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