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NZ Wrestling & Boxing with Dave Cameron:
For Every Villain Wrestling Has Its Hero
Outstanding Jewish wrestler is fairly and squarely on the side of law and order in 5000-bout mat career.
DAVE CAMERON of Auckland is the original wrestling "nut". He has wrestled professionally both in New Zealand and in Britain, has written many words as a publicity source for the game, photographed numerous wrestlers, including all those who have come to New Zealand for years past, and has a multitude of scrapbooks. He has even taken wrestling to the schools in Auckland, talking about it and exhibiting photographs of wrestlers.
In its issue of January, "Sports Digest'' told how much store professional wrestling set by its "villains", those generally likeable rogues who seem to commit all manner of mayhem in the ring and the best of whom attract large gatherings of fans who come just to hoot at them.
But there is, of course, the opposite side of the coin and for every successful villain, there is also, conversely, a popular "hero" who is cheered to the echo by the spectators when, after suffering all manner of indignities and being battered from pillar to post, he gets up and wins to prove that it is still right not might that prevails.
Of those who have played this clean-cut role in New Zealand rings these last few years, the most persistently "heroic" has been the New York Jewish matman, Mark Lewin.
Mark can wear a business suit with every bit as much ease and aplomb as a stockbroker or a solicitor. He is as squarely on the side of the clean-cut brigade as other well recalled "heroes" like Earl McCready, Dean Detton, Paul Boesch, Len Levy, Irish Jack Kennedy and others of the palmy days of wrestling, the 1930s and 40s.
A very experienced pro, Lewin claims more than 5000 bouts, which makes him one of the game's busiest performers. Born in Buffalo, New York, of Jewish immigrant parents from Alsace-Lorraine, the 6ft tin, 18-stone was discovered by the perfumed dandy of the ring, "Gorgeous George" Wagner, who got the promoters to take an interest in this courteous and quietly-spoken young man.
During a stint in the US Army, Lewin worked with retarded children and later even ran a club for under-privileged kids from the streets of New York City.
In recent times he has spent considerable time lecturing and discussing safety clubs.
"I came up from the slums of New York myself," he says, "and I want every kid to have the chance of pulling himself out and amounting to something, as I have tried to do."
How old is this champion of the youngsters''
"Let's just say I am 19," he smiles. "That's how fit I feel at present. And I hope I can continue in the ring for another twenty years, yet."
Lewin has become one of the game's leading wrestlers, especially respected for the brute strength in his powerful hack and arms. lie is a master of many wrestling holds but generally has been noted for his use of the "Sleeper", which cuts off the supply of blood to the brain and renders an opponent unconscious in no time.
"Using the Sleeper is fairly easy," admits Lewin, "but the difficult part is getting it applied from any position."
He doesn't believe people should fool around with the hold because it makes a person on whom it has been applied helpless.
Lewin's great enthusiasm as a recreation is the sea, which can be traced hack to his youth in New York.
"As kids," he explains, "we'd hitchhike to Coney Island or Atlantic City to swim in the ocean."
When away from the wrestling ring, Mark spends countless hours in the sea either skin-diving and exploring the mysteries of the ocean's floor, or merely swimming far out from shore.
"I guess you might say I combine swimming with my own personal pleasure in skin-diving."
Beach running on the more sandy stretches also appeals to him.
"You'd be surprised how important running is to keep your legs in good shape," he says. "You've got to he in your best physical condition when you go into the wrestling ring against big fellows like King Curtis.
"I’m intent on one thing and that's winning. If I'm in good shape, I know I can beat anybody."