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ED "STRANGLER" LEWIS
Facts within a Myth

by Steve Yohe

CHAPTER 19

Wayne Munn and the Big Blunder of 1925

By the end of 1924, everyone of Lewis' major contenders had been blown off. Old Stan Zbyszko had been beaten at least 11 straight times in publicized matches, in every major city. Toots Mondt, Dick Daviscourt, Renato Gardini, and Mike Romano had been beaten to death and were then being used to put over lesser wrestlers, who couldn't draw. Jim Londos, although beaten, had gain in popularity but he had ideas of his own and Sandow didn't have complete control over him. Earl Caddock retired in July 1932. John Pesek wasn't trusted, didn't like to do jobs, and had been destroyed in his strongest town by Lewis. Sandow was afraid of Joe Stecher, who had been lied to and promised his title back, and Wladek Zbyszko, had been forgotten by just about everyone. There was no new super star to draw a huge house against….unless Sandow created one. Sandow, Lewis and Max and Julies Bauman got together, and the idea they came up with was Wayne Munn.[175]

Wayne Munn was born at Colby Kansas in 1899. Later his family moved to Fairbury, Nebraska and he played on the football team at The University of Nebraska from 1916 to 1918. He was the first of four athlete brothers and a star lineman on a team that defeated Notre Dame 7 to 0 in a famous 1917 game. He majored in medicine but left the school to join the Army during WWI. Like most athletes during the war, he never left stateside and instead toured as a star on a all-star football team, out of Camp Pike, that beat every other southern army camp. He attended officers training camp and was discharged as a Lieutenant. After the war, he worked as a teacher, preacher and even took a turn on the vaudeville stage. But by 1923, he was selling cars in a dealership in Omaha, which led him to Sioux City and a job in the oil business. Being 6'6'' and over 315 pounds, he attempted to start a career as a pro-boxer. By November 16, 1923, Munn had lost 55 pounds in training but was knocked out by Jack Clifford in the second round in Sioux City. Clifford's record was 3-22 at the time. On December 8, 1923, he fought a Charley Paulson (0-0) in Sioux City and was put away in the 4th round.[176] Wayne had helped put two brothers, Wade and Mont, through collage and both became prosperous lawyers. Mont became a member of the Nebraska State Legislature. A third brother, Glenn, was doing well as a athlete at the university while Wayne was champion and would follow his brother into pro wrestling.[176a]

Billy Sandow thought he would do better in a "worked" sport and spent most of 1924 having him trained as a pro wrestler. He was huge, good looking for the 1920's and powerful, but a terrible wrestler. The only real hold he could be taught, was his finisher, the body slam. He could pick'em up and slam them…but that's about all. Hulk Hogan, as a worker, would look like Volk Han next to him, but there are a lot of similarities between the two stars. He seemed to be a nice guy and a good person, so Sandow wouldn't have to worry about a wrestling ego.

By the end of 1924, Billy Sandow and promoter Gabe Kaufman had managed to get him over in Kansas City. He had been given wins over Toots Mondt and Wallace Duguid, showing little wrestling ability but a lot of power. A match was booked between the champion Ed Lewis and the giant Munn for January 8, 1925 at the Kansas City Convention Hall.[176b]

The 15,000 fans present cheered Wayne Munn from the moment he entered the ring and all Lewis could get, after many bouts in Kansas City, were boos. Lewis's weight was announced as 235 pounds and Munn weighted 260 pounds of muscle. The two spared around for most of the first fall. Ed attempted to use the headlock, but the giant just shook him off. At the 21 minute mark, Munn picked Lewis up in the crotch hold and slammed Ed through the mat, and pinned him. The feared Strangler just writhed and groaned in agony. His 10 minute rest period between falls ended up being 20. Two minute into the second fall Munn picked Lewis up again and threw him high over the top rope, crashing on to the apron and then falling on to the floor. Billy Sandow jumped into the ring yelling "foul" and for a period of time it seemed like he and Munn was going to have a fight of their own. The crowd rushed the ring, thinking Munn would lose the match on a foul, but a riot was averted when referee Walter Bates ruled Munn had lost the second fall on the foul but Lewis had to return in fifteen minutes ready to wrestle or lose the match and title. Lewis was carried to the dressing room at the back of the hall as fans booed and threw paper balls at his limp form.

This ruling goes back to the Stecher/Mondt match of February 11, 1924, where the promoter changed the Kansas City rules and stated that a foul in a early fall would only lose that fall and not the complete match.

