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Joseph Acton (8 March, 1852 – 26 June, 1917) Known by his ring name “Little Joe” or “Limey Joe”, Joe Acton was a British professional wrestler and world champion who competed in England and America during the late 19th century.

Acton is one of a handful of wrestlers credited with introducing “Catch-as-Catch-Can” wrestling, with its roots in old Lancashire wrestling, to the United States.

Now either forgotten or confused with a later popular Wisconsin-born wrestler who borrowed his name, Evan Lewis was one of the most feared and famous figures in 19th Century sports.” Lewis was an American professional wrestler who was the first internationally recognized American Heavyweight Champion and is credited with perfecting the “stranglehold” or “neck yoke” more commonly known today as the rear naked choke.

He’d slip his wrist down below his opponent’s ear over the carotid artery and squeeze, shutting off the blood supply to the brain thus putting his opponent to sleep.

Although he had previous experience in jujitsu-style fighting having faced British judoka Yukio Tanai in 1904, he lost to Ito in two bouts, in three and two minutes respectively. Tom Connors, once middle weight champion wrestler of the world, was born in Wigan, Lancashire, England, the famous nursery of catch-as-catch-can wrestlers, Feb. Connors had perhaps the best record of any wrestler that ever lived, as out of 110 matches he only suffered defeat on three occasions.

He lived in New York and later Rhode Island, and became a naturalized citizen in 1900.

and the country grew fairly wild over him and his wrestling ability.” Martin “Farmer” Burns, whose legend has long eclipsed that of Evan Lewis, owed his origins in the mat game, and the rudiments of his art, to the latter.

Burns won what would forever after be billed as the “world” championship from Lewis in 1895.

“You choke me,” he told Lewis, “I shoot you.” “I will not choke you this time,” Lewis averred.

“But I will screw your leg off.” And he darn near did.


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