© 2015 Rob. All rights reserved.

Ed Don George


Acrylic and oil on 24″ x 24″ wood

Ed Don George was one of the biggest stars of professional wrestling in the 1930s, which likely had nothing to do with him having three first names. Edward Nye George, Jr. was born on June 3, 1905 in North Java, New York. A natural athlete specializing in wrestling, he represented the United States in freestyle wrestling at the 1928 Olympics, placing fourth in his class. Shortly after returning from the Olympics he began wrestling professionally as Ed Don George.

On December 10, 1930 he defeated Gus Sonnenberg for the American Wrestling Association World Heavyweight Title. He defended it until April 13, 1931 when George was bested by Ed ‘Strangler’ Lewis in Los Angeles. Don regained the title from Lewis on February 9, 1933 in Boston. Ed held the championship until being defeated by Danno O’Mahoney on July 30, 1935 in a match that unified the AWA and National Wrestling Alliance World Heavyweight Championships. Ed Don George remained a top star around the world during the 1930’s.

In March of 1942 he joined the US Navy to teach naval air cadets hand-to-hand training. Stop and think about that for a second: You’ve just enlisted to serve your country during World War II, and you’re getting trained on fighting by a two-time world heavyweight champion. Cool. After the war, George focused on promoting matches around the country, and by the mid-50’s even in Havana, Cuba until being ran out by Fidel Castro’s forces. In 1949 he purchased farmland just east of North Java, NY and leased it to the Federal government, which built a National Guard training site on it.

Ed Don George passed away on September 18, 1985. He was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2002, and into the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2006. An Olympic wrestler who became a world champion in professional wrestling. A world wrestling champion who taught soldiers how to fight during the second world war. A respected promoter who ran in Havana before being driven out by the revolution. Set the standard for all wrestlers with three first names to follow him, like Don Leo Jonathan. A life fully lived.

About the piece: Black, white and red are a combination that always work, so most of the job was done before I even started. I laid down the flat planes of those three in the background, and then applied the figure using a palette knife to contrast against the flat colors. I feel it created a balanced yet energetic piece.

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