Abe Coleman at his 100th birthday party on September 18, 2005
|Birth name||Abe Kelmer|
|Born||September 20, 1905|
Żychlin, Łódź, Poland, Russian Empire
|Died||March 28, 2007 (aged 101)|
Queens, New York, US
(m. 1939; her death 1987)
|Professional wrestling career|
|Ring name(s)||Abe Coleman|
|Billed height||5 ft 3 in (1.60 m)|
|Billed weight||220 lb (100 kg)|
|Billed from||Los Angeles, California|
Abe Kelmer / Abba Kelmer (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. At the time of his death, Coleman was believed to be the oldest professional wrestler in the world.
Kelmer was born to a Jewish family in Żychlin, Poland in 1905. His father was a coal-seller. Kelmer had 15 older brothers and sisters, some of whom perished in the Holocaust. In 1923, he emigrated to Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, and later moved to New York City in the United States.
Professional wrestling career
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. 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.
Coleman was never a champion, but was regarded as a solid midcard worker. In the 1930s, Coleman defeated Jim Londos in a match in a Mexico City bullring in front of 60,000 spectators. 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.
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. They married three years later in 1939. The couple had no children, and Miller died in 1987. Kelmer lived in Forest Hills, New York. It was in Forest Hills that Kelmer subdued two attempted muggers when he was in his 80s.
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. Kelmer died on March 28, 2007, in a nursing home in Queens, New York, of kidney failure.
Championships and accomplishments
- Cauliflower Alley Club
- Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum
- Class of 2012 (Pioneer category)
- "Abe Coleman, 101, Wrestler Known as Hebrew Hercules". Classic Wrestling Articles. Retrieved 16 August 2015.
- 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.
- Oliver, Greg (March 28, 2011). "Depression era grappler Abe Coleman, 101, dies". Slam! Sports. Canadian Online Explorer. Retrieved December 26, 2011.
- "Oldest pro wrestler passes away today". Wrestling Observer Newsletter. 2007-03-28. Retrieved 2007-12-10.
- Oliver, Greg (December 3, 2011). "Superfly, JYD, Samoans, Cornette among 2012 PWHF inductees". Slam! Sports. Canadian Online Explorer. Retrieved December 26, 2011.