One of the most significant wrestlers in Colorado during the first quarter of the 20th
Century was Frank Nicholas DuCray, an Iowa-Nebraska transplant to the Grand Junction
area. He was a football star at Lawrence University from 1900-'02. As a wrestler, by the
late 1900s, he was claiming to be the Nebraska State champion. DeCray, in 1912, was the
champion of Colorado and living in the western part of the state. On March 1, 1912 in
Colorado Springs, DuCray was dethroned by Tommy Ryan of the latter city. Ryan
annexed two-of-three-falls at the gymnasium he owned, and walked away with the
Colorado championship. A short time later, on March 13, DuCray regained the state title
before a large crowd at the Colorado Springs Opera House.
Reports on April 23, 1909 were that World champion Frank Gotch and Fred Beell were
signed to wrestle in Denver during the middle of May at the Auditorium for a $3,500 purse.
Jack Curley of Chicago was promoting the match.
In the 1910s and '20s, Slim Roberts was well known throughout Colorado in sports circles
and staged many professional wrestling matches.
According to one source, "Arthur" Mondt was claiming the Rocky Mountain championship
in January 1920.
In February 1920, there was discussion of big time professional wrestling returning to
Denver under the auspices of local boxing promoter Jack Kanner. Rick Ricketson of the
Denver Post mentioned the possibilities of Stecher vs. Zbyszko or Stecher vs. Ed Lewis.
He even stated that "college wrestling has been a great stimulus for the sport." But before
Kanner got things together, Frank Gentry promoted a Denver wrestling show on February
27, 1920 at the Tramway Auditorium.
Ed "Strangler" Lewis and Billy Sandow drove from Tulsa to Colorado Springs, arriving on
July 8, 1922. It was said that they would spend two months in the Pikes Peak region on
vacation. Lewis reportedly did not want to wrestle over the summer, but would if a good
match presented itself. Not before long, arrangements were made for Lewis to defend his
championship there on August 14 at the Stratton Park Pavilion. The Denver Post
indicated that this was the first time Lewis was going to appear in Colorado as champion
and the "first real wrestling Colorado Springs fans have had for several years." The paper
said that Lewis was going to return to the area from a business trip to San Jose, and that
he was planning to tour Europe during the winter.
Bringing together two of the "Little Trust's" top wrestlers, Denver officials booked a bout
between Dick Shikat and Ali Baba for January 14, 1937 at the Auditorium.
During a meeting looking into professional boxing on November 18, 1947, Colorado Boxing
Commission President Eddie Bohn fielded many questions. One of them regarded
women's wrestling in the state, and one attorney pressed Bohn on the claim that women's
grappling was illegal in Colorado and that the commission had issued licenses to women in
the past. Bohn responded by saying that the boxing code had been previously amended,
allowing women to wrestle.
Research by Tim Hornbaker
November 14, 2010
|Rocky Mountain Wrestling Territory