Lurich Throws Losson
Georg Lurich made his reputation as a professional wrestler competing in European Greco-Roman wrestling tournaments. When Lurich travelled to the United States to ply his trade, he made the transition to catch-as-catch-can wrestling, the dominant style outside of Europe.
Lurich adapted well to this style and earned a shot at the World Heavyweight Wrestling Champion, Frank Gotch, in Gotch’s last match. Lurich was not successful in beating Gotch during the April 1913 match but Gotch was still in his prime. Gotch was nearly unbeatable in his prime.
When Gotch retired in 1913, several promoters attempted to establish a new world champion. Sam Rachmann created the 1915 International Wrestling Tournament in New York to crown a new champion. Rachmann was promoting Aleksander “Alex” Aberg as a replacement but need a talented roster to stake the claim.
Rachmann recruited 38-year-old Lurich as an early entry in the tournament. While Lurich was getting older, he was still considered a capable wrestler. Lurich, Aberg and late entry Ed “The Strangler” Lewis were the favorites to win the tournament.
Lurich won or drew most of his matches in the tournament. He was still a potential finalist, when he met English champion Charles Losson on November 10, 1915. Actually, I’m not sure he was a champion of anything. I’ve found little information about him or his professional wrestling career.
Rachmann manipulated the outcome of a number of bouts in this tournament. He also billed many wrestlers in the tournament as champions with little information to back up his claims.
Lurich used a new hold, “The Windmill Swing”, which makes me wonder if the bout was legitimate or if Rachmann hired Losson to drop the fall and match to Lurich. The match only lasted 13 minutes but we shouldn’t read too much into it. However, the manner of defeat raises a few concerns.
Lurich picked up Losson after about 13 meetings of struggling for a grip, swung him around five times and slammed him to the ground. Lurich then pinned the groggy Losson. Lurich would not lose in the tournament until he wrestled the “Masked Marvel”.
Lurich lost what was surely a prearranged outcome. The “Masked Marvel” would turn out to be Mort Henderson, a journeyman wrestler not in Lurich’s class. Why Lurich put the “Marvel” over is not known but several wrestlers lost to him in the tournament except Ed Lewis and Alex Aberg.
Rachmann resorted to these tactics because the tournament was largely a failure until he planted the “Masked Marvel” in the crowd. Attendance was very light at the tournament’s commencement in April 1915.
By May, most fans were staying away. The promotional tricks were used to generate interest in the tournament. They were largely successful.
Crowds returned in October 1915 after the mysterious masked man was planted at ringside. Fans came back as did the newspaper reporters covering the tournament. However, professional wrestling would be largely an exhibition from this point forward.
Sources: The New York Tribune, November 11, 1915 edition, p. 15Pin It