Abe Coleman

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Abe Coleman
Abe Coleman at his 100th birthday party on September 18, 2005
Birth nameAbe Kelmer
Born(1905-09-20)September 20, 1905
Żychlin, Łódź, Poland, Russian Empire
DiedMarch 28, 2007(2007-03-28) (aged 101)[1]
Queens, New York, US
June Miller
(m. 1939; her death 1987)
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s)Abe Coleman[2]
Hebrew Hercules[2]
Jewish Tarzan[2]
Little Hercules[3]
Billed height5 ft 3 in (1.60 m)[3]
Billed weight220 lb (100 kg)[2]
Billed fromLos Angeles, California

Abe Kelmer[3] / Abba Kelmer[2] (September 20, 1905 – March 28, 2007) was a Polish professional wrestler, promoter and referee, known by the ring names Abe Coleman, Hebrew Hercules, and Jewish Tarzan.[2] At the time of his death, Coleman was believed to be the oldest professional wrestler in the world.

Early life[edit]

Kelmer was born to a Jewish family in Żychlin, Poland in 1905.[3] His father was a coal-seller.[2] Kelmer had 15 older brothers and sisters, some of whom perished in the Holocaust.[2] In 1923, he emigrated to Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, and later moved to New York City in the United States.[2][3]

Professional wrestling career[edit]

According to the Canadian Online Explorer's Greg Oliver, there is debate regarding Kelmer's debut in professional wrestling. In 1929, local promoter Rudy Miller offered Coleman $25 to wrestle after seeing him work out in a Brooklyn gym.[3] Despite this, an "Abe Coleman" wrestled to a draw with George Deslonchamps on March 19, 1928, at Madison Square Garden, but it is unknown if it was Kelmer or another wrestler with the same ring name.[3]

Coleman is also credited with the invention of the dropkick, claiming the move was inspired by kangaroos he saw on a tour of Australia in 1930.[2][3]

Coleman was never a champion, but was regarded as a solid midcard worker.[3] In the 1930s, Coleman defeated Jim Londos in a match in a Mexico City bullring in front of 60,000 spectators.[3] During a 1936 match against Man Mountain Dean in front of 36,000 people, Coleman slammed Dean to the ground, breaking the ring mat and dropping the pair down to the arena floor.[2][3]

Following his retirement from active in-ring competition, Coleman became a professional wrestling referee.[2] He also promoted several wrestling shows with Bill Johnston.[3]

After wrestling[edit]

Following his retirement from wrestling, Kelmer inspected license plates for the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles.[2]

Personal life[edit]

Kelmer met June Miller in 1936, stating he met her in Madison Square Garden when he landed in her lap after being thrown from the ring.[2] They married three years later in 1939.[2] The couple had no children, and Miller died in 1987.[2] Kelmer lived in Forest Hills, New York.[3] It was in Forest Hills that Kelmer subdued two attempted muggers when he was in his 80s.[2][3]

Outside of wrestling, Kelmer's interests included poker and horse racing.[2]

In his final years, Kelmer was confined to a wheelchair and lived at the Meadow Park Rehabilitation and Health Care Center in Flushing, New York.[3] Kelmer died on March 28, 2007, in a nursing home in Queens, New York, of kidney failure.[3][4]

Championships and accomplishments[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Abe Coleman, 101, Wrestler Known as Hebrew Hercules". Classic Wrestling Articles. Retrieved 16 August 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Martin, Douglas (April 2, 2007). "Abe Coleman, 101, Wrestler Known as Hebrew Hercules". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 2012-09-16. Retrieved April 23, 2010.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Oliver, Greg (March 28, 2011). "Depression era grappler Abe Coleman, 101, dies". Slam! Sports. Canadian Online Explorer. Retrieved December 26, 2011.
  4. ^ "Oldest pro wrestler passes away today". Wrestling Observer Newsletter. 2007-03-28. Retrieved 2007-12-10.
  5. ^ Oliver, Greg (December 3, 2011). "Superfly, JYD, Samoans, Cornette among 2012 PWHF inductees". Slam! Sports. Canadian Online Explorer. Retrieved December 26, 2011.

External links[edit]