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ED "STRANGLER" LEWIS
Facts within a Myth

by Steve Yohe

CHAPTER 4

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.[9] 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.

>> Continue to CHAPTER 5

FOOTNOTES

  • 9 The real Bob Friedrich was beating Cyclone Thompson at Galesburg, Illinois on January 10, 1913.
  • 9a The origin of the Ed "Strangler" Lewis name came from THE LEWIS UNPUBLISHED BIOGRAPHY , but the story has been backed up in the Louisville Newspaper results and in a Bob Managoff interview that was published in the CHICAGO TRIBUNE of April 9, 1933 :REFEREE DEFENDS ACTION IN AWARDING FALL TO SAVOLDI by George Strickler. The only difference in the stories of Managoff and Lewis, is Managoff claiming he created the name (Ed claimed it was Bill Barton) and that he beat Lewis (newspapers list Lewis as the winner).

    Managoff had a long career and is remembered for four things: his part in giving Lewis his name, being in the ring with Frank Gotch on July 18, 1916 when the champion broke his fibula ending any hope of the wrestling world seeing a Gotch/Stecher match, being the referee in the famous Londos/Savoldi double-cross of April 7, 1933 and being the father of a NWA world champion Bobby Managoff in 1942.
  • 9b CATCH WRESTLING by Mark Hewitt page 117--- Lewis wrestled in bare feet during the September 29, 1913 match. This was something done by wrestlers of the time, mainly Lewis and Londos, when they wanted fans to think a match was a shoot. Without shoes, it makes it harder for a foe to hook the ankle or use ankle locks. MMA fighters of today know this and go bare foot.


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