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Provided by J Michael Kenyon through WRESTLING AS WE LIKED IT.

The Last Big Match of Frank Gotch -- March 10, 1916

(ED. NOTE from J Michael Kenyon : Frank Gotch announced many "retirements" over the years between 1910 and 1916. But he never really entirely quit the mat until suffering a broken angle in a Sells-Floto circus training bout with Bob Managoff Sr. at Kenosha, Wisconsin, in July, 1916. Less than 18 months later he was dead. The Stecher-Gotch match never happened, although Tony Stecher later revealed that, in Denver, a month after the Demetral bout in Los Angeles, Gotch agreed to meet Joe Stecher in the fall of 1916. It was not to be. By the mid-'20s, William Demetral tried to turn into a trust buster by "blowing the whisle" on Ed "Strangler" Lewis after a bout in Chicago. He claimed that Lewis had held a mortgage on his house as hostage to insure that he, Demetral, lose the bout. Demetral filed suit, but nothing ever came of it. Four nights after losing to Gotch, Demetral traveled up to San Francisco's Dreamland auditorium to meet Ad Santel. After about an hour, he got a strangle hold on Santel and refused to let go, causing Jess Westergaard, the referee, to disqualify him. After severely cautioning Demetral, Westergaard let the men come out for a second fall. Demetral persisted with his rough stuff, Westergaard halted the fall and declared the bout "no contest." Gotch, two days after his match with Demetral, went to San Diego and agreed to throw Herman Stroh, Jack White and Sam Clapham within 90 minutes. He pinned Stroh, an Army champion, in 14m. 30s., then dumped White, from San Francisco, in 7m. 30s., before putting away Clapham, the Brit, in 9 minutes flat. The bouts, held at the Savoy Theater, attracted a crowd of some 800 paying customers.


Los Angeles Times, Thursday, March 9, 1916

Frank Gotch, the champion, and William Demetral, the challenger, worked out before large audiences at the Los Angeles Athletic Club yesterday and after watching them wrestle, opinion seemed evenly divided between the two.

Gotch went through a lightning workout with Tony Ball and then tugged around with Ferguson and Bill Huber, ending up with a five-minute tussle with Noah Young. In all the champion worked about an hour and he wasn't so thin that he couldn't perspire the whole time.

The Greek's workout was much on the same order and after he got through he appeared ready to wrestle the rest of the evening. If being in tip-top condition can decide the winner of tomorrow night's battle, Bill Demetral has the championship tucked away already.

When the men enter the ring they will be in marked contrast. Gotch -- stocky, bow-legged, hairy -- averitable dreadnaught of the arena, and Demetral -- sinewy, lithe, satin-skinned with muscle-ribbed stomach -- the very picture of full and perfectly conditioned manhood.

After all is said and done -- the men who have been working out with both wrestlers are best qualified to choose the winner. The majority choose Gotch. They say he is faster, more scientifics, just as strong and in good enough condition.

Others pick Demetral, more because of his superb condition than anything else. He is remarkably fast for a big man, has a thorough knowledge of the game and is a "comer." He is staking everything on this match and believes that he can beat the champion.

General opinion seems to be that the affair will not take more than an hour no matter who wins. Gotch's supporters insist that he will throw the Greek in twenty- five minutes each time, while Demetral's boosters insist vehemently that Gotch cannot come back and that their man will prove it in a few minutes on the mat.

Gotch manifestly has been training himself to meet speed on the part of Demetral. He has chosen men of the type of Ball, Ferguson, Huber and Daggett, who have made him move his ponderous frame with unwonted zip and speed.

He seems to have no fear of Demetral's strength. He gives Noah Young, admittedly one of the strongest men in the world, a hold on him with one shoulder on the mat and the other not two inches above it. Noah heaves and strains for about five minutes without result and then, the moment he lets up, Gotch grabs his toe and Noah looks up at the ceiling.

Those who figure that Gotch will throw Demetral in less than half an hour fail to explain how he, after four years in retirement, is going to do what he only accomplished once in 58 minutes when he was in his prime.

Gotch himself talks and acts as though he expected to throw Demetral any time he wanted to, while Demetral does the same. It is a plain case of nobody knows the answer.

by Howard Angus

Los Angeles Times, Friday, March 10, 1916

Frank Gotch, the champion wrestler of the world, will try to come back at the Los Angeles Athletic Club tonight after four years of retirement and following the plow in Iowa. He will be pitted against William Demetral, the Greek champion.

