on behalf of his brother Helio to meet in a vale tudo (“anything goes”) fight.
2/2/35-Rio Helio Gracie beat Dudu, vale tudo…the fight lasted 19 minutes and was very brutal…plus three boxing matches.
6/20/1935-Luna Park Buenos Aires, Argentina Wladek Zbyszko beat Abe Kaplan… “world championship”.
9/28/35-Rio Gracie (Helio or George?) vs. Yano, jiu-jitsu…Jose Dotti vs. Yakuro Goti, jiu-jitsu…plus two boxing bouts.
10/5/35-Rio Manoel Grillo, jiu-jitsu champion of Portugal vs. Geo Omori, jiu-jitsu…Miyake (Taro?) vs. Arake Kioto, jiu-jitsu…plus two pro and two amateur boxing bouts.
11/20/35-Belo Horizonte George Gracie vs. Maximino Grandi
12/20/35-Rio Geo Omori vs. Yano
1935-Rio Helio Gracie drew Yasuichi Ono, jiu-jitsu…Ono had challenged to fight all five Gracies in one night.
11/29/1936-Belo Horizonte George Gracie beat Yano-luta livre contest
/ /37-Belo Horizonte-Helio Gracie beat Erwin Klausner; jiu-jitsu vs. boxer
(Notes: Helio Gracie also had matches with Takeo Yano, Massagoishi in the late 1930’s…George Gracie had many, many matches-vale tudo, jiu-jitsu, catch wrestling and luta livre over his long career… Michele Leoni may have brought a troupe of American pro wrestlers to Brazil in 1933…starting in 1936 Brazilian luta livre wrestler Tatu (Euclydes Hatem) began gaining fame and had victories over George Gracie, Dick Shikat, Charles Ulsmer and Henry Piers…during a world tour American pro wrestler Dr. Len Hall claimed to have defeated Dudu in 1937.)
Mark S. Hewitt 2010-2011 (Special thanks to Carlos Eduardo Loddo.)