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Author Topic: Hackenschmidt Film
Steve Vincent from Australia
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During the course of my research I have come across a copy of a George Hackenschmidt wrestling film.

The film exists in the New Zealand Film Archive. That is the good news. The bad news is that it is falling apart. One of the curators of the archive sent me this information:


"Thanks for your enquiry.

I'm afraid we don't have a viewing copy of this film and only minimal information on it.

What we do have is two reels of old nitrate film stock - which must be treated with considerable caution and can no longer be projected. They total approximately 20 minutes in length (1,400 feet at 16 or 18 fps) and decomposition has begun. (The film is sticky).

Unfortunately no year, country or match information is noted on our database, but the winner is. It is Hackenschmidt."


The fact that on the film can it says the "Winner is Hackenschmidt" means that the film is probably not the famous Gotch match (which Gotch won).

My question is: how many high profile matches did Hackenschmidt have that he WON, before the Gotch match?

The archivest seemed to think it could have been against a wrestler called Rodgers? Who was he?

The New Zealand Film Archive also did not know about how rare their film footage is. They were under the mistaken impression that the American Film Institute had a copy of it. (If you go to the AFI website and enter wrestling into their search field, very early wrestling matches come up. But these are listings only. The AFI does not hold any of these films - they are a listings guide only).

The Hackenschmidt film is of historical value and deserves to be saved. I am putting the word out there so, fingers crossed, someone can step in and save it.

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Ken Viewer
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If it's the Joe Rogers match that was filmed in London, it's from 1908 and one huge, enormous BRAVO to you for your sensational research and willingness to keep at it.

Footage of the first and second Gotch vs Hackenschmidt matches made their way to Europe, and 2,300 feet of film from each match was shown there. Thus, a few prints must have made it to Australia. They also were shown in Argentina.

Again, bravo, and here's hoping enough nicely-put enlightenment will cause the New Zealand archivists to restore the film. The art and science of silver nitrate restoration has dramatically improved with the development of digital-image technology.

If you can get them to transfer perhaps five single frames from various portions of the reels, I can identify the 1911 Gotch vs Hack match because I've seen enough stills from that match. The other two? I don't think I'd try to guess.

Ken

[ 02-18-2011, 10:58 PM: Message edited by: Ken Viewer ]

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Steve Vincent from Australia
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Thanks Ken.

I have compiled a list of Hackenschmidt matches that were known to be filmed:

HACKENSCHMIDT V. TOM JENKINS
1905 United Kingdom Documentary
HACKENSCHMIDT V. JOE ROGERS
1908 United Kingdom Sport
WRESTLING MATCH HACKENSCHMIDT
1907 United Kingdom
GREAT HACKENSCHMIDT V. MADRALI MATCH, THE
1906 United Kingdom Sport
HACKENSCHMIDT WRESTLING: CATCH AS CATCH CAN STYLE
1904 United Kingdom Documentary
HACKENSCHMIDT WRESTLING: GRAECO-ROMAN STYLE
1904 United Kingdom Documentary


Perhaps the film footage in the New Zealand Film Archive is one of these?

Does anyone know how many matches Hackenschmidt actually wrestled? Does anyone have a complete ring record for him? Did he ever wrestle another match after his 1911 bout with Frank Gotch? Ever?

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Ken Viewer
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I'm not a "wrestling historian" and can't answer any of the questions in your last paragraph, though I suspect Hackenschmidt retired after the September, 1911 loss to Gotch.

He lived in London and went his own way in philosophy and lifestyle. Here's a post-wrestling-years photo of him and there's another one here I linked to, where he and George Bothner, in 1949, got together for a legends of wrestling photo in their senior years (Bothner on the left).

Ken

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[ 02-20-2011, 03:58 PM: Message edited by: Ken Viewer ]

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Michael Murphy
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By reading a copy of George Hackenschmidt's book, THE WAY TO LIVE, one will have an idea of how often he wrestled. Certainly not a comprehensive listing but a good start. The first edition,edition de luxe, was published London, Health & Strength Limited. It was copyrighted in the United States, October of 1908, by Health & Strength Limited. I would think that the editions that followed have the same information. These would be much easier to find and less expensive.

