submitted by George Poulos on 28.10.2004
[Information supplied by son, Steve Samios.]
GEORGE SAMIOS, Champion wrestler.
George Samios was born on the Greek island of Kythera on 20th February 1916. His parents, Menas and Dimitra worked hard as subsistence farmers on Kythera to raise their 7 children.
To improve their economic position, Menas
travelled to Australia, following the initiative of some relatives and arrived into the port of Fremantle, Western Australia in 1900. He reputedly worked as a carrier and an oyster merchant. One by one, Menas arranged for his sons to migrate to Australia, with George arriving in 1930 to join his elder brothers, Peter, Spiro and Frank.
In Kythera, George attended primary school, at which he excelled. His parents sent him to high school in the capital of Hora but his times there were unhappy and was forced to live away from his home village. George's early years in Australia, like many young Greek migrants, were difficult and lonely. Not long after arriving in Australia, Menas returned to Greece leaving George with his elder brothers, who were pre-occupied working long hours in the family cafe located in High Street, Fremantle.
One night, after finishing his shift, George was walking the streets of the port town when he heard a commotion occurring in a hall. It was a boxing and wrestling competition held by the Naval Reserve. This marked the beginning of a lifelong passion for sport and wrestling in particular.
George Samios joined the Royal Australian Naval Reserve in 1935 as a cadet. He tried boxing but soon showed a preference for wrestling. He was known to have a natural aptitude on account of his natural strength and good constitution which could have been attributed to a Spartan childhood back in Kythera.
Working in the cafe, George developed unusually strong shoulder muscles by lifting large cans of water on and off the stove. All through his life he challenged men including Olympic Champions to a straight arm wrist wrestle but was always unbeaten. He trained hard in the gymnasium, developing a powerful physique as a teenager.
George Samios won state wrestling championships throughout the 1930's which included 1935 lightweight, 1936 middleweight and heavyweight titles, 1937 light heavy weight and 1938 middleweight champion.
With the onset of World War II , George joined the Australian Army. After serving as a signaller, and then military policeman, he was asked to became an instructor with the Western Command
Physical and Recreation Training School.
Given the rank of corporal, his duties involved the preparation of troops for unarmed combat. He remained the state light heavy weight champion through out the war years.
Regarded as a true amateur wrestler, George was never brutal, careful not injure or hurt his opponents. While lacking a real mentor and coach of his own, George was always willing to impart his knowledge to others in the sport.
Together with George Mann, he helped form the first Police Boys Club and his desire to help and teach others in wrestling never ceased.
In the late 1940's he met with American professional wrestler , George Londas who was known as "The Golden Greek". Discussing the possibility of turning professional, Samios, who owned two cafes south of Perth, was advised by Londas not to pursue it as he was already financially
In 1948 George Samios wrestled at the London Olympics representing his country of origin, Greece.
In the 1950's George Samios continued to dominate wrestling in W.A.winning the 1953 light heavy weight title, and both the middleweight and light heavy weight titles in 1954 and the light heavy title in 1956. He was state champion again in 1957 and in the same year was chosen to represent Australia in a 3 week wrestling competition tour of New Zealand.
He acted as an official at the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games wrestling competition and also as an official at the Perth Commonwealth Games in 1962.
Anactive participant in the administration of wrestling in Australia, George Samios was the wrestling team manager at the 1968 Mexico Olympics - the first West Australian to be selected for any Australian Olympic or Commonwealth Games wrestling team and the first in Australia to represent two countries. In 1970 he managed the Australian Team at the 1970 Junior World Championships in Tokyo. He
was honoured again in 1989, by heading the Australian team at the World Championships in Martigny, Switzerland.
George Samios established his own catering equipment and requisites business in 1950 known as Hotel & Cafe Supplies. George helped many fellow wrestlers, especially migrants, outside the wrestling mat and employed them wherever possible.
A proud family man, George was married
with 3 children. His son, Chris, followed in his father's footsteps, winning several state titles in the 1980's and taking an active role in coaching and administration.
George Samios dedicated himself to wrestling not only as a competitor, but as coach and mentor throughout his life. He was President of the W.A. Amateur Wrestling Association and a respected member on the board of the Australian
Wrestling Union Inc.for nearly 20 years until he suffered a serious work accident in 1990.
George Samios believed and embodied a philosophy of wrestling whereby the virtues of determination, strength, tenacity and fairness should not only be used to succeed on the mat but throughout one's life in general.
[A biography of George Samios was included in the 84th Annual Kytherian Ball Programme, page 63, to commemorate the year of the Olympics.
Biography from the Greek Australian Sports Hall of Fame
Article on groundbreaking Greeks, NAA
Manager 1968 Australian team, Mexico. Wrestling
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