THE NEW WAWLI (Wrestling As We Liked It) Papers No.41-2001
MEMOIRS OF A PROMOTER
(Ring Magazine, May, 1930)
By Jack Curley, as told to Frank Graham
. . . Even among some of my friends there lingers an impression that I was born in Europe, but this isn’t so. Five years before my birth, my parents, who were Alasatians, fled to this country to escape reprisals after the Franco-Prussian war, for the end of the war found Strassburg, which was their home, a part of the German Empire and their sympathies had lain with France. Arriving in New York, my parents proceeded almost without delay to San Francisco, where they had relatives and there, on July 4, 1876, I was born.
The haven which they had sought did not meet with my mother’s expectations and this, combined with her homesickness, caused my father to take us – my mother and three children – back to Europe. My father feared to return to Alsace but sent us there to live with relatives.
He spent a brief time in Paris and then came back to this country, settling once more in San Francisco. When I was about thirteen and a pupil in a school in the Vosges, about twenty kilometers from Strassburg, Dad sent for us and we rejoined him. I completed my elementary schooling at Lincoln School and entered a business college with the intention of becoming a merchant.
The intention was not lasting, for I was caught and held by the glamour of the streets and the life that seethed about them. The business school, so attractive to me in the beginning, became dull and I quit it to become a copy boy in the office of the San Francisco Chronicle . . .
At that time George La Blanche, the Marine, who had knocked out Jack Dempsey, the Nonpareil, with the celebrated pivot blow, kept a saloon and shooting gallery on Market Street. I had played hookie from the Lincoln School to see that fight at the old California Athletic Club (August 27, 1889) and had conceived a tremendous admiration for La Blanche for I had given no heed to the illegality of the blow and was impressed only with the fact that he had knocked out the great Dempsey. Having lost my job on the Chronicle (on the ground that there was no room on the paper for a "romancer" such as I), I frequented La Blanche’s place, and he put me to work in the shooting gallery.
There I was employed when, just prior to the opening of the world’s fair in Chicago (1893), tales of the wonders of that city drifted out to the Coast and found a responsive listener in me. I was sixteen years old now, big and strong and very sure of myself and, leaving home one night, I set out for Chicago. I worked my way when I could, paying my fare when I had to and stealing rides on freight and passenger trains when the opportunity presented itself.
Chicago, during the fair, was a boom town for youthful adventurers like myself. Work was plentiful, fun was to be had cheaply. I slipped easily from job to job, saw the fair exactly twice, made friends among the sporting fraternity and thoroughly enjoyed myself.
The bottom fell out of this pleasant existence with the closing of the fair. Work became scarce and thousands of men and boys were thrown out of jobs. My first thought was to find a place on one of the newspapers, but the best I could do was to get occasional assignments from Dunlap’s Dispatch, an afternoon newspaper . . . (and) as newspaper assignments fell off, I tramped the streets, slept in shreds and alleys and often suffered from hunger . . . I got a job washing dishes in a cheap restaurant . . . the pay was almost nothing but I got my meals free.
In September of 1893, by which time the situation had improved somewhat, I met a man who was to have a direct influence on my career as a promoter. This was P.J. (Paddy) Carroll, of Logansport, Ind., manager of Jack Burke, the Irish lad who had fought a six-round bout with Jim Corbett in San Francisco a couple of years before (ED. NOTE – It was an eight-round draw, fought Aug. 27, 1887), and had been a persistent challenger of John L. Sullivan until Corbett had beaten Sullivan at New Orleans. Carroll, at the time I met him, was running the Pelican A.C. on State Street near Twenty-third and he employed me to act as a second for the fighters and to help him as best I could in the conduct of the club . . .
Carroll had no small measure of ability as a promoter but he was lazy, and, as time wore on, he left many of the details of the management of the club to me. Had he paid stricter attention to his affairs, my connection with him would not have yielded me much but, thrown largely on my own, I learned a great deal about the business to which I was to devote my life. I made matches, handled all arrangements with the fighters and their managers, got out what little publicity we could command and virtually staged the shows.
Then, breaking sharply in on my new found prosperity, came the great railroad strike in June of 1894. The depression accompanying the strike compelled Carroll to close up temporarily and I again had to depend chiefly on the scattered assignments I could get from the Dispatch for a living.
A SEPARATION – MAYBE FOR KEEPS
(San Francisco Chronicle, Thursday, October 27, 1938)
The royal romance of Princess Baba and wrestler Bob Gregory has gone adrift.
The Chronicle learned exclusively yesterday that the outcast daughter of the White Rajah of Sarawak will leave for England Saturday.
Confirmation of the rift came last night from the handsome Gable of Grapple himself.
"Yes, we’re going to separate – temporarily, we hope," Gregory said just before he entered the ring at Olympic Auditorium at Los Angeles for a match with Shuniki Shikuma," according to Associated Press dispatches.
"Princess Baba thinks she can gain more success in motion pictures in London. We hope there will be a reconciliation soon. There are no hard feelings, but the princess is disappointed at not getting a contract here in Hollywood. She’s very independent. She sails on the Manhattan from New York November 2."
The marriage of the wrestler and Valerie Brooke (that’s her English name) occurred in London, November 22, 1937. Her father, Sir Charles Vyner Brooke, is the ruler of Sarawak, a British protectorate in North Borneo. He and the princess’ mother, the wrestler said, are en route back to Sarawak from a visit in London with two other daughters, the Countess of Inchape and Mrs. Harry Hope.
Whether incessant prodding from her family had changed Princess Baba’s idea of marital bliss, she hasn’t said.
She wouldn’t come to the phone yesterday at the Gregory Santa Monica home. Gregory, doing the talking, admitted over the phone she was leaving for London, but withheld explanation until later.
While the couple were making their home on the Peninsula several months ago, they announced the expected birth of an heir.
"Sorry, old chap," said Gregory when prodded about the expected baby, "we have nothing to say."
THE WHITE RAJAHS OF SARAWAK
"The Rajah’s Return: The Brookes of Sarawak" might have stepped from the pages of a Conrad novel. The first and last English family to occupy an Oriental throne, they fought pirates and hostile sultans, pacified head-hunters and brought the white man’s law to their cruel, vibrantly beautiful land in northwest Borneo. The Brooke rajahs ruled their Kentucky-sized kingdom with the stern dignity of a Victorian paterfamilias, but with humanity and imagination as well; in the annals of colonialism, few dynasties have been so selflessly devoted to their subjects’ welfare. The first Brooke rajah was James, a wealthy, high-minded adventurer who sailed out from England to "rid the Malay Archipelago of barbarism." In Sarawak, he found his opportunity. For the Sultan of Brunei, he subdued a stubborn civil war between the Malays and the Dyaks. In gratitude for his services (plus $2,000 of Brooke’s cash), the oppressive Sultan in 1841 made him Rajah of Sarawak. Indifferent to crocodiles, boa constrictors and poisoned arrows, the white rajah lived only for his handsome, amiable people. In 1848, he was knighted by Her Britannic Majesty, and in 1864 Britain recognized his raj. He died a bachelor and in 1868 and was succeeded by his nephew, Charles, who ruled for 50 years. Ranee Pan, the rajah who brought Sarawak into the modern world, was Charles Brooke’s son, who took over in 1917. In the more humdrum world of the 20th century, witty, Cambridge-educated Sir Charles Vyner Brooke became even more of a legend than his predecessors. He issued his own stamps, flew his own flag, maintained his own army and police force. His Ranee was Sylvia Brett, the beautiful daughter of a viscount who, it was said, had been Sir James Barrie’s inspiration for Peter Pan. Another literary admirer was George Bernard Shaw. When Sylvia married the Rajah in 1911, he wrote: "Ride a cock horse to Sarawak Cross to see a young Ranee consumed with remorse. She’ll have bells on her fingers, and rings through her nose, and won’t be permitted to wear any clothes." The Brookes had three pretty daughters, who grew up in England and were known to every tabloid reader as Princess Gold, Princess Baba and Princess Pearl. At a glittering society wedding in 1933, Gold became Lady Inchcape, but Baba and Pearl were toasted in every pub when they were married: Baba to a wrestler, Pearl to a bandleader. Their father had little time for frivolity. A shrew, self-effacing administrator, Sir Charles traveled to the far corners of his land persuading tribal chiefs to end their wars and forswear head-hunting. When they protested that their enemies’ heads were needed to propitiate the gods, the Rajah ordered his English civil servants to stockpile mummified leftovers from previous wars and to lend them out to the villagers as needed. From his handsome riverside fortress in Kuching, he brought modest prosperity to the kingdom by exploiting its oil and rubber resources as well as diamonds, birds’ nests (for Chinese gourmets) and gutta-percha (for golf balls). In 1941, celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Brooke Raj, Sir Charles gave his people a constitution and set them on the road to self-government. That same year, however, Japanese forces occupied Sarawak. They ruled until surrendering to Australian troops in 1945.Contemplating war-ravaged Sarawak in 1946, Sir Charles sadly realized that his Raj had become an anachronism in the postwar world. Ceding Sarawak to Britain, he explained that his people would find "new hope in an era of widening enlightenment, stability and social progress." When Sir Charles retired to London, with a $2.8 million trust fund that will ultimately revert to Sarawak, the natives fought bitterly against British rule, even killed the second governor, who occupied the Brookes’ old place. The county has never recovered from the loss of its leader. When the Malaysian Federation came into existence, in 1963, strifetorn Sarawak was one of its states. The last white rajah did not live to see that day. Sir Charles Vyner died a few months before, at age 88. When the news reached Sarawak, the spirit-worshiping Dyaks rejoiced, for they knew that his soul would return to the stream-laced land of his fathers.
