The Malcewicz-Caddock Mystery
by Don Luce
It has often been reported that Joe Malcewicz, the "Utica Panther," held two claims to the World's heavyweight mat championship.
We all know that Joe Stecher defeated Earl Caddock in New York City to regain the title on January 30, 1920. It has been hinted that Malcewicz won a match by referee's decision over Caddock prior to that date. This would taint the Stecher victory.
This story is mentioned in "From Milo to Londos," a well-known book, which was published around 1937.
At the time of the attempted double-cross of Stecher in his contest against "The Unknown" in 1926, the story got much mention in the press.
Joe "The Unknown" Malcewicz had defeated Caddock before Earl dropped the championship to Stecher, in an earlier title reign. Earl faced Malcewicz in a tuneup with the referee awarding Joe a decision after 90 minutes. For some strange reason he never claimed the World's championship.
It was written that promoter Jack Curley posted "armed guards" around the building to keep "The Utica Panther" from causing problems at the Caddock-Stecher title go in 1920. Curley even bribed the press to keep any information from leaking out.
Some stories had the Malcewicz match taking place at Utica, New York four days prior to the official title change. Back in the 1960's, I went to Utica to check this fact out. I researched all of 1919 and 1920. There was no mention of any such match taking place. In talks with other historians, I often voiced the opinion that it was likely a private bout at a gym.
Some time ago, I came across the fact that Caddock had a match booked at Utica in January 1921. I wondered if the Utica Daily Press would mention anything about the earlier contest. So, I took another long trip to that city. A drive over two hours is a long one at my age.
The first wrestling show at Utica for 1921 was on January 14th, at Maennercher Hall. Earl Caddock was to make his first appearance in Utica. On the date of the card, the newspaper said that it was the first time that Caddock had ever wrestled against Malcewicz. Joe was hoping to pull an upset over the former champion. The match was set for the best two out of three falls with a 90-minute time limit with Jack Winrow as referee.
The contest went the entire length with no falls scored by either wrestler. Referee Winrow awarded Malcewicz the victory on points. The paper mentioned that Winrow used the "English system," a system in which more points are awarded to the wrestler escaping holds than to the wrestler that applies them.
Suddenly my tired, old mind comes to the conclusion that the promoters changed facts to suit their own purposes. The reason no one ever found the Malcewicz-Caddock match before was that the contest really took place in 1921, not 1920!
The story first seemed to appear in 1926. Likely, everyone just took it at face value. So, Jack Curley posted "armed guards" at Madison Square Garden to keep Malcewicz out.
The promoters were making "marks" of the fans back then, too. As least now, the Malcewicz-Caddock mystery seems to have been solved eighty years later.
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