VINCENT AUGUSTINE ZIZAK of South Camden played professional football and wrestled professionally in the 1930s. He was born Vincenzo Zizak on August 5, 1908 in New Jersey to Rocco Zizak and his wife, the former Pearl (Periena) Bresson, both natives of what was at the time the empire of Austria-Hungary. The 1910 census indicates that they were from the region then known as Dalmatia, and it is very probable that they were of Croatian or Slovenian descent. The Zizaks arrived in the United States in 1907. The family was living at 145 Cox Street, a small street that ran west from South 2nd Street toward Front Street below Chestnut Street. Rocco Zizak then worked as a general laborer. The family had moved to 1611 South 6th Street by June of 1917, when Rocco Zizak registered for the draft.
By January of 1920 and again when the census was taken in 1930, the Zizak family owned the house at 1813 South 6th Street in Camden's Eighth Ward. Rocco Zizak worked different tasks at a shipyard, most likely the New York Shipbuilding Corporation's yard, as a furnace man and later as a blacksmith's helper. Besides Vincent there were five younger children at home- Peter, Michael, Anthony, Mary, and John. Also at home was his maternal aunt, Mary Bresson.
After attending Villanova University in Villanova PA, Vince Zizak made his professional football debut in 1934 with the Chicago Bears. Listed as standing 5'8-1/2" tall and weighing 208 pounds, he played two games with the Bears before coming back east to the Philadelphia Eagles. Playing guard and tackle, Vince Zizak played 6 games with the Eagles in 1934, 4 in 1935, 10 in 1936, and 2 in 1937 before ending his NFL career. He went to the Rochester Tigers of the American Football League for the rest of the 1937 season. This appears to have ended his professional football career. Vince Zizak also wrestled professionally in the winter of 1936.
By 1947 only younger brother Tony Zizak still lived in Camden, at 1833 South 6th Street. Last a resident of Upper Darby PA, Vince Zizak passed away in August of 1973.
|Camden Courier-Post - February 11, 1936|
DUE AT ARMORY ARENA
A double-windup will feature this Thursday night's wrestling show here at the 114th Infantry Armory, it was announced yesterday by the drillshed promoters, Frank and Ray Hanly.
Hank Barber, former Dartmouth College all-around athlete, and Ed Don George, Michigan University alumnus, are scheduled to clash in the last half of the dual attraction, while George Koverly, Kansas City, Kansas, wildman, takes on the youthful Vic Christie of California. in the first half of the double-feature.
Both bouts are limited to 60 minutes, one fall to decide each skirmish.
Three 30-minute time-limit tussles, each to be decided by one fall, complete the card. Little Beaver of Denver, Colorado, faces Ivan Managoff of Russia: Joey Campbell of Utica, N. Y., takes on Tony Colesano of Springfield, Massachusetts, and Vince Zizac, South Camden product, goes to the mat with Jack Hader of Kansas City, Missouri.
|Camden Courier-Post - February 14, 1936|
and Koverly Triumph in Double Wrestling Feature at Armory
Ed Don George, former world's heavyweight champion, and George Koverly, Kansas wildman, came through with victories in the double-windup last night at the 114th Infantry Armory before 2000 spectators.
Prior to the start of the double feature, the four contestants entered the ring and a coin was tossed to decide which match would become the final. As a result Koverly and "Irish Jack" Donovan won the toss and went on last with George and Hank Barber, of New York, taking the semi-windup spot.
Barber Concedes Fall
George scored the lone fall of the match, which was a scheduled 60-minute time limit bout, one fall to win, in 33 minutes 19 seconds, with a hammer lock, Barber conceding the fall. However, George was lucky to beat the Georgetown alumnus, Barber injured his left shoulder when he missed a flying tackle and hit one of the ring posts a few seconds before the finish.
After Barber had been injured, George went to work, on Hank's shoulder and soon subdued him with a punishing hammer lock the Jewish youngster holding out only a minute before conceding the fall.
Barber outsmarted George during the life of the bout and had him on the defensive until he missed the fatal, flying tackle.
Koverly Throws Donovan
George Koverly, 215, of Kansas City, Kansas, flattened Irish Jack Donovan, 223, of Boston, in 15 minutes, 34 seconds with a flying tackle and body press in the second half of the double-windup.
