“This camp is for fighters, not wrestlers”.
That’s what boxer Billy Papke once told Farmer Burns. Martin “Farmer” Burns was a multiple times Catch as Catch Can Wrestling World Champion, once described by Dan Gable as “One of the True Legends of American Sports”. On May 1910 he was helping World Heavyweight Boxing Champion James Jeffries to prepare for an upcoming fight. The Boxing star was big on crosstraining and The Farmer’s part of the program, was serving as his NHB sparring partner to maximize his endurance. Jeffries also invited World Middleweight Boxing Champion Billy Papke to help in his training camp. As soon as he arrived, Papke tried to pick on Burns. “What are you doing here?” he asked
“This camp is for fighters, not wrestlers”. Papke was in his athletic prime and Burns was then 49 years old, nearly 15 years beyond the age when he ranked as one of the greatest wrestlers in all history. “A fighter can whip a wrestler any day in the year”. said Papke. “Rough and Tumble Style?” asked Burns. “Sure” was Papke’s answer. They agreed to fight with a side bet of $1,000. All strikes and holds were allowed and there was no time limit. Jeffries was asked to serve as stakeholder, but he refused because he wanted to bet on Burns. The heavyweight had good insights as he was close with some of the top Catch Wrestlers in the country. So another stakeholder was found while Jeffries hustled around for Papke backers and covered everything they offered. The men met next day in the boxing ring. Papke weighed 170 pounds and Burns 169. The gong banged and both the striker and the grappler rushed from their corners. Papke, who had utter confidence in his powerful left, danced forward and jabbed it at Burns face. He was certain that the Farmer could never get near enough to him to apply a wrestling hold, but the wrestler surprised Papke by whirling sideways, kicking his leg from under him and landing on top. He quickly secured a double hammer lock and forced him to submit Burns collected the bet and proved why at any age he was one of the toughest men alive. The Wrestling legend continued training and shaping new talent well into his 60’s… His legacy will live on forever. I recently made a Catch Wrestling Legends video on Farmer Burns, if you want to check it out the link is in the description. If you want to support the channel check out my newest T-Shirt designs at GotchFightwear.com