VINTAGE WRESTLING MEMORABILIA

FROM THE PIONEERS OF PROFESSIONAL WRESTLING

 

Many Images Are Thumbnailed So Click On Them For a Larger View

 

 

 

THE JACK PFEFER / BUDDY ROGERS BELT

 

Obtained directly from the family of Pfefer associate and wrestling promoter Tony Santos.

This is the belt worn & used by Buddy Rogers back in the late 1940's and early 1950's when he worked with promoter Jack Pfefer.

I believe, it was initially worn by Dave Levin (The Jamaica Butcher Boy) as evidenced by the center plate.  The side plates indicate Buddy Rogers was awarded the belt on July 21, 1947 in Tulsa Oklahoma (and several times later!) and Billy Darnell was awarded the belt on October 26, 1948 in San Diego California.  It remained in the Pfefer stable and was later worn by: George Bollas, The Demon, Bozo Brown, Tom Marshall, The Indian Nature Boy, Hoppalong Rokko, The Jungle Boy (with Moolah) and finally (?) The Amazing Zuma.

I'm decided to let it go...so

Serious Offers Are Invited!

 

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Here's a few vintage oversized original photographs. ...size is important!

 

This is an extremely rare and beautiful original oversized mounted photograph of Duncan C. Ross.

It's from the historic John Wood Studios of New York and noted as such on the mount,

It's circa 1887.

Overall it measures 11 inches x 14 inches.  The mount has a light stain on the right edge and foxing on the reverse otherwise excellent condition.  The photograph itself is crystal clear, in near mint condition and shows, the acclaimed all-around athlete, Ross wearing his Championship Belt.   Click on the image for a hi-def view.

No Longer Available!

 

 

 

  This vintage oversized, hand colorized photograph of Frank Gotch once hung in the Olympia Stadium in Detroit, Michigan

It measures a massive 29 inches long x 18 inches wide. - Excellent Condition - ready to hang & display.

PICK-UP ONLY!

 

$1250

 

 

 

 

Here's a nice oversized photograph of  "Ed Strangler" Lewis. It measures 14 inches long x 11 inches wide. 

Lewis inscribed and signed this one to George Barton in 1926.

NO LONGER AVAILABLE!

 

 

 

Here's a great oversized photograph of Toots Mondt.  It measures 14 inches long x 11 inches wide.

Toots Mondt inscribed and signed this to Jack Dempsey on St Patrick's Day in 1937.

Jack graciously displayed this in his famous restaurant in NYC.

For Sale At $400

$

 

 

A rare oversized photo of Rudy Dusek.  Inscribed and signed by Rudy in 1933.

It measures 20 inches long x 16 inches wide. No Longer Available!

 

 

An oversized mounted studio photograph of Frank Gotch.  Sykes Studio in Chicago. Overall measurements are 14 inches x 11 inches. The photograph itself measures a delightful 9.5 inches x 7.75 inches.

and Yes, it is inscribed and signed by Gotch.

"To Mr. and Mrs. Arthur F. Wagner, with best wishes from Frank A. Gotch"

However, he signed his name on the mount "from Frank A. Gotch".  Its faded, but readable. "Oh why couldn't he have signed his name on the photo portion instead of the mount...." oh well...still an outstanding and rare Gotch piece.

No Longer Available!

 

 

Here's a nice large, mounted, vintage photograph of Frank Gotch, Farmer Burns and Joe Carrol Marsh. Overall the mount measures out at 13.5 inches x 11.5 inches, it has edge wear at the top and a horizontal crease and corner crease at the bottom . The photograph itself is crystal clear and measures 9.25 inches x 7.5 inches and is in near mint condition.  The studio is Solberg of Decorah, Iowa.

A rare image of a very young Frank Gotch, in 1901.  Together with his mentor Farmer Burns and his early agent/manager Joe Carroll Marsh.  This original came from the family of Joe Carroll Marsh.

No Longer Available!

 

 

Next up is a true pioneer!