After the 1911 match with Frank Gotch, I believe, that Hack left immediately for France. He may have wrestled a few matches in France? Probabaly the best way to check on this would be in Professor Edmond Desbonnet's magazines, La Sante par Les Sports & La Culture Physique. I am quite sure he was photographed, in stereoview (meaning in 3D when viewed in the projector), by Professor Desbonnet circa 1912.

[ 02-21-2011, 03:45 PM: Message edited by: Michael Murphy ]

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Blind Guy
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My personal experience with public archives may not be optimistic, but I hope that developments in this matter will be forthcoming.

Most archives are faced with the fact that valuable information is stored in very unreliable formats. At the present time, it is almost a crisis, where vast amounts of material need immediate attention, and much has been lost. Unfortunately, there has not been much foresight and preparations and plans are subject to funding restraints.

If the New Zealand Film Archives can be advised that this is indeed, a last surviving copy, that would be important. If they do not have the funds available, lets find that out. These types of institutions quite often are underfunded and rely on donations, volunteers and fundraising.

--------------------
Michael Moriarty as Henry Wiggen in, "Bang the Drum Slowly" (1973)

"From here on in, I rag nobody"

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Steve Vincent from Australia
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Blind Guy is right. The New Zealand Film Archive needs to be convinced that what they hold is the only surviving copy of something very special.

I sent them an email highlighting the importance of the Hackenschmidt film but did not receive any reply.

I cannot just sit back and let the film rot away in the archives. For this reason I have sent out emails to a few institutions that may have the stroke to save the film.

The Dan Gable wrestling museum, Russian Film Archives, Estonian Film Archives, British Film Archives etc all received an email from me giving them a heads up on the film. They all have a vested interest in Hackenschmidt so hopefully between them they can help fund a restoration of the film.

Fingers crossed that someone with the power and the money can save the film!

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Blind Guy
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Good work, Steve. I am no expert, but wasn't Microsoft at one point trying to dominate photo/film archives at one point (acquired Bettman and/or Black Star archives IIRC).

--------------------
Michael Moriarty as Henry Wiggen in, "Bang the Drum Slowly" (1973)

"From here on in, I rag nobody"

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Steve Vincent from Australia
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Just received an update from Zak Reddan who is a cataloguer at the New Zealand Film Archive:


"This is just a short email to let you know we're working with our colleagues at the British Film Institute to identify our Hackenschmidt film. If it turns out to be a UK title it is likely we will repatriate the original nitrate to the BFI for preservation and/or restoration.

These developments are thanks to you - and three other wrestling enthusiasts - for emailing and getting this project moving."


This is great news! I don't know who the other three people are but I asked Ken Viewer to put the word out and I myself sent out a "heads up" to other archives. So thanks Ken and anyone else who contributed.

The hard part is waiting for the restoration to be done!

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Indikator
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I found a mention in a newspaper from 1907 (Riga) announcing "kinematographic pictures" with Hackenschmidt and Poddubny during an upcoming local event.

--------------------
Newsreels or it didn't happen

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Steve Yohe
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1908
JAN. 30 LONDON JOE ROGERS WON (2-0)
(ATT: SELLOUT)

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Matt Farmer from WA
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That is really great news. This could be a huge fine for wrestling historians.

--------------------
email me at: inferno4l@hotmail.com
follow me on twitter at: @mattfarmer93

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Roller
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This would be a great find. Even if a few seconds are salavageable it would be the only known surviving footage of Hack. And the oldest footage of a high profile wrestling match with a sidebet. Footage of an important boxing match was uncovered last year in a French archive that solidified the greatness of an old time boxer. This could do something like that for wrestling and Hackenschmidt in a way.
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Crimson Mask from FL
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Thanks to Bryan Alvarez for linking this thread on today's WON update.

--------------------
Why does 'networking' feel so identical to 'kissing ass'?

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Brian Elliott
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If Fighting Spirit Magazine can help in any way in the search for information or publicity, please let me know.

--------------------
Brian Elliott is a British journalist, covering soccer, MMA, and pro wrestling. He has written for the likes of the AP, Sports Illustrated, and Yahoo! Sports, and is currently the editor of pro wrestling monthly Fighting Spirit Magazine..

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killerhinkley
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Was wondering if anyone in here has followed up on this. Its been about 6 months since any news has occurred, was wondering if anyone here has been chasing it.

I want to send an email to BFI, but I also don't want to step on anyone else's toes if it's taken care of?

