March 1, 2010

 At the conclusion of World War I, the Inter-Allied Games took place at Pershing Stadium outside
Paris between June 22 and July 6, 1919 and 18 countries took part.  Many individuals who had
previously shown their bravery in combat were now demonstrating their athletic skill, and
representing their native lands against rivals of similar aptitude.  Representing the American
squad were two Iowans, Paul Prehn of Mason City and Ralph Parcaut of Sutherland, both
professional wrestlers, and guys who'd barnstormed to make extra money.  In April 1915, Prehn
beat Parcaut, the undefeated 150-pound grappler, at Archer, Iowa, and won in two-straight falls.

 Now at the Allied Games, their techniques and superior grappling abilities were put to the test
against international competition, and both men won championships.  Parcaut won the light
heavyweight title and Prehn took the middleweight crown.  Another American on the team who'd
wrestle professionally was Cal Farley, who'd make a splash as a grappler and promoter in the
West Texas area, and Farley too won a championship at the Games, taking the welterweight title.

 A little known fact is that the heavyweight Inter-Allied Champion in the catch-as-catch-can style
was Salvatore Chevalier of France, a distinguished war veteran.  Chevalier's real name was Jules
Salvatore (Sal) Chevalier and on February 7, 1920, he arrived in the United States to compete as
a professional wrestler in the Northeastern part of the country, and in Montreal.  However,
Chevalier was not going to thrive.  He had a great story to tell and amazing credentials, but he
was defeated by all the major superstars to include Joe Stecher, Earl Caddock, Jim Londos, and
Ed "Strangler" Lewis.  Chevalier didn't lose all of his matches, but when it counted, he was just
another name in the career records of the legends from that era.

February 26, 2010

In 1915, there were several events in Illinois that marred the audience’s perception of
professional wrestling and generally hurt the sport.  The first surrounded Ed White and his
grappler, The “Mystery,” an individual working under a hood and defeating all opponents put in
front of him.  A strong following built behind the unknown and fans believed the masked wonder
could have been any one of the sport’s greats.  On Wednesday, February 17, 1915, White led
his Mystery into the ring with Bill Hokuff of Nebraska at the Casino Theater.  Hokuff was a
talented shooter and hired by rival promoters to end the charade perpetrated by White.  Hokuff
proceeded to beat the unknown man in two-straight falls, in less than 25-minutes.

Embarrassed, White turned against wrestling saying the following: “This match was the only
honest square wrestling seen in Chicago in six years.  This is not excepting the Gotch-Zbyszko
and Gotch-Hackenschmidt matches.  I wanted an opportunity to prove what I thought about the
wrestling game.  I picked up a wrestler who was nothing more than a poor dub, who was being
“flopped” by everybody, and who could not get more than $2 or $5 for a match.  He was billed as
‘The Mystery,’ and he was thrown tonight in a fair manner in the first honest match in years.  I
tested out my theory in this way because I wanted to take a shot at the wrestling game.”

The Mystery was unmasked to be John Freberg, born in Sweden in 1888, and who later gained
esteem as a syndicate wrestler.  Newspapers covered the controversy, and White’s statement
that no matches in the city were on the level opened many eyes.  Supporters of wrestling fought
off the blasts by commenting that White had spoken up so bluntly because he had lost a
moneymaker, and was simply angry at the Mystery’s loss.  One individual to take a serious look
at the situation was Herman Schuettler, Chicago Chief of Police First Deputy.  Schuettler stated,
“White has promoted a good many wrestling shows in Chicago himself.  After what he has said he
cannot get any more permits for wrestling matches in Chicago, at least I will not sign any.”

White returned with the following, “I don’t know why the assistant chief should take such action.  I
have simply told what I know about the game.  If the police do not believe my statement that the
square bouts are the exception to the rule let them call in forty wrestlers the names of whom I will
furnish and see what they tell them under oath about exhibition matches.”

The second incident occurred in Decatur in early December 1915.  A match was held on
Wednesday, December 1 between Millis and Burlson.  The former reportedly was from Greece,  
had defeated many wrestling greats, and remained more than ten minutes with World Champion
Frank Gotch, making him the obvious favorite.  Heavy betting was placed on Millis to win,
especially by Greeks, but when the match occurred, and after more than 10-minutes, he claimed
to have suffered a foot injury, forfeiting the match.  Millis limped out of sight, then hurried to a
train station with the money he made and escaped, sans limp, probably with a crooked smile on
his face.  The build up for the match was genius, as Millis had appeared prior in Decatur and
beat a man named Eggelson, who claimed the Minneasota State Championship.  When Millis
beat him quickly, he was deemed the real deal and a man who could certainly hold his own with
the likes of Gotch, Roller, and Zbyszko.  Thus, he was the favorite versus Burlson, threw the
match and cleaned up the cash.  This type of situation was happening weekly, if not daily, across
the country as fans began to get wise to the antics of both wrestlers and promoters.

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A Snapshot of Wrestling History - Updated 3/1/2010