Posted on Wednesday, November 1st, 2017 by John Wood
Dr. Benjamin Franklin “B.F.” Roller was an early catch wrestler who sparred with the likes of Frank Gotch, George Hackenschmidt, The Great Gama, and Stanislaus Zbyszko. Aside from wrestling, Roller was a great athlete in other sports, captaining the football and track teams at DePauw University where he attended in the late 1800’s. Roller briefly held the world record in the discus.
Roller was actually a legitimate Doctor having graduated from medical school at the University of Pennsylvania. Roller played a bit of professional football to pay the bills after that but eventually accepted a professorship at the University of Washington. Shortly after, in a rather interesting twist, he instead chose to chase fame and fortune — mostly fortune — as a professional wrestler.. Roller’s first professional match was against Jack Carkeek whom he defeated in two falls after 17 minutes and for which he received $1600 which was a rather princely sum in the early 20th century.
Roller was a very good (but not great) wrestler although he did win his fair share of matches, and held the American Heavyweight title on three occasions. Roller wrestled the likes of Farmer Burns, Fred Beell, Raymond Cazeaux, Hjalmar Lundin, Raoul Le Boucher, George Lurich, Jim Londos, Ed Lewis, and Joe Stecher (among others.) Eventually he became a training partner for George Hackenschmidt during the time Hack famously tussled with Frank Gotch.
In the years after, Roller wrote a syndicated column for newspapers around the country on health and physical culture topics and even came up with his own training system dubbed “Rollerism.”