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Steve Vincent from Australia
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The New Zealand Film Archive has updated their entry on the Hackenschmidt film. Here is the link.


http://www.filmarchive.org.nz/the-catalogue/media/-hackenschmidt-wrestling-f18094


Still no viewing preview, but at least they seem to know that what they hold is of historical importance. I sent an email to both the New Zealand archive and the BFI but received no reply. Has anyone else received a reply from them?

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Ken Viewer
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Bravo to you, Steve, for all your work in calling attention to your discovery. From reading the description now listed in the link, I suggest the New Zealand Film Archive has taken a look at the print -- either some frame-by-frame examination or the entire run of footage. That is progress and I applaud you.

As it turns out, since your first announcement of the find, research indicates Hackenschmidt visited Australia and New Zealand in 1910, still claiming the world's heavyweight title, and wrestled there. Perhaps the footage is of one of those matches... He defended his title claim in Wellington, New Zealand in 1910. He also had wrestled in Australia in 1904.

Ken

[ 12-19-2013, 01:34 AM: Message edited by: Ken Viewer ]

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Ken Viewer
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According to a newspaper account (New Zealand or Australian paper) on February 16, 1910, George Hackenschmidt defended his still-claimed title of world's champion against "R J Scott (champion of New Zealand and Australia)" in Town Hall, Wellington, NZ.

Ken


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[ 12-19-2013, 01:46 AM: Message edited by: Ken Viewer ]

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Ed Lock from Sydney, Aust
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G'day Ken,

That's a NZ newspaper account. [Smile]

Thanks for posting the article, mate.

It appears that George Hackenschmidt was billed as the world champion during his 1910 NZ tour.

Perhaps it was based on George's advertised 25 January 1910 world title match against Frank Gotch in Melbourne not going ahead. Maybe the claim was based on a supposed forfeit by Frank.

I know that Gotch didn't actually forfeit the world title; I'm just suggesting how it may have been hyped in NZ back in 1910.

I'll post a much longer reply in a short while.

Cheers!

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Ed Lock from Sydney, Aust
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quote:
Originally posted by Ken Viewer:
... research indicates Hackenschmidt, IIRC, visited Australia and maybe New Zealand in 1910, still claiming the world's heavyweight title, and wrestled there. Perhaps the footage is of one of those matches... Ken

G'day Ken,

George Hackenschmidt made two trips to Australia; in November 1904 to March 1905 and in December 1909 to January 1910.

On Hackenschmidt's November 1904 to March 1905 tour of Australia he was billed as "the world's champion wrestler". The Singleton (NSW) Argus newspaper on Saturday 5 November 1904 page 6 stated:
"HACKENSCHMIDT IN AUSTRALIA"
"George Hackenschmidt, the Russian Lion, champion wrestler and strong man of the world, will be in Sydney next week under a sixteen weeks engagement to Mr Harry Rickards (theatrical entrepreneur). Hackenschmidt, when interviewed, stated that he competed for forty championships and won all. He met and defeated all the wrestlers claiming to be world's champions except (Jack) Carkeek and two others, who were afraid of him. He had given Carkeek every opportunity to challenge him times out of number, but Carkeek would never meet him. Hackenschmidt said he would deposit any sum of money with the editor of the paper to bind a match with any wrestler in Australia, and will pay £50 to any man he can't "fall". His greatest struggle was against (Tom) Jenkins, the American, whom he threw the first time in 15 minutes, and the second time in 20 minutes. (Ahmed) Madrali was easily defeated, and was thrown in forty four seconds. Hackenschmidt was born in 1877. His chest measurement is 52 inches, biceps 18 ½ inches, thighs 27 inches, height 5 feet 10 inches, weight 14 stone 8 pounds (204 pounds). He also holds 14 world's championships in weightlifting, and lifted 50 pounds more by one hand than Sandow. He will pay any sum desired to any man he refuses to meet in Australia. Axe, the largest athlete in Europe, is also a passenger by the Barbarossa, under an engagement to Mr Harry Rickards. He stands over 6 feet in height, weighs 19 stone and is a wrestler besides a weightlifter."

Hackenschmidt wrestled in matches and exhibitions defeating the likes of Bert Woods (billed as "champion of the British Navy"), Jack "Gunner" Moir, Gus Rennert, Harry Groth, Clarence Weber, Gunga Brahm and Buttan Singh.