The fans sat with watch in hand waiting for the champion's return. 20 minutes passed with no Lewis and at one point a doctor was called. When Lewis returned, his back was bandaged and he had to be helped into the ring. Billy Sandow stated that Lewis was wrestling the rest of the match under protest and that the decision would be contested.

At the bell, the two wrestlers met at the center of the ring. Lewis tried for a headlock but was once again manhandled by Munn and slammed. Lewis didn't move as he was pinned at 50 seconds of the third fall.

The crowd cheered and rushed the ring as the referee Bates raised Munn's arm as new world champion. The fans jumped into the ring, passed the police, as they praised the new hero.[177]

Lewis laid forgotten by everyone in the building, just as his past foes had been forgotten after being crushed by his headlocks. For a while he watched as the fans paraded around Munn. He later was taken from the ring to boos and a ambulance drove him to St Lukes hospital. Ed was admitted, but by morning his injuries had still not been determined. Rumor were put out that he would have to be put into a full body cast….which was a joke. In the days that followed, it was claimed he had an injured back but no fracture was seen on any x-ray. The Doctor's statement was that "his condition is very favorable to a speedy recovery."

Billy Sandow continued to protest the match and refused to give Wayne Munn Lewis' two championship belts. One was the Lewis belt, that was awarded to him in 1921 by Central Athletic Club of Kansas City, and the other was the Zbyszko's Rickerd belt that had been awarded to Stanislaus in New York City. Sandow's and Lewis' argument was that the Munn foul in the second fall should have given them the match, thus they were still the rightful title holder. Sandow cancelled all engagements, including the European tour. Sandow promised to take his case to court. Lewis stayed in the hospital for a short period and was back in the gym by mid-month.

On January 14, Munn announced he had signed a $2,500 a week contract to join the vaudeville tour, that would last from February 1 to mid-April. If the plan with Munn was anything like Paul Bowser push of Danno O'Mahoney in 1925, Sandow and Toots Mondt was working out Munn every day, trying to develop him into a performer that fit the standards of a normal pro wrestling worker. The local vaudeville tour, probably was a way to not expose him in the ring until he was ready. His "worked" manager, Gabe Kaufman, said he might be able to wrestle a few minor matches during that time, but nothing with Lewis was planned.

To keep the storyline in the press, Sandow had both sides treating to take each other to court to stop the other wrestler from claiming the title. In late January, Munn filled a petition to stop Lewis and Sandow from claiming the championship. So, in effect, Billy was suing himself.

Their was a lot of print about how Wayne Munn's victory had broken up the trust that had dominated pro wrestling sense 1915 with Stecher, Lewis, Caddock and the Zbyszko brothers taking turns with the title, but another article was printed in the Wichita Eagle on January 11 that blew everyone's cover. It stated that Billy Sandow owned Wayne Munn contract and was the actual manager of the football player. The reporter also claimed that the newspaper received a letter from a wrestling insider in Kansas City in the week before the Lewis/Munn match, stating that Lewis was going to drop the title to Munn. He also claimed that Wichita fans had lost interest in pro wrestling.[178Please read this footnote.]

On January 21, Wayne Munn was presented to the House of Representatives at Lincoln Nebraska by his brother Monte Munn, who was an elected member. Monte gave a speech and Wayne was congratulated for his victory over Lewis by the house. The brother stated there was nothing "shady" about the title win. Each member was given tickets to see Munn's vaudeville appearance that night at a local theater.[179]

A storyline was created where Munn signed to make a title defense against Stanislaus Zbyszko in Chicago on February 3, but Sandow stopped the match by claiming he had filed an injunction suit. So Wayne Munn's first match as champion was moved to Kansas City and the date was set for February 11.

Lewis took the February 3 booking at the Chicago Coliseum and agreed to meet anyone the promoter selected, who turned out to be Joe "Toots" Mondt. Lewis beat Mondt in two out of three falls while claiming the world title. On the undercard, Wayne Munn gave an exhibition of the holds (or hold) he used to defeat Lewis in Kansas City. This was probably his vaudeville act. The card drew 9,000 for a gate of around $21,000.[180]

Munn made it to Kansas City for the February 11 match with the ex-champ Stanislaus Zbyszko. Munn easily beat Stan in straight falls. Stan looked short, old, and fat and was no match for the giant champion. Munn was ever in trouble. Zbyszko was pushed and thrown all over the ring. Wayne body slammed Stan with a crash to win the first fall in 16:40 and then repeated the result in 12:45. Munn grew well with 12,000 in the Convention hall. Munn dropped the vaudeville job about this time and started accepting wrestling dates.

