Thursday, March 29, 2007

RIP: Abe Coleman (oldest known professional wrestler)

Abe Coleman (born Abe Kelmer) was a retired professional wrestler and, at the time of his death, believed to be the oldest member of his profession in the world. His wife, June Miller, who he married in 1939 died in 1987. Coleman says he landed in Miller's lap after being thrown from the ring in Madison Square Garden.

Coleman was born in Zychlin, Poland, and moved to the United States in 1923, by way of Canada, to avoid the fate many of his family members faced who perished in the Holocost. Coleman's first match took place in 1928 in New York City when local promoter Rudy Miller offered Coleman $25 to wrestle after seeing him work out in a Brooklyn gym.

Coleman's notability comes from claims that he invented the dropkick. He claimed the move was inspired by kangaroos he saw on a tour of Australia in 1930.

Coleman's nicknames included Hebrew Hercules and Jewish Tarzan. A Jewish man, he wrestled at a time when there were few Jewish athletes.
Coleman's fighting size was 5'3", 200lbs, 18" biceps, and an 18.5" neck. He earned approximately $10,000-$12,000 per match, a high sum during the Great Depression.
Coleman retired from wrestling in 1958 after which he served as a wrestling judge, and inspected license plates for the New York State DMV. Outside of wrestling, Coleman's interests included poker and horse racing.

Coleman died on March 28, 2007 in a nursing home in Queens, New York.

The CAC sends our condolences to the friends and family of Abe Coleman.