The WAWLI Papers, page 1


N.W.A. Official Wrestling, January, 1953, 30 cents

We can think of nothing which could better give an insight on what fans know about wrestling than the "Do You Know Your Holds" contest which started in the May, 1952, issue of N.W.A. Official Wrestling Magazine.

When the contest began and the rules were written, we said that fans could send in a short write-up describing the holds, but that it was not necessary to do so to win the contest.   Surprisingly, most fans have been sending in their ideas of the holds and still more surprising is that for the most part, they are accurately analyzed and expertly handled.

A few years ago, such expert knowledge of wrestling would have come only from a few isolated fans here and there.   All of which goes to prove the enormous uptrend of wrestling in the past decade.   Today the average fan knows as much about the intricacies of the game as a boxing fan knows about the difference between jabs, uppercuts and so on.   This has had its effect on wrestlers.   For instance, a few years ago, the average wrestler applied assorted holds on his opponent until he won his match.   When the bout was over the announcer didn't even bother to name the hold with which he had been pinned.   Not so today.   The announcer never fails to explain the hold and fans are very interested to know it.   Wrestlers, now that they know they are being watched by spectators who know their holds, are more apt to develop a favorite grip to finish their man.   If they develop a spectacular hold their name becomes associated with it and it adds in no small measure to their earning ability.

But, coming back to the fans and their knowledge of wrestling, we reproduce a few among the thousands of letters from contestants reaching us every month.   Perhaps you disagree with them, if so why don't you write to us and give us your idea of the hold?

Here, a fan writing about the Crotch and Armlock, says it is also known as the "Airplane Spin" then goes on to say ...
"Jimmy Londos used his hold to pin most of his opponents.   It requires a perfect sense of balance, leverage and strength.   Grab your opponent's right wrist and pull him towards you, duck under his armpit and quickly hoist him on your shoulders.   Now is the time when you start to whirl him by revolving around and around on your feet until you are sure he has lost his balance.   Then bending either forward or to the side release him so that he will fall on his back.   Then quickly pin him."

This fan writing from Washington D.C.   has this to say about the Half Nelson and Leg Scissor ...
"The hold was made famous by Joe Stecher who was world's champion in the old days of wrestling.   Joe was also a baseball player.   He won the championship from Charles Cutler at Omaha, Nebraska.   This hold which Stecher made famous can easily be made into a cobra twist as used by Cyclone Anaya or a rocking split or a head vise used by Frank Sexton.   It can be easily made into many well known holds which can be effective if used correctly, but the modern wrestler is getting faster and faster each day, so the hold is slowly dying out."

Read this one about the Trip Out Toe Hold and how it works.   It comes from a contestant in Grand Rapids, Mich.
"The hold calls for the utmost speed and timing.   This hold is usually used when the action in the ring is at its most furious pace.   I especially like to see it used as a counter for the Body Block.   The wrestler using it drops to the mat as his opponent comes rushing in and hooks the toe of his man with one foot, tripping him up, at the same time placing his other foot to the back of the knee joint to accelerate his victim's fall to the mat.   When executed with the speed and precision of Billy Goelz or Lou Thesz, the man using this hold winds up with a very workable Toe Hold."

From Newark, N.J., a wrestling fan writes in who seems to know abll about the Half Crab.   This is what he says ...
"The Half Crab is applied when you lay your opponent on his side.   You grasp his jaw with your left hand and press backward, giving him a pressure on the back of the neck.   You grab his foot around the ankle with your right hand, after this you place your right foot on his spine, giving him a pressure on the lower part of his back.   The Half Crab is usually used as a submission hold.   Only a few wrestlers can boast they withstood the pressure of the Half Crab."

If you think that the ladies don't know etheir holds, dismiss the thought.   Here is one writing from Albion, N.Y., and she tells us all about the Half Nelson.
"The first wrestler manages to get behind his opponent, then brings his left arm across the small of his back and twines it around his waist.   Then he inserts his right arm under his opponent's armpit and brings his hand from under the armpit across the back of his opponent's neck.   To give him better leverage, he puts the palm of his hand on the base of his skull.   The wrestlr then drops to his left knee and with the motion exerts great pressure on his man's head, bending and forcing him to the mat."

All the way from Shoshone, Idaho, another lady describes the Chin Hold and Back Breaker and identifies the two wrestlers using it as Kurt Von Poppenheim and Andy Tremaine.   This is what the lady writes ...
"He has a hand pulling his chin back, has his foot in the middle of Tremaine's back, making the back breaker, while his other hand is holding his foot back.   Since he can't move either his foot or hands to get loose, it is a submission hold.   Sometimes when a wrestler slips his hand and makes a choke hold, the referee breaks it up."

Note: When I first saw Von Poppenheim put this hold on an opponent some 38 years ago, it was called a German -- or Prussian -- Cross Bow.

A lady in San Francisco, Calif., describes two holds: the Surf Board Hold and the Irish Whip.   They are both expertly told.
"The man applying the Surf Board Hold looks exactly as though he were riding a surf board, using his victim's arms as ropes and his body as the board.   It is applied from behind the opponent, usually from a kneeling or prone position.   The man applying the hold places one of his knees in the small of the opponent's back and pulls back on each of his arms.   This results in extreme stretching of the pectoral muscles and considerable discomfort in the region of the lower spine.   The opponent must rely on unusual strength to break out of this hold.   His only alternative is to try and get his aggressor off his feet somehow.

For the Irish Whip, the wrestler on the offensive grabs one of his opponent's arms and holds it straight out at his side.   then, holding his victim's wrist in both his hands, he brings the arm up above his own head.   He rotates the arm in a complete circle, starting the circle in the direction in which the opponent is facing, flipping him over his head.   The opponent falls to the mat with considerable force, momentarily dazed and the aggressor can follow through with a pinning hold.   His only hope to get out of it is to try and last without getting dfazed.   Danno O'Mahoney pioneered with it."

We will publish more descriptions of holds from time to time.   If you know one, why don't you write and tell us about it.   Maybe you know of some unusual hold that most fans have not seen.   Tell us about it if you do.   They do not necessarily have to be holds shown in the "Do You Know Your Holds" contest.   And now for the rest of the mail:

Dear Sir:
Could you let us know who won the mixed match between the boxer Omelio Agramonte and Marvin Mercer at Jersey City, N.J., on September 11th? -- Ernest Gordon, Charlotte NC
Marvin Mercer pinned Omelio Agramonte in 25 minutes.

Dear Sir:
I think Don Arnold is the best wrestler I have seen.   I am from Sydney, Australia, but now living here.   I have never seen a better wrestler in Australia or in the States. -- Elsie Pupek, West Conshohocken, Pa.
Take a bow, Don.

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