WRESTLING: THE NEW MAN
The new man wore a plain white towel over his shoulders in lieu of a robe. His weight was announced at 240 pounds, his opponent's at 323. The referee, Joe Walcott, a former heavyweight boxing champion, called both men to the center of the ring and, after a moment's talk, the bell rang and the action started.
The 323-pounder, billed as Cowboy Rocky Lee, reached for the new man's shoulders. The new man fell back, held up his fists like a boxer and the fat cowboy stopped dead in his tracks in apparent terror. The crowd of 4,200 in the Washington, D.C. arena laughed and cheered.
The new man was awkward. When he went down, he fell heavily as though he were not used to falling.
The cowboy pounced on the new man, grabbed his leg and twisted it. Ringsiders heard the cowboy whispering in the new man's ear. It sounded like "Hold on, hold on now!" The new man looked like he wanted to yawn.
It went on that way. The cowboy persisted in mean tricks, villainous ways, but always retreated in terror when the new man held up his fists like a boxer. And always the crowd cheered and laughed at the fat cowboy's terror.
Then the cowboy went too far. While Referee Walcott's back was turned, he rubbed his bandaged hand across the new man's eyes. Then he dropped the new man with an arm twist and punched him in the stomach while he was down. Walcott tried to intervene and the cowboy gave him a hard shove. Again the new man put up his fists like a boxer. He hit th e cowboy full in the midsection. Not hard, but hard enough to put the cowboy down for the count of 10. It was all over. Time: 11 minutes. The crowd cheered and laughed.
Later, the new man talked to reporters in his dressing room. They asked him what he thought of wrestling after his first match.
"It's an honest living," said Joe Louis, boxing's greatest champion since Dempsey. "It's not stealing."
The promoter said he could make Joe $100,000 a year if he would agree to wrestle three times a week. Joe couldn't promise. He would have to think it over, he said, and talk it all over with his wife.