Evan Lewis’ Stranglehold

     This post was formally a podcast broadcast in 2015.  In this episode, I discuss what Evan “The Strangler” Lewis’ hold would be called today.

     Update – All three of my kids have milestone birthdays this year.  Caitlin is 21, Kenneth will be 18 and Caleb will be 16.  The old man is a proud papa of all three.

      Main Content – When I first heard of the stranglehold or “hang hold” of Evan “The Strangler” Lewis, it sounded like a guillotine choke.  However, several sources I checked described it as a rear naked choke.

     Lewis was greatly feared due to the effects of the stranglehold.  Some wrestlers’ necks were injured, while several were unable to continue their matches.  Some had visible red rings around their necks.  I was surprised by this description because the rear naked choke is very safe for the most part.

     The trouble is Lewis retired before film captured professional wrestling.  Lewis’s image is available in a few posed photographs but only a couple artist renderings exist of his matches.  None of these renderings illustrated Lewis’ hold.


Evan “The Strangler” Lewis in Paperback

      Until I discovered the February 2, 1890 edition of the Pittsburgh Dispatch (Pittsburgh, PA).  In an article extolling the virtues of wrestling as a method of self-defense, the illustrator for the article included an illustration of the Stranglehold.

     And it was…the guillotine choke.  Suddenly, the damage Lewis inflicted on his opponents made sense.  With a guillotine you can put pressure on both the carotid artery and/or the windpipe.

     I recently completed Evan “The Strangler” Lewis: The Most Feared Wrestler of the 19th Century which examines his career and many battles in great detail.  Lewis was professional wrestling’s first villain mainly due the fearsome reputation of the stranglehold.

     Lewis particularly developed his reputation due to his two match series with Sorakichi Matsada in Chicago in early 1886.  After Lewis almost “strangled Sorakichi to death in January 1886, the stranglehold was banned.  Lewis took out his frustration on Sorakichi Matsada with an even more dangerous hold.

     I will let the reader decide if Lewis was a villain, misunderstood or somewhere in-between.

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