Joe Stecher and Jack Curley were becoming more active in 1925 (180a). Stecher was working full time being booked in St Louis, Wichita, Memphis and New York. On February 19, he presented a written repudiation of an Omaha interview to the New York Athletic Commission. In the interview Stecher was quoted admitting he had engaged in fixed matches. He denied he had authorized the interview and suggested some enemy was responsible. He appeared in front of the commission that Friday when an investigation was conducted. Nothing resulted from it.[181]

Tony and Joe attempted to force a John Pesek match in Wichita during the first two months of the year. Pesek was the only one of Lewis' policemen, he hadn't beaten and Joe seemed obsessed with wrestling him. He offered a side bet of $10,000 to Pesek and the Tiger seemed willing but his manager Max Bauman never seemed to be in town the same day as Tony Stecher. A $20,000 bet was also offered to Toots Mondt, with nothing happening other than talk. Most of it merely used in an effort to quiet Stecher, whose demands for a title match were getting more and more embarrassing to the Lewis group.[182] Earlier in the year, Stecher had defeated another Sandow wrestler in Dick Daviscourt twice. One of them in St Louis on February 5, saw Daviscourt disqualified for foul tactics in the third fall. Daviscourt came out of it with a swollen eye. On March 6, 1925, Stecher won two out of three falls from Ad Santel in Wichita.[183]

Jim Londos was also showing up in New York on Jack Curley cards. One wonders if Londos had jumped ship from Sandow group at this time, perhaps because he wasn't considered for the Wayne Munn part in the storyline.

Billy Sandow's plan, from the beginning, was for the Munn/Lewis rematch to take place on the Decoration Day holiday, May 30, at a out door stadium in Michigan City, Indiana. His plan would build to a super match that would be the first $100,000 gate in pro wrestling history. One wonders if that would have been the site and date for the Lewis/Dempsey match, if things had worked out.

Lewis and Munn both worked main events in Chicago during February and March. Both billed as world champion. Lewis beat Joe Zickman twice and Tom Draak. Munn beat Mike Romano on February 18 drawing 7,500 and on March 31 he beat his trainer Toots Mondt in front of 8,000 fans with a gate of $22,000. Mondt got his shot at the title by beating Stanislaus Zbyszko on March 3. Munn also beat Pat McGill in Rochester and Wallace Duguid in Cleveland.

A boxing promoter, named John Curley, was running wrestling cards in Philadelphia against Aurello Fabiani. This John Curley, not Jack Curley, was aligned with Sandow and he booked a rematch between Munn and Stan Zbyszko for April 15, 1925 at the Philadelphia Arena. Actually, the choice of Stan Zbyszko as the challenger, was made by the Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission, not the promoter.

Wayne Munn went through the motions of training in Philadelphia during the week leading up to the match. On the night before, Munn, Manager Gabe Kaufman and promoter John Curley attended, as a guest of Connie Mack, the season opener of the Philadelphia baseball team.

That same night, April 14, Joe Stecher was wrestling former Harvard coach Frank Judson at the Philadelphia Adelphia for promoter Aurello Fabiani. Stecher won the match. The reporter claimed the bout was "free of play acting which damages so many matches and had no exaggerated groans or writhing, either facial or otherwise." It was a clean test of strength and was "clean as a tooth of a hound."[184] Stecher was still playing the part of a legitimate champion wrestler and hadn't adapted to the new style of Billy Sandow.

Stanislaus Zbyszko was in Philadelphia that night too. His birthday on April 1 had probably made him wonder how much longer he would last as a wrestler. Before 1922, he had gone years without doing a job, but by 1925 he had gone from being champion to top contender to setting up lesser wrestlers. He had dropped 11 straight major matches, all over America, to Lewis and then did jobs for Pesek, Mondt, Steinke, Londos and now the footballer Wayne Munn. A lot of wrestling purists hated Sandow new gimmick and hated the turning of the sport into a circus with brawling and men flying out of the ring. They believe the fans would tire of the style and the sport would die. From his statements late in life, I believe Stanislaus Zbyszko felt the same. Stan was an intelligent man, he knew putting over a "performer" would mean the end of his career. Billy Sandow had no more use for him and he would be looking for work soon. He claimed in the paper that he no longer had a manager and I'm sure that he talked to Jack Curley, Aurello Fabiani and Tony Stecher in the days leading up to the match. Curley had always been a friend, who had managed his brother and helped bring him to America. He also probably talked to Wladek, who's feud with Lewis had build the Strangler into a star, but had never got any big money title matches once Sandow controlled the belt[184a]. This continued even after Wladek went to work for Sandow ally Paul Bowser. Really all Billy Sandow had to rely on was Zbyszko's character and professionalism…. it was a mistake. Stan must have had a lot to think about as time ran down before the match.