Here's CORA LIVINGSTON

Cora Livingstone (left) was born in Buffalo, New York in 1893. Livingstone, who exhibited considerable abilities as a teenager, was a natural athlete. She stood 5 feet 5 inches (165cm) and weighed 138 pounds (63kg). Livingstone began her wrestling career in earnest after marrying ring promoter Paul Bowser and settling in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Professionally trained, Livingstone would meet up with Laura Bennett in St. Louis in 1912. Smaller and outweighed by 50 pounds, Livingstone tore into Bennett right from the start and pinned her in 12 minutes. Miss Bennett's morale was shot to pieces by that fall. The second part of the match was no contest. Cora literally threw Laura in three minutes. A half Nelson and crotch hold proved to be the Livingstone media for victory. Cora was recognized everywhere as the greatest female wrestler in the world. With the rise of Cora Livingstone women's wrestling went into a more lucrative, dignified successful phase. Her victorious wrestling career finished in 1925.  Actually, Cora Livingston figures as one of the first “professional wrestlers".

Here are two original studio photographs of Cora Livingston, the second one is inscribed and signed by Cora.

 

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Here's CLARA MORTENSEN

In 1932, Clara Mortensen was billed as World Champion after defeating Barbara Ware.  Trained by her father, she would often wrestle men as well as women and would also team with her brother in local feuds he was having.  On January 28, 1937, Mildred Burke defeated Clara to become the Women's World Champion ending a 5 year reign.  On February 9, 1937 Billy Wolfe (Mildred Burke's husband) defeated Clara in a man vs. woman match via DQ.  Clara would become two time Women's World Champion by defeating Mildred Burke on February 11, 1937.  She would wrestle into the 1950's and was one of the first honorees of the Cauliflower Alley Club.

 

 

 

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MILDRED BURKE

LADIES WORLD CHAMPION WRESTLER

 

Here's a pretty unusual wrestling piece!

A true pioneer, Mildred Burke, surpassed many barriers to become the best at her craft for many years.  Just uncovered is this package of items she sent to Joe Louis in 1979. As evidenced by the letter, Millie was completing her autobiography and wanted the endorsement of the former Heavyweight Champion as the forward to her book. Now, this book did not see publication and what became of the manuscript is anybody's guess. However, what is shown below is pretty interesting to say the least...enjoy!

 

 

    

 

 

 

 

 

Frank Gotch vs. George Hackenschmidt

 World's Championship bout, September 4, 1911 in Chicago's Comiskey Park.  Click on it for a fine panoramic view.

Among the greatest legends of early wrestling, Frank Gotch reigned as World Heavyweight Champion from 1908 to 1915. The world title was on the line when Gotch challenged the heavily favored "Russian Lion", George Hackenschmidt on April 3, 1908. Despite rumors of rough and unsportsmanlike behavior, Gotch appears to have thoroughly psyched out his opponent by showing unflappable good cheer, both before and during the match, and used his speed convincingly against a much stronger opponent. Two hours and three minutes into the bout, Gotch applied a submission hold and won the first of three falls. Hackenschmidt refused to return to the ring, and Gotch was awarded the World Title. A rematch was held on September 4, 1911 at newly opened Comiskey Park in Chicago, before a crowd of 33,000. Gotch again triumphed, winning two falls within one half hour. It was rumored, but never proven, the Hackenschmidt was intentionally injured prior to the fight. In any event, Frank Gotch later became the very first inductee into both Wrestling Halls of Fame. Huge public interest in these two matches resulted in the adoption of wrestling programs by high schools around the country, and thus the bouts proved to be of far-reaching and lasting significance.

This rare, original Panorama nicely celebrates the second (1911) match, and measures 23 in x 7 in, and is framed in hardwood under glass to a total dimension of 27 in x 11 in. A real photo inset provides a very nice close-up of the two famous wrestlers and the referee. From the MAX RIGOT Studios of Chicago in 1911, it was distributed as a souvenir of the match, it is in excellent condition in the original period frame. MAX RIGOT also distributed the much more common postcards for this historic bout

 

Ready to hang,

No Longer Available!

 

 

Next up is a most unusual find.  It was most likely used at the wrestling arenas circa 1910.  It heralds the appearance of the great Jess Westergaard.  It measures 30 inches high by 20 inches wide.  It consists of 4 original, oversized, posed, 15 inch x 10 inch photographs of Jess Westergaard, mounted to hardboard. The "Jess Westergaard" name has professionally "caligraphied" on in blue ink.  

nail holes in the corners, staining on the right and also on upper left. tear on the bottom right photo. 

Jess Westergaard (Jess Reimer)mer

No Longer Available!