The bout will tell the tale, too, as far as the comeback is concerned. There is only one wrestler in the United States harder to throw than Demetral. He is Joe Stecher. Even he has sidestepped the Greek. It took Gotch at the height of his career just fifty-eight minutes to throw the Greek. That bout ended unsatisfactorily by the Greek's arm being broken when the two grapplers fell off the platform. So if Gotch wins tonight he has come back.

The bout itself has aroused more interest in the sporting world than any that has been held in years. Thirty-five thousand dollars has already been offered for a Stecher-Gotch bout. Higher bids than that one will be put in. So the public would like to know if Frank Gotch is the invincible who made the powerful (George) Hackenschmidt, called the Russian lion, quit, and Yussiff Mahmout, known as the Terrible Turk, look like a novice. There is just a little fear all over the country that Gotch is an old man, as Foley said he was. Tonight's bout is the best way to find out. That's why everybody is interested.

There is one man more interested than anybody else. He's Jim Jeffries. While Gotch is in the ring grappling, Jeff will be holding a watch on the match. He will be a sharp reminder to Gotch on the mat of the other great champion who tried to come back and who failed miserably.

So great has been the demand for seats that only the general-admission seats are left. All of the reserved ones were gobbled up like so many hot cakes during a breakfast rush hour. There are only 600 general- admission tickets and the club men expect a pleasant evening trying to keep those back who get left out tonight.

No man could be more confident of his ability to come back than Gotch. He has never for a moment dreamed that there is the remotest possibility of Demetral throwing him. Nor does he doubt his ability to get Stecher later.

In his workout at the club yesterday he was just like a big, good-natured boy. He played with Charlie Daggett, Bill Huber and Noah Young. Most of the time he was kidding them or joshing some spectator. After working out he spent the rest of the afternoon showing a friend from Iowa over the club and taking him on an automobile ride over the south. His whole attitude toward the bout was one of indifference. He was a great deal more interested in the fact that he had to have a rip in his tights mended than that he had to wrestle at all.

Gotch is not in the condition he was when he wrestled Hackenschmidt and Mahmout, and admits it frankly. He does not think that he will ever be in as perfect condition again.

"Shucks, I can't expect it," he said yesterday. "I'll be 40 next month."

But the big Iowan is in much better condition than anybody would think who has not seen him. He has a layer of fat on his stomach, but it's skin fat -- not muscle. He can pull it away from his muscles just as if it were skin. His muscles are like iron.

The muscles of the champion are the most elastic of any athlete's who ever lived. When he relaxes he is actually flabby. But when he puts a strain on them they tighten into rough, rugged, iron lumps.

One old-time fan at the club said yesterday: "Let Gotch be out of condition -- he'll still win. His brains will do that for him." That raises a point that everybody seems to have overlooked. Gotch comes near being the inventor of the revised wrestling game.

Demetral, in sharp contrast to Gotch, was worried and nervous. He did not kid any when he wrestled, but went right after his men. The result was that the Greek got a black eye. In a scuffle Charlie Daggett put his fist into Demetral's left eye. It was swollen almost shut last night. In his workout with Ferguson the boy got a bloody nose and before they had finished both the challenger and his partner were bespattered with blood.

The Greek also is confident of winning, only not in the same carefree way of Gotch. Demetral is deadly in earnest. The championship lies before him and he has said to himself that he must win so often and spent so many nights figuring ways to throw Gotch that he, too, thinks he cannot lose.

Following are the dimensions of the grapplers:

39 yearsAge29 years
5ft 11 1/2 in.Height6ft.
208 lbs.Weight196 lbs.
18 in.Neck18 in.
47 1/2 in.Chest44 in.
36 in.Waist35 in.
42 1/2 in.Hips40 in.
26 1/2 in.Thigh27 in.
17 in.Calf17 in.
16 in.Biceps16 in.
13 1/2 in.Forearm14 in.
8 1/2 in.Wrist9 in.

The preliminaries for the Gotch-Demetral match were announced yesterday as follows:

John Hummerick vs. Otto Linnes, 135 pounds; six-minute rounds, two out of three.

William Huber vs. H. Wilson, 145 pounds; six-minute rounds, two out of three.

W. Weber vs. Babe Doyle, heavyweights; ten-minute match.

E. Daggett vs. Clark Connor, 175 pounds; ten-minute match.

Tony Ball against opponent to be chosen, probably Sam Clapham, 15-minute match.

Jack White vs. Jim Chaparalis, 15-minute match.

