Acrylic and collage on 24″ x 24″ wood
The Golden Greek Jim Londos was the most popular wrestler of the Great Depression era. Christos Theofilou was born in 1897 in Argos, Greece. At thirteen years of age he ran away from home, eventually making his way as an immigrant to the United States. He worked several odd jobs such as a cabin boy and a construction worker before getting in with a carnival acrobatic act. During his time there he discovered professional wrestling and began training for it. He debuted as ‘The Wrestling Plasterer’ Christopher Theophelus before taking on the name of the no-nonsense Jim Londos.
Londos won his first World Title from the National Wrestling Association when he defeated Dick Shikat to be that organization’s first champion. He lost it on June 27, 1935 to Danno O’Mahony in Boston, MA. On November 18, 1938 he defeated Bronko Nagurski for the original World Heavyweight Championship, the one held originally by Georg Hackenschmidt and later Frank Gotch. Londos went on to hold the title until his retirement in 1946, making him the longest-reigning single-reign champion in the history of the championship at 2,628 days!
After his retirement, Londos dedicated himself to philanthropic endeavors, specifically those dealing with Greek war orphans of the Second World War. His work in this area saw him honored by both US President Richard Nixon and King Paul of Greece. Londos passed away on August 19, 1975. He was inducted into the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2002 and the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2015.
About the piece: There are few surviving photographs of Londos, and many of them have been damaged by the passing of time. I thought it’d be fun to include that in this portrait, so I tore up several pieces of bristol board and affixed it to the wood, then painted on that with a palette knife. That coupled with the limited sepia tone palette and chunky application of paint creates something I feel is equally modern and timeless.