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Sparring Pioneers

In 1931, Men’s Igloo No. 4 had a series of meetings followed by programs of sports exhibitions. These sporting events were a part of Igloo No. 4’s meetings off and on for many years and were well attended as the two following articles reflect:

Excerpt from the February 17, 1931 edition of the Fairbanks Daily News Miner:

PIONEERS HAVE BIG TIME

Igloo No. 4, Pioneers of Alaska, had one of the best meetings in months at Eagle Hall last night. It is estimated 150 Pioneers were present at the business meeting and this number was swelled to over 200 when the program was presented.

The program, featuring a wrestling exhibition and boxing matches, was an exceptionally interesting one. John Bergeson and Pat O’Connor started the bill off with a fast 10 minute wrestling exhibition which was called a draw by Referee Chub Douglas.

Billy Miller and Pete Peterson, headliners in the gnat weight division, boxed three lively rounds to a draw. Billy got off to a fast start by tapping Pete’s nose as they came together in the center of the ring to shake hands and from that time on there were gloves flying everywhere.

A clever boxing exhibition was that staged by Chub Douglas of Livengood and Lee Parker of Tacoma. Their three round tilt was called a draw.

The program wound up with a three round contest between Dennis O’Keefe and Soldier Webb, also a draw.

Pat O’Conner refereed the boxing exhibitions and Chub Douglas the wrestling match. Fred Schiller was timekeeper.

The city band, directed by V. J. Jacobs, played before and between the bouts. The evening was concluded with the serving of the usual bounteous Pioneer lunch.

Excerpt from the December 8, 1931 edition of the Fairbanks Daily News Miner

PIONEERS MEET MONDAY

At a well-attended session Igloo No. 4, Pioneers of Alaska, met at Eagle Hall last night to nominate officers for the coming year. A social session followed the business meeting. The local school band, directed by Wenzel C. Schroller, was heard in several selections and there was a sports program. Pat O’Connor was the chairman of the entertainment committee.

The curtain, if there had been a curtain, would have risen to see Danny “Young Mussolini” Agbaba and Eddie John on the mat waiting the timekeeper’s word to start their wrestling match. When that word came they went at it hammer and tongs for five minutes, up and down and all over the mat. It was declared a draw and the gladiators adjourned toward the lunch room without a backward glance.

Milan Agbaba and Johnnie John put up a good boxing exhibition. Two wrestling matches followed, between Mark Ringstad and Bert Hardy and Elmer Ringstad and Rede Weltzin. Billy Miller and Tommie Young boxed and Kenneth Ringstad and Albert Peterson put on a wrestling exhibition. All matches were declared draws.

John Bergeson gave a muscular demonstration, giving a superb display of muscle control. Then he and Einer Thompson were seen in a 10 minute wrestling exhibition.

The program ended with a selection by the band, after which Dick Perkins, in charge of arranging the lunch, brought on tables heaped down with ham and sandwich makings and cake and donuts, with a plentiful supply of milk and coffee in the adjoining room.

Note: Pat O’Connor, who put these matches together, was the United States Deputy Marshal in Fairbanks at the time. All of the mentioned matches resulted in a draw being called by the referee. In those days men would bet money on anything and it is probable the draw kept Men’s Igloo No. 4 from being accused of indirectly promoting gambling, thus keeping it all legal. Today, Men’s Igloo No. 4 still conducts lively well attended meetings but they have not had any boxing exhibitions in recent years. This history nugget has been proudly brought to you by Men’s Igloo No. 4 and Women’s Igloo No. 8.

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