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Encyclopedia Dubuque



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Joseph "Tiger Joe" Zehentner
ZEHENTNER, Joseph. (Dubuque, IA, May 3, 1908--Nov. 15, 1997). During the 1930s, Zehentner was a popular local wrestler. Known as "Tiger Joe" for his agility, he became interested in the sport at the DUBUQUE BOYS' CLUB. His first matches were part of the evening's program with touring professionals.

Zehentner's reputation as a wrestler soared after becoming friends with Charles "Midget" Fischer, a world champion light heavyweight. Fischer often insisted through his contracts that Zehentner wrestle the same evenings at such locations as Dubuque's MELODY MILL. Zehentner became famous for his “Indian Death Lock” from which there was said to be no escape.

Illustration by Norman Zepeski
Zehentner also owned and operated a fruit and vegetable store in Dubuque. During the GREAT DEPRESSION, he was known for giving away packages of food to the needy. He returned to Dubuque after serving in the military and worked with his brothers at Zehentner's Sporting Goods Company. He retired from this business in the early 1970s.