Hall of Fame: Martin “Farmer” Burns

When it comes to developing catch wrestling in North America all trails lead back to one man – Martin “Farmer” Burns – one of the most notable professional wrestling stars at the turn of the 20th century who is remembered as one of the toughest catch-as-catch-can wrestlers of his day.

The Iowa native claimed to have competed in over 6,000 matches during his career, with it being suggested that he only lost seven of them. In 1895, “Farmer” picked up a career-defining win when he defeated Evan “Strangler” Lewis to capture the American Heavyweight Championship, a title he held for over two years.

Burns was also lauded for his incredible strength, especially in his neck. Burns’ neck muscles were so strong he could hang himself and it would have no effect. To work out he would often wrap a rope around it around it and take six-inch drops, not harming himself at all.He would often be whistling whilst this took place!

Burns would go onto mentor a young Frank Gotch as he began his legendary ascent up the professional wrestling ranks in the early 1900s. “Farmer” is also remembered for his 96-page mail-order course known as “The Lessons in Wrestling and Physical Culture,” as well as “The ‘Farmer’ Burns Workout.” Burns passed away on Jan. 8, 1937.

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