Name: William Muldoon
Year Inducted: 2004
Induction Category: Pioneer Era

William Muldoon

With limited communications and travel in the 1800s there was no official world title or sanctioning bodies as today, but the Greco-Roman wrestler William Muldoon is considered to be America's first world wrestling champion.

William learned to wrestle in the Union Army camps during the Civil War. He became a policeman after the war, but continued to participate in wrestling exhibitions. His wrestling was so popular that in 1881 he retired from the police to become a fulltime professional athlete - one of the first in American history, in any sport.

In February of 1877 Muldoon defeated Andre Christol for the Greco-Roman heavyweight national title. January 19, 1880 he met Thiebaud Bauer (who was claiming the world's Greco-Roman title) and beat him in straight falls.

Titles were disputed in the 1880s, but Muldoon was an honorable man who took on all challengers. Weighing 193 to 204 pounds, Muldoon defeated Edwin Bibby of Great Britain in 1883, Carlos Martino of Spain, Jules Rigal of France, Donald Dinnie of Scotland, Matsada Sorakichi of Japan in 1884, Tom Cannon of Great Britain, and drew with Carl Abs of Germany in 1885. But the greatest battles were the matches between Muldoon and Clarence Whistler. Whistler suffered a broken shoulder in one bout but refused to concede the match. Rather than further injure his friend, the gentleman William insisted this match be postponed until Clarence could heal. Muldoon once stopped a bout to lecture an unruly crowd on sportsmanship which had yelled to "Break the Frenchie's neck!" Muldoon retired in 1887.

- Reprinted with permssion from John Rauer of Historic World Champions card series



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