The Magnificent Scufflers: Revealing the Great Day When America Wrestled the World

The Magnificent Scufflers: Revealing the Great Day When America Wrestled the World

The Magnificent Scufflers: Revealing the Great Day When America Wrestled the World

The Magnificent Scufflers: Revealing the Great Day When America Wrestled the World

Excerpt

There wrestled a man with him until the breaking of day. And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob's thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him.

GENESIS XXXII

ON THE first Tuesday after the first Monday in March of 1856 the modestly towered town hall of Richford, Vermont, some two miles below the Quebec boundary, was the scene of two noteworthy events. One, of course, was Town Meeting. The other was provided by Eliphalet Dunn, who presently changed his name to Dufur, then to Dufer, and other variations -- depending on who was doing the reporting or inscribing on the tombstones -- and his four strapping sons, Noah, John, David and Henry Moses. In a quiet muscular way their goings-on were a landmark in America's sporting history.

For neither event does "noteworthy" denote the unusual. March Meeting was, and still is, a very special occasion in any Vermont town, but after all it happens every year. And actually a good impromptu wrestling match had come to be an expected dividend offered at any Green Mountain gathering. E. L. Persons, one of our earliest by-line sportswriters and a leading scribe of the 1870s and '80s, was to note that "wrestling is and for long years has been the popular sport of Vermont's sturdy yeomanry . . . town meetings, fairs, cattle shows, house raisings, etc., being incomplete and void of special interest without a wrestling tournament to wind up with."

It was just such a wind-up that Eliphalet and his offspring arranged for . . .

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