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The WAWLI Papers, page 1


THE CHAMPIONSHIP MUDDLE, CIRCA1929-1930

Note: This is a copy of a letter sent by James G. Brown, manager of Gus Sonnenberg,
to John W. Driskill, secretary of the National Boxing Association of the United States.


January 21, 1930, Boston, Mass.

Mr. John W. Driskill
Secretary, National Boxing Association
1008 Ingalls, Building 6 East Fourth St.
Cincinnati, Ohio

Dear Sir:

Your letter of January 10 to Gus Sonnenberg turned over to me for reply, and I have given it careful consideration before writing you this letter.

First I want to thank you for your kind offer of permitting champion Gus Sonnenberg to compete in your elimination tournament, which you plan to stage sometime in the near future.

Some time ago, Paul Prehn, who was at that time chairman of the Illinois Athletic Commission, wrote many letters to various promoters and commissions throughout the United States. In these letters, Mr. Prehn asked that Ed (Strangler) Lewis be recognized by all commissions and promoters as the Champion Heavyweight Wrestler of the world. Some time later Mr. Prehn sent out a second series of letters to promoters and commissions throughout the country, stating that Ed (Strangler) Lewis and Joe Stecher were matched to meet for the world's heavyweight championship at St. Louis, Mo. Mr. Prehn further stated that the winner of this match would be declared the Champion Heavyweight Wrestler of the world and would be asked to defend his title at least once every six months. Two of these letters written by Mr. Prehn are now before me on the desk as I write this letter. It is a matter of history that Ed (Strangler) Lewis defeated Joe Stecher in this match at St. Louis, Mo., and successfully defended his title until he met Gus Sonnenberg, January 4th, 1929, at the Boston Garden. It is also a matter of history that Gus Sonnenberg defeated Ed (Strangler) Lewis for the title on this occasion. Since that time Sonnenberg has defeated Ed (Strangler) Lewis, Dan Koloff, Joe Stecher, Marin Plestina, Joe Malcewicz, Stanley Stasiak, Pat McGill and many others.

According to Mr. Prehn's own requirements, this makes Gus Sonnenberg without a doubt the Champion Heavyweight Wrestler of the world. Now in your letter you state that Richard Shikat, John Pesek, Jim Londos and Pete Sauer (Ray Steele) are considered the logical men to compete along with Sonnenberg for the world's heavyweight championship.

Your investigating committee, in making these selections, must have been guilty of one of three things. They are either unfamiliar with the ability of real wrestlers, or they used very poor judgment, or else they are showing injustice to some people and showing favors to others.

Richard Shikat has been defeated by Jim Londos and Wladek Zbyszko. Jim Browning too much the worst of a match with Stanley Stasiak, quit in a private match with Pat McGill and has either lost decisions or held even by such wrestlers as Nick Lutze, Renato Gardini, Dick Daviscourt, and others.

John Pesek has been defeated many times by Ed (Strangler) Lewis, Joe Stecher, Stanley Zbyszko, Jim Londos, Toots Mondt, Nick Lutze and many others.

Jim Londos has been defeated from one to seven times by the following wrestlers: Wladek Zbyszko, Stan Zbyszko, Ed (Strangler) Lewis, Joe Stecher, Earl Caddock, Joe Malcewicz, Renato Gardini, George Calza, Dick Daviscourt and many others. Pete Sauer, alias Ray Steele, has been beaten so many times that it is difficult to see how any sensible committee could consider him as a heavyweight champion contender.

I think this clearly shows you my opinion of the contenders your committee has selected and would prove to any fair minded critic that justice has not been done in the selection of these contenders. A tournament such as you propose between these contenders proves nothing, decides nothing and only leaves room for future arguments.

The only tournament that would clear up the present existing circumstances would be a legitimate elimination tournament open to any wrestler in the world that thinks he can wrestle and wears a pair of tights and has enough confidence of his own ability to put up a forfeit for his appearance. Such a tourney as I have now described is in the making under the supervision of General John V. Clinin, chairman of the Illinois Athletic Commission. This is the only fair, square and true sportsmanlike manner to settle this argument. When General Clinin put the proposition up to me to have Sonnenberg meet the winner of such a tournament, I was the first to post my money and jump at the proposition.

Inasmuch as Sonnenberg won his title fairly and squarely in active competition, I think it hardly fair that he is asked to win it again by entering an elimination tournament. Never before in the history of the sporting game have I ever heard of a champion being asked to win his title the second time. The duty of a champion is to defend his title after he has won it and not to win it over and over again.

As I stated before, I am willing and ready at any time to have Sonnenberg post a forfeit to meet the winner of any legitimate tournament staged, which is open to all the wrestlers in the world. I contend that a tournament such as you propose, shows favors only to a few and will leave fifty or sixty wrestlers through the United States greatly dissatisified and many groups will be at war with each other in much the same manner as at present. Consequently, although I greatly appreciate the honor conferred upon Champion Gus Sonnenberg by offering him a chance to compete in this tournament, I shall have to decline to allow him to take part in an elimination contest of any kind.

However, in conclusion, let me say that should you ever decide to stage a real legitimate tournament, I would be the first one to praise you for your efforts, and will be the first to post a forfeit for Gus to meet the winner of such a contest. Trusting that this letter states my views and feelings clearly, I am

Very truly yours,

James G. Brown
Manager of Gus Sonnenberg
World's Champion Heavyweight Wrestler

 
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