Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Golden Greek

1932 caricature by Miguel Covarrubias

Jim Londos (born Christos Theofilou, 1897-1975) apparently is the man who brought eroticism to modern American pro wrestling.
Jim Londos ... was ... the sport's first true sex symbol.  Known as the "Man with the Million-Dollar Body," he stood five feet, eight inches tall and weighed a ... normal-sized 190 pounds.  But he had a sculpted physique with six-pack abs, and his shock of thick dark hair and gleaming white teeth made him look like a movie star.  Though nowhere near the wrestler that [Ed "Strangler"] Lewis was, Londos had real ability and he performed a faster and more theatrical style that brought in even more fans than Lewis.  In 1931 Londos eleven times drew crowds of more than ten thousand to Madison Square Garden.  "Whether Londos was the best wrestler of his time is dubious, but he was certainly the best spectacular wrestler," [A.J.] Liebling wrote.  Women especially flocked to see Londos, and they were driving wrestling's newfound popularity.  "It's the ladies, whose shrill screams reveal how thin is the veneer of civilization over the innate savagery of the human race, who are mainly responsible for lifting wrestling from a dubious barroom-brawl status to a position where it threatens soon to take its place with boxing in the million-dollar-gate class," wrote one feature writer in an article carried in newspapers around the country.  (from The Queen of the Ring: Sex, Muscles, Diamonds, and the Making of an American Legend, by Jeff Leen, 2009)
Here Londos is in a match against Matros Kirilenko in New York in 1931 (via WrestlingNewsreel):


  1. Thanks for the excerpt from the book by Jeff Leen. Looks like an interesting book. Oh, and maybe you'd like to check out my visual blog:

    Thanks again!

  2. Thank you, Bruno. Great new blog! I recommend it to all, and I fully intend to steal from it every chance I get.

  3. @Joe - Please feel free to "steal" what you want. Your blog is one of my favorites. Now if only I knew how to put a link to it from my blog.

  4. Easy, Bruno. Click on "Customize" at the upper right of your screen. Click "Add a Gadget." Choose "Blog List." Follow the directions from there. I'll be adding your blog, so I expect reciprocation here. And thank you for the kind words.



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