The day John Wayne got punched
In 1916, Balzer Kriegel, at right with his sister, Marion, got into a fight with one Marion Morrison — aka John Wayne.
BROOKLYN, IOWA — So who beat up whom — Hollywood legend John Wayne or 8-year-old bully Balzer Kriegel?
Some of the details of the famed 1916 battle between Brooklyn, Iowa native John Wayne (born, Marion Morrison) and tough local farmboy Balzer Kriegel are not in dispute.
Back then, Wayne’s father owned the town’s pharmacy. One day, Kriegel and his father rode into town in a horse cart, and while the elder Kriegel went inside, Balzer stayed outside and struck up a conversation with the young Marion Morrison.
“What’s your name?” Kriegel asked.
“Marion,” the kid replied.
“Marion? That’s my sister’s name!” said Kriegel, who really did have a sister named Marion (and, it should be noted, didn’t have the most masculine of names himself). “You’ve got a girl’s name.”
What happened next is subject of substantial dispute. Some say Kriegel threw the first punch, others, like Kriegel’s niece, Doris Manatt, say the future “True Grit” star answered Kriegel’s insult with a fist to the face.
Either way, fisticuffs ensued, but no one knows for sure who came away victorious.
One fact is certain: It was Marion who later changed his name to the tougher-sounding “John Wayne.”
“I never heard who won the fight, so I’ve always assumed that John Wayne won,” Manatt told The Brooklyn Paper. “My uncle never claimed to have won.
“But it is the great story of our family, nonetheless,” Manatt said.