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True Stories of Amazing People and Places in Texas
|Famous People from Potter County Texas|
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.
From 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
|Books About Potter County People and Places|