 

 

 

FRANK GOTCH SIGNED and INSCRIBED BOOK

 

RANRare as Hens Teeth are signatures of the legendary Frank Gotch and as such they are prized among Gotch collectors.  Here is an inscribed and signed copy of his book. 

This original 1913 edition is inscribed to his sister and brother-in-law, "Merry Christmas, Mr. & Mrs. Charles Kurth, from brother F. A. Gotch"

No Longer Available!

RARE

 

 

JOE "TOOTS" MONDT

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Here's a very young Joe "Toots" Mondt - An 8 x 10 from Riley Studios - This has been autographed by Toots - The photo itself is only in fair condition, but a very rare and early photo and signature!

No Longer Available.

 

 

DUNCAN C. ROSS

Here's Duncan Ross again, this time with his pal Captain C. Daly on a cabinet card. Circa 1888, and most likely from the John Wood Studios (although unaccredited).  Cool piece as it shows what I believe is the collar & elbow wrestling jacket.

No Longer Available!

 

VERNON BREEDLOVE

Born October 2, 1988, Harrison Vernon Breedlove of Council Bluffs, Iowa, studied wrestling under Farmer Burns.  He turned pro in 1910.  A superb technical wrestler, Breedlove never lost to an opponent of his weight (122-140 lbs.) in over 2000 matches.  His final record is 2000+ wins against 7 defeats. He served his country in WWI and Dr. Breedlove earned his Doctor of Chiropractic at Palmer College in 1923 and went on to practice for 55 years.  He died in 1986 at the age of 96.

 

Below are two vintage mounted photographs of Dr. Vernon Breedlove.  The photographs themselves both measure approx 7 inches x 5 inches.  

Both of These Are No Longer Available.

 

 

JOHN PESEK

"The Nebraska Tigerman"

 

Known for years as the policeman of the Ed "Strangler" Lewis camp, the most independent man in wrestling, and it's greatest enforcer didn't get his world title until 1938 at the age of 44.

Born in Ravenna, Nebraska in 1894, this was also his home until he died in 1978.  Discovered, trained and befriended by World Champion Clarence "The Octopus" Eklund.  Lewis, Stecher and Londos kept Pesek at "arms length" via The Trust and used John to defeat talented challengers such as Armas Laitinen, Jack Taylor, Marin Plestina, Charles Hansen and Olympian Nat Pendleton.  In 1929, he toured Australia & New Zealand, going 47-0 and beating both Ad Santel and Jim Browning.  His career at a close, Pesek was known to state with pride; "No one ever got behind my back."

Very likely, the greatest scientific wrestler ever to have donned a pair of tights, John Pesek passed away in 1978 at the age of 84.

Below is an extremely rare autographed photo of John Pesek.  It is inscribed to referee Bert Potts.

BNo Longer Available!elow

 

 

 

LUCHA LIBRE!

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FRANCISCO AGUAYO a.k.a. CACTUS PETE BROWN

THE FIRST MEXICAN NATIONAL CHAMPION.

Here is his Original Presentation Belt from 1925.  The center plate is inscribed and was given to him by a Mexican Society in Chicago, IL on September 16, 1925.  It is accompanied with the original wooden presentation case with a protective glass viewing pane.  It is very large and measure 31 inches long end-to-end.  The center plate measure 9 inches high x 8 inches wide.  Some of the side plates need to be re-attached to the leather backing.  One-of-a-kind wrestling artifact from the early days of professional wrestling.   

 

No Longer Available!

 

 

Do you wear the Tom Jenkins Shoe?

"Strongest On Earth"

Rare Original Pinback

Still has the rear paper copyright insert showing Union Label and the maker Stearn & Co., Cleveland Ohio. (Tom Jenkins was born in Cleveland in 1872)

Circa 1905 - measures 1 1/4 inches in diameter.

NO LONGER AVAILABLE!

 

 

William Muldoon

Rare Original Pinback

Whitehead & Hoag Co., Newark, NJ, July 21 1896

Circa 1896 - measures 3/4 inches in diameter.

NO LONGER AVAILABLE!

 

 

 

"Scissors" Joe Stecher

Extremely Rare, Original circa 1915-1920 Brass Watch Fob!

This is only the second one of these, I've seen in over 35 years of wrestling collecting!!

