Name: Ed Don George
Year Inducted: 2006
Induction Category: Pioneer Era
Ed Don George
Edward Nicholas George was born, June 3, 1905, of French-German parents in the rural community of North Java, New York. An academically minded youngster, he departed the family farm at the young age of fourteen to attend Canisius High School in Buffalo, where he resided in local area boarding houses. During summer vacations, he worked in logging camps, on road gangs and on farms, performing physical labors that would help him so admirably in his future endeavors. Upon graduating with honors, he attended both the University of Michigan and St. Bonaventure University. An athletic standout, he won the all-freshman wrestling tournament and later the national AAU and Michigan State amateur titles. In 1928 he represented the United States at the Olympic Games in Amsterdam, Holland placing fourth in the Freestyle Wrestling event. In reaching the finals, he defeated all-time great Earl McCready of Canada only to lose to future pro J.C. Richthoff of Sweden. In 1929, George graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Michigan. He was later named to the Athletic Hall of Fame at Michigan as well as St. Bonaventure. While working for the Firestone Tire Co. in Akron, Ohio, he traveled through Batavia, N.Y. and stopped at a carnival where he had a chance meeting with the local wrestling promoter. Enticed by the lure of the mat, Ed Don George left the tires behind and embarked on a career in professional wrestling that would bring him fame, fortune and the world wrestling championship.
Ed Don George wrestled his first professional match in Boston under the promotional auspices of Paul Bowser on November 21, 1929 beating Ivan Ludlow. At six-foot, one-inch tall and weighing two hundred and nineteen pounds, he traveled the country honing his professional wrestling skills. He built up a long winning streak before he tackled a former Dartmouth football star named Gus Sonnenberg. Known to possess a bone breaking hammerlock, the skillful George was also a master of the flying mare and the flying tackle. When they clashed again on December 10, 1930 in Los Angeles, George won the match and the world heavyweight mat championship.
Several months later, Ed “Strangler” Lewis would take the crown from George on April 13, 1931 in Los Angeles. Lewis, in turn, relinquished the world title to Henri DeGlane in Montreal the following month in the controversial “bite victory”. George would once again capture the lineal world title when he defeated DeGlane in Boston on February 9, 1933. He would hold his world mat crown until July 30, 1935, when Danno O’Mahoney upset him in Boston. Ed Don George would reign during one of the most confusing periods in the history of the title. On December 18, 1933, George would wrestle title claimant Jim Browning to a 1:40 draw, in a title unification bout at Madison Square Garden in New York. In the summer of 1934, George would wrestle two drawn bouts, totaling almost 5 hours in length, with title claimant Jim Londos (who had defeated Browning). After his loss to Danno in 1935, George would return to the title picture in 1939 when he defeated Steve “Crusher” Casey for the AWA championship.
In 1942, Ed Don George found himself in the United States Navy and retired from professional wrestling when he was called up for active duty. He rose to the rank of Naval commander and was discharged in 1945. Upon returning stateside, he was still a popular wrestling persona and would sometimes serve as a guest referee in main events. With his considerable wrestling earnings, he purchased the booking office in Buffalo and would promote his first wrestling card on September 12, 1947. He ran a very successful promotion and was responsible for bringing local star athlete and 2005 PWHF inductee Dick “The Destroyer” Beyer into the business. He sold the promotion to Pedro Martinez in 1956. He would later promote wrestling in Havana, Cuba until the rise of Fidel Castro.
Ed Don George passed away at the age of 81 on September 18, 1985 in Fort Lauderdale Florida. He is buried in St. Nicholas Cemetery in his birthplace of North Java, NY.
- Johnny Griffin