ARG-G-GH! IT TAKES ALL KINDS
(Quad-City Times, Sunday, December 10, 1989)
By Bill Wundram
This is to say that not everyone goes to the symphony, to a play or to the movies on a Quad-City night.
About 7,000 of them go to the rasslin’ matches, and their new heroine is a mean woman in black hose, a garter belt and a dress two sizes tight.
They go crazy for Scary Sherri, who gets billing as vicious as her mentor, "Macho King" Randy Savage. She is a screaming, explosive hunk of woman. Holy cow, she’s tough.
Let’s set the warmup scene at Moline Wharton Field House. Ravishing Rick Rude has just strutted into the ring in his silk robe. Everyone hates him, especially when he shouts into the microphone: "How would you Moline morons like to see a real he-man with real muscles?" Boos! Anyway, he is satisfyingly battered in a one-fall match by Rowdy Roddy Piper. Roddy wears a kilt, but that doesn’t seem to bother this macho crowd.
Now it’s time for the main wrestling event, Hacksaw Jim Duggan vs. "Macho King" Randy Savage. At Randy’s side is his ringside manager, "Sensational Queen Sherri." Scary Sherri banners wave; one fellow has a big Halloween witch with a sign, "We Love You Sherri."
I have had an evil fascination for Scary Sherri since watching her on World Wrestling Federation TV, the night when Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake was Pearl Harbored by Savage. Brutus was further humiliated when Sherri ran into the ring to cut his hair.
She is really a vixen. If an opponent gets tossed through the ropes, she gets a headlock, a crowdpleaser. Sometimes, she gets slammed flat, too – another certain crowd-screamer. She taunts opponents, pulls their hair and bites their ears when they get to the edge of the ring. It's awful. Opponents watch out for her purse, said to contain a heavy, lethal bar of solid lead.
She smacked Hacksaw Jim with it the other night and sent him to a demolishing loss.
I asked Sue Kilbey, a Moline policewoman who was keeping an eye on the dressing rooms, about Scary Sherri.
"You’d be surprised," she said. "She’s very polite, and quiet."
Yes, I was surprised.
THE NEW WAWLI (Wrestling As We Liked It) Papers No.42-2001
THE FIRST AMERICAN MASKED MAN
By Steve Yohe
During the last three months of 1915 and into 1916, a famous tournament was staged at the Manhattan Opera House in New York City. Due to the war in Europe many of the great wrestlers of the world came to America to participate. The Graeco-Roman world champ, Alexander Aberg, was one, as was Wladek Zbyszko. Ed "Strangler" Lewis' performance in the tournament made him a star.
But the wrestler who made the tournament a box-office success was a masked man going by the name of The Masked Marvel. Although there is a record of masked men in Europe, he is credited with being North America's first. I found this at the L.A. Sports Library:
NO DOUBTING THE FACT THAT MASKED MARVEL IS HENDERSON
(Brooklyn Daily Eagle, December 27, 1915)
Sensational Wonder of the International Wrestling Tournament is an American
Mat Artist, Who Was Born in Rochester of Scotch Parents--Has Been Staying at
the Hotel Victoria, in Manhattan--Once Trailed to the Crescent A. C. and Lost.
Possibly you may remember that on Dec. 16 THE EAGLE made the statement
that the Masked Marvel, who has been the life-saver of the International
wrestling show at the Manhattan Opera House, is Mort Henderson, a
Notwithstanding the statements that have been made by Ed Pollard,
Henderson's manager, and by others connected with the tournament, you can lay
your last dollar that the Marvel and Henderson are one and the same, and that
the idea of a masked mystery came from the brain of Charlie Cutler and Jack
Of course, the hero of "THAT FRENCHMAN," the novel written by Archibald
Clavering Gunter, 25 or more years ago, was the real inspiration of
the recent mystery. Since the days of "THAT FRENCHMAN" the trick has been
worked many times: in fact, there is a story going the rounds that Mark A.
Luescher is responsible for the Marvel.
You may remember that Luescher dressed La Belle Dazle up in a red domino
and sent her dancing around the country. According to the tale, Luescher
suggested a masked man to Ben Atwood, press agent for the wrestling show, and Cutler and Curley supplied the goods.
There is no doubting the fact that the Masked Mystery has been of the
greatest help to the tournament. His secret has been well kept. When he has
left the opera house, great care has been taken to see he has not been
followed. An enterprising Manhattan sporting editor had the Marvel followed
the other night and the trail led to the Crescent Athletic Club. The Marvel
got out of a taxicab at the Clinton Street entrance of the club, an entrance
that is used by employees. Undoubtedly he left by the main entrance.
However it was then impossible to pick up the trail. Recently, the Marvel
has been making his getaway on a motorcycle. It is said he has been stopping
at the Hotel Victoria in Manhattan.
Possibly you would like to know something more about Mort Henderson. He
is a American, born in Rochester, of Scotch parents. At sometime in his life
he has been a fireman, brakeman, policeman, pugilist and most everything that
requires strength. Also he is one of the best greatest mat artists that has
struck little old Manhattan in many a day.
Even if the mystery of the Marvel has been solved, there is no getting
away from the fact that he is a mighty good wrestler and one that will come
very near winning the principal prize in the big tournament. Tonight he will
meet Aberg in a finish match. It should be one of the greatest bouts seen in
Manhattan in years.
BRONKO NAGURSKI CITIZEN NOW
(Associated Press, December 12, 1938)
INTERNATIONAL FALLS, Minn. – Bronko Nagurski, the 230-pound former Minnesota All-America fullback, since turned wrestler, today became an American citizen.
The Big Bronk had spent all but a few weeks of his life in the United States, but the fact he was born just across the Canadian border near Rainy River barred him from enjoying privileges which the Bronk decided he could not do without.
He received his final papers today.
WRESTLERS STIR Q-C MOB INTO LATHER
(Quad-City Times, Wednesday, Dec. 12, 1984)
By Craig Cooper
Give us your tired, your wretched, your poor, your weak-minded, your infirm, your zombies yearning to see blood spilled. Charge them $6, $8 and $10 per seat, and you’ve got a pro wrestling crowd.
The crowd of 5,000 or so in Rock Island High School Fieldhouse this Monday night is a walking, breathing, sociology textbook. There appear to be even a few that the sociologists wouldn’t be able to stratify. On the spectrum of crowds, with the ballet crowd a 1 and the crowd that shows for a riot at 10, this is a solid 9.
"All we got here are wackos and wombats," says one of the dozen police officers on hand to keep the whole thing from getting out of hand.
"Look at this. This IS America," says a school official at least half seriously.
On hand are three teen-agers wearing Iranian headresses. They quickly work the crowd into a frothing, patriotic frenzy with Sousa march music playing over the loudspeaker.
There are young kids and middle-aged men dressed in combat fatigues, complete with the wide-brimmed "D.I." hats. They have come to see the flag-waving Sergeant Slaughter, who is a no-show.
Standing on their chairs at ringside are a well-dressed, affluent-looking couple who are laughing uncontrollably, not only at the action in the ring but also the action in the crowd. This is more fun than a Three Stooges video.
And more kids. The place is crawling with young kids who want autographs and older ones who want to heckle and throw paper cups at Nikolai Volkoff.
Then there are the people who believe they are watching real blood-and-guts action.
Wrestlers Moondog Rex and Moondog Spot, who both carry giant bones into the ring with them, are said to be from "parts unknown." That is somewhere between Mars and the Ozarks. From the looks of the crowd, Moondogs apparently have brought an entire busload of fans with them from "parts unknown."
Raven De La Croix, actress-producer-stripper who is engaged to wrestler Greg "The Hammer" Valentine, says that Rock Island’s paper cup and penny-throwing crowd is nothing compared to the guerrilla warfare in the big-city arenas.
"You have to wonder about the mentality of these people. Just look at them. This isn’t bad, though. In the bigger cities they carry knives and all sorts of things. Now, that’s scary."
One of the police officers shows a bolt, removed from a folding chair, that somehow ended up in the ring. The thought that even The Iron Sheik from Iran would catch a bolt in the head is frightening.
Of course, what would another knot be to that shaved head, which already has all the bumps, dips and scars of Interstate 80 in Illinois.
The wrestlers all use the same lockerroom, not even separate ones for the good guys and the villains. At the very least you’d think the free-worlders should be separated from the commies – Volkoff and the Sheik. They are all dressing together, though, and even after the most violent of matches all is forgotten until the next stop on the tour, which they travel to together.