On April 15, 1925, the Philadelphia Arena was filled with a "standing room only" crowd of 8,000, said to be the city's sports indoor record. The under card saw John Pesek pin Frank Bruno five times in a handicap match that lasted less than 30 minutes. Stanislaus enter the ring with a boxer named Lew "Kid" Palmer as his only second. Wayne Munn entered with his manager Gabe Kaufman. The match itself wasn't much. In the 13 minutes, the two were not on the mat for more than a half dozen times. Zbyszko showed complete mastery and all Munn could do was hope Stan would fall into his body slam. The first fall lasted 8:11, with Zbyszko showing lightning movement belying his seeming corpulence, he ducked under Munn's reach and got back control. He then lifted the 6'6" giant up and slammed him on to the mat. With Munn stunned, Stan applied a forearm hold and a hatch lock to lower the champion on to his back for the three count.

Munn and Kaufman jumped from the ring and rushed to the dressing room. Zbyszko refused to leave the ring during the rest period. He put on his robe and sat in his corner looking out across the ring. Kid Palmer stayed on the floor watching his back. A number of alleged representatives of Munn came to the ring to talk, but Zbyszko just shook his head and they left. Then Max Bauman, brother of Billy Sandow and manager of John Pesek, came to the ring and got so close to Stan that he could whisper in his ear. No one knows what Max said to Stan but one rumor is that he threatened to sent Pesek out to replace Munn for the second falls. Whatever he said it was answered by a negative nod of Zbyszko head, as he stared out across the ring waiting for Munn's return.

Wayne Munn had the guts to return but he didn't have the skill to do any better. The fall lasted 4:53 with almost the same winning move. Munn once again reached out only to have Stan duck under his arms to get back control. Munn flew through the air, landing on his back. A Zbyszko's forearm hold was converted into a hammerlock and the champion's shoulders were forced down for a count of three. Stanislaus Zbyszko was once again champion and on top of the wrestling world.

Stan was surrounded by admirers and led to his corner, where he posed for photographers. Kid Palmer led a line of police into the ring and Zbyszko was escorted by cordon of police to his dressing room. They guarded him like a king whose assassination had been planed, until he changed and then was led out of the arena to a taxicab and a ride to his hotel. Kid Palmer stayed with Stan in his room guarding his door, but the new champion couldn't sleep. At 2:00, he got up to walk the streets by himself until morning came.[185]

Wayne Munn walked from the ring and back stage then into his star's dressing room. Rumors were spread that he fainted once inside. Manager Kaufman claimed he was sick and had a temperature of a 104. The commission Doctor said he didn't had a temp before the match, but was suffering from tonsillitis.

The next day, Zbyszko was met in his hotel by representatives of every major promoter in wrestling. Floyd Fitzsimmons, promoter of the Michigan City card, offered $30,00 to Zbyszko to replace Munn against Lewis. Max Bauman went on record offering Stan $10,000 for a match with John Pesek. It would seem that Zbyszko also received offers from Aurello Fabiani, Tom Pack, Jack Curley, and Tony Stecher working as a group.

Wayne Munn defense was that he had been sick from Tonsillitis and anyone could have beaten him that night. He claimed he wanted a rematch. On April 28, Munn, billed in the Kansas City report as ex-champ, went through an operation to remove his tonsils.

Sandow's and Lewis's reaction was that Munn was never champion to begin with. So Zbyszko's win meant nothing.

On April 18, 1925, Fabiani met with Stan Zbyszko and Jack Curley in New York City. He returned claiming that everyone had agreed that Stan would defend his title verses Joe Stecher at a Philadelphia outdoor ball part in June. Stanislaus had agreed to a purse of $50,000.[186] Later the location was moved to St Louis and the date was set for Decoration Day, May 30….the same day as the Lewis/Munn rematch at Michigan City.

