van Seric better known to wrestling fans as Jack Sherry was born in what was known as Yugoslavia back on October 18, 1894. As a youngster he moved to Alaska where he would start his adult life off as a gold miner.
It’s often listed that Sherry was trained by Martin ‘Farmer’ Burns, however, it’s more likely he actually learned from Burns’ famous mail order manual on Physical Culture and Wrestling. Eventually he would be spotted by Stanislaus Zbyszko and receive further hands-on training from the legendary figure in the industry. In America even with the rub from Zbyszko and being considered a very dangerous hooker, Sherry never got a chance at the very top of the game there. Unfortunately even back in the 1920’s and 1930’s there were a lot of politics in place and it took over a decade of time and effort for Sherry to work his way to the top echelon of the American wrestlers.
His position was sealed after a defeat of John Pesek the notorious ripper and wrestling policeman. From that time his status in the public eye was at it’s highest point. Although he never won a World Heavyweight Championship in America, most likely because his style lacked the showman aspects that had become increasingly required since the beginning of the ’20’s. One of the most famous stories involving Sherry, is that of his rivalry with Ed “Strangler” Lewis. The two met on October 10, 1932 in Madison Square Garden. The bout was billed as being for the New York State Athletic Commission World Heavyweight Championship. It was also billed as being a shoot wrestling match. It was slow, tedious and a grueling affair, devoid of the fast-paced, high-flying tactics that become popular within pro-wrestling. Lewis won the match. When Sherry didn’t receive a rematch he claimed he had agreed to lay down for Lewis with the promise of said rematch. Sherry said as Lewis had balked on their agreement he was the rightful champion. Over in Europe times were different though. A more rougher, legitimate style of wrestling was still required with minimal flashy maneuvers integrated into the action. Sherry excelled there and was recognized with the European version of the World Heavyweight Championship for the majority of the second half of the 1930’s there in between competing in America.
When World War 2 broke out Sherry returned to the United States. He was considered an independent maverick, and therefore could not get regular matches. So, in 1948 he attempted a trip to the fresh territory of Hawaii. The promoter and former wrestler there, Al Karasick, was having none of it. Karasick brought Ed Lewis in to face Sherry. Lewis wasn’t in the best shape, but he was still a master of counter-wrestling. Plus throughout his career he had gained a reputation for having almost superhuman stamina.
Sherry did not face Lewis in Hawaii on January 25, 1948, not out of fear, but simply because it didn’t fit into his plan. His focus was on putting himself over against the latest crop of young stars, at the time Sherry was still fit and muscular. He had never wanted and still didn’t want to be under the thumb of any promoter. Sherry moved on and Karasick remained the kingpin of wrestling in Hawaii. By the Spring of 1948 Sherry was gone from the islands. Up until the 1950’s Sherry continued to compete in the ring, winding down his career naturally as he got older. He’d often throw out challenges to the top names of the day from Jim Londos to Gorgeous George and Enrique Torres in an attempt to drum up some publicity. The days of his method of doing business were quickly becoming a thing of the past though.
On October 11, 1969 Jack Sherry passed away, he was reportedly working as a construction laborer. He left behind him a legacy of being one of the most lethal, legitimate hookers known in the world and a wrestler who didn’t play well with others, except maybe his long term manager, Joe Carroll Marsh, who had his own career of notoriety.