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Abraham Lincoln's impressive performance as a young wrestler won him a place in the Hall of Fame

Not only did the renowned president love wrestling, he also managed to win a lot of matches when he was young.

Abraham Lincoln's impressive performance as a young wrestler won him a place in the Hall of Fame
Cover Image Source: Abraham Lincoln (1809 - 1865), sixteenth president of the United States of America. (Photo by Stock Montage/Stock Montage/Getty Images)

Years before becoming a remarkable president that transformed the political dynamics of America, Abraham Lincoln did some odd jobs like tilling fields and splitting rails. Thanks to his laborious endeavors, Lincoln had quite an athletic physique in his youth. And, unbeknownst to many, he was an outstanding wrestler during his twenties and early thirties. Lincoln not only loved to wrestle but was also good at it—he made it to the National Wrestling Hall Of Fame in Oklahoma, per CBC's Under The Influence program.

Image Source:  A painting showing Abraham Lincoln (1808 - 1865) at work cutting logs, this early work gained him the nickname of 'railsplitter' when he entered politics. Copyright 1909 by F.A.Schneider. (Photo by MPI/Getty Images)
Image Source: A painting showing Abraham Lincoln (1808 - 1865) at work cutting logs, this early work gained him the nickname of 'rail-splitter' when he entered politics. Copyright 1909 by F.A.Schneider. (Photo by MPI/Getty Images)

Born in Kentucky, Lincoln belonged to a destitute family and was not an avid school-goer. As Lincoln grew up, his tall, slim, yet muscular figure gave him a remarkable strength to do labor jobs, especially in wielding an axe. During his early twenties, when his family moved to Illinois, Lincoln began splitting rails, clearing lands and building fences, earning him the nickname, "The Railsplitter" when he entered into politics. Around this time, Lincoln had developed a passion for wrestling and grabbed the opportunities that came his way. In over a decade of wrestling, he only lost one match.

Image Source: Illustration depicts a young Abraham Lincoln (1809 - 1865) (standing left) as he faces a local 'gang,' the Clary's Grove Boys, after having thrown Jack Armstrong (1803 - 1854) (on the ground, left) down during a wrestling match, New Salem, Illinois, 1831. (Photo by Interim Archives/Getty Images)
Image Source: Illustration depicts a young Abraham Lincoln (1809 - 1865) (standing left) as he faces a local 'gang,' the Clary's Grove Boys, after having thrown Jack Armstrong (1803 - 1854) (on the ground, left) down during a wrestling match, New Salem, Illinois, 1831. (Photo by Interim Archives/Getty Images)

Lincoln's most famous wrestling match, which made it to the Hall of Fame, started because of a bet. When the former President was working as a storekeeper at New Salem in 1830, his boss placed a bet that his young and athletic employee could take down the toughest wrestling champions of their region.

Image Source: National Wrestling Hall Of Fame
Image Source: National Wrestling Hall Of Fame

News about the bet spread around the county, including to a group of reckless and rugged youth named, "The Clary’s Grove Gang." Lincoln, 22 at the time, agreed to wrestle with the group's leader and champion, Jack Armstrong, per History. The two wrestlers were perfect competitors for each other. At one point during the match, when Armstrong tried to win using a foul move, it triggered Lincoln's fury which led to Armstrong being thrown to the ground and knocked out by his opponent.

This historic wrestling match enhanced Lincoln's esteem among the males of the community and also made him gain the respect and support of Armstrong. The Wrestling Hall of Fame is now home to a large mural depicting Lincoln's match with Armstrong. In the year 1992, the Hall of Fame honored the 16th U.S. president with the "Outstanding American" award.

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