06 Mar Wrestling Trophies Through The Ages
One of the most revered wrestling trophies in the world is for the World Heavyweight Greco-Roman Champion. The modern era began in 1900 and the earliest recorded championship was won by Georg Hackenschmidt in May 1904, after having previously won championship tournaments in Vienna, Paris, Hamburg, Berlin and St Petersburg.
He held the title until 1908 when he was defeated by Frank Gotch, but came back in 1911 to win in a rematch. A true champion of the game, he wrote several books on training and was also a pioneer in weightlifting.
One of the more famous and somewhat notorious holders of the same title was Demetral. This was because he claimed that Ed Lewis, also known as the Strangler, had forced him to lose a match against him because he held a mortgage on Demetral’s house.
A legal battle ensued but the matter was never resolved. In a later match against an up-and-coming wrestler by the name of Ad Santel, he got a strangle on Santel and refused to release him! He was finally disqualified.
Although he had won the world trophy, his behaviour had besmirched his record and his achievements have been expunged from official records.
Gus Sonnenberg was another old character who was a local wrestling hero. Although he started his career as a professional footballer in the National Football League between 1923 til 1930, he became the holder of the world heavyweight wrestling championship in 1929.
He revolutionised wrestling by developing a signature move called the flying tackle, something he transferred from his football skill set. It established him as a drawcard wrestler, but it also had some unfortunate consequences. In his first world title bout he mistimed his run and landed head first on the canvas knocking himself out! Although it took a little while to recover, he went on to win the return match to claim his first world championship wrestling trophy.
Women also feature in the world of wrestling as far back as the late 1890s when Josie Wahlford became the first world women’s champion. Not much is known about her history, but another wrestling pioneer, Cora Livingston, is regarded as a doyen of professional women’s wrestling. She was married to a wrestling promoter who hassled her into the ring, but she discovered a new love in this sport and became world champion in 1913. Over the next decade she defeated no fewer than nine contenders in a row to retain the title on each occasion. She was finally defeated in 1923, but came back yet again to continue a reign which lasted 22 years until she retired in 1935.
Professional wrestling has now expanded into dozens of classifications across both sexes with every weight represented. In addition, Tag team wrestling has become even more popular and world championship matches are a regular occurrence.
International amateur wrestling competitions are also held every year with countries like Turkey and Russia dominating the scene, winning trophies on a regular basis. It seems that the world of amateur wrestling is set to continue an ancient tradition that began in Greece thousands of years ago.