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Ed Lewis


[Article: Portrait of a Hooker]

Title History

  • Undisputed World Heavyweight title (five times between 1920-1931);
  • AWA (Boston) World Heavyweight title;
  • New York State Athletic Commission (N.Y.S.A.C.) World Heavyweight title (1932);
  • Wrestling Association World Heavyweight title defeated Orville Brown (November 26, 1942);
  • Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame;
  • Tragos/Thesz Wrestling Hall of Fame;
  • International Wrestling Institute & Museum Hall of Fame;
  • Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame;

Career History

In The Beginning:

  • Robert Friedrich started wrestling at the age of 14 at small carnivals and in farm towns throughout middle America.
  • 1904: At the age of 14, Robert Friedich entered a wrestling ring in Madison, Wisconsin and won his first match!
  • Robert Friedich became known as “Ed Lewis” as a disguise because his parents did not approve of wrestling.
  • Ed Lewis was a true pioneer of the sport and one of its earliest and most dominant heavyweight champions.
  • Ed Lewis helped establish professional wrestling at a time when it was somewhat unestablished.

Ed “Strangler” Lewis:

  • July 4, 1916: Ed Lewis was involved in the longest wrestling match in history, wrestling Joe Stecher to a 5½ hour draw.
  • Ed Lewis got his “Strangler” nickname, from a reporter who saw a resemblence between he and Evan “The Strangler” Lewis.
  • Ed Lewis and boxing champion Jack Dempsey had a long “feud” throughout their simultaneous reigns (pushed by the press)
  • ~~~Jack admitted the match would never happened because he knew that he didn’t stand a chance against a Wrestling Champion.
  • Ed Lewis was probably the most accomplished submission wrestler in the sport during the early part of the 1900s.
  • Ed Lewis was feared and respected both inside and outside of the ring for his extensive knowledge of submissions.
  • Ed Lewis easily could (and sometimes did) injure and legitimately cripple any wrestler that crossed him if he felt like it.
  • January 4, 1929: Gus Sonnenberg defeted Ed “Strangler” Lewis for the World’s Wrestling Heavyweight title.
  • June 9, 1932: Ed “Strangler” Lewis defeated Dick Shikat for the NWA Heavyweight Wrestling title.
  • 1937: Ed Lewis returned to the United States after a tour around the world and Lewis publically quit wrestling.
  • Ed Lewis did not approve of the new style wrestling had adopted, but he kept wrestling dispite that announcement.
  • November 26, 1942: Ed Lewis beat Orville Brown to win the Midwest Wrestling Association World Heavyweight title in Kansas City.
  • 1947: Ed “Strangler” Lewis wrestled his last match, marking the end of a career that spanned four trecherous decades.

Ed “Strangler” Lewis:

  • Ed “Strangler” Lewis (by his own records) wrestled in over 6,200 matches and lost only 33 of those contests.
  • In retirement, Ed Lewis trained and occasionally managed his protege and N.W.A. World Champion, Lou Thesz.
  • Ed “Strangler” Lewis also became the official good will ambassador for Sam Muchnik’s National Wrestling Alliance.
  • Ed “Strangler” Lewis became a restaurant operator, a rancher and athletic director of a health club.
  • Ed Lewis appeared in several films such as “Stranglehold” and “That Natzy Nuisance.”
  • Ed Lewis served as a military instructor of hand-to-hand combat at Camp Grant in Rockford
  • Ed Lewis lost his sight after a siege of trachoma early in his career but recovered and credited the recovery to prayer.
  • Ed Lewis once again lost his eyesight during the last few years of his life.
  • August 6, 1966: Ed “Strangler” Lewis died at the age of 76 at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Muskogee, OK.
  • ~~~Reports of his passing were in newspapers on August 8 which may account for this date being incorrectly used.



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Trained By



June 30, 1890


Nekoosa/Port Edwards, Wisconsin





265 lbs.

Finishing Move(s)

Sleeper Hold (variation)

Favorite Move(s)

Notable Feuds

Stanislaus Zbyszko
Orville Brown
Joe Stecher
Jim Londos
Dick Shikat
Freddie Beel
Jack Leon
Karl Shulz
Young Olsen
Charlie Cutler
Ernie Dusek
Rudy Dusek
Tom Jenkins