Two bouts of Japanese jiu-jitsu, ten minutes each. Preliminaries will start promptly at 8:15 o'clock.

by Howard Angus

Los Angeles Times, Saturday, March 11, 1916

Frank Gotch, the world's champion wrestler, came back smiling at the L.A.A.C. last night after four years of retirement. Bill Demetral, and all his 195 pounds of sinew and muscle, were almost like putty in the hands of the wonderful Gotch. Twice he clamped the famous toe hold on his man and the idol and champion of all the Greeks twisted up his face in agony and rolled over on his back.

The first fall came after thirty-nine minutes of grappling. The wrestlers were in the center of the ring when Gotch pulled the left leg of Demetral over his and pried. The Greek fought and grunted and twisted. But over he went. He signalled that he had enough, but Referee Dan McLeod was on his chin trying to see if the Greek's shoulders were down. Gotch called Dan's attention to the fact that the Greek was through, and the latter signalled the fall.

The second fall came after 18m. 37s. of rough work. That is, Gotch went right after the Greek. The fall came as a result of a combination toe hold and crotch.

But the story of the match is not that Gotch threw the Greek, but that he did it so easily. Sitting behind his man, laughing, roughing the Greek up, Gotch whiled away a mighty pleasant evening.

Down in the showers after it was all over he was just like a kid. He was so tickled that he could hardly keep from dancing around. He had come back without half trying. If he was not the old Gotch, he was still the invincible.

"Boys, I'm tickled to death," he grinned while he wiped off the water. "This match showed me just what I wanted to know. I took a thirty-minute workout, then I tried to spurt to see if I had my old stuff. I had it."

He was not puffing when he was talking. He asked those around him to put their hands on his heart. It was beating as steadily and regular as an eight-day clock. It was quite evident that the champion was not even tired.

Just then Demetral came into the shower. Gotch made a jump for him. "Bill, old boy, I love you, except in the ring. You brought me back."

"Yes," grinned the Greek sadly, "I brought the champion back." He shrugged his shoulders to indicate that there was not much in life worth living for.

"I'm for you when you meet Stecher, Gotch," he said.
"Let me train with you."

And Gotch consented.

But to get back to the match. The L.A.A.C. gym was packed as it never has been packed before. Every available space was filled with a greasy sweating face and long before the two wrestlers were ready for action, the air was hot and heavy as if it had been being fanned over a blazing furnace. The whole bottom floor was a black mass and around the gallery were peering, anxious faces.

Outside of the L.A.A.C. a thousand men waited patiently in line, hoping that by some crook they could get in. They were told that the seats were gone, but they hung doggedly on. A few went away. But most of them hung around in groups waiting for news from the inside. After Gotch threw Demetral the first time, they melted away. But many still hung to hear from friends how Frank Gotch came back.

Demetral was the first to come through the maze of smoke that hung in a twisted mist over the audience. It was 9:52 o'clock. He wore an anxious expression. A little later Gotch followed and he was not smiling.

"It's the first time I have ever seen him look nervous," whispered Charlie Eyton in a strange whisper. While Guy Finney was introducing the men to the audience and Dan McLeod was crawling through the ropes, Gotch moved nervously from foot to foot. Why shouldn't he? There was Jim Jeffries just below him looking up at the wrestling champion. On his face was stamped the whole history of the Reno failure.

The two men came together in the middle of the ring and began grabbing at each other's heads. In two minutes Gotch reached down, grabbed the Greek's leg and brought him to the mat. Like a cat the champion pounced behind him and began working on a crotch hold.

He stopped short and looked up. A great big grin spread over his face and the whole audience laughed with him. Gotch knew then that he had come back, and the audience knew it, too.

The rest of the evening was spent by Gotch working over the top of the sprawled-out Demetral, while the latter wiggled and fought off holds. Ever Gotch's hand would creep down the leg for a toe hold. But always he would drop the leg and go back to the body. Several times the Greek squirmed out of some ticklish positions.

Once when Gotch had an arm clutched around the Greek's mouth and yanked his head back, Demetral bit him. The smile suddenly flashed from Gotch's face. He reached for the Greek's toe and gave it a twist. In the skirmish that followed the Greek kicked out of the toe hold and got behind Gotch. The champion immediately sat down and brought his elbows down so hard on the Greek's arms that he let go.