The Referee (Sydney) newspaper Wednesday 8 March 1905 page 7 reported:
"DEPARTURE OF HACKENSCHMIDT"
"George Hackenschmidt, the world's champion wrestler, left for America by the R.M.S. Sonoma on Monday afternoon (6 March 1905) to fulfil several engagements. He is due in England a little over two months hence, and will open in Manchester. During the past couple of weeks Hackenschmidt received three signed contracts from Germany, the salary in each instance being £150 weekly. The famous athlete purposes revisiting Australia probably twelve months hence, and will perhaps stay over a year, showing all through the continent. Hackenschmidt asked me to express his regret at not being able to see Mr Foley (Larry Foley, who was known as the Father of Australian Boxing) - he only arrived in Sydney from Melbourne on Sunday. The Russian thinks a great deal of Laurence, whom he always referred to as a wonderful man."

Hackenschmidt returned to Australia from December 1909 to January 1910 billed as "the world-famous athlete" (among other accolades). Frank Gotch's world title win over Hackenschmidt in 1908 was well reported in the Australian newspapers of that time.

Australian theatrical and general show agents and managers, EF Baker and F Talbot organised a world title match between Gotch and Hackenschmidt to be held in Melbourne on 2 November 1909. The Colac Herald (Victoria) newspaper on Monday 19 April 1909 reported that:
"It appears that the match between George Hackenschmidt, the Russian wrestler, and Frank Gotch, the American champion, will take place in Australia. A private cable from New York has been received in Melbourne by Messrs Baker and Talbot, announcing that Gotch had lodged a deposit of £500 for his appearance in Australia in a match with Hackenschmidt for the championship of the world."

The Register (Adelaide) newspaper on Monday 4 October 1909 page 9 proclaimed:
"WORLD'S WRESTLING CHAMPIONSHIP. HACKENSCHMIDT AND GOTCH TO MEET IN AUSTRALIA."
"In January next a wrestling match between Hackenschmidt and Gotch to decide the wrestling championship of the world will take place in Melbourne, and the engagement promises to be one of the most strenuous and exciting contests of the kind on record. Mr EF Baker, who is responsible for bringing the men together, returned from England and America by the China (ocean liner) on Saturday. 'The champions will set foot in Australia conjointly' he said. ‘Hackenschmidt lands from South Africa on January 4, and Gotch, who is coming by the Pacific route, should arrive from America on the same day. The big contest will take place in Melbourne three weeks later - that is, on January 25. I have their assurance, both written and verbal. They have signed a written agreement, and each man has banked a substantial forfeit. I found Hackenschmidt desperately anxious to have the chance to get level with Gotch over the award given to the American in Chicago. He is in simply perfect trim. He made absolutely no demur. Any conditions and all holds was his characteristic reply when approached over the meeting. Let Gotch say what he wants and I'll sign for it he added. He can stipulate for all the latitude he had in Chicago, and all the holds, and any new ones he may have mastered. When I saw Gotch in America he signified his readiness to come to Australia and wrestle under conditions to be mutually agreed upon.' "

The Referee (Sydney) newspaper on Wednesday 6 October 1909 page 7 confirmed that:
"It would appear from what Mr EF Baker, of Baker and Talbot, theatrical and general show agents and managers, has to say, that the match between George Hackenschmidt and Frank Gotch will, after all, take place in Melbourne early in the new year. Mr. Baker, who returned to Melbourne on Friday last by the R.M.S. China, says that Gotch's illness was only on the surface. What he really wanted was a short rest, and when he saw that the syndicate represented by Mr Baker intended to persevere with the match, he readily signed and made a substantial deposit as a bona-fide of his intention to fulfil the conditions of the contract. Gotch thought Hackenschmidt was showing unnecessary haste in the matter. The Russian Lion was very anxious to avenge the defeat, inflicted on him in Chicago; but Gotch, having just got over a very busy season showing, had the contest postponed from November to January so as to enable him to have a good rest, then get back into condition; for even if he determines to retire, he is ambitious to do so a la Jim Jeffries - with an unbeaten record. Hackenschmidt, said Mr Baker, is in fine condition, and prepared to meet Gotch under any rules, even those of Chicago, which allow of the toe, ear, and the nose holds. Hackenschmidt, who left London on September 7, accompanied by his old wrestling partner Gunner Moir, and a number of other well known wrestlers, is to tour through South Africa, then come on to Australia."

Unfortunately, Gotch never wrestled in Australia.

