Name: Everette Marshall
Year Inducted: 2011
Football player, rancher, amateur star, professional champion … Everette Oldham Marshall excelled in just about every endeavor he tried. Born in La Junta, Colo., in 1905, Marshall was an offensive lineman on the gridiron at La Junta High School, where he was an all-state player and helped the team win a Colorado title. As an amateur, he wrestled at the University of Iowa and the University of Denver, and is a member of the school’s athletic hall of fame. His venture into the pro ranks was strictly business; his daughter Ann Marshall Schomburg said he was trying to scrape together enough money to buy farmland next to his dad’s property.
His good looks and pleasing style brought him more fame than he could have imagined. Bill Sandow, one of wrestling’s most important characters in the 1920s, latched on to him and propelled him to main event status. In 1935, Marshall was awarded the Midwest Wrestling Association world title, the result of Sandow’s ties with Columbus, Ohio, promoter Al Haft. He solidified his hold on another version of the fractured world title in June 1936, beating Ali Baba in Columbus, Ohio. Illinois officials joined in recognizing Marshall as champ after he bested Jim McMillen in 1937.
Marshall, an airplane spin specialist, dropped the championship to 22-year-old Lou Thesz in a highly anticipated bout on December 29, 1937 in St. Louis. He once again gained a belt in 1938, when the National Wrestling Association, at its annual meeting in Montreal, voted 8-6 to recognize him as the federation’s kingpin. He held that championship until February 1939. Lou Thesz said Marshall was one of the most talented and unselfish wrestlers he ever found. “He stayed in terrific condition, was a very good wrestler and a great champion. He was a class act,” Thesz said in 2002. As Colorado newspaperman Ralph Taylor added: “He always went into the ring to win, gave the best he had in clean wrestling and won the admiration of fans across America.”
By the end of the 1930s, Marshall started to slow down his wrestling and step up his ranch work. At his peak, he produced onions and cantaloupes on several thousand acres of land and, at one point, and employed about 300 people on his farms. Marshall, who died in 1973, expanded into feeding about 7,000 cattle for Hansen Packing and American Stores. Even more consequential was his work as a co-founder of the Colorado Boys Ranch, now CBR YouthConnect, a place for troubled youth not far from his ranch. Chuck Thompson, who was president of the ranch for many years, said in 2002: “This is Everette Marshall’s legacy. I never had an opportunity to meet him, but I believe my role at the Colorado Boys Ranch makes me an extension of him and that I need to keep his values and energy alive.”
— Steven Johnson