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 Evan “The Strangler” Lewis

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Evan “The Strangler” Lewis

  • Birth 24 May 1860 Wisconsin, USA
  • Death 3 Nov 1919 Wisconsin, USA
  • Burial Unknown
  • Memorial ID 37985602

Evan Lewis (May 24, 1860 – November 3, 1919) was an American professional wrestler who was the first recognized American Heavyweight Champion and is credited with perfecting the "stranglehold" or "neck yoke" more commonly known today as the rear naked choke. He is sometimes confused with Ed "Strangler" Lewis, a later 6-time World Heavyweight Champion also credited with first using the hold, whose monkier is attributed to Lewis's after a reporter noted a resemblance between the two.

Born in Ridgeway, Wisconsin, Lewis began wrestling professionally winning a 64-man tournament in Montana in May 1882. He returned to Wisconsin and defeated Ben Knight for the Wisconsin Heavyweight Championship in a Mineral Point match on March 20, 1883. Moving to Madison in 1885, he later went on to defeat several international wrestlers including Andre Christol, Tom Cannon and Matsada Sorakichi.

Defeating Joe Acton in Chicago, Illinois for the American Catch-as-Catch-can Championship on March 14, 1887, he later unified the World Catch-as-Catch-can and American Greco-Roman Championship in a best-of-five match against Ernest Roeber in New Orleans, Louisiana on March 3, 1893 (he also had defeated him for the "Collar and Elbow Championship" on May 18, 1890). After defending the title for over two years, Lewis lost the American Heavyweight Championship to Martin Burns, whom he had previously defeated in his debut match in 1886.

Finishing and Signature Moves
Strangle Hold (Rear naked choke)

Championships and accomplishments
Catch wrestling
World Catch-as-Catch-can Championship (1 time)
American Catch-as-Catch-can Championship (1 time)
Greco-Roman wrestling
American Greco-Roman Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
Professional wrestling
American Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
British World Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
Wisconsin Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
Wrestling Observer Newsletter awards
Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame (Class of 2007)
Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum
(Class of 2009)


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  • Created by: sideshow
  • Added: 6 Jun 2009
  • Find A Grave Memorial 37985602
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Evan “The Strangler” Lewis (24 May 1860–3 Nov 1919), Find A Grave Memorial no. 37985602, ; Maintained by sideshow (contributor 47071515) Unknown.