Friday, February 15, 2008
Another Famous Illinois Martial Artist
OK you Chicago tough guys out there; Here's another famous martial artist from Illinois, this from The Bloomington South Wrestling Club:
The 16th President of the United States of America Abraham Lincoln was also a wrestler. Renowned for his wrestling skills was young Abraham Lincoln, who was the wrestling champion of his county as early as 1830, at the age of 21. Lincoln was an impressive physical specimen, thin but wiry and muscular, strengthened by hard work in the fields and towering to a mighty 6 feet, 4 inches in height. It was at this time that Lincoln had his celebrated bout with Jack Armstrong, the local tough and county wrestling champion. Lincoln was keeping the store at New Salem, Illinois, when his boss backed him to out-wrestle the feared Armstrong. From the start, Lincoln proceeded to hand out a thrashing to the local champion. Frustrated by Lincoln's enormous reach, Armstrong started fouling his opponent. Lincoln stood it for a while, but eventually lost his temper. Picking up his opponent, the storekeeper dashed him to the ground and knocked him out. Armstrong recovered in time to keep his cronies from starting a free-for-all. A couple of years later, while serving as captain of a company of the Illinois Volunteers, raised because of the Indian uprising by Black Hawk, Lincoln suffered his only recorded defeat in a wrestling bout. He fought a soldier from another unit and lost a rugged struggle by the odd fall. This time it was Lincoln who averted the free-for-all which seems of have been the customary follow-up to an individual wrestling bout. Often forsaking the ''common British'' style of collar and elbow for the free-for-all style of the frontier, Lincoln undoubtedly was the roughest and toughest of the wrestling Presidents. Also known as ''catch-as-catch-can,'' this style was more hand-to-hand combat than sport. Lincoln progressed rapidly between the ages of 19, when he defended his stepbrother's river barge from Natchez thugs, throwing the potential highjackers overboard, and 29, when he cautiously mentioned himself as possibly the second best wrestler in southern Illinois. Lincoln certainly did not achieve any national fame as a wrestler, but his career was typical of the way the sport was conducted in the first half of the 19th Century.