"It’s like anything else. Some of the guys don’t like each other, but they are professionals," explains Raven, who is decked out in a pink sweater, black pants that look like they are so tight that they come off only with a crowbar, and pink suede boots. "In the ring it’s serious, though."
"I have taken Greg to the hospital more than just a few times to get stitches in his head. That’s usually after he gets hit with a chair."
Raven says The Sheik is "really a sweet man." Try convincing the mob of that.
"Nobody likes me because I hate America," says Volkoff quietly, with a distinctly Eastern block accent. "There is more crime in one day in an American city than there is in all of Russia in one year."
That kind of talk explains why Volkoff is one of the most hated men in professional wrestling. Like all good Russians, however, who are better capitalists than most capitalists, Volkoff knows a good thing when he sees one. Few in Russia make the coin he makes for just acting like our stereotype of The Ugly Russian.
Volkoff probably makes more in one month than most of his comrades make in a year. He even takes two months off a year; probably to go to Hawaii.
"Besides, could he be a good guy with that ugly face," laughs Valentine, Volkoff’s tag-team partner for the main event.
Volkoff claims he was the Olympic heavyweight champion at home in Moscow in 1980. The record books says Ilya Mate won the heavyweight gold in Moscow in 1980. Who is going to argue?
"Yes, I’ve heard of Dan Gable. He’s retired now," Volkoff said. He knows Gable, that’s good enough proof for me that he won in 1980.
The main event is over, and all the bad guys have lost. Every single one of them. The fans go away happy and refreshed.
The wrestlers pile into their rented Buick Regals in groups and drive back into Chicago for the next night’s card.
Rock Island, Illinois: Monday, December 10, 1984
(High School, att. 3,572) … Pat Patterson (sub for Jay Strongbow) beat Jerry Valiant … Bret Hart beat Moondog Spot … Angelo Mosca beat Moondog Rex … Tony Atlas beat David Shults … Blackjack Mulligan beat Iron Sheik … Blackjack Mulligan (sub for Sergeant Slaughter) and Tito Santana beat Greg Valentine and Nikolai Volkoff
(ED. NOTE: If you want to catch up on the latest from Raven De La Croix, aka Raven de Lumiere, check out her web site at: http://www.rantingsofamadwoman.com/delacroix . . . alas, it does not mention anything about Greg Valentine. I guess only Dr. Mike Lano – the man who knows EVERY thing -- would know if, indeed, anything ever came of their engagement.)
THE NEW WAWLI (Wrestling As We Liked It) Papers No.43-2001
MIGHTY IGOR AND THE QUEST FOR CERTITUDE
(The Kenyon Collegian, October 26, 1972)
By Will Morrisey
The gymnasium in Mt. Vernon’s Pleasant Street Junior High School lacks the proper atmosphere for professional wrestling. Brightly lit, clean, well-ventilated: the longtime fan misses the flattened orange drink containers, the obnoxious and greasy teen-aged popcorn vendors and the familiar stench of stale cigar smoke so characteristic of places like Cobo Hall in Detroit and the old Madison Square Garden. But, even with all their grimy magnificence, the old arenas, like the old idols, are falling, and when the wrestlers came into town a week ago yesterday night, they and their devotees were forced to adjust to what seemed an unusual sanctuary.
Most of the (approximately) 600 fans who filled the small gym to near capacity sought and found that sense of moral certitude only wrestling, with its easily identifiable heroes and villains, can offer. But for this reporter it was, above all, a night of ambiguity.
The opening ceremonies prefigured the metaphysical perplexities to come. A little girl (who was, perhaps, two and a half years old) wearing a spotless dress and a sparkling tiara, was introduced as "Little Miss Firecracker of 1972," the princess of the promotion, which was sponsored by the Safe Fourth of July Committee. Her last name was Clayborn. This, presiding over this night of (democratized) masque was a creation born of clay, yet possessed, as her title implied, with an explosive – indeed, promethean – light.
This microcosm returned to her ringside seat, followed almost immediately by Heather Feather, "the world’s largest female wrestler" – a macrocosm if ever there was one. Tom McCue, the master of ceremonies (imported from a small Episcopal college down the road, doubtless in order to lend the proceedings an aura of the August) announced Miss Feather’s weight as 367 pounds, many of which were contained in a frilly turn-of-the-century-style bathing suit. Her opponent, Tanya West, weighing in at a paltry 179, wore heavy eye makeup and came from Hollywood, so we knew she was decadent. And so she was: refusing to sign autographs, arguing with the referee and the fans, stomping on Heather. At one point, after Heather had hurled her against the ropes and flattened her on the rebound with a quick expansion of that sizeable stomach, Tanya got up groggily and blessed herself. The several hundred Protestants in attendance were not impressed. The match ended when Tanya was disqualified for grabbing her opponent by the throat and ignoring the ref’s orders to desist.
Ten wrestlers were supposed to appear in five matches but, for reasons never explained (probably having to do with the fact that the flat fee of $500 plus 40% of the gate which the group of performers received is more happily divided into a few large portions than many small ones), only seven showed up. One match was cancelled, but almost every wrestler was still forced to appear twice. So Heather and Tanya went back to their dressing room, but returned five minutes later to team up with Lou Klein and the Zebra Kid, respectively. The original Zebra Kid, one of the most famous masked wrestlers, died three years ago; his namesake was a rather sorry imitation. He and his partner were harassed from without by kids who threw pennies and crept up from behind to slap them (one enterprising Mt. Vernon youngster, in a triumph of small-town virtue over big city evil, scored a direct hit on Miss West’s decadent Hollywood posterior). In the ring, they were battered by their opponents, and met defeat when the Zebra Kid found himself on the bottom of a pile-up involving all four contestants and, with some 800 pounds on his chest, was counted out.
While one of the promoters, Mr. Hempfield, admonished the ringside customers for their mischief and the next two wrestlers approached the ring, Mr. Pitts (the photographer) and I walked back to the dressing room to ask for an interview with the Zebra Kid. We entered the dimly-lit room behind the bleachers. As we explained ourselves to the guard, the Kid stood leaning against a locker, his arms folded across his chest, his head moving up and down – looking us over. And even if he was a fraud trading off a dead man’s name, he still came up with the most memorable line of the evening. Glowering, he growled slowly out of the side of his mouth, "What didjuh have in mind?"
Hell, we didn’t come to proposition him.
"Uh, well, an interview . . ."
Lou Klein interceded. "Come on over here. I’ll tell you anything you want to know," which is wrestler talk for "I’ll tell you what I want you to know." He sat down on a wooden bench at the back of the room. I placed myself by him. I touched the keys in unison with his con-artist’s imagination. I wish you had heard that rinky melody. He was all insulsity. Watching over my shoulder to make sure I wrote everything down, he gave a detailed account of his early life; too bad he has no control over the contents of this article. He turned pro in 1941 (I would put his present age at about 52), simultaneously holding down a job at the Lincoln Motor Car Company in Detroit. During the ‘40s he worked for the USO, "putting on shows for the Gis – that’s how I kept out of the army." In 1956 he wrestled Billy Varga in Dayton for the junior heavyweight championship, a bout that lasted fourteen and one-half hours – "the longest match in history," he lied. Since he deemed to be the mouthpiece for this group of wrestlers, I asked him if they were his proteges. Dropping his voice (despite the fact that the three of us were alone in the dressing room), he intoned confidentially that many of them were, but – ahem – he didn’t think he should mention which ones. However, many stars who weren’t in Mt. Vernon, like Killer Kowalski and The Sheik, have benefited from Lou’s tutelage – "but don’t tell anyone I said that." His remarks gave the impression that he hadn’t done anything special in the last fifteen years. What he failed to mention was his successful alliance with Red Bastien in the early ‘60s; they were billed as the "Bastien Brothers." But the erstwhile "Lou Bastien" probably didn’t want us to think that there is too much gimmickry in his profession.
Suddenly, Lou jumped up excitedly. "Now, some people will tell you wrestling is a fake. They say, ‘Aw, that’s all faked.’" Well, Lou assured us that it’s just jealousy; men tell their sons the matches are fixed because they envy the wrestlers’ physiques. I tried not to glance at Lou’s own bulging abdomen. Besides, everybody fakes. "Take a guy who works in a factory; when the boss comes by he pretends to work harder." (Lou did a pantomine of a guy working hard.) "Take a student; when the teacher goes by, he pretends to work." (Lou did a pantomine of a student working.) "Take a little kid: when his parents want him to do something, he starts crying." (Lou did a pantomine of a little kid crying.) Indeeded, not only is fakery a human trait, but an integral part of Nature itself. "If you go hunting, and shoot a rabbit in the leg, you go over and pick it up, and what do you see?" Blood? No, "you see the rabbit playing dead. Same thing with a pheasant. Did you know that wrestling is the world’s second oldest sport? Pitts asked, "What’s the first oldest?" For a split second, Lou Klein’s fist clenched. Smart ass college kid. "Running," he answered smoothly; "a caveman would chase another caveman, and when he caught up, they’d wrestle."
