Name: Chris Theophelos
Year Inducted: 2002
Induction Category: Pioneer Era
With his impressive physique and handsomely distinguished facial features, Jim Londos became known as the "Golden Greek" of professional wrestling. Chris Theophelos was born in Argos, Greece on January 2nd, 1897 and reportedly changed his name due to the popularity of author Jack London. Londos arrived in America at the age of 13 and would subsequently hold various jobs, including a stint in vaudeville, prior to becoming a professional wrestler in 1920.
Londos began his wrestling career under the character name, "The Wrestling Plasterer", a persona that earned him little success. Soon after his early phase in wrestling, Londos would forever alter his career by defeating Dick Shikat for the NWA Heavyweight Title on June 6, 1930. With that victory, "The Golden Greek" quickly became a national hero in Greece as well as in America. Londos would continue to add to his popularity by holding the New York Title in June 1934 and also by winning the World Heavyweight Title in California in 1938.
Londos defeated several mat greats during his career including Ed "Strangler" Lewis, Jim Browning, and Bronko Nagurski. It has also been reported that Londos would purposely challenge any wrestler who he believed was uglier than he was, a strategy that generated tremendous crowd reactions. Londos went into semi-retirement during World War II but continued to wrestle on an occasional basis. "The Golden Greek" would officially retire in 1946 only to emerge from retirement for a match against Primo Carnera in Chicago in 1950.
Known for his philanthropic contributions for Greek orphans during World War II, Londos was honored by President Richard Nixon for his charitable endeavors. A prominent athlete and volunteer, Jim Londos captured the hearts of many fans around the world. On August 19, 1975 Londos would die of heart attack in Escondido, California at the age of 78. His legacy and historic influence will be appropriately enshrined with his induction into the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum's inaugural class.