Ben Roller

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Ben Roller
Ben Roller c. 1911
Date of birth: 1876
Place of birth: Illinois, United States
Date of death: April 19, 1933 (age 57)
Career information
Position(s): Guard
Height: 6 ft 0 in (183 cm)
Weight: 200 lb (91 kg)
College: Purdue, De Pauw
As coach:
1902 Philadelphia Phillies
As player:
Pittsburgh Athletic Club
Duquesne C. & A. C.
Philadelphia Athletic Club
Philadelphia Phillies
"New York"
Syracuse Athletic Club
Franklin Athletic Club
Career highlights and awards
Benjamin Franklin Roller in 1916

Benjamin Franklin Roller (July 1, 1876 - April 19, 1933) was a physician, a professional wrestler and a football player.[1]


Early life[edit]

Roller grew up on his family's farm in Newman, Illinois. As a boy on the farm, Roller dreamed of becoming a doctor. His mother encouraged him to attend college, while his father felt that every man should make his own way, picking up his education by experience.

He attended college at De Pauw University, after his mother, a former school teacher, helped him prepare for the entrance examination. Due to the family's lack of money, Ben worked at a dry goods store, pulling nails for 15 cents an hour. He used the money to buy new clothes for attending school. Upon arriving at De Pauw, Roller started a gym class, that began his athletic career in football and wrestling. He was the runt in his family of six, at 6'0 and 200 pounds.[1] He soon became the captain of the school's football and track teams.[2]

Upon graduation from De Pauw, Roller attended the University of Pennsylvania. With a lack of money for college, he soon began to play football at the professional ranks.[1]

Pro football career[edit]

He played pro football for the Pittsburgh Athletic Club,[3] Duquesne Country and Athletic Club,[1] Philadelphia Athletic Club[4] and was later a player-coach with the Philadelphia Phillies of the first National Football League.[5] In December 1902, he played for the "New York" team during the World Series of Football.[6] In 1903, he played with the Franklin Athletic Club[7] and won his return trip to the World Series of Football with that team. He began the 1903 season with Syracuse Athletic Club.[6]

He also played on several of the Penn college teams and won the "university championship" in his second and fourth years, however he never played for the varsity because of a four-year rule.[1]


After graduating from Penn, Roller assisted Dr. Barton Cooke, a professor at the medical school in writing a text book. He decided to accept a position as professor of physiology at the University of Washington. He also served as the supervisor to the school's athletics and as an advisor to the Seattle Athletic Club. After 2 years with the school, he decided to open an office. He also worked as a land speculator and acquired wealth up until the Panic of 1907.[1]

Wrestling career[edit]

Ben Roller
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s) Doc Roller
Dr. Benjamin Roller
Dr. B.F. Roller
Dr. Roller
Billed height 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
Billed weight 200 lb (91 kg)
Debut 1906
Retired 1918

He later resigned that position in 1906 to become a full-time wrestler. Roller’s first professional match was against Jack Carkeek. Roller won two falls in a period of 17 minutes and received $1,600. After that, he started having matches around the Northwest, under the names Dr. Roller, Dr. Benjamin Roller, Dr. B.F. Roller and Doc Roller.[2] He next wrestled Frank Gotch in an exhibition match, for which he received $4,000. After the bout with Gotch, Roller decided to use wrestling as tool for traveling the world and studying under the noted professors in both the United States and Europe. Over the span of his career, Roller defeated many of the top wrestlers of his day. These wrestlers included Farmer Burns, Fred Beell, Ed Lewis and Joe Stecher, who was managed by Frank Gotch.[1] From 1906-1918, Roller posted a record of 39 wins, 26 losses and 4 draws in 69 matches.[8]


Roller died of pneumonia on April 19, 1933 at the age of 57.[9]

Championships and accomplishments[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Roller to Retire from Wrestling". New York Times. July 4, 1915. An unusual niche in the world of professional wrestling is that occupied by Dr. Benjamin Franklin Roller, American heavyweight champion. This physician and college graduate will tell you he had two reasons for becoming a professional wrestler. First, he liked the sport; second, he saw in it the way to physical perfection. 
  2. ^ a b "Dr. B.F. Roller". Retrieved April 2, 2012. 
  3. ^ PFRA Research. "Stars Over All-Stars" (Annual). Professional Football Researchers Association. pp. 1–5. 
  4. ^ PFRA Research. "And Yet Again" (Annual). Professional Football Researchers Association. p. 1. 
  5. ^ Carroll, Bob (1980). "Dave Berry and the Philadelphia Story". Coffin Corner (Professional Football Researchers Association) 2 (Annual): 1–9. 
  6. ^ a b Carroll, Bob (1980). "The First Football World Series". Coffin Corner (Professional Football Researchers Association) 2 (Annual): 1–8. 
  7. ^ PFRA Research. "Franklins Hired Guns: 1903". Coffin Corner (Professional Football Researchers Association) (Annual): 4–8. 
  8. ^ "Benjamin Roller". Retrieved April 2, 2012. 
  9. ^ "Famous Wrestler Dies". Associated Press in the Lawrence Journal-World. April 21, 1933. p. 3.