The National Boxing Association was formed as a governing body to supervising boxing
throughout the country on January 11, 1921 in New York City. Delegates from 15 states
were present. Incidentally, New York, Illinois and Massachusetts were not a members of
the newly organized group. The states represented by the new NBA were Philadelphia,
Rhode Island, Ohio, Louisiana, Maryland, Connecticut, Maine, Oregon, Wisconsin, New
Jersey, Arkansas, Montana, Kentucky, and Ontario, Canada.
By 1929, members inclued Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia
(Atlanta), Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota,
Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Carolina
(Charlotte/Greensboro), Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon (Portland), Rhode Island, Texas
(Galveston), Wisconsin, Puerto Rico, Quebec, Canada, Cuba, Mexico, the International
Boxing Union, and Paris, France. In April 1929, South Dakota joined the group, and NBA
President Paul Prehn was working to add Iowa, Indiana and Florida soon.
On January 10, 1930, the National Boxing Association took the task of regulating
professional wrestling for the first time. The year before, the Association had included
wrestling in its jurisdiction, and now was trying to establish rules and champions that
would streamline the sport. NBA President Stanley M. Isaacs announced that effective
immediately, all wrestlers would be subject to the "benefits, championship awards,
suspensions, and discipline of the national organization," according to the Associated
Press report. "About 3,500 wrestlers are affected."
The regulations of wrestling under the NBA umbrella were formulated by Paul Prehn.
Ranking heavyweights in a special elimination series were Jim Londos, Dick Shikat, Ray
Steele, and John Pesek with Gus Sonnenberg receiving a bye. "Every heavyweight
aspirant must post $5,000 with the NBA to assure defense of the title every four months."
The report also stated that "refusal by any wrestler to enter [the tournament] means his
elimination effective in all thirty-two states under NBA government."
Jim Londos and John Pesek were seemingly willing to enter the NBA's tournament,
posted forfeits, and a March 12, 1930 date was established to determine the
championship. In mid-February, Pesek's manager Al Haft was complaining that Londos
wanted to run out on the match because it wasn't going to be held in Philadelphia or St.
Louis, two of Londos' major towns. Haft even went as far as saying that Londos would
rather forfeit his $5,000 than risk his undefeated record against Pesek.
On March 3, 1930, the NBA wrestling committee announced that the Londos-Pesek
match would be held on April 2 in Columbus and the grapplers would each get $10,000.
Jack Reynolds, who'd recently obtained recognition by the NBA as the World
Welterweight Wrestling Champion, voluntarily vacated his title on March 22, 1930 in
Cincinnati. He stated that the NBA failed to supply competent referees for his matches,
which had been promised to him.
When plans for the Londos-Pesek match failed to go through as initially set, the NBA
banned all heavyweight wrestling within its jurisdiction on April 1, 1930. According to the
AP report, the NBA officials "said it was virtually impossible to match heavyweights in
open competition," and this was due to the multitude of different syndicates controlling
On September 16, 1930 in Omaha, the National Wrestling Association was formed and
Colonel Harry J. Landry was named president with an office in New Orleans.
National Wrestling Assocation Secretary Pete Swanson, on September 29, 1930,
announced that the organization recognized no heavyweight wrestling champion. This
was in response the many queries to who the organization backed.
The NWA did eventually back a heavyweight champion, and its support went behind Jim
Londos. On October 2, 1931, Harry Davis resigned as a vice president of the
Association because the group had recognized Londos as titleholder.
At the annual convention in Baltimore on September 22, 1932, Londos was again
recognized as the NWA World Heavyweight Champion.
On July 18, 1934, NWA President Landry announced that heavyweight champion Jim
Londos had 30 days to face Earl McCready or forfeit his championship.
The Associated Press released a statement from Landry from Jackson, Mississippi on
April 1, 1940 (4/2/40, Tulsa Daily World). In the statement, the National Wrestling
Association's recognized champions were announced. Ray Steele "also known as Pete
Sauer" was the heavyweight champion based on his victory in March over Bronko
Nagurski. Jesse James was the light heavyweight champion, having beat Danny
McShain, and Tarzan Lopez was the "new" middleweight kingpin "following a win over
Gus Kallio." Leroy McGuirk was the junior heavyweight champion and Carlos "Gorilla"
Ramos was the junior light heavyweight champion. Landry also said that the lightweight,
featherweight and bantamweight wrestling titles were "considered open."
On September 9, 1940 in Milwaukee, Landry was reelected as NWA President.
The members of the NBA honored Col. Landry in September 1947 at their annual
convention in Montreal by electing him president of the boxing organization. Landry
thanked his friends, then resigned. He was said to have been president of the NBA for
"three minutes." He remained NWA President.
Landry was reelected President of the NWA at the Sherry Frontenac Hotel in Miami in
November 1949. Charles F. Wheeler of Miami was voted vice president.
To bolster credibility for Lou Thesz because of the confusion over Verne Gagne's
recognition as United States Heavyweight champion on the DuMont Network, the National
Wrestling Association put out a press release in September 1953 saying that Thesz was
the official heavyweight titleholder. "Baron" Michele Leone was recognized as the junior
heavyweight champion and Frank Stojack was the light heavyweight king.
In the November 16, 1960 National Wrestling Association newsletter, President Lawson
M. Lynn notified members that two major championship matches were held in Mexico City
on September 23, 1960. Sugi Sito, who disputed the world light heavyweight
championship claim of Gory Guerrero, lost in three-falls to the latter. Rene Guajardo
also beat Rolando Vera to capture the NWA World Middleweight championship.
Research by Tim Hornbaker
January 2, 2011
|National Wrestling Association History