Wrestling fans think of Jack Pfefer as a rascally promoter who practiced personal hygiene at a bare minimum and used an untrimmed pinky fingernail to stab and subsequently eat pickles. (Thanks to Phil Melby, Ginger Levin and a variety of others for those images). The reviled promoter apparently enjoyed humor, too, and he sent a book by H. Allen Smith to Yetter, as noted in this missive. Yetter also is miffed by the low pay for some of his stories—$30 for a 2,500-word feature in Police Gazette, which was an important source of sports news early in the 20th century. It says a lot about Police Gazette when Yetter said it can’t measure up to the standard of wrestling mags, and if you saw Police Gazette at the time, you know he was right.
The opening line of this letter is wonderful, suggesting that Jack Pfefer is out there helping struggling promoters make a few bucks. Pfefer had a longstanding reputation as a man with whom other promoters did not get along. His venture in New Orleans did not last long.
If you ever saw the Ricki Starr episode of Mr. Ed, you saw Starr in action at the Aud in Buffalo. Yetter tells us the wrestling scene was take from one of Pedro Martinez’ films, against Frank Fozo. Probably it was Fozo’s only appearance on a sitcom.
Yetter started off the New Year in 1962 by exchanging ideas with Pfefer, who was in New Orleans, trying to get that city going. In this letter, Yetter notes that attendance in Buffalo has fallen off, even though Ilio DiPaolo finally got a win over The Sheik. And it’s clear that he was in the golden age of magazine journalism, because Boxing and Wrestling was in an expansion mode. More work for him on the side.
An interesting and newsy bit from Yetter closed out his 1961 correspondence with Pfefer. It was snowing in Buffalo – what else – but an end of year show between The Sheik, Pedro Martinez' top attraction, and Bobo Brazil, did well nonetheless. Note that Ali Hassan was the manager. This was not the more familiar Sheik Ali Hassan from later years, especially around Oregon. And it was in the pre-Abdullah Farouk days; Ernie Roth was still a color commentator.
Most interesting is that Martinez apparently invested heavily in bringing Kurt Stein from Europe as a top draw. This was Stein's only real swing in North America and Yetter is very clear that he thinks Martinez made a mistake in banking on the so-called German champion, calling him crude, with a lot to learn. Stein's lack of subsequent success in the U.S. tended to bear out Yetter.
And if you wondered who wrote all those articles in the wrestling magazines, wonder no more. It was Yetter, under a variety of noms de plume. At least that was the case for Boxing and Wrestling; we'd love to find the issue in question, as Earle was apparently miffed he didn't get the full byline treatment, the most important aspect of any writer's endeavors.
Following up on the 1961 Wrestlethon, Yetter notes a decent, though not stellar attendance, of 8,217, and the big names of three Germans – Kurt Stein, who will fight The Sheik, Karl Estatz (sp), better known as Karl Gotch, and Hans Hermann. Since we have very little from Cleveland TV at the time, it is interesting to see Martinez was using Hermann as a masked commentator then wrestler.
Yetter is probably just speculating on Rogers’ injury and whether he would have to meet Bruiser or Jackie Fargo. Bruiser was U.S. champ in Detroit around this time and Fargo held a minor world title at the time. Still, Yetter had his ear to the ground and he might have picked up some rumblings of dissatisfaction with Rogers.
This letter was written just before the 1961 Wrestlethon, which was the annual big event in Buffalo. There are several things of note here. First is the effort expended by promoter Pedro Martinez in bringing Kurt Stein from Germany as a headliner. He was a wrestler of some note in Europe and Great Britain and this was apparently going to be his first big U.S. run. More on him in later letters. Second, Yetter is referring to an elbow injury Buddy Rogers, the NWA champion, suffered at the hands of Bearcat Wright. This apparently happened on Nov. 27 in Washington, D.C., though the story is Rogers injured his arm before the match occured. He would be out for a month. Finally, Yetter was close to Ricki Starr (I have a copy of Starr's bio booklet signed to Earle). Earl looked to be involved in some sort of Starr biopic put on by the producer of Mr. Ed. Sports entertainment, truly.