The city of Walnut has announced the dedication of Pearl Street in Walnut to be designated the Earl Caddock Memorial Drive in honor of the town’s most famous citizen. Author Mike Chapman will be a part of the ceremony on Sunday morning, June 17, giving a short address and signing copies of his book on Earl.
Earl Caddock came off an Iowa farm to become a great amateur wrestler and then won the world heavyweight championship of professional wrestling, back when the sports was a true athletic contest. He was an AAU national champion, in 1914 and 1915, but the cancellation of the 1916 Olympics ended his amateur career. With Frank Gotch of Humboldt, Iowa, acknowledged as the top athlete in America at the time, Caddock decided to follow Gotch into professional wrestling. On April 9, 1917, he took a perfect record of 79-0 (53-0 as an amateur and 26-0 as a pro) into the ring in Omaha to take on the world champion, Joe Stecher. After more than two hours of grueling wrestling, Earl Caddock emerged as the heavyweight champion of the world.
In 1919 and 1920, Caddock was one of the nation’s most popular athletes, standing alongside such legendary figures as Babe Ruth, Jack Dempsey and Jim Thorpe.
At the peak of his sports career, Caddock enlisted in the U.S. Army to fight in World War I and served gallantly in France as a doughboy, suffering lung damage from gas attacks. He returned to make his home in Walnut, Iowa. After three more years of wrestling, Caddock retired from the ring and began a successful career as a businessman in both Walnut and in Omaha. Caddock is buried in the Layton Cemetery just east of Walnut on Pearl St.
A new book, CADDOCK: Walnut’s Wrestling Wonder, was written by Mike Chapman, noted wrestling author and historian, and published by Culture House Books of Newton, in cooperation with the city of Walnut. Mike will be on hand for the dedication and available for book signing after the event. Members of the Caddock family will also attend.
The dedication is June 17, at 9 AM, in conjunction with the Walnut Antique Show. The dedication ceremony will be held in front of the Village Blacksmith Shop antique store located one block east of Antique City Drive on Pearl Street. Earl Caddock built this building as one of his businesses during the early part of the 20th century.
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