Was Abraham Lincoln really a champion wrestler?

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter can stake its heart out, because the real-life Lincoln kicked more butt than a bajillion brilliant fight scenes. As described in Lincoln's Last Trial, Honest Abe was a self-taught attorney who partly impressed his way to the presidency by using an almanac and his knack for tugging at heartstrings. He could reduce jurors to tears, and got teary-eyed himself during a murder case. Lincoln also earned a reputation for making men cry with his beastly wrestling ability. Even vampires probably knew not to cross him.

The better wrestler of Abe's nature

Smithsonian Magazine writes that during the 1860 Republican National Convention in Chicago, Abraham Lincoln's backers touted his background as a brawny backwoodsman. His cousin John Hanks brought a banner hung from two fence rails which read: "Abe Lincoln the Rail Splitter." The crown went "wild." Rail-omania didn't just run wild at the convention, though. Thanks to his backbreaking work as a rail splitter, Lincoln built up a freakish strength that enabled him to trounce men in wrestling matches.

Biographer Francis Fisher Browne paints an impressive portrait of the rail-splitter-in-chief: "In muscular power he was one in a thousand." A thrilling example of Lincoln's badassery happened when he was working as a store clerk in Illinois, and locked horns with Jack Armstrong, who was "strong as an ox" and billed as unbeatable in his neck of the woods. When Armstrong tried to cheat, an angered Lincoln "seized the bully by the neck and holding him at arm's length shook him like a little boy." Armstrong realized that Lincoln's arms were stronger, and embraced the better wrestler as a friend.

Abe Lincoln: splitter of rails and spitter of trash talk

Abraham Lincoln walked the walk, talked the trash, and occasionally tossed men like garbage. All three transpired during his first ever political speech, when he saw a supporter getting attacked. As historian David Herbert Donald describes, Lincoln "strode into the audience, seized the assailant by the neck and the seat of his trousers, and, as one witness remembered, threw him twelve feet away."

Lincoln also put his oratorical talents to good use during confrontations. Sports Illustrated calls him a "world-class trash talker." For instance, when he defeated a foe with a single throw and found himself confronted by a mob, Lincoln deflated their puffed-up chests with a challenge: "Any of you want to try it, come on and whet your horns!" Evidently more likely to wet their pants, they didn't dare face him. 

Only one man on record had what it took to best Lincoln. During the Black Hawk War, Hank Thompson defeated the future sixteenth president in the regimental championship. Lincoln may have lost that battle, but he went on to win the Civil War.