Wrestling, then, the second most ancient sport, is real, and yet faked. And therefore real, as all Nature is a sham. As we were about to leave, Lou spread his arms grandly: "Well, fellas, now you have the whole story." And, in the one absolutely sincere statement of the twenty-minute interview, he concluded, "If you can make an article out of all that, you’re a born wrestler." Reader, was this not an interesting scene? Would a journey from Gambier to Mt. Vernon have been too much to obtain such a remarkable interview?
When we got back to our seats, Pitts told me that in one of the wrestlers’ suitcases, lying open on the floor, he noticed a copy of Any Woman Can. We’ve been pondering that one.
The Tex McKenzie/Killer Brooks match was winding up – another disqualification. Mr. Hempfield proclaimed a fifteen-minute intermission. My meditations on the Kleinian Paradox were interrupted by Bob Claster, a Kenyon student of some notoriety. "There’s a twelve-year-old girl sitting in the bleachers who knows everything about wrestling. Why don’t you interview her?" Perhaps, I thought, an interview with a younger person would dispel this suffocating pall of uncertainty – intimations of immortality, that sort of thing. We were introduced, and she turned out to be very intelligent and knowledgeable. A veteran fan (she said she was thirteen years old, not twelve) she had followed wrestling in Nebraska, Pennsylvania and now, Ohio. Her favorites were Johnny Powers and Mighty Igor. I (or was it Claster?) asked her the big question: "Do you think wrestling is for real?" "Some of it must be fake," she replied, "because they wrestle every day, and I don’t think the human body can take that much punishment." But, on the other hand, she thought the wrestlers really did hit each other hard: "You wouldn’t see those red marks on their backs if they didn’t." Once again, paradox. Wrestling is fake, but not fake, rigged but competitive. The intermission was over. I returned to my seat.
Tom McCue was still in fine voice. "In this corner, weighting two hundred and eighty-five pounds, from Poland (cheers from the bleachers) . . . Mighty Igor." Teamed with Lou Klein against the Zebra Kid and Killer Brooks, Igor was the hit of the evening. His Angel of Rheims smile captivated the audience. At one point in the middle of the match, he jumped out of the ring, went over to an elderly lady sitting at ringside, and kissed her. He walked over to where we were sitting, shook the hand of the ten-year-old kid sitting next to me, posed for a picture, and hurried over to the other side of the gym. There, he climbed into the bleachers, kissed one of last year’s Collegian co-editors, and, for good measure, the guy sitting next to her. He got back into the ring in time to toss the villains around for awhile. When the referee saw Brooks’ manager, Eddie Fishman, tripping up Lou Klein, he declared Igor’s team the winner by (yet another) disqualification.
The crowd filed out, happy that the Zebra Kids and Tanya Wests of the world had been put in their place. Sleet was falling, and the clouds obscured the stars. It didn’t really matter, though, for Igor had illuminated our darkness.
(ED. NOTE – Mr. Morrisey, upon supplying us the article, blamed Lou Klein for the misinformation about the erroneous assertion that the original Zebra Kid – George Bollas – had been dead three years at the time. As every schoolchild knows, Mr. Bollas died of congestive heart failure in 1977. Two years later, in 1979, a heart attack ended Lou Klein’s life.)
WWF: TUMBLE IN TACOMA
(Seattle Times, Tuesday, July 3, 2001)
By Jose Miguel Romero
TACOMA - Vince McMahon, the shrewd mastermind behind the phenomenon that is the World Wrestling Federation, turned into master critic for a few moments last night at the Tacoma Dome.
McMahon, chest and biceps bulging beneath a designer suit, introduced his WWF signature television program, "Raw is War," by insulting the people of Washington state.
"You've got lousy weather and all you do is grow a bunch of apples!" McMahon seethed through the microphone from inside the wrestling ring. The 16,000-plus wrestling fans who spent as much as $50 for a ticket laughed and jeered the WWF boss, enjoying the fighting words more than recoiling from them.
In truth, the weather in the state was quite sunny, and beer, pretzels and nachos - not apples —were in abundance. The WWF returned to the Tacoma Dome for its annual visit, with last night's event the first of two in Tacoma.
While last night's show was a live broadcast (except on the West Coast) of "Raw," tonight's event is a taping of "WWF Smackdown," the highest-rated program on the UPN network. "Raw" is the most-watched cable TV show in the nation, and has been on a regular basis for several years.
There were the screams for the Hardy Boyz and Lita, a threesome known for acrobatics, and boos for vilified heels like Kurt Angle and Stone Cold Steve Austin.
Angle, a real-life wrestling gold medalist in the 1996 Olympics, said he has to keep trying to find ways to make the audience angry with him, because many fans have grown to like his clean-cut hero persona.
"It's hard to fool the fans," Angle said. "I'm a funny guy in general. I have to be cynical and aggressive. People want to be entertained, and they get into a fantasy world with us every week."
Among wrestling fans, last night's event had some historical significance. It was the first time in months that a match took place between wrestlers from what was once the WWF's arch-rival, World Championship Wrestling. Since McMahon purchased WCW in March, effectively eliminating his competition, WCW performers had gradually begun to appear more often on WWF shows.
Finally, as the story line went, a WCW title match took place to the disdain of many who attended last night.
WCW stars Booker T and Buff Bagwell were featured in the main event that closed last night's show. Neither character won the match, as Austin and Angle ran into the ring and pummeled Booker T (without much power to their kicks and punches), calling for a disqualification.
Clearly this act won over the crowd, many who were unhappy to see WCW become more of a part of the WWF. A fight in the seats drew as much attention as the pseudo-fight going on in the ring.
"They're low-quality," Ron Hopper, a fan from Longview said of the WCW athletes.
"We're here to cheer for the WWF guys. Their show was canceled because they suck," Hopper's brother Sam added.
Still, WWF competitors said they welcomed WCW superstars into their organization.
"I think all the WCW guys are respectful, showing deference to the right people," said Raven, who is known as Scott Levy when out of his wrestling character. "The fans are going to be excited to see it."
Said Debra, who is Austin's wife in reality and carries that role onto the TV screen: "I think it's great for our fans (working with WCW). You never know who's going to pop in or pop out. We have more women to work with, and we can entertain more."
THE NEW WAWLI (Wrestling As We Liked It) Papers No.44-2001
WANTED: BONEBENDERS OF RUSSIAN PERSUASION
(Oregon Sunday Journal, January 7, 1940)
By Harry Leeding
Page Rasputin, boy, or any good bone bender, of Russian extraction.
They've booked a charity wrestling card for next Wednesday night at the Auditorium, with proceeds to go to the Finnish relief fund, and all they need to make it a howling success, from standpoint of attractiveness, is Finn vs. Russian in an extra special exhibition.
Headed by Tommy Luke and Frank J. Lonergan, the committee in charge is composed of a number of civic-minded citizens, all of whom probably have beleaguered Finland at heart.
Now it shouldn't be too difficult to find a Finn willing to do battle with a Russian as long as the profit goes toward relief of his countrymen. For instance, there's August Sepp up at Seattle. Old Mr. Sepp, when he heard about it, swent down word that he would be willing to wrestle any six Russians they could dig up for him.
And, incidentally, August probably could give any one of 'em an argument in spite of the fact that he's rapidly nearing the 60th milestone on life's pathway. But finding a Russian willing to donate his services for the Finnish cause is something else. Messrs. Ted Thye and Virgil Hamlin, who control heavyweight rasslin' in this man's town, readily admit that it borders on sacrilege and that they'll encounter no end of difficulty in convincing some Russian that he should go to bat in such case for the sake of rasslin' even if he doesn't give two whoops about feeding some half-starfved Finn.
Then, too, word of his treasonable act might reach Josef
There was agitation in promotional circles last week to gain permission for gal grappling, but that's out by edict of the Portland municipal boxing commission, according to Chairman Dr. Paul E. Dutton.
An effort by the "trust" to introduce female bone crushing a little over a year ago, when "Steve" McPherson and "Must" Musgrave were promoting on leased licenses, failed. Strenuous objection came from the city council, with Commissioner Bennett "giving them their greatest growl."
Word went around that Mayor Carson might not object if there were sufficient public demand for the variety, but "Jake" held fast to his conviction that it would be bad business, and threatened to move the grapplers out of their city auditorium spot if they attempted to get it over.
But the issue won't get as far as the council now that the boxing fathers have said "No go!"
UP FROM DOWN UNDER
(Oregon Sunday Journal, December 8, 1940)
By Richard H. Syring
"Australians and New Zealanders know they're at war; are convinced they are going to win, but don't talk about it."
This was the impression obtained by Ted Thye, retired world famous Portland wrestler, who now is American agent for Stadium, Limited, of Australia and the Dominion Wrestling Union of New Zealand.
He returned the other day from a winter (the seasons are just the reverse of ours) spent in the antipodes.
"They are figuring on a long war and nothing but victory," continued Thye. "But there is more war talk in this country than down there. For small countries, they are well fortified. They have great faith in the United States. They're sure Uncle Sam is not going to sit idly by and allow Japan to take any of the South Sea islands.
"All the young men are in uniform, women are taking the places of men. In one bank, where 60 men worked, there are now but five, with women taking over the jobs.
