The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 13, Issue 6 (September 1, 1938)
Panorama of the Playground — New Zealand to have World Championship Wrestling Bout
Bronco Nagurski, world champion wrestler, is to wrestle in Australia this season and, at the time of writing, the Dominion of New Zealand Wrestling Union had almost completed arrangements to secure the presence of the champion to defend his title in New Zealand. Not since wrestling has graduated to a major sport has New Zealand had the opportunity of staging a world championship bout. The last occasion when a heavyweight wrestling championship was decided in New Zealand was when Ike Robin wrestled Stanislaus Zybszko at Auckland, the bout being interrupted by the clock. It had gone on for many weary hours and when midnight Saturday chimed and Sunday commenced the match had to cease.
Under the rounds' system of wrestling the match will not exceed 90 minutes in duration and the go-slow tactics are avoided. If plans mature Nagurski will have one match, with the title at stake, and the Wrestling Union has decided that his opponent shall be chosen from among the men at present wrestling in New Zealand — the wrestler with the best competitive record from August 10th to be given the match against the champion.
The venue of the proposed match has not yet been decided, but indications are that the big contest will be staged at Auckland and the Railways Department will be asked to provide special trains to cater for the influx of visitors.
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New Zealand Rugby.
Although New Zealanders have every reason to be proud of the performances of the All Black Rugby team in Australia, we should not overlook the fact that many of the stars on the tour were playing against South Africa last season and did not scintillate when opposed by strong opposition; that others are nearing the veteran stage and that when the team is chosen to travel to South Africa there must be a leavening of new blood to replace the veterans.
Nothing succeeds like success, and now that New Zealand Rugby is definitely in public favour once more after slumping when the South Africans taught us how to play the fundamentals of Rugby, it is to be hoped that selectors, throughout New Zealand, will give youth its chances in coming representative matches and so build up a team which will fittingly represent New Zealand in South Africa. The time to start team-building is now—not next season.
Of special importance in the tour of Australia is the fine play of the half-back, Saxton, who has assimilated the dive-pass introduced into New Zealand by Danie Craven. Although many competent critics in the Dominion do not agree with this method of play, the leading critics in England have become converted. They argue that the number of times a half-back is able to rejoin in a passing movement is so small that the added advantage to be gained by dive-passing is worth more to the side than the remote possibility of the half-back coming in to take a further part in passing movements.
It is also of more than passing interest to note that once again a member of the famous 1905 All Black team has been responsible for moulding the touring team into a formidable combination. On two previous occasions Billy Wallace went to Australia with New Zealand representative teams, and, from raw material, produced team-players of high class. On this occasion Alec McDonald, a forward in the 1905 team, was appointed co-manager, and players and Press alike join in giving the veteran player credit for his improvement in the standard of play. When the team is selected to tour South Africa the New Zealand Rugby Union might remember the success attained by Messrs. Wallace and McDonald, and include another 1905 All Black as co-manager of the team!
No longer is the parlour game called “ping pong”! Table-tennis has arrived! Due in a large measure to the classy exhibitions given by the Hungarian table-tennis stars, Kelen and Szabados, in New Zealand last year, New Zealanders were prepared for brilliant exhibitions of the indoor game by Barna and Bellak this season. However, they did not reckon on seeing two of the world's best players at their best. In all of the matches in New Zealand Barna, five times world champion, and Bellak, American champion, played before large crowds, and simply amazed the spectators by the ball control and foot-work shown.
Barna, on being asked why Hungarians lead the world in table-tennis, stated that it was merely a passing phase, that other countries were now producing top-flight players and Hungary's supremacy was fading. He also expressed the view that H. Boniface, the young Wellington player, would climb to world class if given the opportunity of regular play against star men. Playing in New Zealand, he declared, would not elevate any player to the best class, but should Boniface be given the opportunity of travelling he thought the Wellington boy would soon be holding his own in world championships.
Wrestler and Hunter.
Vincent Lopez, the Mexican wrestler, who is recognised as one of the keenest big game hunters in the world, page 63 recently went on a pig-hunting foray in the Manawatu district. When he returned from his day's outing he expressed the view that pig hunting should be given more publicity—he considers it to be a really “big time” sport and one that should attract the interest of hunters from abroad. Taking his movie-picture outfit with him, Lopez secured many excellent pictures which he intends to sell to an American film distributing company, and, in this way, he hopes to be able to repay the New Zealanders for an exciting day among the Captain Cookers.
The Olympic Games.
The decision of the Japanese Olympic Committee to relinquish the XIIth Olympic Games has materially altered the plans of New Zealand sporting organisations. With the Games scheduled for Tokyo, it was hoped that New Zealand would be represented in hockey as well as other branches of sport, but the added expense of sending teams to Finland will mean the abandonment of these plans. However, New Zealand will be represented, although the team is likely to be a small one unless some sensational performances are returned during the next summer season.
Training and Coaching Athletes.
Track and field sport will soon be commencing and Mr. A. L. Fitch, the American athletics coach under engage ment to the Wellington and Canterbury Centres, is now en route to New Zealand to take up his second season's work. Last season Fitch was unable to put into operation his complete scheme, but the improvement he made in several athletes indicates his ability and with plans more matured he should do even better this time.
In referring to track and field sport, I would take this opportunity of drawing attention to an athletic book recently written by Captain F. A. M. Webster, the world-renowned athletics coach. This book, “Coaching and Care of Athletes,” is the latest and most comprehensive track and field publication. In its 448 pages it covers all the technique of the various events, diet, coaching education, coaching organisation and routine, training schedules, and a treatise on the English School of Athletics. At this school schoolboys have been taught to high jump over 6ft., to broad jump to 23ft, and to excel in other events. Although this book is not yet procurable in New Zealand, I feel sure that it is of value to clubs as well as individuals, and I would be pleased to give interested persons more complete particulars on receipt of inquiries.
Boxing Still Popular.
Although the New Zealand Boxing Council has recently been compelled to take disciplinary action against certain boxers, the glove sport is continuing to flourish in the Dominion, and more matches are now being held weekly than formerly were staged monthly. So far there has been no outstanding New Zealand boxer emerge from the revival, but the number of novo-professionals indicate that the class is of a universally good standard. The Wellington Boxing Association, it is understood, is considering the idea of staging open-air bouts during the summer months.
Wrestling in England.
Earl McCready, the popular Canadian wrestler, who put up an amazing record in New Zealand, is doing well in his mission of introducing scientific wrestling in England. Lord Brentford, son of Sir Joynton Hicks, formerly prominent in British political circles, is likely to be chairman of the British Board of Wrestling Control, which is being formed as the result of McCready's visit. Formerly, wrestling in England has been of a burlesque type and the sport had been brought into disfavour, but McCready, with his undoubted ability and sterling sportsmanship, has convinced the English people that real wrestling is a sport to be encouraged. McCready has the support of the English Amateur Wrestling Association as well as other leading sports organisations, and although he has expressed a desire to return to his friends in New Zealand, it is anticipated that he will have a long and prosperous sojourn in the Old Land.