Provided by J Michael Kenyon of WRESTLING AS WE LIKED IT.
"Frank Gotch made a fortune"
Daily Leader, Davenport, Iowa, Wednesday, March 19, 1902
SIOUX CITY -- Frank Gotch, a young son of a farmer of Humboldt, Iowa, has just returned from the Klondike and brought him with a "wad" of some $30,000. That's what he made up there in just six months.
Two years ago Frank Gotch was a young man just of age, tipping the scales at 190 pounds, five feet ten and a half inches high, his neck large like a bull's, and muscles standing out over his body like the limbs of a gnarled oak.
"Farmer Burns," the well-known wrestler, "discovered" Gotch, and put him to wrestling. Since then the young giant has thrown about every one in Iowa and Nebraska, and capped his record in the golf fields of Alaska last summer and fall by putting every wrestler of note in the Klondike both shoulders to the mat.
When he went to Alaska it wasn't as a wrestler. So the people who saw a young stranger making his way "up creek" from Dawson and stopping at the claim of James Brown were told he was a young miner named Frank Kennedy. He began daily labor on Brown's claim, washing gold dust out of the sand.
One day, in camp, he chanced to wrestle with a bully, and threw him in a trice. The bully didn't tell it but others did. So next day Billie Murdock, best wrestler on the hill, challenged him and Murdock's friends went to the camp saloon to see the fool-hard stranger discomfited. To their surprise, Gotch threw his man to the hard floor of the saloon in just four minutes and pocketed Murdock's $500. Things were starting well.
Kennedy's fame spread. Two lightweights down the creek, Riley and Murphy, heard about him, and put up $2,500. They pushed their bargain hard and Kennedy agreed to throw them both twice in an hour. He did it in half the time.
The miners began to believe Kennedy was a remarkable wrestler for a plain placer miner, but Kennedy just kept on looking for gold on Brown's claim, and let the rest talk.
Down at Dawson, White, a crack wrestler of Alaska, had the papers print under big headlines that he had posted $2,500 for a three-fall meet with Kennedy. The young "miner" came down the creek, took the money out of his pocket, and covered the purse.
The Dawson papers predicted the downfall of Kennedy, for White had a reputation for throwing people -- in fact the Klondike boasted only about one better. Money went up freely on White. The next day the papers said "White was like wax in Kennedy'st grip."
He had won three falls in eighteen minutes and about $8,000 in purse, bets and gate receipts. But still he held his tongue.
The champion of Alaska was Silas Archer. The newcomer having thrown the next to the best man, the champion became interested. But he declared he wouldn't wrestle for less than $5,000. That suited the young miner, and the $5,000 was promptly doubled. This took Archer's breath away, but the papers said he would surely win, so he felt better.
The winner was to get a single fall. Archer was not alone the champion of Alaska, but a resident there. Local pride and loyalty to "their champion" brought miners from every field in the Klondike down to the Old Savoy Theater on the night of Aug. 13, and every man came with a bag of gold-dust in his hip pocket. Values run high in the Klondike, and when it was all over the papers said more money was bet on that contest than on any wrestling match that ever took place in the world. At all events men fought for standing room at $1 a head.
Kennedy went at his man with a vim, and seventeen and a half minutes later pushed Archer's shoulder blades into the mat. He won, in purse, side bets and gate receipts, $18,640.
A five-style match followed between Kennedy, Ole Marsh and "the mighty Colonel McLaughlin," as the sporting editors put it, and when all was over it was found that Kennedy had cleaned them all out. Unable to find any more opponents who wanted to put their money up on straight contests, Gotch began wrestling against time for nightly purses of from $100 to $500.
He left the Klondike two months ago with the sincere respect of the sporting public. In spite of their heavy losses the people bad farewell to the young man who had defeated their every veteran, and wished him well. Gotch is back in Humboldt, leading a quiet life again. But his advice to the wrestler who seeks financial assistance is, "go to the Klondike and stay six months."