Thye said the fare is approximately $650 from Sydney to San Francisco. He plans to return to Sydney by air next June. But, in the meantime, he must sign up wrestlers and boxers transportation, contracts and make for Australia and New Zealand. After all, that is his business.
From the time he wrestled his first match in Splokane in 1912 to the last one in Baker, Ore., on July 4, 1935, Ted participated in some 3,000 wrestling matches. In succession he held the world's middleweight and lightheavyweight title. Three times he tried for the heavyweight crown, but he never could wrest it from Jim Londos, Gus Sonnenberg or Don George.
In 1923 he went to Australia as the first American wrestler and for six straight seasons he returned. Then he became the American agent for Stadiums, Limited, of Australia.
"My duty is to sign wrestlers and fighters," he explained, "and issue all arrangements. The corporation has stadiums at Sydney,Brisbane and Melbourne. The Sydney stadium seats 16,000, Melbourne 10,000 and Brisbane 6,000.
"The season starts down there about mid-May, which is the beginning of their fall, and ends about mid-November. My duties in Australia include publicity and general matchmaking details.
"The fight cards are arranged in four, six and 10 rounds, with the winning fighter progressing to the longer bouts. The men wrestle eight 10-minute rounds."
In the antipodes, there is none of the exhibitionism of the American wrestling ring. No wrestler tackles the referee or a spectator.
"Referees are instructed that if the man on bottom is not trying, both men must get to their feet," he said. "If a wrestler is not in the best of shape, the match is canceled. They wrestle for the best two out of three falls.
"The most aggressive wrestler gets the decision. The winner gets 60 per cent, and the loser 40 per cent. I am convinced that system is better than in America, where a flat guarantee and percentage is offered.
"Big name fighters and wrestlers who go to the antipodes have to produce. If they don't they are given money and the return trip home. That also goes for fighters and wrestlers accused of ungentlemanly conduct.
"In New Zealand the sports are under the Dominion Wrestling Union. The association is made up of 12 to 25 men. All the profits go into the amateur union fund. To wrestle or fight in New Zealand you have to get a police permit."
Thye said about 22 athletes are signed each year. Several years ago he toured India, Frandce and England for wrestlers and fighters. Right now, with foreign exchange such as it is, his instructions are to sign only athletes from countries not on the dollar standard.
FORMER CHAMPION PAT O'CONNOR DIES
(St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Saturday, August 18, 1990)
Pat O'Connor, a former standout on the professional wrestling circuit, died of cancer Thursday night at Jewish Hospital. He was 65.
Mr. O'Connor, a native of New Zealand where he was an amateur champion, was recognized as the world champion by the National Wrestling Association after defeating Dick Hutton at Kiel Auditorium on Jan. 9, 1959.
He held the NWA title until June 30, 1961, when he lost to Buddy Rogers before a paid crowd of 38,622 at Comiskey Park in Chicago. That crowd is believed to be the second-largest in United States pro wrestling history.
Mr. O'Connor's last match was on promoter Sam Muchnick's last card, at The Arena on Jan. 1, 1982. Mr. O'Connor was a matchmaker for several years and retired about three years ago. He also was a partner in a wrestling operation in Kansas City and divided his time between Kansas City and St. Louis.
''Pat was a true main-eventer from the time he came from New Zealand,'' said Larry Matysik, the local promoter for the World Wrestling Federation.
''Pat wasn't really a big man, but he was a real athlete with a very smooth and fluid style. He was a great crowdpleaser, especially in his matches with Lou Thesz, Fritz Von Erich, Gene Kiniski and some others.
''Pat was the first to do the reverse rolling cradle hold. He beat Hutton for the title with a spinning toehold and he went with the sleeper hold late in his career.''
Mr. O'Connor served in the New Zealand Royal Air Force in World War II. He competed in the Pan-American Games in 1948 and the British Empire Games in 1950. He lived in Minneapolis, Chicago and Kansas City before moving to St. Louis in 1983.
A memorial service for Mr. O'Connor will be held at 3 p.m. Sept. 1 at Valhalla Chapel of Memories, 7600 St. Charles Rock Road. There will be no visitation.
He is survived by his wife Julie; three daughters, Carly Alvarado, Erin Diven and Robyn O'Connor, all of Kansas City; and a brother, Mervin, of New Zealand.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that contributions be made to the Wyoming Wildlife Association. Mr. O'Connor was a hunting guide in Wyoming.
'DICK THE BRUISER,' 62, DIES IN FLORIDA
(St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Tuesday, November 12, 1991)
By Keith Schildroth
Richard Afflis, known to wrestling fans locally and around the country as ''Dick the Bruiser,'' died Sunday afternoon at his winter home in Indian Rocks Beach, Fla.
He was 62.
Mr. Afflis died of internal bleeding, according to a spokesman for Sun Coast Hospital in Largo, Fla. His widow, Louise, told The Associated Press her husband had been weightlifting at home and ruptured a blood vessel in his esophagus.
There will be no funeral or memorial service, said his daughter, Michelle Replogle.
Staying fit was almost an obsession with Mr. Afflis. He worked out daily with weights and also did a vigorous series of calisthenics. He still wrestled throughout the Midwest and wrestled in St. Louis in 1989.
Born June 27, 1929, in Lafayette Ind., Mr. Afflis attended Purdue University in 1947 on a football scholarship and was named to the All-Big Ten Conference team. He transferred to Nevada later that year and finished his college football career there.
He was one of the heavier players in the National Football League when the Packers selected him in the 1951 draft. A 5-foot-11, 252-pound tackle, he was chosen in the 16th round.
He earned his nickname while playing for the Packers because of his style of play.
Mr. Afflis left football for professional wrestling in 1954 ''to make a better buck.'' His decision turned out to be profitable.
In his prime in the mid 1960s, Mr. Afflis earned $100,000 a year, one of the first in his profession to do so.
His trademark scowl, crew cut and gravel voice, the result of a football injury to the larynx, helped earn him the prime-time marquee billing as ''the world's most dangerous wrestler.''
Mr. Afflis held the distinction of ''world champion'' five times in the Worldwide Wrestling Association and the National Wrestling Alliance. He wrestled on many cards in St. Louis at Kiel Auditorium.
Often billed as the villain early in his career, his style was straightforward, rough and always unpredictable. His matches at the Chase-Park Plaza Hotel in the 1960s-70s on ''Wrestling at the Chase,'' a live TV show, often were memorable.
''A lot of people didn't understand Dick,'' retired wrestling promoter Sam Muchnick said. ''If I had to walk down a dark alley with a lot of money, Dick is the guy I would have wanted as my body guard. I went to his daughter's wedding and saw him cry when he walked her down the aisle. This guy had a big heart.''
Mr. Afflis was known for his wild ringside manner. He often would break the pens of autograph seekers and tear down the signs of fans. However, a match with Black Jack Lanza, in the mid-'60s, turned him into a fan favorite.
''I always think the fans deep down liked Dick because he was their type of wrestler, he was a man's man,'' wrestling promoter Larry Matysik said.
''You never knew what Dick was going to do. He was the first real tough guy and a great draw. They talk about [Hulk Hogan selling out. Hogan couldn't touch Dick.''
Matches against Pat O'Connor, Lou Thesz, Cowboy Bob Ellis, Johnny Valentine, Fritz Von Erich, Wilbur Snyder and later Jack Briscoe, Dory Funk Jr. and Ric Flair were fan favorites.
''He was the toughest man I'd ever faced in the ring,'' said Bobby Heenan, who now works in the World Wrestling Federation as a manager. ''He was so tough I thought he would live till he was 200 with the will he had.''
(Some of the information in this story was supplied by The Associated Press.)
THE NEW WAWLI (Wrestling As We Liked It) Papers No.45-2001
MIGHTY NAGURSKI PREFERRED QUIET LIFE
(Minneapolis Star Tribune, Wednesday, January 10, 1990)
By Patrick Reusse
Ron Nagurski was on the phone from the family homestead on Rainy Lake in northern Minnesota.
''I'm looking around the house,'' Ron said. ''There are a few pictures, a few interesting things, but it isn't a monument to Dad or anything like that. The house never had a trophy room. I think Dad knew his place in history, but it didn't seem to matter that much to him.''
You can't find a loftier place in the history of American sports than was occupied by Ron Nagurski's father.
Baseball. Babe Ruth.
Football. Bronko Nagurski.
There you have it: The two great American sports, and the two names that have been attached to them for the ages. Babe and Bronko.
Nagurski suffered with arthritis for more than 20 years. Respiratory problems followed, and then his heart went bad. Late Sunday night, at 81, Bronko died at a hospital in International Falls, Minn.
Monday, four of the Nagurskis' six children - Jane, Eugenia, Kevin and Ron - were gathered at the lake home where they were reared. Two other brothers, Bronko Jr. and Tony, will arrive today.
''That's why we put the funeral back to Saturday,'' Ron said. ''We wanted everyone to have a chance to get here. There are so many grandchildren.''
It takes some time to get to International Falls. You don't just walk to the counter at the airport in Mobile, Ala., where Bronko Jr. lives these days, and say, ''Put me on the next non-stop to the Falls.''
A few years back, the president of the Chamber of Commerce in International Falls said: ''Wherever I travel, people ask me two things - is it really that cold, and does Bronko still live there?''
