"The Wrestling Trust"
Marin Plestina, greatest wrestler in the world.
Chris Jordan, champion middleweight wrestler of the world.
The above are two wonderful wrestlers, not members of the wrestling trust that is operated by certain New York promoters.
As a result of their position, these men are barred from taking part in any wrestling bout with other so-called champion wrestlers.
Plestina has several thousand up now in different places, $2,000 of it up in Chicago, which he stands ready to wager on his right to the title of champion heavyweight wrestler of the world. The backers of these two men are ready and willing to put up thousands that they are the real champions in the heavy, welter and middleweight classes.
But while they are willing to do this, all the other so-called champions hold off and apparently want none of their game.
"Why are they shying away from you?" I asked of Plestina the other day.
"Why, because they are acting under orders from the trust," said the giant wrestler.
"The trust has already settled the heavyweight wrestling championship, settled it six months in advance, if you may.
"Caddock, Stecher, Lewis, Zbyszko and all the heavyweights are to meet in a series of a matches, but it has all been agreed that Stecher is to come out winner in the end.
"The king of the wrestling trust has so ordered, and so it must be."
"Who is the king of the wrestling trust?" I asked, for I had often heard the story and wanted new information on the subject.
"Jack Curley," was the reply. "Curley's the main guy."
"Of what is his kingdom?" I asked.
"It extends from New York to San Francisco," was the prompt reply. "He controls the wrestling game in the two great cities of the east and west."
"Does he control Chicago?"
"What cities outside of Chicago and New York does he control then?"
"He controls Norfolk, Va.; Montreal, Canada; Savannah, Ga.; Des Moines, Iowa; Kansas City, Omaha and a few other places. He did control Toronto until his wrestlers killed the game in that city. It was once a great stand for the wrestling game."
The real foundation of all sport is the spirit of fair play. Cut that out from under any sport and the finish will come sooner or later.
Here today is actual evidence of the existence of a wrestling trust that would bar from all wrestling contests three men who are of good standing in the professional wrestling game. Three who have never offended, who have respected the amenities of life insofar as their treatment of their wrestling opponents and the public is concerned, three who ask no favors, but only a fair field and who are willing to stake their last dollars on the outcome.
These three come out boldly and assert that they are barred from open competition by the wrestling trust. (The third man is welterweight champion Jack Reynolds, yet another booked out of the Chicago office of John "Doc" Krone.)
The fact that their challenges are ignored, that they have been notified that they will not be allowed to meet members of the wrestling trust in open matches, is of itself proof that they are barred from open competition and denied fair play.
The story of the New York wrestling trust always seemed too funny for me to believe.
I have heard it a thousand times, but I always laughed, because always they put down Jack Curley as its king. I laughed at Curley being king of anything. I laughed, because I knew Curley many years ago in Chicago, when he was a hustling kid.
Jack Curley's right name is Armand Schultz, born in Chicago of poor but honest parents, as they say in the fairy tales.
Jack started out as a newsboy, got a job in the old Edelweiss restaurant and graduated from there to a waiter's job in the Great Northern hotel, where he became popular and got many tips.
In a little while Jack had enough tip money to rent a building at Monroe and Dearborn streets where he opened a saloon. Tiring of the saloon business, he rented an office in the Hartford building, where with Paddy Carroll he opened up a booking business and commenced looking after the business end for several of the local boxers. Among the fighters on the Curley string were Clarence and Harry Forbes, then at the very height of their fame as boxers.
From then on Curley did other things in the sport line. He managed the Gotch-Hackenschmidt wrestling match in Chicago, cleared a fortune in it and then lost it all in promoting the Jack Johnson-Flynn fight for the championship.
From all these things now it appears Jack has risen to be a real king in New York and he really does run a wrestling trust.
One of the wrestlers, to prove Jack's greatness in New York, tells this story:
J.C. Marsh, Plestina's manager, called on Tex Rickard, at the head of the fight game in New York, recently and said to him:
"Mr. Rickard, you have the reputation on the outside of being an honest man, one who always plays fair. Now, then, why not give a heavyweight wrestling tournament in Madison Square Garden and invite all the world's champions to enter, including Marin Plestina."
"Ah," said Rickard, "Plestina . I've heard that name before. And a world's wrestling tournament with Plestina in it would certainly be worth seeing.
"But certain sporting men object to Plestina, don't you know, and then I've as good as given my word not to touch the wrestling game in New York. Jack Curley is handling that sport here now and certain parties have asked me to keep hands off his game."
Here was more evidence of a wrestling trust, with New York as its main center. But as Chicago is not named as one of its members, why can't a wrestling tournament be arranged for this city in the Coliseum, with Plestina appearing there and offering to meet all the great wrestlers in the world at the different weights?
While certain of the wrestlers belonging to the trust might fight shy of these challengers the tournament prizes might induce them to break away from the trust, and if they did Chicago would see a series of real wrestling matches, the like of which she has never seen before and never will see until something of the sort is done to raise the embargo on the meeting of these three with all the other best wrestlers of their weight in the world.