ED "STRANGLER" LEWIS
Facts within a Myth
by Steve Yohe
A New Name and Lexington, Kentucky
Late in 1912, Bill Barton, promoter and manager of Bill Demetral, came through Lansing. He was impressed with Friedrich and invited Bob to come to Kentucky for a series of matches. Friedrich agreed, but when the time arrived, Barton sent his letter with details of Friedrich's bookings to Lansing Michigan instead of Iowa.
Without Bob knowing it, Barton booked Bob Frederick to meet William Demetral in Louisville on January 10, 1913. As the match approached, Barton realized his new star wasn't coming, so he looked for a substitute. He found the veteran wrestler Bob Managoff willing, but Bob Frederick had been billed for a week. Managoff was always willing to change his name or nationality for a payday. So Barton used Managoff, under the name Bob Frederick, and it was he who did the job for Demetral.
With in a week, the real Bob Frederick (Friedrich) showed up in Louisville. With another Frederick (Managoff) in town, Barton created a new name for Bob. He became Ed "Strangler" Lewis, a take off of the name of the famous wrestling champion of the 19th century, Evan "Strangler" Lewis. There was no intent of honoring an old champion, they just liked the sound of it.
On Jan. 24, 1913, Ed "Strangler" Lewis had his first match in Louisville or anywhere else, beating none other than Bob Frederick. He would use that name, given to him by Bill Barton, for the rest of his life.[9a]
Kentucky was one of wrestling's hottest areas in 1913. Based mainly in Louisville and Lexington, it had a good promoter who booked regular cards using major talent from Chicago. Lewis liked Lexington and would homestead the area for over two years. For much of his career he would be billed as being from Kentucky.
Lexington was one of the richest cities of the South. During the Civil War, it had been occupied mainly by the Union and wasn't destroyed like much of the South. It still had the feel and culture of the pre-war South and it was the center of the horse racing industry. It was occupied by a large sporting crowd, coupled with a very sophisticated and unique social life. Lewis's personality seemed to take on much of the characteristics of the southern gentleman as he grew as a person and a wrestler in the city.
Lexington was promoted by Jerry M. Walls (or Wallus) and he managed Lewis for the next few years (with a verbal contract). During 1913, Lewis had wrestling programs with William Demetral and Dr Ben F. Roller. Both men were world class wrestlers. Demetral was called the Greek champion and Light Heavyweight world champion. Roller was a main eventer on a national level, a true hooker, with good skills as a performer, but, like a true pro wrestler, willing to exchange wins and losses for a good payday. In his losses, he liked to use the same finish, always getting injured in the deciding fall. Through it all, he still maintained the reputation of being one of the sports best wrestlers. Lewis's
association with Roller in 1913, gave Lewis the status of a true main eventer and he was seen by most fans as a true contender to the world title.
During the summer of 1913 (July & Aug), Lewis worked in a Wisconsin (some reports say Oregon) lumber mill chopping wood to improve his strength and condition.
On Sept. 18, 1913, Lewis won a version of the American title from Dr. Ben F. Roller when the Doctor injured his ribs and couldn't continue. Lewis wrestled Demetral on September 29 in a match so violent that it was stopped by police and both wrestlers were charged with disorderly conduct. That resulted in Mayor J. E. Cassidy banning pro wrestling in Lexington but he was over ruled by the local board of commissioners. Lewis lost his claim to the so called American title on October 21, 1913, when he was hurt from a fall into a orchestra pit during the rematch with William Demetral.[9b]
On April 1, 1913, Frank Gotch had his last major title defense defeating the great European champion George Lurich in two straight easy falls. He once again announced his retirement and Gotch said he wasn't interested in wrestling again unless he was offered a super match with someone who could draw major money. No one at the time realized it, but Gotch's health was failing.
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