It was a slow match with Donovan forcing the issue, when Koverly caught him from the rear with a flying tackle to end the bout. Donovan entered the ring with a patch on his lower lip to protect a gash, which he suffered in a bout last Tuesday night' and which took seven stitches to close.
Koverly, a real "badman," laid off the injury, confining his punches to Donovan's body.
Managoff Pins Little Beaver
Making his first start here, Ivan Managoff, 220, of California, measured off Little Beaver, 222, of Oklahoma, in 17 minutes 24 seconds, with a body slam and press in the third bout.
Beaver used his knees and fists to good advantage, but went down under a terrific forearm attack and a series of body slams. It was a fast, hard fought battle.
In a real clever duel, Joe Campbell, 207, of Utica, N. Y., and John Swenski, 200, former Boston College all around star, grappled to a 30 minute draw in the second fuss.
The scuffle moved along orthodox lines for the first 20 minutes, but they started throwing forearm blows and fists to offset their fine work earlier in the bout.
Vince Zizac, 205, of South Camden, suffered his first setback here from the hands of Jack Hader, 210, of Kansas City, Kansas, after 11 minutes 12 seconds of wrestling in the opening bout. Hader employed five body slams and followed with a press to spread-eagle the popular local star.
Camden Courier-Post - February 14, 1936
LEROY "REDS" SMITH, astute coach of the Trenton High Bengals, will not tolerate dreaming when his club is in action, .. He called upon a sub in the fuss against Camden High, and when the player made a move towards the referee instead of reporting to the scorer, "Reds" immediately recalled him. It was his son.... Jack Reynolds, of Haddonfield, former Cincinnati newspaperman, departed yesterday for Puerto Rico for a month's vacation with the Cincinnati Reds ... Ralph Patterson, who starred for Pennsauken, and Claude Maxwell, of the Oaklyn Club, have been admitted to the Independent Umpires' Association.
* * *
Vince Zizac, Camden's contribution to the. wrestling fraternity, whacks the handball without gloves just as hard as the next player ... The veteran Fergie McGrath uses special padding in practice, and "Dutch" Goodwin, former Pitman High athlete, wishes that the game were played with paddles ... Phil Brooks, athletic director of Camden High, isn't a bit bashful. When he sends his swimming team through a workout at the Y. M. C. A. tank, Phil doffs his clothing and takes an active part in the proceedings.
* * *
SCHULTZ Is one of the most accurate shooters on the Camden police
force and is able to hit the bull's-eye almost at will ... Mike Lynch,
High and Celtics
basketball star, has practically forsaken sports and spends most of
his spare time coddling his year-old daughter, Catherine ... Three
brothers from Ocean City, John, Lon and Fenton Carey, are making
athletic history at the University of Delaware ... John swims, plays
football and stars in track; Lon is also a gridder and runner, while
Fenton plays baseball and tennis ... Another Ocean City youth, Olaf
Drozdov, is a football and track star at the same institution..... Dr.
William Scheffler, local medico, at one time held the German A.A.U.
50- and 100-meter swim records
... Today, nearing his 50th milestone, "Doc" boasts a physique
of a person half his age ... Charley Rogers, erstwhile Camden
athlete and football coach at the University of Delaware, is a stock
and bond salesman for a leading Philadelphia concern ... Frank
McFadden, former Camden
track star, is coaching his brothers, John and Paul who also are star
runners at the local institution.
"Chamby" Davis, former Haddon Heights boy, is a consistent pointscorer for the Indiana University swimming team ... Walter Hadke, who captained the footballers in his senior year at Camden High, is making a name for himself at William and Mary College ... Football and wrestling are his favorite, sports and he also is a fine student ... Merchantville High's new band gave a fine musical presentation at the doubleheader held at the Convention Hall on Wednesday ... It is one of the largest school bands in the state. Camden High's basketeers have not beaten a first-class team this season, and Mitch Mozeleski has his guns out, for Emerson High tomorrow night in an attempt to break the ice ... Ed Lobley, former Penn star and present coach of Woodrow Wilson's dribblers, will don a basketball suit in the preliminary game between the coaches and the referees.
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