Lewis's rematch with Munn became official on April 23, when both signed contracts and posted $5,000 appearance bonds. The purse was said to be 60% of the gate and Lewis would receive 60% of that. Lewis's $10,000 belt (186a) would be at awarded to the winner. Lewis was billed as champion and it was then billed as a Lewis title defense, even as some fans still considered it a title unification match.

After the mess in Philadelphia, Munn claimed he was sick and cancelled all matches. The next night, April 16, in Boston, Lewis subbed for him and defeated Alex Lunden. Ed then beat Tom Draak in Philadelphia (May 1) for Dick Curley, before a return to Boston and another win over Lunden on May 7. He was billed as champion while doing as much P.R. for the May 30 match as possible. After that both Lewis and Munn went into training, first in Chicago and then Michigan City.

Stan Zbyszko was an active champion, wrestling mostly in the North East but he didn't sell many ticket. His return to Philadelphia for a win over local star Renato Gardini drew only 4,500 on April 23, and a match in Boston, for promoters Alex Maclean (Jack Curley's man in the city, who was going up against the Paul Bowser promotion), drew the "smallest house ever for a world champion in the city" on May 1 verse Oreste Vadalfi.

The Zbyszko group filled an injunction against Ed Lewis in an attempt to stop him from calling himself world champion, but on May 26 the application was turned down by Judge Hugo Friend, a former University of Chicago athlete.[187]

Floyd Fitzsimmons had been losing money promoting sports at the Blue Sky Arena in Michigan City, Indiana, located 60 miles from downtown Chicago on the other side of Lake Michigan for a long time. So he was looking for a huge payday with the Lewis/Munn rematch. He didn't get a $100,000 house, but he seemed happy to make some money for a change. The match drew between 13,000 and 14,000, and took in $64,000. It was claimed that 4,000 no shows ended up marooned on the congested highways leading from Chicago to the Arena. Billy Sandow got his 50% from both Lewis and Munn, so he made money, but no one made the fortune that had been planed at the beginning of the year.

The May 30, 1925 match took place under a bright sun and blistering heat. Wayne Munn entered first, sporting a cut over his left eye after training for weeks with Toots Mondt. The champion Lewis, looking in good shape, followed and there was a long conference with referee Walter Bates, the same man who officiated the first match. Most of the first 15 minutes was all stand up. Three times Lewis attempted to clamp on the headlock but the huge Munn was able to shake him off with out any problems. Munn took Lewis down at one point but was unable to hold him and Ed broke lose. Ed kept away from Munn's crotch hold by going down on one knee or hanging on to the ropes. At times, Lewis seemed to be having trouble seeing and later claimed to have sore eyes from getting resin in them during a match in Boston. It may have been a result of Trachoma. At 24:55, Munn broke a minute long headlock and slammed Lewis to the mat for a pin and the first fall.

At the end of the rest period, manager Kaufmann announced that Munn wouldn't continue unless Lewis's championship belt was placed in the hands of promoter Fitzsimmons. A half dozen police brought the $10,000 belt ringside and the match continued.

Munn was full of himself and he raced across the ring to get at Lewis. He chased Ed down and for 20 minute the two tugged and mauled each other in the center of the ring. Munn faded and by the end of the fall (32:12) had been the victim of 20 headlocks and a huge slam before he was pinned by Lewis. Munn laid still in the ring for a minute before he was helped by his seconds to the dressing room.

Munn still look beat when he returned for the last fall. Lewis dragged him all over the ring and after 7 more headlocks and seven minutes, he was pinned. Lewis was announced as champion and the belt was placed around his waist.[188]

On the same day in St Louis, Joe Stecher regained the world title taking two straight falls from Stanislaus Zbyszko. The match, held on the St Louis University Athletic Field, drew 13,500 and a gate of $43,315. A motion picture company also paid $15,000 to film the event. For losing the title, Zbyszko was paid $50,000. Stecher himself paid $10,000 to Stan and wrestled the match for free. To most of the wrestling world, the true world champion was then Joe Stecher.[188]

