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Posts Tagged ‘The Dusek Riot Squad’

© Irving Penn

From the Visual Research Dept.:  When I was around 16 or 17 and I just started to toy with the idea of becoming a professional photographer, traveling the globe with my two tiny Leicas, splitting time between shooting Supermodels on tropical beaches, taking portraits of the high and mighty and documenting the occasional war, I came across this mysterious picture in a magazine.  I had no idea who Irving Penn was and probably forgot his name again within seconds.  But the image was such a mind-bender for me that I kept the magazine and when the local photo studio (Foto Klotz) had a sale on having any picture you wanted enlarged to any size you wanted, I brought in the magazine and had the the image enlarged to the biggest size I could afford.  I hung it up in my room and many times I marveled at the photographer who could arrange four mostly naked, scary looking guys into a giant pretzel, make it look cool, and keep their dignity fully intact. Just as often I wondered who these four guys were.

Well, years later I found out a bit about the athletic foursome. They were Emil, Ernie, Rudy and Wally Dusek, aka The Dusek Riot Squad, aka The Nebraska Riot Squad, aka The Dirty Duseks.

They were brothers (except for Wally) from Omaha, Nebraska who became successful traveling wrestlers in the first half of the 20th century. Their motto was : Never a dull match with a Dusek. And there is plenty of evidence that they weren’t kidding.

There was this clip in a Time Magazine article from 1935:

“In Boston, Rudy Dusek watched Brother Ernie wrestle an Irishman named Dan O’Mahoney. When O’Mahoney got the decision, Rudy Dusek jumped into the ring, tried to assault the referee, started a free-for-all among the seconds. In addition to helping his brother, Rudy Dusek performed in five bouts of his own last week.
In Camden, N. J., a few nights after the bout in Boston, Ernie Dusek wrestled Gino Garibaldi. A spectator in the balcony hurled down a chair which hit Ernie Dusek on the head. He was hospitalized.”

And this description on the “Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame” website:

Their style was rough and rougher. “They were big, rugged guys. They weren’t smooth workers, there weren’t a lot of smooth workers back then compared to the way these guys are so articulate today,” said Nick Bockwinkel, whose father Warren battled them often.

“The Dusek brothers, Rudy and Ernie, left their bruises on me. They had done all the damage to my ears it was possible to do, so they concentrated on pounding me into a docile hunk,” said Paul Boesch in his autobiography.

The Dusek Brother portrait that originally ran in Vogue was this one:

showing that even back then the best images didn’t necessarily make it into the magazine.

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