John Olin vs. Ed “Strangler” Lewis Original Wrestling Program May 2, 1917

On offer is the original wrestling program for the World’s Heavyweight Wrestling Championship between John Olin and Ed “Strangler” Lewis. This major event was held on May 2, 1917 at the Coliseum Athletic Club in Chicago, Ill. This is the complete 8 page program, it is in good condition, one vertical fold crease (now well flattened), some light soiling on covers, light edge wear, no rips or tears. Great images! Historic extremely rare piece! We have never seen another one.




By 1917, promoters had convinced John Olin to claim the world title, so on May 2, 1917 he defended this title verse Strangler Lewis in Chicago. The match was refereed by Frank Gotch and Lewis won his first true world championship when Olin injured his shoulder and couldn’t continue after two hours and 37 minutes. Olin admitted defeat but complained that referee Gotch was coaching Lewis at times during the match. After the match, Gotch praised Lewis saying he was the best wrestler in the world.

Note: This was one day after Frank Gotch wrestled his last professional match before an estimated 10,000 people at Chicago’s Coliseum, Gotch wrestled his final match against Leo Pardello on Tuesday, May 1, 1917.  Frank beat his opponent in 6-minutes with a half nelson and crotch hold. Frank Gotch died later that year on December 16.

In December 1916, Finnish wrestler John Olin and world champion Joe Stecher’s match ended when both men stopped wrestling and proceeded to beat the living hell out of each other outside the ring. Stecher injured his shoulder in the brawl and was unable to continue; therefore Olin was declared the winner, but not the champion. The public had to depend on the newspapers to follow sports, promoters used this to their advantage to put over their guy. In this case Olin’s promoter declared him to be the new world champion, though this went unnoticed. Olin’s claim joined the noise of this era, when many titles appeared.   The World title claim lasted five months, as Ed “the Strangler” Lewis challenged for the title. With Frank Gotch as the referee, to co-sign this as a world title match, Lewis dominated Olin and forced him to give up at 2 hours. Olin would accuse Gotch of coaching Lewis during the match. Unlike Olin, who was more modest about his claim to the world title, Lewis was very boastful. Gotch called Lewis the greatest wrestler of that era. As for Lewis, well let’s just say that his claim of the “Olin Line” of the title would be as legit as the circus wrestling he was doing.