The Wayne Munn gimmick turn out to be a disaster for the Sandow group and it might be considered the greatest blunder in the history of the pro wrestling. In losing control of the world title, at least in the eyes of most of the country, Sandow lost most of his power. Zbyszko, Londos, Gardini, Pesek, Daviscourt, and others all jumped to the Stecher side, which was strengthen by the creation of new territories, arenas, and talent. Pro wrestling became big time under Stecher and really took off after the elevation of Jim Londos. Ed Lewis would come back, but other than for a couple of short periods, he would never be the central figure in the sport again. Billy Sandow was a very smart wrestling insider and would carry on being a power, but he never would regain the control he had from 1922 to 1925. Ed Lewis' great period has to be his first and second title reign from the end of 1920 to the beginning of 1925. It was the period when he became a national star, due to radio, improved sport pages and the public awareness of pro sports. From a box office stand point, 1922 and 1923 didn't seem like much (probably could be described as poor) but it picked up in 1924.

So what would have been the result of the Lewis/Munn rematch, if Zbyszko had done the job in Philadelphia. No one knows anything for sure, but for years I felt Lewis, with his bad eyes, was looking for a vacation and would wait a year or so before regaining the title. But now I agree with others, like historian John Williams. Lewis would have beaten Munn, pretty much as he did, and then tried to forget the football player had ever been champion in their storylines. (Look up Antonio Inoki and the WWF Title for an example or Ed Carpentier and the NWA title in 1957.).)

I also have to believe that it bugged the hell out of Toots Mondt that he was never considered by Sandow to be the champion.

What was left for the Sandow group was Chicago, Kansas City, Boston, Tulsa, Texas, and the towns run by the Bauman brothers. All the rest of the major promotions or territories backed the Stechers, and as wrestling grew in the late 1920's, so did the Stechers side in the war. When Lewis did appear in major cities, like Los Angeles, it was for the minor outlaw groups, not the major promoters.

In 1925, the Sandow/Lewis group was never more creative with their lies used to discredit Stecher's title claims. In early June[189], Sandow house referee Walter Bates, who was the official of both Munn matches, came out in an attempt to over turn his decision in the first match and ruled, because he had changed his mind five months after the event, that Lewis had actually won the match on a foul and was still champion. Tom Law, promoter of Wichita, countered this Sandow move, by having the referee of the March 3, 1922 Lewis title win over Stan Zbyszko, Paul Sickner, claim that he also made a mistake, and Ed was actually disqualified for punching Stan, so Zbyszko was the champion when he lost to Stecher.[189] The small part of the population, who happened to be smart and paying attention, thought it was all very funny.

The Lewis people tried other tricks. During early 1926, Boston promoter Paul Boswer began promoting wrestler Joe Malcewicz as the uncrowned world champion. He created a story that Malcewicz had wrestled champion Earl Caddock in Dec. 1919, before the famed Earl Caddock title loss to Joe Stecher in Madison Square Garden, and been given a decision win at Utica, NY. They claimed the champion's loss was hushed up by Jack Curley, and Malcewicz was too stupid to make any title claims until 1926.[190] This untrue story remained with Malcewicz for the rest of his career. The facts are that the match didn't happen in 1919, but on Jan. 14, 1921, long after Caddock had dropped the title. Stecher also defeated Malcewicz in a title match on Feb. 11, 1920 at Utica.

Over the years, Lewis also changed the finish of the first Munn match, leaving out the part about being pinned in the third fall. His description had him being unable to continue after being thrown out of the ring. He also avoided the fact he was pinned in the first fall. That is the version that ended up in the book FALL GUYS in 1938, (with the Malcewicz title win story) and has been repeated over the years.

Their isn't a lot of important Lewis matches in the rest of 1925. He seemed to be only wrestling a few matches a month and only the rematches with Wayne Munn had any importance. He wrestled Wayne Munn at least three times. The first one was in Tulsa on October 8 and Lewis won two out of three falls. On November 16, he beat Munn in Houston and on December 9, 1925, Lewis took two out of three falls from Munn in Denver.

