In early 1943, observant Reykvíkingar might have seen a naked man running past their window and even, on occasion, climbing up trees. Sightings were mostly in southeastern parts of town, with spotters ideally situated in basement apartments with windows facing the street.
One such was a teenage girl living in Sjafnargata, close to the Leifur Eiriksson statue. At 9:30pm one evening, she saw the naked man on the street and did the only sensible thing, alerting the wrestler living upstairs. Said wrestler, with the imposing name of Vagn (Wagon) Jóhannesson, leapt into action and raced into the street, where he saw a man with his pants around his ankles and his shirt drawn up towards his chest.
As we can assume Vagn practised the Icelandic form of wrestling, this presented him with a problem, as the whole point of glíma is to grab people by the belt before throwing them down. Nevertheless, he gave chase while the naked man raced over garden walls and snow-filled streets. Finally, a struggle ensued, but the naked man held the advantage of giving his opponent little to hold on to.
Police arrived on the scene and finally apprehended the man, who by then had been subdued by the wrestler. He was taken into custody and found to be an American soldier, diagnosed as suffering from mental problems. Interestingly, he was arrested on February 14th, perhaps marking the first Valentine’s celebration in Iceland. To the press, he became known as the Reykjavík Tarzan.
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