According to several papers Bauer was born in 1847 in Alsace, France. At present his history prior to arriving in America is almost completely unknown. Historians have speculated that it was actually Bauer who was the Masked Wrestler, if this is true, and the papers have his date of birth correct he would have been just twenty years old at the time, which would make it all the more impressive. It was also stated in American newspapers that Bauer had been trained to wrestle since he was just a small child due to his father also being a professional wrestler.
All that is known other than that is that after showing up in America it was said he was unbeaten in wrestling and had toured both England and Germany. He was also billed as the champion of France. He arrived in late May or early June 1874 on the Pacific coast, settling in San Francisco, California. Shortly after his arrival he had his first match against a Mr. Gerichten on July 2. Bauer won the bout at Platt's Hall.
Fans were surprised and convinced of Bauer's legitimacy as a competitor. For the next few months he defeated anyone who stepped in front of him. Then on November 14 of the same year his first match of great significance took place. Rumor is his opponent was specifically chosen and brought to America to face the unbeatable Bauer, however, the fact Bauer had been in the country only a few months and not faced any big names, this seems highly unlikely. Professor William Miller who was his opponent was a known all-round sportsman and traveled the globe for competition.
They put on what is described as a highly intense and exciting contest showing all the tricks of the trade of the Roman gladiator style of wrestling. In the end the two came to a draw after wrestling for a long time with neither getting the advantage, although both had scored one fall each. They agreed to face each other again on December 8, 1874 in Platt's Hall.
The first match was said to have draw a large audience, this second match attracted 1,200 fans to the contest. Bauer who was being referred to as "The French Milo" defeated Miller two falls to one in one hour and sixteen minutes. With this he claimed the Pacific Coast Championship which appears over time to evolve into the American Graeco-Roman Championship.
What was not immediately apparent was the fact that with these two matches not only was a lot of money made, but a long-lasting partnership had also been struck-up between the two wrestlers. Knowing that both men had toured England, it's worth wondering had they run into each other before and that's why Miller arrived a few months after Bauer in a pre-arranged agreement? We'll probably never know, but certainly it is worth pondering.
The two would often appear on the same show on the west coast for the next five months. Eventually they were run out of California though. On May 28, 1875 they met in the Palace Amphitheatre located within San Francisco again for the championship, this time it was three out of five falls. After both men had scored two falls each the referee called an end to proceedings in the fifth fall. He declared it was clear the men were working together and the whole thing was totally fixed.
Soon after they were barred from the Olympic Club, the most prestigious athletic club in San Francisco and word spread across the west coast of how they had been working together all along. At this point in time it appears the pair briefly part ways as Bauer headed up to New York and had a big match against Andre Christol in November of that year at an event called the "Grand Gladitorial Tournament."
Miller and Bauer met up again in Baltimore, Maryland on June 15, 1876 and went to a three hour draw at Ford's Opera House. Again on August 29, 1876 the two met again on August 29, 1876 in Cincinnati, Ohio. This night saw Bauer win the World Graeco-Roman Championship from Miller in front of a packed house at Wood's Theatre.
The Graeco-Roman title lineage is not great for this period of time, whether both men, Miller and Bauer, were claiming the championship and just taking it in turns in various cities or if there are just missing title changes, it is not clear. Either way, every time they met the title was on the line. The two didn't make it to New York until March 20, 1877 when they wrestled to a draw after seven hours and thirty minutes.
That performance was repeated on June 30 of the same year and was stopped by the police at midnight after two hours of wrestling due to the "Sunday law." New York was also the location of that contest. By that time New York was on to their game too. The pattern still continued all over the Northeast though for the rest of the year and even with the negative press, they had no problem in filling venues.
During 1878 Bauer and Miller traveled to Cuba together for a tour. When he returned to America there was a new exponent of Graeco-Roman wrestling, a man by the name of William Muldoon. The young wrestler had just been an upcoming star before Bauer left, on his return in 1879, Muldoon was anxious to face the Professor.
January 19, 1880 at Madison Square Garden in Manhattan, New York Bauer and Muldoon squared off. 4,000 fans watched the match in which their American hero defeated the Frenchman with two falls to his one and with it claimed the American/World Graeco-Roman Championship. Muldoon would beat Bauer several times over the several years. .
By 1883 it seemed as though Bauer was coming up to the end of his career, he lost to Muldoon again on January 27 in St. Louis, Missouri, they did draw what was said to be the largest crowd ever in that city. He then lost again on February 7, this time to Clarence Whistler, a man on the fast track to the top of the wrestling world. He then lost two consecutive matches to Duncan C. Ross, one on February 17 and one on February 22. These were to determine a new Graeco-Roman champion. Both took place in Jacksonville, Florida.
When he defeated Duncan C. Ross on March 18 to pick the championship back up, it looked as though his stock was picking back up, even though it was reported Bauer lost two teeth during the encounter. T'was not to be though as on May 1 he lost a handicap to Muldoon and after seven months of build, Muldoon regained his title from Bauer on December 29 in a three hour long contest. Soon after he was ready to start the road to retirement.
After he wrapped up his career he was said to be the "emperor of the tenderloins" in the San Francisco area as he had also invested his money from wrestling into property. It's said he was picking up over $1,000 per month in rent. During the year of 1900 his name was briefly in the news again as a woman came to America from France where she had visited Bauer's mother and saw a picture of him, she was convinced it was her husband who abandoned her. Once in America it was declared in a court of law that Bauer never knew this woman and that she appeared to be nothing more than a swindler.
Sadly with his fortunes it seems he turned to drinking. By the time of his death he was being led around like a child due to the deterioration of his mind. Possibly he actually had some kind of mental illness as the papers refer to him as an "imbecile." He passed away at the beginning of January 1902. Although his obituaries are less than flattering because of his ways later on in life, it shouldn't take away from his impact on professional wrestling in North America.
After all he is one of the first athletes to be a well known fakir as they were called back then. He and Miller set the tone for hippodromes for years to come. Their style of wrestling may not have lasted long term in professional wrestling, their showmanship sure did though. If indeed Bauer was the Masked Wrestler of Paris then you also have that to add to his accolades, not to forget to mention the gym he had when he arrived where he trained pupils and then the knowledge that he surely passed on to Muldoon during their feud.
By Jimmy Wheeler
As unique content strictly for the Professional Wrestling Historical Society
Updated August 24, 2014 - Additional information about his childhood discovered.
Updated August 24, 2014 - Additional information about his childhood discovered.