George W. Turner was one of the most significant wrestlers in South Dakota
professional wrestling history. He retired as the South Dakota State Heavyweight
wrestling champion. Born on November 15, 1875 in Turner, Iowa, near Grinnell,
George served in the Spanish-American War as part of the Iowa 50th Voluntary
Infantry. He was trained as a wrestler by Farmer Burns and Frank Gotch, and
wrestled many matches throughout the Central States and Upper Midwest. He wed
Erma Evelyn Bish at Newton, Iowa on January 9, 1901.
Turner later settled in Walworth County, South Dakota.
Jess Westergaard (Jess Reimer) appeared in Aberdeen in late January 1911 en
route to Denver and wrestled Turner. Westergaard agreed to beat his opponent
twice in an hour and was able to get the first fall in 40-minutes, but unable to take a
second - thus Turner was victorious.
The champion of Nebraska, William Hokuf beat "Dummy" Fred West in Aberdeen on
October 28, 1912, and took two-straight falls. Hokuf wanted to meet Turner next, as
the latter was claiming to be the South Dakota state champion.
In March 1916, officials of the Deadwood Athletic club were trying to lock in a match
between Earl Caddock and Floyd Domer. The match was booked for April 4 at the
Franklin Theater in Deadwood.
On Wednesday, December 8, 1920, a strange report came out of Mitchell, South
Dakota, and the newspaper story is so odd that it is hard to believe. Perhaps
another source will shed more light on this tale. But on that particular night, two
wrestlers - Bob Evans of Sioux Falls and John Karhounsari - "broke through a window
in the city jail auditorium," and both fell ten feet "into a standing automobile."
Needless to say, both were injured, although Evans suffered a "badly lacerated
back." Evans, lucky for him, actually landed onto of Evans, and walked away with just
scratches. The reasoning for this escapade, who knows?
On March 21, 1938 in Sioux Falls, in a situation that is more consistent with today's
wrestling angles, the referee Wally Karbo was knocked from the ring during a match
between Earl Wampler and Harry Kent. While Karbo was out of action, Kent had his
opponent pinned, but no one was there to count it. Upon Karbo's return, Wampler
had reversed the fortunes and pinned Kent. In the main event, Ray Steele beat
Jules Strongbow in a match that saw the latter use rough tactics throughout.
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