Wrestling Rabbi Illustration Art of Mr. Israel Rafael Halperin 1950s
Here we have a rare original piece of illustration art from the old world of professional wrestling. In 1955, Fred Heyman, sports illustrator for the Post-Standard in Syracuse, NY, illustrated a piece detailing the upcoming bout between The Wrestling Rabbi (Raphael "Mr. Israel" Halpern) and Sammy Berg. He used existing photos of the wrestlers as a reference, then complemented the figures with comic book style text and illustrations.
This illustrated artwork is the bees knees, and there are a ton of angles. Let's start with The Wrestling Rabbi, then we'll get to the artist.
Here is biography of the Mr. Israel, Rafael Halperin, courtesy of Wikipedia:
Rafael Halperin (1924 – 20 August 2011) was a prominent Israeli businessman, Orthodox rabbi, and the author of several religious books and an encyclopedia. In the 1950s, he worked in the United States as a professional wrestler in Vince McMahon Sr.'s Capitol Wrestling
Born in Austria, Halperin moved to Mandatory Palestine with his family in 1933. The Halperin family moved to Bnei Brak the following year, and Rafael studied in Haifa and Jerusalem as a teenager. He also excelled in several athletic pursuits, including weightlifting and karate. He entered competitions and became the national champion in karate, boxing, and bodybuilding. He is also said to have been a skilled diamond cutter.
Halperin decided that he wanted to open a chain of athletic facilities, so he began wrestling professionally to earn the necessary money. His career took him to the United States, where he was reported to have won 159 consecutive matches. He earned the displeasure of some promoters and fellow wrestlers because he treated his matches as legitimate athletic contests rather than a scripted performance. He refused to yield, however, as he felt that he was upholding the dignity of his country. He also wrestled as a face (fan favorite), refusing to break any rules, for the same reason.
Halperin continued to wrestle in the United States and Canada into the 1960s. During this time, he faced such opponents as Antonino Rocca while competing for Capitol Wrestling.He later returned to Israel, where he is credited with popularizing professional wrestling in Israel. His most well known matches in Israel were against Achmad Fuad and the "Jordanian Tiger" Abu Antar. The match with Fuad took place on June 18, 1966 in front of 6,000 fans at the Bloomfield Stadium and caused the police to use tear gas after a big riot broke out immediately after Fuad attacked the victorious Halperin. The match with Abu Antar took place on September 20, 1973 and was the most successful local wrestling match seen in the country, as the Yad Eliyahu Arena was sold out to witness Halperin defeat the "Jordanian Tiger". This was Halperin's last match and after he retired from professional wrestling, he started to study karate and mixed martial arts in Japan.
Full Wikipedia article containing source photo for the illustration:
Here is the biography of Fred Heyman, sports illustrator for the Post-Standard in Syracuse, NY:
The framed sports illustration measures 20 1/2" tall and 18" wide. The exposed art measures about 13" tall by 11" wide. The piece is solid. There are a few nicks in the frame, and there's a adhesive mark near the top right corner of the frame. A little WD-40 will likely remove the adhesive. I'll leave that up to you. Please see all pics as they are part of the description.
I ship to the continental USA only. Free shipping on this amazing piece.
Boy, those were the days. It's rare that you find one piece with so many angles converging at one point in time. Vintage wrestling memorabilia at its best. Game, set, match.