Roderick McMahon

Roderick McMahon
Jess McMahon
Born Roderick James McMahon
May 26, 1882(1882-05-26)[1]
Manhattan, New York
United States
Died November 21, 1954(1954-11-21) (aged 72)
Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania
Nationality American
Occupation Professional boxing and wrestling promotor
Known for Founder, Capitol Wrestling Corporation
Spouse Rose Davis
Children Vincent James McMahon

Roderick James "Jess" McMahon (May 26, 1882 – November 21, 1954) was a professional wrestling and professional boxing promoter, and the patriarch of the McMahon wrestling family. McMahon was the founder of the Capitol Wrestling Corporation, along with Toots Mondt.


Early life

Roderick James McMahon was born May 26, 1882, to hotel owners Roderick and Elizabeth McMahon. His parents had recently moved from Ireland to New York City, Roderick was born in 1844 and Elizabeth in 1846.[1] He and his siblings; Lauretta (b.1876), Catharine (b.1878) and Edward (b.1880) attended Manhattan College where Roderick graduated with a commercial diploma at the age of 17. The loss of their father resulted in the two brothers taking jobs as bank clerks and the two sisters married prominent businessmen. The McMahon brothers showed a higher interest in sports, compared to that of a career.[1].


By 1909, the McMahon brothers were managing partners of the Olympic Athletic Club and bookers at the Empire and St. Nichols Athletic Clubs, located in Harlem. Facing a loss of public interest in boxing, the two McMahons overcame obstacles to appease the public with high quality fights. They expanded their affairs in 1911, founding the New York Lincoln Giants, a black baseball team, which played at Olympic Field in Harlem. With a team that included five of the best black players in the nation, who the McMahons recruited away from teams in Chicago and Philadelphia, the Lincoln Giants dominated black and white opponents for three seasons. In 1914, financial difficulties then forced them to sell the team; however, they retained the contracts of many of the players, and for three more years they operated another team, the Lincoln Stars, using Lenox Oval on 145th Street as a home field.[2] Touring with the squad, McMahon and his brother ventured to Havana, Cuba, where in 1915 they co-promoted the World Boxing Association match between Jess Willard and then-champion Jack Johnson in a 45-round fight.[1]

In the 1930s, the McMahons operated the Commonwealth Casino, on East 135th Street in Harlem. Boxing was the primary attraction, and the McMahons booked black fighters to cater to Harlem's growing black population; fights between blacks and whites drew the largest, racially-mixed crowds. In 1922, they established a black professional basketball team, the Commonwealth Big 5, to try to attract patrons to the Casino. For two years, the team defeated black and white opponents, including Harlem's other black professional team, the Rens, and sportswriters considered the Big 5 the best black team in the nation, although they could not defeat the dominant white team of the time, the Original Celtics. Despite their success, the Big 5 did not attract large crowds, and the McMahons shut the team down after the 1923/1924 season, leaving the Rens to become the dominant black team of the 1920s and 1930s. [3]

After 1915, Jess anchored in Long Island, where he became the first McMahon to promote professional wrestling, at the Municipal Stadium. The vicious wrestling wars led McMahon to ally himself with another independent faction captained by Carlos Louis Henriquez. Together they booked the Coney Island and Brooklyn Sport Stadiums, with Carlos being the main fan favorite. The formation of the "Trust" calmed New York territory enough to allow McMahon to have access to a larger pool of wrestlers. Among the wrestlers were the likes of Jim Browning, Hans Kampfer, Mike Romano and Everette Marshall.[1] By 1937, wrestling popularity was waning, however while most bookers left the city for fresher ground, Jess dug in for the long haul. His contacts allowed him to freely trade wrestlers with promoters in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Connecticut.[1]

A perpetual force in the Northeastern sportsworld, Jess would most probably be remembered for his spell as matchmaker at the Garden than for his 20 years as a wrestling promoter. On November 21, 1954, as a result of a cerebral hemorrhage, Jess died at a hospital in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.[1] Upon Jess's death, his second son, Vincent J. McMahon took over the business, eventually creating the World Wide Wrestling Federation, known today as World Wrestling Entertainment, or WWE.

Personal life

Roderick married a young New York woman named Rose E. Davis (b.1891), who was of Irish descent, and together they had three children, Vincent J. McMahon, Roderick Jr., and a daughter named Dorothy.[1] His grandson, Vincent K. McMahon, currently runs WWE. Jess's great-granddaughter Stephanie McMahon also works for the company. His great-grandson Shane McMahon also worked for the company before ending his 20 year stint in 2010. His great-great-grandson was seen at the opening of Wrestlemania XX.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Hornbaker, Tim (2007). National Wrestling Alliance: The Untold Story of the Monopoly That Strangled Professional Wrestling. ECW Press. ISBN 1-55022-741-6. 
  2. ^ Stephen Robertson, "Harlem and Baseball in the 1920s", Digital Harlem Blog, July 27, 2011, accessed August 23, 2011
  3. ^ Stephen Robertson, "Basketball in 1920s Harlem", Digital Harlem Blog, June 3, 2011, accessed August 23, 2011

External links

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