Jim Londos
Real Name:
Chris Theophelos

Stats: 5' 8" 215 lbs.
Born: January 2, 1897

Jim Londos

By Steve Slagle

"The Golden Greek" Jim Londos was one of the premier wrestlers during the lean years during and after the Great Depression. Londos one of the few workers that kept the fans coming out to the matches, despite the lack of available spending money. The former World Champion, who paid his dues on the rough carnie circuit, was also one of the last champions to have competed during the "legitimate" era of the sport, when "shoot fights" were still a common -- although far from predominant -- occurrence in the "sport". But Londos was a performer, not a shooter, and he was known more for his good looks and well-muscled physique than his wrestling ability. Still, Londos was a more-than-capable grappler, and was generally considered by his peers as one of the best "workers" of his era. His ability, good looks, and popularity enabled him to establish himself as a top draw (mainly on the East Coast) and one of the most recognized wrestling names in the country for over 15 years. As the inaugural NWA World Heavyweight champion, he helped set a standard for champions born decades after he was gone, and truly left an imprint that has lasted throughout the history of the sport in the 20th century...

Londos was born Christopher Theophelus during the late 1800's (no exact date for his birth was recorded) in Argos, Greece. The last of 13 children, the young Theophelus ran away from home at the age of 13, just after the turn of the century. Eventually, he made his way from Greece to America, where he worked the various sorts of jobs available to newly transplanted immigrants on the East Coast. But it was when he landed a job as a catcher in a carnival acrobatic act that Theophelus first came into contact with the world of professional wrestling.

At 5`8 and 200 pounds, Londos was often smaller than his opponent. However, his low center of gravity, his formidable strength, and powerful legs made up for any lack of height. He originally competed in the Pacific Northwest as Chris Theophelus, the Wrestling Plasterer, one of wrestlings early "gimmicks". Theophelus would come to the ring wearing the work clothes of a construction worker, wearing his wearing gear underneath. After several years on the West Coast, Theophelus dropped the "carpenter" gimmick in favor of a less cartoonish persona, and then headed East.

Jim Londos became known for his strong work ethic, as he worked as many dates as he could manage, often wrestling nearly every night of the week. Capitalizing on his handsome features and strong physique, Londos developed a practice of matching himself against the ugliest opponents he could find. Then fans responded to the booking scheme exactly as "The Golden Greek" planned...by backing Londos even more. This "Beauty vs. the Beast" idea served Londos well, and helped build himself into the most popular wrestler/biggest draw on the East Coast throughout the 1930's and early 1940's. From New York to Boston to Philadelphia and everywhere in between, Jim Londos was professional wrestling...

During Londos' era, there were several versions of the "World Title" that all carried much prestige in the territories they were defended in. Londos, one of the premier wrestlers in the business at the time, won several of them. He gained the unified NBA-NWA & NYSAC World Title on June 6, 1930 by defeating Dick Shikat. Londos was stripped of the title, however, when he refused to meet arch-rival Ed Lewis in the ring. Londos remained the NBA-NWA champion, and later and re-unified the title with the New York State Athletic Commission (NYSAC) World title two years later when he defeated Jim Browning. In 1937, Londos defeated the famous NFL superstar-turned-pro wrestler Bronco Nagurski in Philadelphia the World Title as recognized by eastern promoters, and held that version of the World championship for the next 12 years, retiring as champion. Truly, Londos was one of the best of his day, and an all-time legend...

But there was always one man who Londos and the promoters (as well as many fans) knew Londos could never beat -- at least not without that man's cooperation. Perennial World Champion Ed "Strangler" Lewis (pictured) had Londos' number -- along with everyone else's. Simply put, Lewis' wrestling skill was such that virtually no one could beat him in a legitimate encounter -- he was just that much better than his competition. During an era when warring promoters would settle their differences in the ring, with selected combatants fighting legitimate contests, Ed Lewis was the ace up the powerful Chicago syndicate's sleeve. Meanwhile, the East Coast promoters had the popular, much younger Londos, a man for whom Lewis reportedly had little respect. The two engaged in several legitimate and "worked" matches, with Lewis allowing Londos to win only when he and his Chicago promoters felt it helped business.

But Londos' admitted "Achilles Heel" of Ed Lewis never affected his popularity or box-office appeal, since fans were under the impression that all (not just some) of the Lewis-Londos matches were "real". Having won a few, he kept his reputation intact and continued to draw record crowds across the world. In addition to his work in the U.S. and Canada, Londos competed in his native Greece, France, Britain, Rhodesia, and many other countries during his 15+ year long career. He once drew a crowd of nearly 100,000 in his native country of Greece, and became a national hero overseas as well as in America. Londos finally retired in 1946 as one of the greatest champions in history. He engaged in, by his own estimate, over 2,500 matches (some of which were brutally legitimate) and lost only a few. He spent much of his retirement working for charitable organizations, particularly for Greek World War II orphans, and was honored by both President Richard Nixon and King Paul of Greece for his various noble efforts outside the ring. The Ring Chronicle is proud to cite the great accomplishments of this pioneering grappler as well, by inducting him into the TRC Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame...

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