The answers to both questions were always yes. A dry climate might have reduced the pain in his arthritic joints, but Bronko wasn't willing to leave the north country.
''It would've been awfully tough to get Dad out of here,'' Ron said. ''He loved the Falls, living on the lake, the fishing and the hunting. He taught all of us to fish. He loved it.''
The Nagurskis could walk down to the dock in the front of the house and, odds were, they could reel in a Rainy Lake walleye.
''The house is three or four miles from town,'' Ron said. ''It was a lake cottage that originally belonged to one of my grandmothers. Mom and Dad moved into the cottage, and then they kept adding on rooms as the kids came along. We were all raised here on the lake.''
Eileen Nagurski was six years younger than her husband and, according to Ron, she was in charge on the home front. ''Mom was outgoing . . . she was more active in the church and the community, and she ran the show around the house,'' Ron said. ''That's the way Dad liked it. When Mom died in 1987, it seemed to me that his health started to deteriorate more rapidly.''
For years, newspaper and magazine writers made pilgrimages to International Falls, seeking interviews with Bronko. The Babe died in 1948, but this legend was still pumping gasoline at the Pure Oil station he owned, or making the morning trip to town, to drop off Eileen at work and make a stop at the post office.
Mostly, Bronko would turn down the interviews. His legs were swollen from the poor circulation. The glasses he wore were as thick as the cliched Coke bottles. Nagurski once explained his reluctance to grant the interviews: ''I wanted people to remember me as I was, not as I am.''
The disappointed reporters often returned from the Falls to report that Nagurski had become a recluse, but Bronko was never to sports what J.D. Salinger is to literature. Bronko wasn't in hiding. He was quiet.
Reporters weren't the only ones who had a tough time getting Nagurski to talk about his football prowess. It wasn't often that he told stories about George Halas or Red Grange or Doc Spears, even when he was sitting in the fishing boat with one of his sons or around the dinner table with his family.
''I remember one time he got rolling on the stories: It was at my sister's wedding and one of his old football-playing buddies was there,'' Ron said. ''They were talking about the old days, and it was a lot of fun. Then, Dad noticed the audience he had attracted, and that was the end of that.''
In 1984, Bronko surprised almost everyone - including his family - by accepting the NFL's invitation to be the honorary coin tosser at the Super Bowl. The game was played in Tampa, Fla. Bronko sat through a lengthy interview session a couple of days before the game.
''One reason he went was that the whole family had a chance to go along,'' Ron said. ''We all had a great time. It was tough for Dad to get around, but he enjoyed it. That day, Bronko told the reporters: ''I have so much arthritis that, as soon as I move, my joints start barking.''
In 1979, the University of Minnesota Gophers retired Nagurski's number - the famed 72. He played for Minnesota from 1927 through 1929. As a senior, he was named to the 11-man All-America team at both fullback and tackle, the only player ever to hold that distinction.
Bronko then played eight years for the Chicago Bears, gaining his most fame as the unstoppable fullback, until Halas wouldn't give him the $6,000 he wanted to play the 1938 season. Bronko went back to International Falls and started a career as a good guy on the professional wrestling tour.
''Some of the matches were fixed, some weren't,'' Bronko once said.
Nagurski wrestled until 1953, returning to play for the Bears in 1943, when they were short of players because of the war. In the late '50s, Bronko bought the Pure Oil station and pumped gasoline there for about 10 years.
''I worked there with him for most of those years,'' Ron said. ''In the summer, people from out of town would make sure to stop at the station for a couple of bucks' worth a gas, and they would get an autograph, too. Every day, the mail would have letters from people who wanted Dad to send them autographs. He had stenograph pads made up, with one of the pictures of him as a football player stenciled on it. He would write back on that paper. The people liked that.''
Nagurski was a charter member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. They placed Bronko's bust in the Hall of Fame, and they gave him a duplicate to take home to the Falls.
''The high school wanted the bust to be put on display there, so Dad let them have it,'' Ron said. ''As far as I know, it's still up there. It's not here at the house.''
The cottage on Rainy Lake was never a museum to the legend of Bronko Nagurski. It was a home. Monday, a reporter called Kevin Nagurski's residence in the Falls. He was told Kevin was not there.
''Kevin is at the lake with his brothers and sisters,'' the lady said. ''Bronk's place.''
THE WALKING TIME BOMBS OF THE WWF
(St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Sunday, July 14, 1991)
By Jeff Gordon
By stressing muscle size and definition over old-fashioned grappling skills, the major promoter of professional wrestling may have encouraged rampant abuse of anabolic steroids and human growth hormones.
That trend was exposed recently in the drug trafficking trial of Dr. George Zahorian III, a suburban Harrisburg, Pa., urologist who was convicted of 12 counts of selling steroids, painkillers and Valium to a bodybuilder and several current and former World Wrestling Federation performers, including ''Rowdy'' Roddy Piper. Zahorian also admitted selling steroids to WWF champion Hulk Hogan and WWF owner Vince McMahon, who is an avid bodybuilder.
''In the WWF, there used to be a joke,'' former WWF wrestler and broadcaster Bruno Sammartino said in a phone interview from his Pittsburgh home. ''The joke was if you did not test positive for steroids, you were fired.'' Sammartino, the federation's champion for 15 years in the 1960s and 1970s, said he never used steroids to enhance his strength or appearance.
But he said all but a few modern wrestlers do. Before shows in Pennsylvania, Sammartino said, Zahorian ''would come in with two bags, one with his medical supplies and one with this stuff. The guys would get in a line to get the 'goodies.' The guys have been on this junk for years before now. This stuff has been going on for a long time.''
And the results can be disastrous. Former WWF star ''Superstar'' Billy Graham, 48, testified that years of steroid abuse left him crippled with avascular necrosis, which caused joint deterioration. Graham has had one hip and one ankle replaced and will need similar surgery on his other hip and ankle. He can walk only with the aid of a walker.
Sammartino said many of the WWF's current stars could suffer similarly someday. ''These guys are a combination of jackasses and walking time bombs,'' he said. ''If they had any intelligence, they would look at Billy Graham and see mirrors of themselves down the road.''
The WWF responded to the crisis Friday by announcing that it was expanding its drug testing program to include steroids.
''The WWF has always stood for positive, family-oriented entertainment,'' senior vice president Basil DeVito Jr. said in a statement. ''This innovative policy will insure that our athletes adhere to the highest standards in order to preserve their place as worthy role models throughout the world.''
But industry analyst Dave Meltzer, editor of the Wrestling Observer, remains skeptical. ''Whether the tests are fake or real, we'll never know,'' he said. ''When we see all of these guys lose 30 pounds, then we'll know they are serious. If they continue to promote the best physiques as their top wrestlers, then we'll know they are not serious -- they will be rewarding cheating at the same time they're testing.'' That wrestlers have used steroids did not shock the sports entertainment world, given the similar revelations about college and pro football players and some Olympic Games participants.
Musclebound wrestler Jim Hellwig, billed as ''The Ultimate Warrior,'' seemed to allude to his training habits when he told a television audience, ''I eat the chemical toxins other men fear.'' This is why Hellwig was dubbed ''The Anabolic Warrior'' by Meltzer.
But the Harrisburg drug trial pushed wrestling's steroid abuse under a spotlight and endangered the WWF's $125 million-a-year business, much of which is generated by merchandising wrestling toys to children. Wrestlers Dan Spivey, Rick Martel and Brian Blair –- half of the ''Killer Bees'' tag team -- and Piper admitted buying steroids, painkillers and Valium from Zahorian and using the drugs.
Evidence submitted by the prosecution also showed that Mike Rotunda, who wrestles as ''IRS,'' and WWF announcer Lord Alfred Hayes also bought drugs from Zahorian. Of WWF wrestlers linked to Zahorian, the immensely popular Hogan had the most to lose. Fortunately for him, Judge William W. Caldwell excused him from the trial, saying: ''The effect of quashing the subpoena is outweighed by the potential threat to the privacy interests of the wrestler.''
Hogan's lawyer, Jerry McDevitt, released a statement blasting prosecutors for trying to ''aggrandize the trial by capitalizing on the good name and reputation of my client.''
''Hulk Hogan did nothing illegal and is not charged with any illegality,'' the statement said. ''Hulk Hogan has no place in this trial and will not appear there. Instead the focal point of the trial will now return to its proper place, the alleged illegal activities of a physician.''
Sammartino found it odd that Hogan avoided the scrutiny of the trial. ''Here is a guy who is, to me, the phoniest guy in the history of the sport,'' Sammartino said. ''Here is a guy who talks about saying your prayers - I doubt if he's ever seen the inside of a church -- and eating your vitamins. We all know what kind of vitamins he's been on.''
As the news from the trial broke, Hogan canceled an interview with the Post-Dispatch which publicists for his new movie, ''Suburban Commando,'' had arranged. The wrestlers were not prosecuted because steroids possession was not illegal while Zahorian was under investigation from 1988-90.
