Fakirs At Work
Chapter Three: William Muldoon Versus Professors Thiebaud Bauer and William Miller
#PWHS #Article #FakirsAtWork #FAW #Hippodrome #ProfBauer #ProfMiller #Muldoon #SolidMan
A look at the moments in history which made audiences cry-out, "Hippodrome!"
As discussed in Chapter Two of this series of articles Bauer and Miller, in my opinion, are two of the most influential men in the evolution of professional wrestling in North America and how they accomplished that via a number of bouts across the America's. In this article we're going to take a look at how both of them were arguably two of the biggest reasons William Muldoon became such the star he was inside of the sporting world.
William Muldoon would go on to be appointed chairman of the New York State Athletic Commission and is still heralded to this day as one of, if not the greatest Graeco-Roman wrestler who ever lived by some people. Not only that, but Muldoon also had a hand in helping a younger generation of wrestlers learn their trade. That's for another article though.
The first time Muldoon met either man was on June 22, 1877. At a benefit fund raiser put on by the New York Police Athletic Club he faced off against William Miller, who was acting trainer at said Athletic Club, and the match went down a treat. At the time nothing suspicious was to be said of it. Then in January 1878 he was supposed to be facing Thiebaud Bauer in a contest at Gilmore's Garden, again for a benefit show. This is when everything was revealed publicly.
On March 22, 1878 a fight broke out in the streets between a Detective Thomas Adams and William Miller against Officer William Muldoon and Detective Silas Rogers. It was said Miller and Adams jumped Muldoon and beat him quite badly. The New York Times reported that Adams had informed Miller about Muldoon spreading gossip about his wife and thus caused Miller to attack Muldoon in a rage. The paper went on to state the underlying issue being that Adams, a big supporter of the N.Y.P.A.C., had found out about Miller allowing Muldoon to win in their aforementioned match as a way to give the young man a boost.
Further extending his dislike for Muldoon, Adams also caught him approaching Thiebaud Bauer prior to their match to create an arrangement which would see Bauer put Muldoon over to further enhance his reputation. Adams put a stop to this though and it appears no match ever took place between them until much later. In his defense Muldoon claimed it was he who got Miller the job at the Athletic Club and was quoted as saying the following:
"Then he got into the Hippodrome business and neglected the club. He began to prostitute athletics to gambling, and I was feared he would disgrace and ruin the club. His first wrestle with Bauer was a put-up job. So were his encounters with Dwyer, Bogardus, and everybody else. He never would enter a contest without settling beforehand how it would terminate. The last time he encountered Bauer the following arrangement was made: Gilmore and Miller were to equally divide the receipts; the public was to be informed that the contest was for a stake and the championship. There was a purse to be put up. Bauer was paid the sum of $300 to wrestle Miller and allow himself to be thrown twice out of three times. Everything being thus arranged, great public interest was aroused, and everybody thought the affair was honest and would fairly try the contestants. The match began. Bauer had his $300 in his pockets. He was throw once according to the bargain. The men then went to their rooms to rest. Bauer sent for Miller. He told him the work was too hard $300. He said he wanted $100 more, and if he didn't get it, he would refuse to be thrown according to the agreement, but would throw Miller. Miller sent to his wife for $100, and gave it to Bauer. They then went to the stage. Miller was surprised that he could not throw Bauer in the first 15 minutes, as he paid him for the privilege of doing so. He tried it another hour and couldn't do it. Then they rested again. Miller asked Bauer to explain. He said he wanted another $100. Miller sent to the box office and got the money. Then Bauer, having $500 in his pocket, allowed Miller to throw him. I told Miller this was a disgrace. He said he didn't care a ****. He said he didn't care for Americans. He would humbug them all if he pleased. He hated them. He wouldn't disgrace himself by becoming a citizen."
This would obviously directly contradict my theory that Miller and Bauer worked together. I think the fact that Miller and Bauer wrestled so frequently would put a squash on Muldoon's claims that Bauer flim-flammed Miller. You can see how the claims against both Miller and Bauer working matches keeps getting stronger though and while I'm certain Muldoon's comments are at least partially just propaganda in his apparent hate-campaign against Miller, there is some weight behind his words. It's worth pointing out Bauer had left for Cuba in March. Miller would leave for Cuba in April. Notice a pattern?
