Earl Caddock was born in South Dakota and moved to Anita, Iowa as a youth. He was trained
by Frank Gotch and was one of the sport’s most lethal amateurs, turned professional.
Caddock was credited with inventing 40 holds in the ring. He captured three AAU Titles. In
April 1915, Caddock won a National Amateur Championship in San Francisco. He put together
a string of victories all over Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota throughout 1915, 1916, and
1917. Jess Westergaard, William Demetral and Mort Henderson were among the losing foes.
In May 1916, Caddock and Frank Gotch toured with a circus. On April 8, 1917, the Sunday
Edition of the Omaha World Herald had a card preview for Caddock’s match with the World
Champion, Joe Stecher on April 9th in Omaha, as well as Caddock’s wrestling record. Gene
Melady promoted the Municipal Auditorium event and a packed house watched Caddock defeat
Stecher to win his claim to the championship. Frank Gotch watched from ringside as Stecher
captured the first fall in 1 hour, 22 minutes, 40 seconds with his famous body scissors.
Caddock rebounded with the second in 1 hour, forty minutes, eleven seconds. The third was
decided when Stecher refused to wrestle. 15-minutes went by before the match was given to
Caddock by default. Rumor was that Stecher was so upset that he had vanquished the second
fall, the first loss of his career, that he was unable to concentrate on the commencement of the
Caddock was immediately challenged by Pete Locky, manager of Marin Plestina. He lost the
World Heavyweight Title to Joe Stecher on January 30, 1920 in New York. Their match was a
classic 2 hour, 5-minute event before an estimated 10,000 fans. Caddock defeated Salvatore
Chevalier, billed as the Inter-Allied Champion on March 2, 1920 in New York’s Madison Square
Garden. He was unable to wrest the World Title from Ed Lewis on January 24, 1921 after
falling into the dreaded headlock and the New York fans gathered to witness the match nearly
rioted afterwards. An apparent dislike for the way in which the champion had won.
Caddock and Stanislaus Zbyszko wrestled in Columbus on June 2, 1922 to a two-hour draw,
tied 1-1. Caddock had captured the first-fall in 94-minutes and lost the second in 17-minutes.
Five days later, on the 7th, Caddock met Ed Lewis in Boston for the World Title in a two-of-
three-falls match under “catch-as-catch-can” and “American” rules. Lewis beat Caddock with
the first and third falls.
Continuing the parade of great athletes out of Iowa, Caddock lived up to the word “legend.” He
wrestled for several more years until retiring from the business. He died on August 25, 1950 in
Walnut, Iowa at the age of 62.
Other Notes & Information:
In the September 2, 1917 edition of the Lima Daily News (Lima, Ohio), there were extensive
quotes by Clarence Eklund with regard to Caddock. Eklund, considered one of the best
wrestlers in the world said: "This fellow is a terrible man. I've wrestled Gotch, Mahmout,
Stecher, and all of the best of them, but Caddock has a system that is all his own and truly
wonderful. He has a trick of reversing on you that is baffling. I'm a good leg wrestler, do as well
with my legs as with my arms. He knew that, and kept reversed all the time, practically putting
my leg work out of business.
"Such leverage I never did see. I was so busy trying to keep my balance that I had no time to
think of holds to try on him. By the simplest process, he kept me off balance most of the time,
and unless you are well braced, you have little chance of doing any offensive work. His holds
are peculiar. He gets them loose and gradually tightens. The more you squirm, the tighter he
gets you. I'm a good side roller, but every time I tried one - I went into something worse. He's a
wizard, that's about all I can of him."
When Caddock himself was asked what made him a great wrestler, he said he didn't know. "It's
just natural with me, that's all. I never was shown anything much. No, that isn't so exactly. I got
my head scissors from Ernest Kartye. But the rest came to me, and as I remember it, I was as
good the first time as I am now."
The Kansas City Star on Tuesday, February 19, 1918 reported that Caddock, a protege of
Gotch, was holder of the World Heavyweight Title. The title had been vacated by the death of
Gotch himself last December. Caddock's recent win over Wladek Zbyszko and previous victory
over Stecher, settled the controversy over the "legitimate successor of the famous Iowan."
Caddock weighed 185 to Zbyszko's 240 and his win was a "surprise." The newspaper stated
that his win "proves that Caddock is the most scientific wrestler that ever graced the American
A report out of New York City, printed in the Thursday, January 22, 1920 edition of the Wichita
Eagle, stated that Earl Caddock was going to get $20,000 for his upcoming match with Joe
Stecher for the World championship. That amount of money was guaranteed, win, lose or
draw. Other reports pit Caddock's earnings at around $15,000 and that Stecher made
$25,000, making it a $40,000 purse.
After the loss, Caddock told reporters: "I have no alibis. Stecher won the bout on pure merit
and I was the first to congratulate him. I made a mistake in not taking on a few heavy matches
before going in for the championship." Caddock wanted another match with Stecher.
Research by Tim Hornbaker
|Earl Caddock Wrestling History
Legends of Pro Wrestling