A second after this came the only time that Gotch was in danger. He was working Demetral into a half-nelson and reverse armlock when suddenly the Greek squired out, seemed to get the identical same hold on Gotch and the two rolled over into the ropes. Both were up in a second. Gotch moved so quickly that the danger was gone like a flush almost before it came. But he was puffing. He began to look tired. But two minutes later he took a deep breath and had his second wind. Several times Demetral tried to squirm away from the champion, but the latter just crawled after him clinging onto his leg.

When they reached the center of the ring, Gotch suddenly whipped the Greek's left leg up over his own bulky left and grabbed the toe. Demetral kicked but Gotch was under the wild kicking. The champion was pulling, for his lips were drawn hard and tight. The Greek let out a squeal and began rolling slowly over. His face was almost purple, twisted in agony. His eyes were rolled back until only the whites showed.

He began thumping on the floor in pain. Twice he cried, "Enough." But in the noise caused by the rising of the thousands crammed in that little gym only Gotch heard. Dan McLeod himself could not hear the faint squeak.

"He says enough, Dan," said Gotch quietly. The Greek twisted and squirmed twice meaning yes. McLeod brought down his hand, signalling the fall. Gotch walked smiling from the ring. Demetral walked slowly, shaking his head. As he passed the press box he asked the time. "It's longer than any foreign champion stuck," he grinned.

When the men came back for the second fall, Gotch had Demetral buffaloed. The Greek had felt the sting of the toe hold and feared it. Whenever Gotch began fooling with his leg, the Greek sat up.

Gotch was moving faster than during the first fall. Twice he picked up Demetral and threw him to the mat. Once when he had hold of the Greek's leg and the latter tried to get away by holding onto the ropes, Gotch gave him a heave and Demetral came near landing on his head in the crowd. After that he did not try to hold onto the ropes.

The crowd was now with Demetral. Gotch was behind the Greek most of the time twisting his legs, trying for a crotch and half-nelson.

Once Demetral wiggled behind Gotch and the latter almost broke the Greek's hands when he jerked away.

After that Gotch moved more quickly than ever. He slipped his hands between his opponent's legs and began twisting with might and main. The Greek in his efforts to get away bumped all over the ring on his head. Once the Greek kicked up his leg in his efforts, and the champion simply grabbed it and twisted, all the time retaining the crotch hold. Demetral simply wriggled over on his back.

The crowd gave a cheer for Gotch and another for Demetral as it began to leave. But most of them walked out shaking their heads. They had learned that Gotch had come back. The Greek raised his hand and stopped the people.

"I tried my best, but Gotch was too strong and clever. In a month he'll be as good as ever. Nobody in the world can throw him."

And the crowd believed.

The L.A.A.C. management announced that Joe Stecher, the challenger of Gotch for the title, will wrestle at the club March 18. Doc Krone of Chicago last night sent a wire offering $50,000 for a Stecher-Gotch match.

After his game but futile attempt to throw Gotch, Demetral would draw heavily with Stecher. The crowd admired him for his gameness last night. One thing is certain. Demetral never quit trying and the only way Gotch threw him was with the toe hold. The Greek may meet Stecher.

There were six preliminaries to the main event, the chief of which was the Tony Ball and Sam Clapham match. Ball worked behind Clapham during the whole bout. He got half-nelsons, forward arm locks and several other supposedly fatal hooks, but every time Clapham bridged out of them. The Englishman can sure twist around on his neck. The go was fifteen minutes long. Sam Cutler, the giant wrestler, refereed this match. He issued a challenge to both Demetral and Gotch.

There was another preliminary scheduled to go fifteen minutes, but Jack White, one of the contestants, cut it short, unceremoniously, after 4m. 45s. of grappling. He simply put an armlock and half-nelson on the other fellow, Jim Chaparalis, and the Greek rolled over.

This gave Charley Eyton an inspiration. He predicted careless like that it was going to be a bad night for Greeks.

In the first preliminary of the evening John Hummerick won a decision over Otto Linnes after two six-minute periods, and two additional three-minute periods, and two additional three-minute periods. The two 135- pounders were so evenly matched that they had a hard time getting each other off their feet.

Bill Huber won from Harry Wilson at 145 pounds. It took three six-minute periods to decide the winner. A flying fall by Huber cinched the bout for him.

Earnie Daggett took a six-minute decision from Clark Connor. Daggett must have thought he was Gotch for he sat behind Connor the whole time.

The boys who raised the racquet were four Japanese who threw each other over their shoulders, hips, heads and backs with wild abandon. At times it sounded as if the floor must give in from the force of the throw, but each time the fallen Jap came up smiling.

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