The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper on Tuesday 28 December 1909 on page 4 affirmed:
"HACKENSCHMIDT IN MELBOURNE"
"George Hackenschmidt, the famous wrestler appeared at the Town Hall, Melbourne, tonight (Monday 27 December 1909) and the enthusiastic reception accorded him showed that his popularity had not waned since his visit about four years ago. Hackenschmidt gave exhibitions of wrestling with Gunner Moir (who accompanied him in his last tour) and Alec Bain, a big Scotsman who stands 6 feet 2 inches, and weighs 17 stone. The Russian threw Moir in 4 minutes and 2 seconds and Bain in 6 minutes and 40 seconds. It was evident that Hackenschmidt has lost none of his skill."

The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper on Wednesday 29 December 1909 on page 2 presented the following announcement:
"George Hackenschmidt"
"The all conquering athlete"
"The Russian Lion, coming in all his greatness"
"Sydney Town Hall"
"Direction Baker and Talbot"
"Commencing Wednesday 5 January 1910"
"George Hackenschmidt, king of athletes, in an interesting series of refined athletic exhibitions embracing muscle culture, posture posing, wrestling demonstrations, endurance tests, training methods, together with a unique display of the chief exercises employed in modern physical development."
"Supporting the mighty Hackenschmidt are Gunner Moir and Alex Bain, the world famous athletes."

It appears that Hackenschmidt's wrestling on this tour was restricted to exhibitions with his old colleague Gunner Moir and "the Scottish Giant" Alex Bain.

Cheers!

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Ken Viewer
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Thanks for all the research, Ed.

Do you know if R.J. Scott ever wrestled Hackenschmidt as scheduled and announced?

Ken

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Ed Lock from Sydney, Aust
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G'day Ken,

The Wanganui (NZ) Chronicle newspaper on 18 February 1910 reported:
"Hackenschmidt vs Scott"
"The Russian Wins Easily"
"The wrestling match between George Hackenschmidt, world's champion, and RJ Scott, champion of Australasia, took place tonight (in Wellington, NZ on 16 February 1910)."
"The Russian had a very simple task and merely played with Scott, the contest being over very quickly."
"Scott acknowledges that Hackenschmidt, in both cleverness and strength, is easily his master."

Cheers!

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Ken Viewer
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G'day, Ed,

Thanks very much for the research on Scott vs Hackenschmidt.

Ken

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Steve Vincent from Australia
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Hi Ed

Great research on the Hackenschmidt tours of Australia and New Zealand. Thank you. I wonder what excuse Frank Gotch gave for no showing their World Title match Down Under? According to the newspaper reports the promoters had written and verbal agreements from Gotch to appear.

It is possible that Harry Rickards promoter and theatrical entrepreneur for the 1904/05 tour or EF Baker and F Talbot (the promoters of the 1909/10 tour)filmed Hackenschmidt. If they did then perhaps the family descendents still have the film reels in their attic or something. I am still hopeful of more old film footage coming to light.

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killerhinkley2
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quote:
Originally posted by Steve Vincent from Australia:
The New Zealand Film Archive has updated their entry on the Hackenschmidt film.

Still no viewing preview, but at least they seem to know that what they hold is of historical importance.

Considering the mention of the "urban" film company, and if that's accurate I'm pretty sure it's this one from 1908.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1810632/

Just going on that evidence of course, I could be way wrong.

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Ken Viewer
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Hi, Killer, welcome back.

Thanks for the research you've done on the Urban film company's footage.

Do you still have a digital copy of that film you were sold with the claim it was of the first Hackenschmidt vs Gotch match.

Would you be so kind as to upload it again? It did appear to be an outdoor match and it could, if you or someone can lighten the upload, turn out to be a major outdoor early-1900s match. It wasn't Hack vs Gotch but there were many outdoors matches in that era. On my computer, I can remove the tint after you upload it. Thanks regardless.

Ken

[ 12-29-2013, 09:02 AM: Message edited by: Ken Viewer ]

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killerhinkley2
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Hi Ken,

I'm fairly sure I still have it. I remember I was fairly angry about being taken for a ride on that one and threw it in a box of miscellanous unsorted discs. Luckily I'm a hoarder so pretty sure it's still there somewhere, you might have to give me a day or two, but will have a look.

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Ken Viewer
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Thanks very much, Killer.

Ken

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