Abe “Pass me my jockstrap” Coleman dies at 101

Abe ColemanCall him the Hebrew Hercules or the Jewish Tarzan, but whatever you do, don’t call him a pussy.

This depression-era wrestler, who died on March 28 at the age of 101, once lifted the 211 kg Man Mountain Dean up in the air and smashed him right through the ring.

Abe Coleman was born in Poland in 1905, one of 16 siblings, some of whom were killed in the holocaust. Abe made it to Canada and then to New York, where he was working out in a Brooklyn Gym in 1929, when a promoter offered him a chance to make $25. The rest is wrestling history, leading to over 2000 packed fights against legends like Jim Londos and Man Mountain in the Garden, Mexico City and all over the world.

He made a fortune that he gave away to unemployed relatives, keeping enough for himself to enjoy the good life, which included cigars, poker and digs in a Manhattan Hotel. At some matches Mickey Rooney carried his bag.

“All the Hollywood stars knew me,” Coleman said. Why not. He was a star himself.

Hebrew Hercules

Coleman’s legendary strength stood him in good stead all his long life. At the age of 80, he fought of muggers, pinning them down (or knocking them out, depending on which version of the story you hear) until the police arrived. When his car was parked in, he moved it with his bare hands.

At 90 kg, 5’3, with 18 inch biceps, and an18 1/2 inch neck, the nuggety Coleman invented the drop kick after a 1930 Australian tour, where he watched Kangaroos turn themselves into live missiles. He also became famous for his flying tackles and aeroplane spins, which kept him in the game until his retirement at the age of 50.

But Coleman’s greatest triumph was with the New York fans who adored him, and with his devoted multi-generational family who turned up every year to honour him on his birthdays. The Queens Chronicle reports that At his 100th bash, a nephew fondly challenged Coleman to a wrestle, to which the Hebrew Hercules replied, “Get my tights and jockstrap.”


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