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True Stories of Amazing People and Places in Texas

 
Famous People from Potter County Texas
Dutch Mantell
Dutch Mantell
Dutch Mantell, a professional wrestler and actor was born Alfred Albert Joe de Re la Gardiur on July 25, 1881, in Luxembourg. After his father's death in 1891, ten-year-old Alfred was sent to live with an uncle in Germany. When he was 12 he ran away in 1893 and did various odd jobs before stowing away on a merchant ship in England late in 1895. He had hoped to land in America but instead wound up at Fremantle, Australia, in March 1896. In Australia Alfred began boxing and later took up wrestling. He soon attracted the attention of Robert B. Mantell, a Shakespearean actor, who offered to serve as his second in a bout at Melbourne. The two quickly became inseparable, and the teenaged wrestler with the difficult name came to be known among Australians as "Mantell's boy"; because of his heavy "Deutsch" accent, he soon adopted the name Dutch Mantell in honor of his distinguished mentor.

Mantell made his move to the United States in 1900. For the next two years he toured the eastern seaboard and circled the globe in wrestling bouts before joining the United States Navy in 1902. By the time he was discharged in 1906, he had become an American citizen. Over the next six years he toured the nation and built up a large following as a lightweight wrestler. After running out of competition in his own weight, which averaged 135 pounds, he took on opponents in the welterweight, middleweight, and even heavyweight categories; often he met 200-pounders in time-limit matches, which he never lost. Mantell's reputation as a hell-raising "villain" of the mat became legendary, and his use of unorthodox tactics to win matches often resulted in near riots.

Dutch Mantell 1941From 1913 to 1915 Mantell was a member of Mack Sennett's Keystone Cops in Hollywood. In Sennett's silent film comedies he was distinguished by his big nose and heavy mustache. He resumed his professional wrestling tours in 1915. In El Paso in 1921 Mantell first met Cal Farley when he stepped, uninvited, into the ring amid jeering fans and flying bottles to challenge the winner of the Farley-Matsuda bout being held there. Even so, his antics set a precedent for the theatrical showmen wrestlers of later times.

During lean times Mantell traveled with a carnival and sometimes worked in mines and logging camps. Mantell first visited Amarillo while on tour in 1906. He took an immediate liking to the "Queen City of the Panhandle" and included it often in his itinerary. There in 1923 he took on Cal Farley in at least two no-holds-barred matches.

Yet while the "Flying Dutchman" was a mean customer in the ring, outside it he had a nationwide reputation as a soft touch. His honesty and concern for those less fortunate were practically unparalleled. With his trained animals he was a big hit with children, and the millions that he earned usually went to help needy families and homeless urchins. Although never affiliated with any specific church or denomination, he carried his Bible with him and read it almost daily for guidance. In 1925 Mantell made Amarillo his permanent home and helped promote Cal Farley's Wun-Stop-Duzzit tire business. Farley's Flying Dutchman trademark was inspired by Mantell. For fifteen years he  was a regular on Farley's radio show and was a featured performer in Farley's Flying Dutchman Circus.

Dutch Mantell continued intermittently in the ring until Sailor Moran kicked his front teeth out during a charity match in 1935, thus compelling him to wear dentures. Afterward, he devoted his time to promoting the sport and his humanitarian causes. His liberal giving habits eventually caused his friends in Amarillo to take over his finances completely and dole out his income. Dutch Mantell died of cancer at Northwest Texas Hospital on January 31, 1941 and is buried in the Llano Cemetery in Amarillo.

Resources:

Amarillo History , and Memories

Post Cards From The Panhandle

Old Texas Panhandle (History Page)

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