Tuesday, January 8, 2013

511. Steve Casey

And then there are those people who did just enough in life that they don't need an epitaph.

Steve started out life in Sneem, Ireland, son of a bareknuckles boxer, and is immortalized there with a bronze statue. As a young man he stood out as a rower, even qualifying for the Olympics, although he never got to go, as the Olympic Committee actually paid attention to amateur and professional statuses in those days. By that time he had been paid as a professional athlete, albeit in another sport. Too bad. In 1936, Steve and brothers Tom, Paddy and Mick (swear to god) were the All-England Rowing champions.

But no, in 1935, Steve and Paddy had taken up amateur wrestling, and in March 1936, Steve made his professional debut, defeating the Irish Canadian Heavyweight Champion in a non-title match. Seven months later promoter Paul Bowser saw potential (and dollar signs) in the young man, and brought him to Boston. Two years later, he won the highest honor in the sport, the National Wrestling Alliance Heavyweight Championship, from Lou Thesz, and if you don't know who he is, Google him. He was the real deal, one of the men the sports entertainment industry was built on. Ask Vince McMahon. He knows who Lou Thesz was.

For the next nine years he fought the best there was, taking time out to serve in the United States Army in World War II. In 1947 he retired from wrestling to open a bar in Hull, called Casey's. It was still there not too long ago. Today there's a Dunkin' Donuts parking lot on the site.

Yes, there are thousands of Steve Caseys out there, living and dead, but there was only one Steve "Crusher" Casey.

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