Two weeks later, Wayne Munn returned to pro boxing for a match with Andre Anderson (15-22-3). Anderson knocked out Munn in the first round. Munn's comments following the so-called fight were: "I guess I wasn't cut out for boxing. I'll stick to wrestling." Anderson's quote was "I'm through throwing fights and laying down whenever they want me to!" Three months later Anderson was shot dead by a gangster. According to police it was because Andre refused to job for Munn. Wayne told the press, that he would spend money and find the killer but the Munn's ruse never came up with a name.[191]

Munn wrestled Ed Lewis at least ten times in nine different cities, each time drawing less. On May 11, 1928, Munn lost at Worcester to the next great football star to try pro wrestling, Gus Sonnenberg. That's about all I know about Wayne Munn's wrestling career. After leaving sports, he got back into the oil business. In 1930, he moved to San Antonio Texas to be near relatives and became sick. He refereed a few matches and spoke before schools and clubs, but his condition gradually failed. He died from Bright's disease on January 9, 1931 at the Fort Sam Houston Army Hospital at age 35.[192]

>> Continue to CHAPTER 20

FOOTNOTES

  • 175 I also believe that the Sandow group, or the Gold Dust Trio, as they are wrongly called by many today, was not as strongly in control as they were put over in the book FALL GUYS. They had a lot of strong independent promoters to deal with…. Paul Bowser (Boston), Ed White (Chicago), Joe Coffey (Chicago), Tom Law (Wichita), Lou Daro (Los Angeles), Tom Pack (St Louis), Ray Fabiani (Philadelphia) and Gabe Kaufman (Kansas City). Sandow depended on them and all of them controlled their own cities. Sandow and Lewis also had Jack Curley in hibernation just waiting for them to fail.
  • 176 FROM MILO TO LONDOS by A. D. Phillips page 228 and published by Nat Fleischer and THE RING magazine in 1936.
  • 176a PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, April 12, 1925—Monte Munn, a star at the University of Nebraska in football, baseball, and track, like Wayne, graduated in 1922. Became a pro boxer and was better than Wayne. A lawyer, he became a member of the state legislature, and a business man. Moved to Indiana and ran a coal business. In 1932 ran an unsuccessful campaign for the Indiana senate. Suffered a heart attack in 1933, and after being ill for only a few days, died on March 8, 1933. He was 32. Information came from BOXREC BOXING ENCYCLOPAEDIA on line.
  • 176b A report published in 1929 had John Pesek and Toots Mondt in a argument during the training in Kansas City. The two hookers had a gym match which was won by Pesek. This upset Billy Sandow and he had Max Bauman talk to Pesek. This resulted in Pesek quiting the Sandow company.
  • 177 KANSAS CITY TIMES Jan. 9, 1915
  • 178 WICHITA EAGLE January 11, 1925—There was a big movement to match Joe Stecher with John Pesek in Wichita during this time. It was a storyline that ran over into 1926 and I will cover it later. The newspaper called the WICHITA EAGLE had a smart reporter (just called "Pal") or editor, who was printing "smart" info. On February 1, 1925, he interviewed Max Bauman, brother of Billy Sandow and still manager of John Pesek, and really worked him over with tough questions. In it Bauman claimed there was no wrestling trust. Then Bauman said that Wayne Munn was great and fully entitled to the honor of being world champ, despite his brother's court suit to stop Munn from claiming the title. Bauman said the "suit was mere bunk and just a publicity move". The reporter asked why he was trying to get Pesek a match with Stecher instead of Munn, Bauman said that Pesek wasn't entitled to a match with Munn, that he had lost to Lewis and Mondt. So he couldn't get the match for Pesek. The reporter then said, "then there must be a wrestling trust?" Bauman again said there wasn't. When asked who should get the match with Munn, Bauman said "Lewis or Stan Zbyszko". The reporter, who knew his results, stated that Stanislaus had lost ten straight matches to Lewis, so why should he get a match. The report then said that the only thing in Zbyszko favor is the fact that he is a "trust" wrestler. Bauman then belittled Stecher, Santel, Plestina, Steinke, and others not in the "trust". He said that the bunch couldn't draw, so shouldn't be champions. The reporter asked: should the championship be decided on wrestling ability or drawing ability. Bauman replied frankly that wrestlers were in the game for the money. So a man who can't draw, can't be champion, no matter whether he can wrestle or not. The only reason why Lewis, Zbyszko, Mondt, McGill, Pesek, Munn, Eustace and others wrestle each other continually is because they draw the fans. The fans didn't want a Lewis/Stecher match and they couldn't make any money wrestling Stecher. According to Bauman, the fans were to blame for the condition of the sport of wrestling. The public liked the circus stuff, the throwing of men out of the ring, return matches, etc. Max said that the public didn't care about wrestling wars and didn't care who the champion was, or whether the champion was a real one or not. If the champion was a real showman, that was sufficient. The reporter then wrote at the story's end: "Time and again the writer has been asked why the newspapers do not openly oppose the wrestling trust. If the fans do not care enough about it to protest, if they continue to support the trust wrestlers, if they turn out in thousands for such an event as the Lewis-Munn affair, and go away all enthused, if they demand yards and yards and yards of news of such affairs, then why should the papers kick?"
