One of the most notable wrestlers from Utah was Ira Dern.
Around early April 1911, promoter Harry W. Heagren was working to try to sign a match
between World Heavyweight Champion Frank Gotch and George Hackenschmidt for
Salt Lake City, which would be held around Labor day. Heagren was offering $30,000
for the match. On Saturday, April 1, 1911, he took Gotch and his manager Emil Klank
around town in the hopes that it would further the negotiations. The affair would take
place at the Saltair Hippodrome, and seating would be arranged for upwards of 12,000
people. Heagren said that an investment of about $6-8,000 would be needed to
prepare the facility, while such preparations would be exorbitantly more in Chicago.
Also, he claimed, that more fans would be able to see the match in Salt Lake City than
in the "Windy City."
Heagren's attempts were in vain. Where Gotch agreed to wrestle in Salt Lake,
Hackenschmidt wasn't going to appear anywhere but Chicago despite Heagren's offer
of $30,000 - $10,000 more than any other proposal on the table. On April 5, he talked
with Klank and got the word that the big match wasn't going to happen in his neck of the
woods. Klank stated that Zbyszko would not draw in Salt Lake for Labor day "because
Roller beat him," and then told him to consider a Mike Yokel-Fred Beell match-up.
Instead, Heagren was thinking about Yokel vs. Gehring for the middleweight title on
George Nelson (Jorgen Nelson) was born on August 29, 1890 in Larvik, Norway, and
lived in Preston, Idaho. Around 1916, Nelson claimed the Intermountain Heavyweight
wrestling championship. He served as the Director of Athletics at Oneida State
Academy in Preston, and later worked as a coach at Utah State University. Nelson was
also a Salt Lake City firefighter, and a convert to the Mormon religion. Nelson died on
August 7, 1970 in Logan, Utah.
On January 4, 1935, Ogden, Utah Mayor Harman W. Peery invited World Heavyweight
champion Jim Londos to meet boxing world champion Max Baer in a mixed match during
the Pioneer Days' Celebration between July 20-24.
The June 26, 1944 edition of the Des Moines Register, in a column (Sittin' In) by Sec
Taylor, talked about a former sports editor at the Daily Iowan in Iowa City and resident
of Waterloo named John Mooney. Mooney reportedly relocated to Salt Lake City,
where he worked as a sports editor, and covered a recent wrestling show featuring
ex-boxer Tony Galento in Price, Utah. Reportedly, Galento was on hand to referee the
main event, but Jack Kogut's opponent failed to show, and Mooney rose to the
occasion, abandoning his journalistic duties to become apart of the program. The
Mooney-Kogut bout went forward, but was halted when Kogut's heel tactics drew
Galento's ire and resulting fists. Mooney then took the win when Galento punched
The Ogden Standard-Examiner reported on February 22, 1949 that Jack Washburn
was taking over the local wrestling promotion, starting on March 2. He had previously
held shows in Ogden in 1937 and '38, and was known for managing World Heavyweight
champion Dean Detton. Washburn was also a wrestler, having learned from Earl
Caddock, and served in World War I.
Research by Tim Hornbaker
|Salt Lake City Wrestling Territory