NO LONGER AVAILABLE!

$$175

Measures 2 Inches Across

EXCELLENT CONDITION!

LIKE NEW!

 

 

Ed "Strangler" Lewis

HEALTH BUILDER

Extremely Rare, Original CHEST EXPANSION EXERCISER circa 1946!

"Late in the year {1946}, he attempted to market a rubber exerciser called the Strangler Lewis Health Builder. It resulted in another nothing. Lewis claimed he sold a million of the Health Builders, but  also admitted he was broke".  Thanks; Steve Yohe - Wrestling Classics

 

No Longer Available!

 

 

EXERCISE

 

 

Jess Westergaard

a.k.a. Jess Reimer

The Giant From Des Moines

Top contender for the American Catch as Catch Can Wrestling Title in the early 20th century.  Many consider him a Champion by virtue of his defeating Henry Ordemann on January 7, 1913 in the Minneapolis Auditorium.

Presented here is an original vintage photo of Jess Westergaard circa 1913.

Managed by Emil Klank, Westergaard stood 6' 2 and weighed in at around 220 lbs.

No Longer Available!

Measures 9 1/2 " x 5 1/4" - Sepia Tone

 

 

Ad Santel

Born Adolph Ernst in 1887, Santel stood around 5' 9", weighed in at 180 lbs and was one of the best light heavyweights of his era.  He wrestled in various legitimate catch wrestling tournaments throughout Europe against wrestlers of mixed styles.  Between 1914 and 1921, Santel fought regularly in mixed martial arts contests against the best practitioners and proclaimed himself World Judo Champion. 

 

Presented here is an original 8 x 10, Hartsook Studio, fight posed photograph, which has been inscribed, signed and dated by Ad Santel in 1919, in bold fountain pen ink.  Extremely rare and desirable.

No Longer Available!

 

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JACK CLAYBOURNE

Many folks will not see Jack Claybourne as a "Pioneer" however, as one of the first blacks in pro wrestling he overcame many obstacles in the days of segregated matches and does indeed rate a place in the pantheon of greats.  A high flying innovator and world traveler, he commenced his career in the late 1930's wrestling into the late 1950's.  He was the Kentucky Negro Champion in 1941 and later wrestled many greats including Ed "Strangler" Lewis.  His life tragically ended by way of suicide in January of 1960.

  No Longer Available!

 

Karol Zbyszko

Reputed nephew of three time World Champion Stanislaus Zbyszko was in his own right a highly respected wrestler. On December 9, 1928 in Athens, Greece at Panathenaic Stadium, Zbyszko battled 70 minutes with Champion Jim Londos before a crowd of 65,000.  Born: Krakow, Poland Real Name: Karol Nowina-Szcerbinski.

On offer is an original 3 1/2"  x 5 1/2" publicity photograph inscribed, signed and dated by Karol Zbyszko in black fountain pen ink.  "Sincerely, Karol N. Zbyszko, Chicago (3X111) 1933.  It is in excellent condition and is neatly stapled in a folder together with a newspaper clipping.

No Longer Available!

 

 

JUST FOUND - RARE TICKET!

THIS IS THE FIRST AND ONLY EXAMPLE OF THIS TICKET I HAVE SEEN IN 35 YEARS OF COLLECTING.

"FOR THE FINAL WORLD'S CHAMPIONSHIP"

EARL CADDOCK vs. ED "STRANGLER" LEWIS

DES MOINES COLISEUM, IOWA

FRIDAY, JUNE 21, 1918  

"Caddock wrestled rings around Lewis although he was, once again, unable to pin a larger contender. But the champion was so far ahead on points that referee Ed Smith quit keeping score after two hours of the 150 minute match. Only once was Ed able to secure his headlock and it was broken with ease. Every other hold Lewis applied was broken at Caddock's will and half the time the champion would reverse the move to end up behind the challenger. Lewis took no chances and stayed on defense except for about 15 minutes of the entire two and half hour match. Four times it seemed the champion was about to take a fall but Ed's superior weight helped him break away. Whenever the two were on the mat, Caddock was always behind. The match was a Caddock show from start to finish. Caddock claimed he was the undisputed heavyweight wrestling champion. Gate was $22,000."  SPECIAL THANKS TO STEVE YOHE FOR THIS INFO!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More to come!

 

 

Email Irish Johnny Griffin

For more information.