''The WWF feels victimized by the tactics and libelous statements of defense attorney William C. Costopoulos in utilizing the media in a bait-and-switch defense,'' DeVito Jr. said in a statement. ''Dr. George T. Zahorian III is on trial, not the WWF or any WWF wrestlers. Neither the WWF or any of its wrestlers or associates is charged with any wrongdoing. We stand by our philosophy of wholesome family entertainment and the positive example we set for the youth of America.''
The other major wrestling promotion, Ted Turner's World Class Wrestling, also has been accused of promoting steroids abuse.
The Miami Herald quoted a former WCW executive as saying more than 90 percent of its wrestlers used steroids. ''I've never heard of one guy who thinks what they were doing was wrong,'' the former employee said. ''They're like cocaine addicts.''
But Jim Herd, WCW executive vice president, told the Herald his organization does not have a steroid problem. ''We don't condone steroid abuse, but we don't condone drinking whiskey, either,'' he said.
''You're talking about individual grown-ups and intelligent human beings. We don't test for steroids, but we would if we promoted amateur athletics.''
THE NEW WAWLI (Wrestling As We Liked It) Papers No.46-2001
THE STRANGE LIFE AND TIMES OF JONATHAN BOYD
By Mark Nulty
Jonathan Boyd's death (in August, 1999) barely made a blip on the wrestling news radar. That's not too surprising. Last I heard of him wrestling was in Memphis before he moved back to Oregon in 1987.
But it seems like just yesterday that I was in the San Antonio office and Boyd was throwing an irrational tantrum about something. John Boyd was one of the first bookers I ever worked with and one of the oddest individuals I ever met in this business.
When the best teams of the 80s are listed, Boyd and Luke Williams probably aren’t mentioned, but they should be. The Sheepherders were pure violence. They drew money in Alabama and were the perfect heel combination to work with the recently formed combination of Steve Keirn and Stan Lane in Tennessee.
I first hooked up with Jonathan Boyd in Texas in the mid-‘80s. Joe Blanchard had just brought me into the San Antonio office and Luke Williams was booking. Boyd was his assistant.
Rather than giving the typical chronological bio and "wasn't he great" platitudes, here are some stories that demonstrate what made this man unique, even in the context of the wrestling business.
John Boyd was the only guy I ever knew that had a DeLorean automobile. It was only fitting that Boyd would own a car that would have such a strange albeit short history. Boyd's wrestling career was thought to be over when he was involved in a horrible automobile accident that wrecked his back and broke his legs. Not only did Boyd rehabilitate to the point he could walk; he resumed his wrestling career. It was a testament to both his toughness and his dedication to the wrestling business.
There wasn't a line Boyd wouldn't cross to draw heat. Boyd's interviews were effective. They were nastier than they were clever, but they were effective. Joe Blanchard was promoting San Antonio and his hip had deteriorated to the point he walked with a pronounced limp. Boyd was managing all the heels in the territory and was barely off crutches. They wrestled each other on television to further an angle. Boyd delighted in referring to the match on television as, "Cripple vs. Cripple." Boyd's heat came from being anti-American. On one interview, he was doing his tirade about how much he hated America and we had to edit out his comment: "And I hope all your babies die."
How tough were John Boyd and Scott Casey? I'll never forget a match these two had in Corpus Christi, TX. They were wrestling a barbwire match with the ring ropes being completely encircled with barbwire. At one point, Boyd told Casey to throw him out of the ring. Casey hesitated at first, but Boyd insisted. Boyd was thrown through the barbwire onto the floor. Boyd then had to climb through the barbwire back into the ring. Not to be outdone, Casey insisted on taking the same bump. You could actually hear the crowd grimace.
Nobody could throw a tantrum better than John Boyd. When Boyd got the book in San Antonio, he went on a power trip that would make Jimmy Johnson proud. He used to boast to other wrestlers that no one worked for promoter Fred Behrend but him. All the wrestlers worked for Boyd and not Behrend. At one point, Boyd got a magazine to run a feature on him if Boyd provided the article. Boyd asked me to write it and I told him that I get paid for magazine pieces. A week later I was refereeing a card in Waco. I was in one of the dressing rooms (in the days of separate dressing rooms) and Boyd asked me if I had written the piece yet. I told him again that I wouldn't do it unless the magazine paid me. Boyd threw a fit. His bald head went beet red while yelling and screaming. He screamed that he wanted me to repeat every finish the boys gave me word for word. The Grappler,
Len Denton, got a kick out of Boyd's instructions and went out of his way to give me an especially long, complicated finish for his match -- in carny (a coded language that wrestlers occasionally speak to each other).
"Pretentious? Moi?" While he was in the office Boyd decided that he no longer wanted to make phone calls himself. He told the two women that worked in the office, to call who he wanted to talk to and then ask them to hold for Boyd. "That way, I sound more important," Boyd explained. Boyd got into trouble for keeping a wrestler on the roster that had absolutely no talent but had agreed to drive Boyd around and carry his stuff.
John Boyd: Ladies Man. It was amazing to watch Boyd around women. He had a bald head with a ton of scar tissue, a gray beard and tattoos. He had a decent physique for that era, but he would never be confused with Kerry Von Erich. Yet he strutted around like he was James Bond. One of the biggest laughs we ever got in the office was when Janie noticed an attractive teenage girl walking across the street from the window. Boyd goes, "Watch this," takes off his shirt and stands outside with his hands on his hips. Janie looks at me in shock and goes, "Does he really think this is bothering her?!?!"
John Boyd: Ladies Man II. At one point Boyd, in his early-to-mid 40s, started seeing this 15-year-old girl from Houston. When we asked Boyd if he was worried about going to jail, Boyd told us that he had a signed consent form from the girl's father. If it could possibly be worse, the age difference was accentuated by the fact that Boyd's bald head, gray beard and tattered body made him look even older. At one point, Al Madril said to Boyd, "I think it's great that you're dating her. When you go to the movies, she can get in on the child ticket and you get the senior citizen discount. You must be saving a fortune."
One punch knockout. When John Boyd was booking, he brought Killer Brooks in for television tapings at Gilley's. We shot two shows a night and gave Brooks two wins. After Brooks' second match, he packed up his gear and prepared to leave as normal. Boyd was standing at the urinal and, without any warning, Brooks came up from behind and sucker punched him. A few years later I asked Brooks why he knocked out Boyd. "I just never liked him."
Boyd was found dead Aug. 7 (1999) in his duplex in Oregon. He was found by his first wife, who despite being divorced for many years, still shared the house even after Boyd remarried and later divorced. He had undergone back surgery a few weeks earlier and it is thought the heart attack may be related.
Of all the times the cliché "gone but not forgotten" is used, it's fair to say that anyone that knew John Boyd will never forget him.
ALEX PEREZ STILL BATTLING A QUARTER-CENTURY LATER
(Amarillo Globe-News, June 6, 2001)
By Steve Brannan
For almost 30 years, Alex Perez worked against some of the best wrestlers of his generation -- the Funks, the Von Erichs, Killer Karl Kox and Lou Thesz. He was a favorite of many wrestling fans in Amarillo, most notably children.
So when Alex Perez Jr. took his famous father to school during a third-grade parent day, his dad was the object of plenty of attention.
"The kids all saw him and went crazy lining up for autographs," Perez Jr. said last week. "I really was kind of embarrassed at the time. At that age, you just want to stay in the background. Now that I've gotten older, it was really a neat deal. It's a special thing you think about."
Seriously struggling today with Parkinson's Syndrome, Perez remains the same fighter he has been for more than 50 years.
While Perez may have earned much of his acclaim as a wrestler, his first break was as a boxer in the late 1940s. He won regional Golden Gloves tournaments in 1948 and 1949 before playing semi-pro baseball.
For a short while, Perez served as a deputy for the Potter County Sheriff's office. Eventually, though, Perez's biggest move was continuing his work in the ring - albeit the wrestling ring.
Playing the role of the bad guy for much of his career, Perez was a mainstay in Amarillo wrestling when the sport was more regionalized prior to the 1980s. He wrestled as El Diablo, El Toro and The Zebra Kid, although he generally went by his own name in matches.
At 5-foot-10 and 230 pounds, Perez endeared himself to fans with his work ethic and attitude in the ring.
"For his size, he was real athletic," Perez Jr. said. "He used to go above and beyond, trying to do extra things. He was a real flamboyant guy to begin with."
Perez's flamboyance was noticed for 28 years before he retired in 1978 at the age of 49. After wrestling, Perez worked at Asarco Inc. before settling down in Dallas in 1992.
While wrestling may not be what it once was with the advent of national promotions, Perez remains a figure entrenched in the history of wrestling in Amarillo.
And certainly the hopes and prayers of the fans he touched years ago go out to he and his family.
ALEX PEREZ, 71, FORMERLY OF AMARILLO
(Amarillo Globe-News, Friday, June 29, 2001)
Alex Perez, 71, formerly of Amarillo, died Wednesday, June 27, 2001, in Dallas.
Vigil services will be at 7 p.m. today in Schooler Funeral Home, Brentwood Chapel, 4100 S. Georgia St. Mass will be celebrated at 4 p.m. Saturday in Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church with the Rev. Rex Nichols officiating. Burial will be in Llano Cemetery.
