MSWA’s Johnny Eareckson Memorial Award


The Johnny K. Eareckson Memorial Award is presented annually by the Maryland State Wrestling Association to exceptional individuals who have demonstrated the qualities of inspiration and distinguished service to the Maryland wrestling community as exemplified by Johnny Eareckson.

For 60 years, Johnny Eareckson stimulated the growth of wrestling at the Baltimore YMCA and along the Eastern seaboard.  His efforts spanned the country and even crossed national borders.

He had only six years of schooling, but Eareckson coached at two prep schools, the University of Baltimore, and was the financial and spiritual leader of YMCA wrestling for decades.  He participated in wrestling, tumbling, diving, gymnastics and rodeos, and was an accomplished oil painter and designer of houses.  He founded the Maryland Horsemen’s Association, and for 30-plus years led a boys Drum and Bugle Corps.

Eareckson wrestled for the Baltimore Y until the age of 58, from 135 pounds through heavyweight, wherever his team needed him.  He was National AAU champion in 1929, placed second five times and third three times.  He won four National YMCA crowns and 17 South Atlantic wrestling titles.

Starting in 1919, Eareckson owned various businesses involving power tools, industrial supplies and floor coverings.  In 1922, he bought a model-T truck for his flooring business and packed so many wrestlers inside that he had to holler “Shift!” at corners, so they wouldn’t break the springs.  He bought a bigger truck, and in 1933 hauled 15 wrestlers to Chicago for the nationals, with the two smallest riding on the roof.

He also took the truck to Mexico and to other faraway locations.  “Every wrestler in the country came to know that truck,” said one Maryland governor.  Eareckson put on exhibitions everywhere, including his signature phantom match against an invisible “Joe Ghost.”

Basically, what he did for half a century was wrestle, coach, raise funds, organize trips, furnish transportation, open his home to team members, and provide inspiration, humor and a zest for wrestling.

For his enthusiasm, his love of the sport, and his positive force in the lives of countless young Americans, John King Eareckson was honored as a Distinguished Member of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 1996.

(Biography adapted from the National Wrestling Hall of Fame)




  • Alan Meltzer
  • Bill Hendrix
  • Bob Christin, pictured above, 2014 Award Winner
  • Dean Cox
  • Elmer Bright*
  • Vernon Cronhardt*
  • Marshall Dauberman
  • Haswell M. Franklin
  • Bruce Gabrielson
  • Tom Gaylin
  • Bill Hastings
  • Lloyd Keaser
  • Ed Kelly
  • Sully Krouse*
  • Doug Lee*
  • John Lowe
  • Matt Malinowski
  • Mike Malinowski
  • Ed Masood
  • John McNelis*
  • Robert McNelis*
  • Irvin Naylor
  • Ray Oliver
  • Ed Peery*
  • Guy Pritzker
  • Ed Russell
  • Greg Slick
  • Dick Slutsky
  • Dan Zottarelli

* deceased

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