  • 179 CHICAGO TRIBUNE January 23, 1925
  • 180 The Don Luce research on Chicago and the BELOIT DAILY NEWS February 5, 1925
  • 180a MIDDLETOWN OHIO, February 19, 1925—Jack Curley had a nation wide news release on February 19, 1925, describing the Shadow/Lewis company in his own words. He laugh at the idea that Munn's win had broken up a wrestling "trust". Curley charged that a bunch of third raters were hogging the wrestling game in the middle west, refusing to let any one outside of their charmed circle get into a big money match with Munn. Quote: "Billy Sandow, manager for Lewis," said Curley today, "is a brother of Max and Jules Baumann. Max manages John Pesek and Jules is going around the country arranging matches for Munn. Munn is playing around with Toots Mondt, Stanislaus Zbyszko, Mike Romano (whom Munn threw twice within ten minutes last night at Chicago), Strangler Lewis, Pat McGill, John Pesek and other third raters. Munn is not even a good third-rater. I know of ten wrestlers who can beat him. I know of ten wrestlers who will give Munn $10,000 to meet them and they will donate an extra $5,000 to charity if they do not throw him twice in 30 minutes. The ten challengers are Jim Londos, Joe Stecher, Wladek Zbyszko, Hans Steinke, Zaikin, Charles Hansen, Marin Plestina, Jack Sherry, Ad Santel and Nat Pendleton. Not one of these wrestlers can get an engagement with the new champion. His crowd asks that challengers show their right to a match by beating Pesek, their stand-off man."
  • 181 THE JOE STECHER BIO by Steve Yohe and THE BELOIT DAILY NEWS February 19, 1925
  • 182 THE WICHITA EAGLE February 9, February 11, and February 18, 1925
  • 183 THE WICHITA EAGLE March 7, 1925
  • 184 THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER April 16, 1925
  • 184a UNITED PRESS, March 18, 1925—On March 17, 1925 Wayne Munn was giving what probably was his vaudeville act at a wrestling match in Nashville, when Wladek Zbyszko climbed into the ring to challenge him. He then took off his coat, while telling Munn he was "ready to go". Munn then left the ring. The promoter/boxer Billy Haack then started throwing punches at Wladek and his friend George Kotsonaros.
  • 185 THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER April 16, 1925, PHILADELPHIA LEDGER April 16, 1925 and PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER April 17, 1925—Zbyszko's age was listed as 55 or around 50 in post-match reports. I believe he was born April 1, 1878 or 1880. So he was either 47 or 45.
  • 186 THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, April 18, 1925
  • 186a When Wayne Munn complained of not receiving his champion ship belt, after beating Lewis, it seems the belt in question was Zbyszko's Rickard belt. While writing this paper, I bought a photo of Lewis' Rickard belt from the Chicago Tribune. On the back of the photo, it read that it was the belt being used on Decoration Day in Michigan City. So it seems the Lewis Belt was staying with The Strangler regardless of who was champion. The two belts looked nothing like each other. After the match, the Rickard Belt disappears from wrestling history and the Lewis Belt is always used by Sandow and later Paul Bowser. Another note, championship belts were always described as being worth $10,000. All of them it seems. The Rickard belt was said to be worth $5,000 the night it was awarded to Zbyszko, so it's value had increased 50% in three years. I guess the number $10,000 sounds good.
  • 187 ASSOCIATED PRESS—Chicago, May 20, 1925—"Judge Friend heard no witnesses declaring that there was no precedent on which to base the petition for injunction and that it was not the province of the court to decide such a question."
  • 188 ST LOUIS DAILY GLOBE-DEMOCRAT —May 31, 1925
  • 189 THE WICHITA EAGLE June 3, 1925
  • 190 BOSTON POST, January 10, 1926—For years historians looked for the Caddock/Malcewicz 1919 match but it took the legendary Don Luce to find it….in 1921.
  • 191 I found the story at BOXING RECORDS on line and the story was also told in FROM MILO TO LONDOS by A. D. Phillips, page 227.
  • 192 ASSOCIATED PRESS, January 9, 1931 and ST LOUIS POST-DISPATCH January 9, 1931


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