The McMahon No One Talks About By John Brecko
The McMahon family is legendary in the wrestling business, with Vince McMahon as the Chairman of WWE today and Shane and Stephanie McMahon (his son and daughter) involved with the business their entire lives as well. His son-in-law, Triple H is the Chief Operating Officer of the company and the man in control of NXT behind the scenes. His wife, Linda McMahon has been involved with the company in the past, even if she is not seen today.
Vince McMahon became involved with pro-wrestling through his father, Vincent J. McMahon, who is referenced every now and then on television today. Vincent J. McMahon was the owner of the World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF) before his son would buy the company in 1982. However, there is one McMahon that is never talked about in WWE today. In a way, that makes sense because his involvement in WWE was minimal at best. However, it is still strange because it is Vince McMahon’s Grandfather and he would become the first generation in the McMahon family to be involved in the pro-wrestling business.
His name is Jess McMahon.
Jess McMahon was born in 1882 in Manhattan, New York with parents who immigrated to America from Ireland. He was the son of a hotel owner named Roderick McMahon (1848-1922) and instead of becoming involved with hotels or banking, Jess McMahon took an interest in sports.
Jess McMahon promoted a variety of sports in his day, including basketball and boxing with his older brother, Edward McMahon. Jess would settle in Long Island and begin promoting pro-wrestling in 1915.
McMahon would ally with an independent faction that was run by Carlos Louis Henriquez, where Henriquez was the main fan favorite. Together, these men would book Coney Island and Brooklyn Sport Stadiums. McMahon was one of the promoters that was able to take advantage of “The Trust Agreement” that was made in 1918 between Jack Curley, Billy Sandow and Tony Stecher.
“The Trust” allowed promoters to swap talent and ultimately would help wrestling events get booked in larger sports venues, making the business more lucrative for all of the promoters involved.
This allowed Jess McMahon to work with some of wrestlers’ blue collar heroes of their time such as Jim Browning, Hans Kampfer, Mike Romano and Everette Marshall.
However, promoters in New York would fall on hard times. Boxing promoter and hockey team New York Rangers franchise founder, Tex Richard despised pro-wrestling events and kept any such event from being booked at Madison Square Garden from 1939-1948.
Many promoters left the city to find different areas to promote pro-wrestling. However, Jess McMahon stayed and during what was difficult times for pro-wrestling in the city, he used his contacts to bring in wrestlers from New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Connecticut.
The reason why times would change in the city of New York is because Jess McMahon would later work with a man named Toots Mondt.
Toots Mondt was part of the Goldust Trio, which consisted of himself, Ed “The Strangler” Louis and Louis’s manager, Billy Sandow, who helped increase wrestling’s popularity by introducing many different moves into the sport to increase the pace.
Mondt began wrestling in 1912 and when he began, pro-wrestling was amateur wrestling with a pre-determined finish, which matches in many cases going on for hours (the average length of a match was one hour).
The Goldust Trio introduced suplexes, slams and many other moves that may seem basic today, but were completely new in the 1910s and 1920s. Looking at this fact with a modern mindset may make it hard to believe, but would you rather watch an hour long amateur wrestling match or an hour long match full of suplexes and slams?
They also introduced time limits and time limit draws into matches to increase tension in matches, prolong feuds and set up future matches that customers would pay to see the next time the wrestlers came into their town. At the time this was all introduced, it was called “Slam Bang Western Style Wrestling”.
Mondt got financial backing from former wrestler turned millionaire Bernarr McFadden and in 1948, in the first wrestling show in Madison Square Garden in nearly a decade, Gorgeous George defeated Ernie Dusek and wrestling was back in New York.
The Capitol Wrestling Corporation was founded in 1953 and Mondt was one of the men who helped create the company that would later be known as World Wrestling Entertainment. Although it is unclear whether it was Jess McMahon or his son, Vincent J. McMahon who helped kickstart the company. The work that Jess McMahon did as a wrestling promoter with many of the influential promoters of his time cannot be ignored.
Another reason that he might not be talked about on television today is because he was a promoter in the background in most of the cases he worked in the wrestling industry. Jess McMahon is also more well-known for his boxing promoting boxing events, often putting black fighters against white fighters to draw mixed crowds.
Booking fights for the sake of race might be questionable today, but it worked at the time and there is no denying Jess McMahon drew crowds as a promoter during his time.
Jess McMahon also passed away soon after the Capitol Wrestling Corporation was founded in 1954. Vincent J. McMahon would work with Toots Mondt until owning the company himself after Mondt stepped away from the promotion in the late 1960s.
Jess McMahon did not live to see what World Wrestling Entertainment would grow to be today, but wrestling has become a completely different phenomenon from what anyone his day could have possibly imagined it would be.