Bauer and Muldoon would finally square off on May 14, 1879. The match came with much fanfare and was highly publicized. By this time Muldoon was already becoming a big name in the sport and the past indiscretions aimed his way seemingly forgotten. Three thousand people turned out to watch them face at Gilmore's and the end of the bout saw Bauer receive a mass booing and a stream of hisses from the crowd when he threw up in his corner and forfeited while both men were at a fall a piece. Muldoon was congratulated by his friends.
Shortly after this the Brooklyn Eagle published an article on the legitimacy of wrestling in America:
"THEOBAUD BAUER AND WILLIAM MILLER
Out of their own mouths are they convicted” is the exclamation made after reading the recent exposures of professional rottenness which have made in the case of the Bauer and Muldoon quarrel. There cannont be the slightest doubt in the minds of any sporting man, after a perusal of the testimony published the case, that there has been scarcely been an honest wrestling match in the country for the past two or three years. It is the same old story, with every sport in the which professionals take part – except one and that is cricket – since pool selling was introduced in America. Pool rings govern the turf, the pedestrian course, the ball field, the rowing matches, billiard championships, wrestling encounters and every prominent sport in vogue except cricket. That game is still free from the curse."
Still a rematch was made for January 19, 1880. This time the America Graeco-Roman Championship, sometimes called the World Championship, was on the line. Muldoon defeated Bauer and was crowned the champion in front of 4,000 people. In the papers the match was met with approval. No mention of any funny business.
Over 40 years after this bout took place a well respected sports journalist, Al Spinks, spoke out on whether or not this was a hippodrome type affair in his memoirs:
"Bauer came nearest to him, but it was only in height that Bauer possessed an advantage. I recall a bout in which the two were the principals, and I thought they were doing their level best, but happening behind the scenes between falls I heard Bauer say to Muldoon:
'If you want me to go on, Mul, you’ll have to throw me lighter than you did then. If you don’t, I’ll never go on with you again.'
Then, for the first time, I discovered that the entire game of wrestling was rotten. Later, I learned more about it, but this was my first awakening.
Of all the wrestlers in the world I had looked on as being worthy of esteem and confidence, Muldoon appeared in my eyes the worthiest and squarest of the lot. And now even that dream was shattered."
When Miller and Muldoon finally met on March 23, 1880 it was a tremendous let down for everybody involved. There's two possibilities here. Either Muldoon and Miller failed to put on a great worked match and were wrong in thinking delivering a seven hour classic would be good for their pockets, or, this contest was actually just that a contest. No falls were conceded by either man and it was said to be a slow, boring affair. It was stated: "The few spectators who remained were unanimous in the opinion that $10 or 10 days would be a very light sentence." And lets face it, if you have two of the best wrestlers in the world going at each other legitimately, it stands a good chance it could be a long, slow-paced match as both tried to jockey for position while being concerned of giving an inch to their opponent.
Now again, and I'll probably say something along these lines at the end of every article; whether these guys were all working together and the whole fight with Miller and Muldoon was a completely worked situation that allowed them to let that tension boil over a two year period to a pay-off or not, I don't know either way for certain. In this case I am inclined to think Miller and Muldoon had a working arrangement originally, but it turned sour through possible jealousy and by the looks of the one article the influence of other parties.
With Bauer it is certainly my opinion that he and Muldoon worked together in their two matches. I get the feeling Bauer would have been a much easier guy to work with as he was known for being somewhat of an alcoholic. So, I'm sure that raised certain issues in itself, however, at the same time, I would take a guess that he'd be rather more willing to work for money than hold onto a grudge which could prevent a couple of big pay days.
What is a positive though, whether Muldoon learned the art of hippodroming or was competing legitimately with these two men, he would have learned an awful lot about the game of wrestling. Even only having two matches with Bauer he could have picked up so much. And with just a few months, based on my theory, under the tutelage of Miller at the N.Y.P.A.C. so much knowledge could have been passed down to him on either side of the field.
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Unique content strictly for the Professional Wrestling Historical Society.
Fakirs At Work: Chapter Three.
Author: Harry Grover.
Published: August 12, 2014.
Editor: Jimmy Wheeler.
Fakirs At Work: Chapter Three.
Author: Harry Grover.
Published: August 12, 2014.
Editor: Jimmy Wheeler.