Guest Columnists

The History of the Belts: 1930-1939
by Don Luce

Most wrestling fans have only seen a World title list which tries to trace the championship from Frank Gotch to the National Wrestling Alliance titleholder in the 1980's.  Let me set the record straight for the 1930's.

National Wrestling Association version —

August 23, 1929, Philadelphia
Dick Shikat defeated Jim Londos to win World title rating by the Pennsylvania and New York state athletic commissions.  The Pennsylvania commission stripped Gus Sonnenberg on August 7th, because he refused to meet the winner.

June 6, 1930, Philadelphia
Londos defeated Shikat.  After this match, the National Boxing Association recognized Londos as its World champion in 31 states.  It quickly became known as the National Wrestling Association title.  (Jim Londos was the first N.W.A. champion.)

June 27, 1935, Boston
Danno O'Mahoney defeated Londos for the N.W.A. belt.

February 8, 1936, Galveston
O'Mahoney failed to show up for a title match against Juan Humberto.  On Feb. 10th, the Texas state commission vacated Danno's title in Texas, and wanted the N.W.A. to do the same.

February 16th, 1936, Galveston
N.W.A. President Landry suspended Danno O'Mahoney on complaint of F.E. Nichols of Texas commission.

March 2, 1936, New York City
Dick Shikat defeated O'Mahoney in a double-cross of the Wrestling Trust and likely took the belt with him.  Dick wouldn't go though with bookings set up before winning the title.  The first such match seemed to be against Pete Sauer (Ray Steele) in Memphis on March 23rd.  The Tennessee body suspended Shikat.  The Missouri commission followed suit on March 30th.  Shikat signed a contract with promoter Al Haft and defended his title for the first time on April 8th in Columbus, defeating Alan Eustace.  The Trust, made up of promoters such as Jack Curley, Paul Bowser, Tom Packs, Ed White, and others, took Shikat to court in Columbus, digging up an old contract signed with Joe Alvarez as Dick's manager.  Fearing that he would be forced to wrestle only for the so called "Trust", Dick dropped his title to Ali Baba.

April 24, 1936, Detroit
Ali Baba defeated Shikat for the title.  In a wire service bulletin from Boston dated April 27th, it was reported that Joe Alvarez lost his interest in Dick Shikat.  (I wonder why?)

May 5, 1936, New York City
Ali Baba defeated Shikat to win the blessing of the state commission.  The Turk was the last wrestler that ever was recognized as World's champion by the New York state athletic commission.  By the end of 1936, the title had so many changes that the National Wrestling Association ordered a tournament to clear up the mess.  Any wrestler entering the tournament must put up $1000 to get in.  (I have never found the date that this information was given.  I'm using data from Ross Schneider, which he sent me in the 1960's.)

September 14, 1937, White Sulphur Springs, West Va.
The National Wrestling Association recognized John Pesek as their World Heavyweight wrestling champion.  Pesek, the only wrestler who posted the $1000, must meet Everett Marshall or Bronko Nagurski in 6 months.  Sam Murbarger of Indianapolis is now the N.W.A. president.

August 1938
The National Wrestling Association stripped John Pesek of the title.  Pesek seemed to be more interested in dog racing than in defending the belt.  (I think Ross Schneider had the date of this.  I can't find his notes right now.)

September 14, 1938, Montreal
At their convention, the N.W.A. recognized Everett Marshall as their new World's Heavyweight mat kingpin.  (1) Steve Casey was out of the country.  (2) In their St. Louis title match of May 25, 1938, Marshall was disqualified for tossing Casey over the top rope.  Everett's manager Billy Sandow pointed out that it was an accident.  (This is very interesting as Casey held the American Wrestling Association belt, not the N.W.A. version.)

February 23, 1939, St. Louis
Lou Thesz defeated Everett Marshall for the National Wrestling Association title.  (This was the first time Lou held the N.W.A. belt.)

June 23, 1939, Houston
Bronko Nagurski defeated Lou Thesz for the N.W.A. title when Thesz broke his knee cap.  During the 1940's, the National Wrestling Association history is correct.  It merged with the National Wrestling Alliance title in November 1949.

June 27, 1935, Denver
Everett Marshall defeated Young Gotch in the final of a tournament.  Governor Johnson of Colorado gave Marshall a belt after the match, and recognized him as World's Heavyweight champion in that state.

July 3, 1935, Columbus
The Midwest Wrestling Association gave Marshall their blessings as World's champion.

June 29, 1936, Columbus
Everett Marshall defeated Ali Baba at Red Bird Stadium before a crowd of 8,763.  This was a "Title vs. Title" contest.  Marshall gave up his belt, and it was to go back to the winner.  History doesn't mention if Ali Baba even wore a belt, during his short reign.  The paper said that Heywood Allen Sr., the M.W.A. president gave the Midwest Wrestling Association belt to the winner.

December 29, 1937, St. Louis
The American Wrestling Association put up a new belt to go to the winner of this night's Marshall vs. Thesz match.  Lou Thesz defeated Everett Marshall to win the new American Wrestling Association belt.

February 11, 1938, Boston
Steve Casey defeated Lou Thesz for the American Wrestling Association title.  From this point on, it is possible to follow the A.W.A. version to Frank Sexton in 1950.  It could be another story.


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