There are a handful of reports from wrestling history that document the volatile side of one
of the sport's most colorful characters, Joe "Toots" Mondt. Mondt was a wrestler, coach,
promoter, booking agent, and a horse-racing enthusiast. He was a tremendously influential
person, impacting five decades of professional wrestling.
On September 16, 1925, Mondt wrestled former football player Wayne Munn at the
Stockyards Stadium in Denver. Although Munn had been stripped of his championship
claim in a shocking double-cross at the hands of Stanislaus Zbyszko months before, he was
still an important member of the Ed Lewis syndicate.
What happened in Denver is up for some debate. Munn won the initial fall in nearly 48-
minutes of tumbling, then Mondt was given the second. However, Munn disputed the loss
to his fellow stablemate (and public adversary), saying that the referee - a legitimate
grappling coach at the University of Colorado, Don Kilton, misunderstood his dramatic
grunting and groaning as a signal of giving up. Munn refused to exit his dressing room and
continue the match, despite Mondt's plea from the ring, even saying that he'd cancel out
the second fall just to continue the bout.
Kilton, left without any other option, awarded Mondt the win.
This disgraceful main event was supposed to be the match that resurrected wrestling in
Denver, but hurt business worse.
What compelled Munn to remain in his dressing room? Was Mondt roughing him up? Or
was he genuinely upset at the finish for the second fall, thinking that he was going to win in
two-straight and the "real" referee misread Munn's grunts for a submission?
We can only speculate.
Here is the entire show:
Denver, Colorado: Wednesday, September 16, 1925
(Stockyards Stadium) … Joe “Toots” Mondt b. Wayne Munn (2/3) (Munn won the initial fall
in 47:52, Mondt won the second in 5:45, and Mondt won when Munn refused to continue
after protesting the second fall loss) … Pat McGill b. Elmer Guthrie (16:45) … George
Gostivich b. Dave Rutz (17:44) … Jim Holland b. Fred Missoula (10:55) … (promoters:
Paul M. Newstrom, Lawrence Phipps Jr.) … (sponsored by: American Legion) … (referee:
Don Kilton) … (3,000 fans)
Notes: Mondt trained at Eddy’s gym on Eighteenth and Champs streets and Munn worked
out at the Empress Theater. There was seating for 4,000. Kilton was the wrestling coach
at the University of Colorado. A record crowd was predicted with fans from Omaha,
Cheyenne, and Casper. When Munn refused to come out of his dressing room for the third
fall, Mondt went to the press table and said that he’d “cancel the second fall,” and just
wanted Munn to come out and finish the match. Kilton then gave Munn 10-minutes to
return to the ring, and if he didn’t, the match would go to Mondt. Denver Post writer Walter
Judge affirmed that referee Kilton was an “honest man” and “competent referee.” Missoula
was from Denver University.
Later that same night, Munn and Mondt ended up at the Denver Athletic Club for a social
gathering, and to meet with the American Legion representatives to settle the payoffs for
their match. At that conference, Mondt began verbally berating Munn for the latter's refusal
to continue the bout, and Munn reportedly returned fire with some comments of his own.
According to the Denver Post, Mondt "whipped over a right cross to the chin and Munn
toppled to the floor."
Now Munn was not a small man. In fact, he towered over most of his competition being 6'6"
tall, and was larger than Mondt in stature. But "Toots" was in the driver seat. He "dared
Munn to get up and fight, but Munn seemed to have had enough and declined the issue,"
according to the newspaper report.
It seems Munn wanted no part of "Toots," and let the Colorado grappler have the final word.
As it usually happens in wrestling,*another* rematch was booked to finally settle the uneven
situation, and on October 23, 1925, Mondt and Munn wrestled again in Denver. They
were, after all, still on the same "side," and this time - everything went according to script.
Munn won the bout in two-straight.
A cynical person could say that this was all scripted beforehand, to include Mondt's
punching of Munn, and maybe it was. But their September 16 match was dangerously
close to destroying the town for wrestling, and that finish was a gimmick they probably
should have avoided at all costs. I guess it was in their bag of tricks. That is...if it was
Without a doubt, Mondt was respected by his fellow wrestlers and feared by his enemies,
and one of the toughest men in the business.
On another occasion, Mondt's boxing abilities appeared during an actual wrestling match --
against Joe Stecher. That story will come next...
|The Volatile "Toots Mondt