Of Mats and Men


I recently punched the name of Mike “The Math Librarian” Martelle into Google, and before I knew it, a co-worker was walking into my office, and I was proud to announce,  “I’m watching YouTube videos of my childhood friend beating people up!”

It’s well-known that the Math Librarian is a master of both wrestling and recondite knowledge. He recently e-mailed me to share a little of each:

An excerpt from the historical work “Of Mats And Men”, by Glynn Leyshon, detailing an early example of wrestling competition in our area:

As the country became more settled, contests became less brutal and more sporting — not just in wrestling, but in other athletic endeavours. Many of the early settlers were United Empire Loyalists and the first settlement of any note in Ontario was at Adolphustown, Bay of Quinte, in 1784. Guillet gives an account, one of the few recorded, of a wrestling competition which took place in the area:

On one occasion in the 1800s the “Fifth Towners” or the inhabitants of the township of Marysburgh as they were called, considered the “Fourth Towners” across the Bay of Quinte in Adolphustown were “too smart and stuck-up”; so they challenged them to pick out three wrestlers to settle the relative smartness of the townships. Needless to say they were not to be stumped, and sent Samuel Dorland, Samuel Casey, and Paul Trumpour to uphold the reputation of Adolphustown against the chosen men of Marysburgh, whose names have not come down to us, perhaps because they were worsted in the encounter.

The hour was fixed and a nearby field was selected where hundreds were on hand to see “fair play” and help decide which township had the best men. These were all noted athletes and they were then young and in their prime. Samuel Dorland, afterwards a colonel in the militia and a leading official in the Methodist Church, was an expert wrestler and used to boast even in his old days that he seldom if ever met a man who could lay him on his back. He soon had his man down. Samuel Casey, who afterwards became a leading militia officer and a prominent justice of the peace, was one of the strongest men in the township, but not an expert wrestler. He was so powerful in the legs that his opponent, with all his skill, could not trip him up, and at last got thrown himself. Paul Trumpour who was head of what is now the largest family in the township was not so skilled in athletics; but he was a man of immense strength. He got his arms well fixed around his man and gave him such a terrible bear-hug that the poor fellow soon cried out “enough” to save his ribs from getting crushed in, and that settled it. The Fourth-town championship was not again disputed.

I like that they used a wrestling match, of all things, to determine who was smarter, instead of, say, a pub quiz. Not only that, but two out of three men on the winning side won through sheer brute strength rather than any kind of scientific wrestling, so it wasn’t even a measurement of intelligence in regard to their knowledge of leverage and human anatomy.

It’s too bad the Fourth-town championship was never again disputed, I said. They could have held an essay-writing contest to determine the strongest man in the region, or a footrace to crown the winner of a beauty pageant, or a pie-eating contest to see who grew the biggest pumpkin that harvest.

To this, Mike responded, “You err, insofar as might settles everything — smartness included!” And I won’t disagree with this any further. He’s all too capable of proving his point.

One Response to “Of Mats and Men”

  1. 1 Stocc

    Who is Mike?

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