Tragic End for Mat Stars
article first appeared in the March 21, 1964 edition of The Body Press.
Wrestling generally is
in a healthy condition. Many cities are having record high gates (sic) receipts. In spite
of this there are two tragic exceptions: Chicago
Fred Kohler is
the wrestling promoter in Chicago and his story of rags to riches and back again to rags
is almost unbelievable. Two years ago he thrilled and excited the wrestling world by
drawing the record gates of $145,000 for a match between Buddy
Rogers and Pat
OConnor. Last week he drew little more than 2,000 people in the Chicago
Amphitheatre (sic) which seats 12,000.
was born in Chicago. His father was a saloon keeper. Kohler became a wrestler but soon
started promoting. He competed with the entrenched wrestling czar, Ed White.
He delighted the Chicago
audiences by using junior heavyweight wrestlers. Soon White was out of business. Kohler
suddenly zoomed to the heights when his show at the Marigold Arena was telecast
into 65 cities on the DuMont network. Promoters in the 65 cities flocked to Chicago
to secure the services of the wrestlers appearing on the network show.
Kohler soon had a vast
stable of wrestlers. He booked them for a handsome booking fee all over the East and
Midwestern United States. He took a management fee from the wrestlers and a booking fee
from the promoters. He also derived a handsome sum from the DuMont network and his
wrestling in Chicago prospered beyond his fondest dreams. Kohler is estimated to have made
$300,000 to half a million dollars a year all through the 1950s.
He sold wrestling
calendars and wrestlers photos over the network and the money from the 65 cities
used to be delivered to his offices in dozens and dozens of stuffed mail bags daily. With
this great wealth and power, Fred Kohler was the greatest czar ever known in wrestling.
He lived like a movie
star. His office was almost impossible to get into. He was walled off from the wrestlers
and the promoters by a solid wall of sycophants and stooges.
When he walked into the
dressing rooms of wrestlers at his matches, he never glanced to the left or right and
hardly ever acknowledged the presence of the grapplers. Like all dictators he only
listened to pleasant news, refused to develop new stars and finally when his television
contracts expired and his business approached bankruptcy, he took the fatal step of
signing Jack Pfefer to be his matchmaker. Pfefer gleefully imported the craziest
collection of freaks with childish imitation names of the great stars into the Chicago
area and that lasted almost a year.
floundering now. His promotion is up for sale. Dick
the Bruiser and Wilbur
Snyder have toyed with the idea of buying Kohler out, but after weeks of
negotiating apparently the deal is off.
tragic crash is the story of Eddie Quinn of Montreal. Quinn started promoting
wrestling in his hometown, Waltham, Massachusetts. He was a carpenters helper and
had been called in to repair a wrestling ring. This started him into the game and for
several years he managed Yvon Roberte (sic).
twenty years ago, Quinn moved to Montreal and promoted matches at the Forum. He also
promoted in 35 to 40 other towns in the Province of Quebec. When business was at its
height the Canadian Broadcasting Company gave him $4,000 per week for the privilege of
telecasting his matches the length and breadth of Canada.
This went on for almost a decade. Quinn never made less than a quarter of a million
dollars a year and often much more.
money like it was going out of style. Each winter he would go to Miami. While there he had
his secretary phone him from Montreal and read the ENTIRE contents of the Montreal
newspapers to him over the phone. Quinn had the largest phone bill in the Province of
Quebec for an individual.
He issued his phone
credit cards to his friends as gifts. When he was a partner in the promotion in Boston in
1957, he shocked his partners by always turning in an expense account of $1,200 to $1,500
for a three-day stop at the Sheraton Copley hotel. His transportation was $400 for the
round trip by train, Montreal to Boston. He actually spent this money. He was always
surrounded by a large crowds of stooges who ate, drank, dressed themselves and phoned at
Quinn became so
swollen with his own ego he too departed from reality and lived in a dream world. He
seldom attended the matches. He ignored the wrestlers and soon lost all idea of what the
public wanted to see. With bad business, his health suffered. He had several strokes. He
is almost completely out of the wrestling business.
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