Name: Jack Pfefer
Year Inducted: 2007
Induction Category: Non-Participant

Jack Pfefer

Jacob Pfefer was born on December 10, 1894 near Warsaw, Poland. In 1921, while working as a booking agent/porter/stage hand for a traveling theatrical/ballet company, he emigrated to the United States. During the 1920's, Pfefer was eager to jump on the back of what he saw as the emerging theatrical spectacle of pro wrestling. In Chicago in 1924, he assembled a troupe of Eastern European heavyweights and he was quick to see the ethnic attraction in pro wrestling for the immigrant community. His "foreign exotics", such as the big footed "Russian Cossack" Ivan Poddubny, were built up as contenders and later matched against the American champions.

After achieving great success in the Midwest, Pfefer ventured to the East Coast in 1929 and aligned himself with New York's number one wrestling promoter, Jack Curley. He found himself working with the "wrestling trust", alongside such personalities as Joe "Toots" Mondt, Ray Fabiani and Rudy Miller. Jimmy "The Golden Greek" Londos was the trusts' golden goose. Pfefer's unofficial title for "the trust" was head scout/manager of European talent. One of his best was the bearded pogo stick, Serge Kalmikoff, a former tailor on New York's East Side.

When Jim Londos abandoned Curley in 1932, Pfefer made a failed bid for control of the New York region and sided against Curley in favor of the Midwest alliance consisting of Londos and Tom Packs. But in 1933, he was left out in the cold as Curley was able extend the "wrestling trust" to include all the top regional promotions of North America including the Midwest. With Curley and the "wrestling trust" back in control and dividing the profits among themselves, everyone was happy except Jack Pfefer who found himself on the outside of the business.

A dark period ensued for the wrestling community as a vindictive Pfefer did his best to topple his former partners. Pfefer, aka "The Halitosis Kid", did the unmentionable - he went to the press. In 1934, through interviews with Dan Parker of the New York Daily Mirror, Pfefer described the full extent of the sport's "fakery". The impact was immediate and it was no longer viewed by the media as competitive sport. Pro wrestling as pure theatrical entertainment became the accepted form of a once noble and sometimes competitive sport.

With attendance plummeting, the New York region was wide open and Pfefer began booking matches in the smaller local New York arenas. It is speculated that Pfefer was involved in the 1936 Dick Shikat shoot win over the "trusts" new champion Danno O'Mahoney en route to stealing the championship from Jack Curley. Later, Ali Baba, via Pfefer's partner Al Haft, would defeat Shikat and then lose to Dave Levin, a Pfefer creation. Pfefer then sold Levin's contract to Curley and Mondt in order to try and reestablish "the trust". But the other regional promoters refused to work with Pfefer and "the trust" disbanded into separate world championships.

From the late 1930's through the 1960's, Jack Pfefer continued to market wrestling as theatrical entertainment, using outlandish storylines and freakish characters. He is said to have popularized novelty matches such as tag team wrestling, women wrestling, midget bouts and the use of the blood capsule. Pfefer is responsible for propelling the early career of Buddy Rogers as well as the careers of The Amazing Zuma, a Rocca clone, and The Zebra Kid. A great supporter of women wrestling, he actively booked both Mildred Burke and The Fabulous Moolah. He became notorious for using imposters with knock off names such as Bummy Rogers and Hobo Brazil.

On September 13, 1974, at a nursing home in Massachusetts, Jack Pfefer passed away at the age of 79.

- Johnny Griffin (ringmemorabilia.com)



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