Jews In Sports: Exhibit Page @ Virtual Museum

Harold U. Ribalow and Meir Z. Ribalow
Page 393 of 457

Jews In American Sports


Henry Wittenberg

Lord of the Mat


Mention wrestling to many people, and you will evoke images of the carnival shenanigans that characterize professional wrestling. This pastime is as much show business as it is sport, with huge men wearing masks and freakish costumes and comporting themselves in exaggerated fashion. There is a carnival atmosphere to these follies, and the competitors go through contorted acrobatics to make all their attacks look cripplingly fierce.

But real wrestling, in the Graeco-Roman tradition of the sport, is a sensual, complex sport. Competitors grapple for takedown and escapes, testing their stamina by going three grueling periods at full intensity. At the U.S. national championships, or at the Olympics, fans are given a taste of the power and excitement that can personify a tough, sincere match between two men who are out to outwrestle each other, not impress an audience.

Perhaps no sport is more primal, and more traditional, than wrestling, the most honored of the Greeks' manly arts; as long as the competitive urge has existed, men have wrestled. One of the most famous stories in the Bible tells of Jacob wrestling with the angel. But through the long history of this honorable pastime, few men have so thoroughly dominated their weight class as a Jewish cop