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I WAS ACCUSED OF MURDER, PART 1
â€“ Dick Steinborn
April 20, 2008
â€�You killed him Dickieâ€�, one of the wrestlers shouted at me. Sure enough the guy I mentioned earlier was lying on the medicine
table and he wasnâ€™t breathing. It then dawned on me that I was partly responsible for this manâ€™s death.
I can pinpoint back months earlier when I was doing an exercise that allowed me to be able to leap over somebodyâ€™s oncoming
tackle in the ring, or even dropkicking someone, placing both feet on their ear. Back when I started in 1951, not too many wrestlers were
I was taught to hold a thirty pound dumbbell in each hand, and then tried to leap as high as I could. Three sets of ten reps, three times a
week, eventually brought me up to sixty pounds in each hand. I didnâ€™t get high off the floor, but I was in the 2-4 inch range. Building up
your upper thigh muscles gives you the advantage of jumping higher.
It was in July 1951, my first appearance in the ring as a professional. The state of Maryland allowed wrestlers to be licensed at the age of
17, contrary to New Yorkâ€™s 18 year limit.
Our family had a pretty good sized gym in the basement of a six-story, eighty-family apartment building in Queens, New York. That is
where I rehearsed my first match five or six times before my debut in Baltimore, Maryland, in July.1951.
Wrestling is wrestling, and wrestlers love to exchange maneuvers, trying to out class each other, but high spots are usually called for or
Each Sunday Les would take the subway from 42nd Street and walk those two blocks from the EL stop, to work out at my dadâ€™s gym.
When he found out I could leapfrog, the old-timer was pretty happy. After all, those years of all those bumps he took didnâ€™t allow him
to bend over the way a younger man could, coming off those ropes
Les made it simple. He gets a headlock, I sling him into the ropes following him in close behind, catching his tackle as he heads for the
other ropes across the ring. Here he comes again. Thatâ€™s when I leapfrog and he goes under. On his return, he catches a dropkick,
then the 1-2-3 pin. So, you train yourself this way: headlock, tackle, leapfrog, dropkick, and pin.
I couldnâ€™t wait. I had it down pat. And that night sitting in the dressing room, it kept flashing across my thoughts not to screw up.
That Monday night in Baltimore at the Coliseum (an old roller rink), the matches were being televised from 9-10pm. Matches started at
8.30pm and my match was prior to the live TV event at 9pm.
Before I went in the ring that night, all the boys came in my dressing room to wish me well: Tony Cazenza, Jimmy Austarie, and Al and
John Smith. All the boys were out to watch my debut that night and I was proud to be where I always wanted to be.
Little did I know while walking to the ring that night, that a major catastrophe was about to erupt. A decision was going to be made if I was
going to continue as a professional wrestler, or return to my second love of fast pitch softball.
The match started, and about ten minutes into the affair he came running off the ropes to where I leapfrogged him, but to my surprise, I
felt like I was seven feet in the air.
Then I saw it. As my opponent came running off the ropes, going underneath me, someone from the audience had taken their shoe off
and threw it over the top rope toward Les. As I was up in the air those seven feet, that shoe looked like Haleyâ€™s Comet, a perfect
rainbow affect. Little did I know then that the other shoe this man was wearing would be the reason I was accused of killing someone.