In December 1897 at Fort Wayne, Henry West beat Joe Acton of Cleveland and after the
match, he was challenged by Herbert Hale. West was from Auburn.
Sam Murbarger managed fighter Eddie McGoorty, who wanted a match against
heavyweight champion Jack Johnson. Johnson was appearing in Indianapolis in March
1912. Charles Olson also challenged Johnson to a wrestling bout.
On October 1, 1915 in Evansville, Ed "Strangler" Lewis beat Bob Managoff in two-straight
falls in what was considered a "rough" match.
In 1935, Joe Coffey of Chicago was the matchmaker for matches in Hammond and Barney
Yedvab was the announcer.
Indiana State Athletic commissioner Curtis Pitts announced on October 23, 1946 that all
team wrestling was banned in the state due to a controversial match in Evansville on
October 9 between the Dusek Brothers and Warren Bockwinkel and Ralph Garibaldi.
The differences in Chicago between Leonard Schwartz and Fred Kohler resulted in both
men being inducted into the National Wrestling Alliance. However, Schwartz was incensed
when Kohler invaded Hammond, a city he was booking, in March 1951, and immediately
wrote Sam Muchnick requesting NWA assistance in clearing the situation up.
In Indianapolis on August 15, 1953, Muchnick met with representatives from Bruff Cleary
Sports Promotions, Inc. of Fort Wayne. 11 days later, Carl Bennett of the latter promotion,
wrote a letter to Muchnick, explaining that they were planning to stage outdoor grappling at
Zollner Stadium in September. The facility say 7,000, he wrote, and then they wanted to
shift to the Fort Wayne Auditorium and the Muncie Armory with a few special programs at
the Coliseum. Bennett wanted to know the names of the wrestlers "under contract to your
Agency," and wanted to establish a schedule to "rebuild Fort Wayne and make it one of the
top wrestling cities in this area." Bennett also noted that "television will become a reality in
November and feel that this will be a big boost to re-establishing wrestling as one of the
main entertainment cards in our city."
Bruff Cleary Sports Promotions was planning to stage a big Lou Thesz-Mighty Atlas show at
Zollner on September 17.
Billy Thom put up his Indianapolis promotion to the highest bidder in 1955.
In August 1955, Muchnick told Department of Justice investigator Stanley Disney that "for
several years, he had been booking Indianapolis on alternate weeks with [Cliff] Maupin,"
according to the interview summary. Muchnick revealed that Fred Kohler had
"double-crossed him" by buying the Indianapolis promotion from Thom and Kohler planned
to book the city himself. Muchnick said that he wouldn't have ever encroached on Kohler's
territory without first discussing it with him. Muchnick also told Disney that he'd talked with
Lou Thesz about the matter, and Thesz heard that the Indiana State Athletic Commission
promised Kohler that they'd only allow one promotion to operate in Indianapolis, preventing
Muchnick from booking the city any longer.
Muchnick booked Indianapolis from at least 1951 to 1954, and maybe part of 1955 prior to
Kohler buying the city.
In a letter to the Justice Department dated September 15, 1955, Muchnick elaborated on
the sale of Indianapolis to Kohler, saying that the latter (and his associate Jim Barnett) paid
$15,000 to Thom for the city. A meeting occurred in Indianapolis during the first part of
September 1955 that was attended by Kohler, Barnett, Maupin, Muchnick, and members of
the Indiana State Athletic Commission. Kohler, reportedly, offered to sell Muchnick half of
his interest, and Muchnick said he had "other people to consult" before he could agree to
Doyle explained the situation a little differently when he wrote to the Justice Department on
September 7, 1955, telling Stanley Disney that Kohler bought Indianapolis yet because
other booking agents had booked the city, Kohler would have to work with them to furnish
talent despite having his own office.
The Anderson Daily Bulletin (3/22/56, Anderson, IN) reported that in Indianapolis, veteran
referee Dick Patton opened offices "as manager of Indiana Wrestling, Inc. and state
booking office." Bob Stranahan, a former sports editor for the Indianapolis Star, was going
to be the corporation's publicist. Indiana Wrestling, Inc. was the Kohler/Barnett-affiliated
NWA World Heavyweight champion Pat O'Connor was going to defend his championship
against Jack Wilson at the Elston High School gymnasium in Michigan City on April 14,
1960. Also on the card were Lady Atlas and Ramona Tselle. Atlas was from Fond du Lac,
Wisconsin. Billy Goelz was going to team with his protege Johnny Gilbert of Michigan City
against Gypsy Joe and Kenny Jay.
Professional wrestling in Indiana, in 1960, drew 640,968 people for 868 shows throughout
the state, and the total gate receipts were $1,054,441.06. The largest attendance of the
year came on August 18, 1960 when 14,647 attended an outdoor program.
Muchnick wrote to Jack Pfefer on September 4, 1963, and explained that he, Frank
Tunney, Bill Longson and "Whipper" Bill Watson had about $10,000 invested in
Indianapolis, and wanted to know what Kohler was going to do about it.
Research by Tim Hornbaker
|Indiana Wrestling Territory