Ben Roller

Ben Roller

Ben Roller c. 1911
Date of birth July 1, 1876 (1876-07)
Place of birth Newman, Illinois, U.S.
Date of death April 19, 1933 (1933-04-20) (age 57)[1]
Career information
Position(s) Guard
Height 6 ft 0 in (183 cm)
Weight 200 lb (91 kg)
College Purdue, De Pauw
Career history
As coach
1902 Philadelphia Phillies
As player
1898–1899 Pittsburgh Athletic Club
1900 Duquesne C. & A. C.
1901 Philadelphia Athletic Club
1902 Philadelphia Phillies
1902 "New York"
1903 Syracuse Athletic Club
1903 Franklin Athletic Club
Career highlights and awards

Benjamin Franklin "Ben" Roller (July 1, 1876 – April 19, 1933) was a physician, a professional wrestler and a football player.[2]


Early life

Roller was born in Newman, Illinois,.[3] where he grew up on his family's farm. As a boy on the farm, Roller dreamed of becoming a doctor. His mother encouraged him to attend college, while his father felt that every man should make his own way, picking up his education by experience.

He attended college at De Pauw University, after his mother, a former school teacher, helped him prepare for the entrance examination. Due to the family's lack of money, Ben worked at a dry goods store, pulling nails for 15 cents an hour. He used the money to buy new clothes for attending school. Upon arriving at De Pauw, Roller started a gym class, that began his athletic career in football and wrestling. He was the runt in his family of six, at 6'0 and 200 pounds.[2] He soon became the captain of the school's football and track teams.[4]

Roller in 1905

Upon graduation from De Pauw, Roller attended the University of Pennsylvania. With a lack of money for college, he soon began to play football at the professional ranks.[2]

Pro football career

He played pro football for the Pittsburgh Athletic Club,[5] Duquesne Country and Athletic Club,[2] Philadelphia Athletic Club[6] and was later a player-coach with the Philadelphia Phillies of the first National Football League.[7] In December 1902, he played for the "New York" team during the World Series of Football.[8] In 1903, he played with the Franklin Athletic Club[9] and won his return trip to the World Series of Football with that team. He began the 1903 season with Syracuse Athletic Club.[8]

He also played on several of the Penn college teams and won the "university championship" in his second and fourth years, however he never played for the varsity because of a four-year rule.[2]


After graduating from Penn, Roller assisted Dr. Barton Cooke, a professor at the medical school, in writing a textbook. He decided to accept a position as professor of physiology at the University of Washington. He also served as the supervisor to the school's athletics and as an advisor to the Seattle Athletic Club. After 2 years with the school, he decided to open an office. He also worked as a land speculator and acquired wealth up until the Panic of 1907.[2]

Wrestling career

Ben Roller
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s) Doc Roller
Dr. Benjamin Roller
Dr. B.F. Roller
Dr. Roller
Billed height 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
Billed weight 200 lb (91 kg)
Debut 1906
Retired 1918

He later resigned that position in 1906 to become a full-time wrestler. Roller’s first professional match was against Jack Carkeek. Roller won two falls in a period of 17 minutes and received $1,600. After that, he started having matches around the Northwest, under the names Dr. Roller, Dr. Benjamin Roller, Dr. B.F. Roller, and Doc Roller.[4] He next wrestled Frank Gotch in an exhibition match, for which he received $4,000. After the bout with Gotch, Roller decided to use wrestling as tool for traveling the world and studying under the noted professors in both the United States and Europe. Over the span of his career, Roller defeated many of the top wrestlers of his day. These wrestlers included Farmer Burns, Fred Beell, Ed Lewis, and Joe Stecher, who was managed by Gotch.[2] From 1906–1918, Roller posted a record of 39 wins, 26 losses, and 4 draws in 69 matches.[10]


Benjamin Franklin Roller in 1916

Roller died of pneumonia on April 19, 1933 at the age of 57.[3]

Championships and accomplishments


  1. "Dr. Roller, Famed Wrestler, is Dead". Classic Wrestling Articles. Retrieved 16 August 2015.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 "Roller to Retire from Wrestling". New York Times. July 4, 1915. An unusual niche in the world of professional wrestling is that occupied by Dr. Benjamin Franklin Roller, American heavyweight champion. This physician and college graduate will tell you he had two reasons for becoming a professional wrestler. First, he liked the sport; second, he saw in it the way to physical perfection.
  3. 1 2 "Famous Wrestler Dies". Associated Press in the Lawrence Journal-World. April 21, 1933. p. 3.
  4. 1 2 "Dr. B.F. Roller". Retrieved April 2, 2012.
  5. PFRA Research. "Stars Over All-Stars" (PDF) (Annual). Professional Football Researchers Association: 1–5. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-11-26.
  6. PFRA Research. "And Yet Again" (PDF) (Annual). Professional Football Researchers Association: 1. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-09-29.
  7. Carroll, Bob (1980). "Dave Berry and the Philadelphia Story" (PDF). Coffin Corner. Professional Football Researchers Association. 2 (Annual): 1–9. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-12-15.
  8. 1 2 Carroll, Bob (1980). "The First Football World Series" (PDF). Coffin Corner. Professional Football Researchers Association. 2 (Annual): 1–8. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-12-15.
  9. PFRA Research. "Franklins Hired Guns: 1903" (PDF). Coffin Corner. Professional Football Researchers Association (Annual): 4–8. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-12-15.
  10. "Benjamin Roller". Retrieved April 2, 2012.
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