Ultimate History of Pro Wrestling - A Time Line of Every Major Event in Pro Wrestling History - 1870

By: Karl Stern (@wiwcool)

Much of the text of this entry comes from issue 82 of the DragonKing Press Newsletter available as a downloadable .pdf in the digital downloads section.


1870 (unspecified): Padded wrestling mats make their first appearance. Credited as among the first to use them were Jim Owens and his cousin Ed Cox who stuffed comforters and used them to wrestle collar & elbow matches on them.

03-10-1870: Col. James H. McLaughlin defeats Barney Smith in Detroit, MI for the “Diamond Championship Belt”. Homer Lane was also in the tournament. The rules were collar & elbow. Barney Smith dies soon afterward and McLaughlin donates his winnings to Smith’s widow and apologizes saying, “I forgot I was so wicked strong.” Wrestling historian Steve Yohe relates the story of McLaughlin winning the collar & elbow title in the tournament. In the final he met the favorite Barney Smith. McLaughlin threw him five times but the judges refused to award him the title, so McLaughlin vowed to use all his strength in the next match. He raised Smith to his hip and then flipped him over his shoulder. Smith landed off stage with his head hitting a rail. He was carried off and McLaughlin was awarded the first championship belt ever awarded in America. The next morning in the pouring rain Barney Smith was found wandering the the streets in his underwear. He was taken to an asylum where he died.

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