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Evan Lewis (May 24, 1860 - November 3, 1919) was an American professional wrestler who was the first recognized American Heavyweight Champion and is credited with perfecting the "stranglehold" or "neck yoke" more commonly known today as the rear naked choke. He is sometimes confused with Ed "Strangler" Lewis, a later 6-time World Heavyweight Champion also credited with first using the hold, whose moniker is attributed to Lewis's after a reporter noted a resemblance between the two.
Born in Ridgeway, Wisconsin, Lewis began wrestling professionally winning a 64-man tournament in Montana in May 1882. He returned to Wisconsin and defeated Ben Knight for the Wisconsin Heavyweight Championship in a Mineral Point match on March 20, 1883. Moving to Madison in 1885, he later went on to defeat several international wrestlers including Andre Christol, Tom Cannon and Matsada Sorakichi.
Defeating Joe Acton in Chicago, Illinois for the American Catch-as-Catch-can Championship on March 14, 1887, he later unified the World Catch-as-Catch-can and American Greco-Roman Championship in a best-of-five match against Ernest Roeber in New Orleans, Louisiana on March 3, 1893 (he also had defeated him for the "Collar and Elbow Championship" on May 18, 1890. After defending the title for over two years, Lewis lost the American Heavyweight Championship to Martin Burns, whom he had previously defeated in his debut match in 1886.
- Finishing moves
- Strangle Hold (Rear naked choke)
- Evan Lewis Ends (Fireman's carry fallen backwards into a spine-first slam)
Championships and accomplishments
- Catch wrestling
- World Catch-as-Catch-can Championship (1 time)
- American Catch-as-Catch-can Championship (1 time)
- Greco-Roman wrestling
- American Greco-Roman Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- Professional wrestling
- American Heavyweight Championship (1 time first)
- British World Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- Wisconsin Heavyweight Championship (1 time)