Beell Among Class of 2022
ALBANY, NEW YORK (OnFocus) – Marshfield “Strong Boy,” the late Fred Beell, has been inducted into the International Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame in Albany, New York. During the ceremony, the two facets of Beell’s life merged: the wrestling phenomenon and the hometown hero.
Beell was born in 1876 in East Prussia and immigrated to Marshfield when he was a toddler. At 14, he began working for Upham Manufacturing and soon gained a reputation for his feats of strength.
In 1896, at age 19, Beell competed in his first professional wrestling match and was defeated by Evan “Strangler” Lewis. Undaunted, Beell continued taking on other Wisconsin wrestlers, defeating Martin Tollephson with strangleholds.
After pausing his wrestling career to serve in the Spanish-American War, Beell returned to wrestling and began making a name for himself. Though short in stature and weighing just 165 pounds, he was a force – defeating opponents who weighed 250 pounds and was the first man to hold three championships at the same time: Middleweight, Light Heavyweight, and Heavyweight. In 1906, he defeated Frank Gotch in New Orleans- his most noted wrestling achievement. He continued an active wrestling schedule through 1916 – the same year he unsuccessfully ran for Wood County Sheriff.
After retiring from wrestling in 1919, he began work as a relief officer with Marshfield Police Department in 1921. On August 5, 1933, Beell responded to a call of a burglary taking place at Marshfield Brewery. He and Officer George Fyksen were on-scene when Beell was ambushed and shot to death.
He remains the only Marshfield officer to die in the line of duty. Marshfield’s Beell Stadium was dedicated in his honor in 1941.
On August 27, 2022, members of the Pro Wrestling community celebrated Beell’s life as he was formally inducted into the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame. Marshfield Police Chief Jody Geurink accepted the award on behalf of the Marshfield Police Department and Beell, who had no children.
After an introduction by Mike Lanuto, Geurink was presented with a plaque that is a copy of
the one now displayed at the Hall of Fame.
“We’re the only ones ever to be given a replicate,” he said. “To put into words what this means to me is impossible. Fred’s legacy has been passed down from generation to generation. I’m given the opportunity to honor one of our own. One who certainly deserves this honor.”
In company with world-renowned wrestlers including Booker T and Dan “the Beast” Severn, Geurink most enjoyed learning more about Beell’s life and legacy. He learned that Beell is a well-known figure in the Pro Wrestling community, even having a move named after him.
“This guy was a natural badass. He was known as a fighter who would fight for money on the side. Those fights often took place in barns all around the US. There was one well known wrestler that refused to fight him,” he added. “In Marshfield, we focus so much on the events of his death that it wasn’t until studying for this event that I even knew he was married (to Anna), for example. I didn’t realize that he was always a hometown hero known as ‘The Strong Boy’. He was known to carry a half-keg of tar up a ladder when doing a roofing project. He would pick up the back of a firetruck just because he could.”
“All the people who were at this event knew about his wrestling. Very few knew about his law enforcement career,” said Geurink. “He had a reputation for being a little bit dirty. He would throw an elbow. He was rough. This little guy would put these big guys in a headlock. To hear about that stuff was really cool. Like one editor said: He was just a remarkable person, tough as nails.”
Beell’s plaque will soon be displayed at Marshfield’s History Museum (in the basement of the Community Center) next to his exhibit.
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