Jim Londos must rank as one of the all-time greatest wrestlers. He held the world professional title for 14 years, winning it first in 1930 from Dick Schikat at Philadelphia in a one hour and 29 minute match. After holding it for five years, he lost the crown to Danno O’Mahoney at Boston, but regained it two years later, pinning one-time football great Bronko Nagurski in one hour and 27 minutes at Philadelphia. Jim kept the title until his retirement in 1946. During his 34-year wrestling career, Londos went to the mat some 2,000 times, defeating the world’s best, among them George Zaharias and Ed (Strangler) Lewis.
He was born Chris T. Theophelos, but assumed the name Londos after a sports writer told him he looked like the author Jack London. He was less than 5’8” and never weighed more than 200 pounds. Some of his bouts went as long as three hours, and were extremely punishing to both parties. He couldn’t remember the name of his toughest opponent, but remembered the match very well. “About 1935, I met a 6’5” Indian in St. Louis who jumped on me at the outset and broke five of my ribs. I went on to win the match, but it was six months before I could return to the ring.”
In another of his greatest matches, Londos defeated the Russian Kola Kowriani in Athens, Greece – his homeland – before 100,000 spectators in Olympic Stadium. Another 50,000 were outside, unable to buy tickets. Afterwards, Jim received the Gold Cross of Phoenix from King Paul of Greece for being a champion and carrying the title with distinction. This also was recognition for wrestling a number of matches for Greek charities.
Jim was praised in retirement as the last holdout for dignity and integrity in professional wrestling before it plunged into the ridiculous. He died in 1975 at his home in Escondido, just north of San Diego, where he lived for 25 years. His age at the time of his death was believed to be about 80, although Jim never knew his own age for sure.