Jules Beck, a promoter of boxing and wrestling in Pittsburgh during the 1930s and '40s,
was born on February 22, 1896 and died on January 25, 1981 in Los Angeles.
In late February 1932, Ed "Strangler" Lewis wrestled John Maxos in Pittsburgh, and initial
reports were that Maxos suffered a broken neck. Lewis was taken in custody and held on
There was heavy rumors going around that Ernie Dusek was going to dethrone Danno
O'Mahoney for the World Heavyweight Title on January 6, 1936 in Pittsburgh, but the
speculation didn't help boost promoter Elwood Rigby's offering. In fact, his gate was
$2,000 lower than O'Mahoney's previous appearance in town. Dusek didn't win the title
that night, and their match was a wild double-countout, ending in both wrestlers' purses
being held up and the two grapplers being suspended for 30-days by the Pennsylvania
State Athletic Commission.
For many years, Pittsburgh was booked by Al Haft of Columbus and the likes of Ruffy
Silverstein, Buddy Rogers, Marvin Mercer, Joe Scarpello, and Frankie Talaber were
headliners locally at The Gardens and Northside Islam Grotto at 107 E. Montgomery
Alex Bentley, a Beaver Falls automobile finance agent, and Louis Shiring bought Fritzie
Zivic's interest in professional wrestling for a reported $2,000.
Haft teamed with Bentley and renown television announcer Wayne Griffin to launch a new
television wrestling series from the Grotto beginning on Saturday, December 8. The
show, sponsored by Fort Pitt Brewing Company, would be broadcast live on WDTV
(channel 3) at 2:00 p.m., and the gimmick for the program would be that it was an
ongoing wrestling tournament to determine a heavyweight and junior heavyweight
champion. In publicity, it was claimed that these two new local titleholders would then
face off with national champions to create undisputed champions. 36 wrestlers were said
to have signed on to participate.
Notably, this was the first WDTV effort outside of their studios. Griffin, who also did the
announcing for the national Chicago wrestling telecast every Wednesday, was going to
drive to Pittsburgh every week to also do the WDTV broadcast, and Bentley would be the
promoter of record.
On August 30, 1960, Vince Risko was named matchmaker of the Pittsburgh Wrestling
Club and planned shows at Forbes Field beginning on September 16. Risko was the
brother of former boxer Babe Risko.
Ace Freeman (Zoltan Friedman) died on Monday, July 9, 2001 in Middlesex Twp.,
Pennsylvania at the age of 87. Freeman was a wrestler from the early 1930s until 1965,
then promoted the sport throughout Western Pennsylvania until 1979 with Rudy Miller.
He arrived in the United States from Hungary at the age of 15, and grappled as an
Research by Tim Hornbaker
|Pittsburgh Wrestling Territory