Mr. Perez was born Nov. 11, 1929, in Lelia Lake. He was raised by his grandparents, Carmen Perez and Maria Negrete. Alex grew up in Amarillo and attended Price Academy High School and Amarillo College.
He and his wife, Mary, were married Dec. 17, 1950, in Amarillo. They have three sons, Alex, Mark, and Danny, along with six grandchildren and a great-grandson.
Alex is best known for his career as a professional wrestler. Prior to becoming a pro wrestler, Alex began his professional life as a catcher in semi-pro baseball. He then became a railroad brakeman with Santa Fe Railway and a deputy sheriff in Potter County before a fascinating 28-year stint as a professional wrestler.
Being inside the ring was nothing new to Alex. He boxed in his youth, receiving the titles of Light-Heavyweight and Middleweight Golden Gloves Champion in Texas. It was pro wrestling, however, that brought him fame. In fact, Alex was recognized as a National Heavyweight Champion, while wrestling in Tennessee.
Alex wrestled in a league with some of the best-known wrestlers in his time, including Dory Funk, Killer Karl Kox, Lou Thesz, Fritz Von Erich, and Andre the Giant to mention just a few. His career also fulfilled his passion for travel by taking him from coast-to-coast and as far away as Japan.
Alex even had a role in a movie Paradise Alley with Sylvester Stallone. In the film, Alex wrestled against the main character, playing his favorite role the bad guy.
His start in pro wrestling came from some of Amarillos best-known characters. Alex started through his relationships with promoters, Dory Detton and Doc Sarpolis. After Alex had made a name for himself in boxing, the two promoters approached him about becoming a professional wrestler. It was a match.
Alex usually wrestled under his own name, but also can be remembered as El Diablo, El Toro, and The Zebra Kid.
Alex retired from the sport at the age of 49 and retired as a security guard from Asarco Inc., in 1992.
Survivors include his wife, Mary Perez of Dallas; sons, Alex Perez Jr. of Round Rock and Mark Perez and Danny Perez, both of Dallas; brothers, Pete Villasenor of El Paso, and Manuel Perez, BeBe Villasenor and Manny Perez Villasenor, all of Amarillo; sisters, Marcelina Flores, Marta Olivarez, Mary Parrie, Tenche Reyes and Gloria Pineda, all of Amarillo; six grandchildren; and a great-grandchild.
The family suggests memorials be to the National Parkinson Foundation, 1501 N.W. Ninth Ave., Miami, FL 33136; or Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church, 1210 E. 11th Ave., Amarillo, TX 79102.
The family will be at 1223 Lamar St.
He was a loving husband and father.
THE NEW WAWLI (Wrestling As We Liked It) Papers No.47-2001
NEW PROMOTER AFTER COX, KRUSE
(Tacoma News Tribune, Thursday, January 18, 1934)
Lou Porter, new Tacoma wrestling promoter, hopes to offer as his first attraction next Monday night a rematch between Ted "King Kong" Cox and Bob Kruse.
Porter, who succeeds C.W. "Hutch" Hutchinson as matchmaker for the Northwest Athletic Club, is negotiating with Cox and Kruse and hopes to be able to announce the rematch within a day or two.
The original match between Kruse and Cox attracted the greatest crowd ever to witness a mat contest in Tacoma. The official count was 2,819 spectators. An even larger crowd is forecast if the rematch is made, as the first bout ended in a foul victory for Kruse.
Hutchinson resigned as local matchmaker after carrying the sport to its peak in Tacoma. He is expected to be installed as matchmaker in another Northwest city, where the game has been in a slump.
Porter is a veteran wrestling promoter, having been associated with the game in Seattle and Everett during the last six years. He is a former newspaper man, having worked in Spokane and Seattle.
Porter intends to continue the popular price policy started by Hutchinson.
COX WINS IN KRUSE MATCH
(Tacoma News Tribune, January 23, 1934)
Tacoma wrestling fans who watched Ted Cox, heavyweight grappler from Lodi, Cal., hand Bob Kruse a lesson in orthodox grappling last night, forgot all about the "King Kong" appellation they have added to his name. Cox took two out of three falls and the decision from the Oswego cabbage-grower in the main event of the mat card at the Greenwich Coliseum.
The Cox victory was scored with a pair of punishing hammerlock holds in the fourth and fifth rounds, Kruse being forced to concede the falls on each occasion. Kruse had previously won a fall in the second round by means of a toe and a body press, applied after Cox had been subjected to a barrage of blows from the Kruse fist and elbows. All unorthodox tactics had been barred in an agreement prior to the match, but the Oregon grappler resorted to the unethical work which he’d previously objected to.
"Bunny" Martin, middleweight from Tulsa, Okla., and Joe Reno, Italian 169-pounder, went to a fast five-round draw in the semi-final, each taking a fall. Reno applied a Boston crab hold in the second round and forced Martin to concede the fall, while Martin used a body bow hold in the third to square the stand.
Both Leo Jensen, Canadian middleweight, and Jimmy Reynolds of Chicago, captured a fall in the three-round opener, but neither could pin the other for the second time, and the bout resulted in a draw.
Nearly 3,000 fans were on hand for the show, despite inclement weather.
MAT GAME HAS BOOM IN DETROIT
(Associated Press, January 23, 1934)
Jack Sherry, New York heavyweight wrestler, meets Bull Komar of Chicago tonight in the Detroit Light Guard armory – and thereby hangs a tale, for the bout is the first of a series marking the entrance of a third major promoter into the current wrestling picture here.
All winter Detroit has rained a shower of gold about the ears of its two veteran wrestling promoters such as none here ever dreamed of before.
The clatter of the turnstiles began with the first snowfall and grew steadily to a crescendo when last week Jim Londos, world’s heavyweight title claimant, attracted a crowd officially estimated at over 16,000, while hundreds more milled about outside the doors.
Promoter Nick Londes reported a gross gate of $16,139 paid by fans who fought each other for the privilege of seeing the Greek philosopher evade the strong but aging legs of Joe Stecher, Nebraska scissors artist, in Detroit’s Olympia.
Last night, a record-breaking crowd of 5,600 fans packed Arena Gardens to set a new high there and watch a series of lightheavyweight bouts which involved no title, actual or otherwise.
Now promoter Londes says that, for a return match between Londos and Stecher, slated Friday night, the advance sale of tickets has doubled over that of the previous match.
The memory of oldtimers here records no similar record of the past. No one attempts to explain the phenomenon – least of all the mat promoters, who, long scorned by backers of the leather pushers, now chew an honest-to-goodness cigar while the dollars – debased or otherwise – roll into the till as never before.
WHO WAS THAT WRESTLER AT RINGSIDE?
(Tacoma News Tribune, Tuesday, February 20, 1934)
By Nelson R. Hong
Of the 2,814 persons who crowded into Greenwich Coliseum last night to watch the "groan and grunt" artists, a few noticed that a burly heavyweight wrestler was occupying a seat next to Arthur E. Grafton Sr., state athletic commissioner. It’s not usual for grapplers to occupy ringside seats, but the presence of Charley Mason in the first round is probably explained in an attempted assault on the commissioner last week by an irate fan who thought that Grafton was lax in his duty in allowing Ted Cox to pursue his roughhouse tactics. With Cox and (John) Freberg in the ring and the fans in a lather, it is likely that the management decided that it would be wise to guard against any fans who might go berserk fduring the excitement of the bout. As far as is known, Mason had nothing to do in his role as "bodyguard."
It’s nothing short of amazing how the wrestling game has come back in the Northwest. For the Freberg-Cox match last night, promoter Lou Porter upped his scale of prices and yet drew a tremendous crowd. There were three fewer persons than the crowd which saw the first match between Cox and Bob Ktruse, but the number of paid admissions last night was greater. Attendants estimate that between 300 and 400 persons left when they found that there was standing room only. More than 900 persons were crowded into the balcony, designed to seat comfortably not many more than 600 persons.
Revival of the wrestling game in the Northwest, with all the principal cities attracting capacity crowds every week, will result in a parade of the "big shots" of the sport before the end of this season. Word already has been received that Jim Lonndos, probably the most colorful of all the bone crushers, will be in Tacoma sometime during March. Londos appeared here more than four years ago in the early days of the boom in the game, and while Tacoma fans have seen every other important grappler the Greek Adonis has never been booked back.
YVON ROBERT ‘BEATS’ IRISH TITLEHOLDER
(United Press, Thursday, January 9, 1936)
HOLYOKE, Mass. – After flattening Danno O’Mahoney twice in an informal wrestling bout last night. Yvon Robert, French-Canadian, claimed the world’s wrestling championship held by the Irishman.
Robert pinned O’Mahoney with a legitimate toss and then knocked him cold with a punch in an unscheduled melee that precipitated a riot.
O’Mahoney was scheduled to meet Frank Judson of New York, whom he threw in straight falls in 34 minutes. Before the regular bout started, Robert, the titleholder’s most persistent challenger, was introduced from the ring; instead of leaving, he doffed his overcoat, a sweater and trousers, emerging in wrestling trunks.
Without warning, he leaped for O’Mahoney, but police interfered.
Throughout the Judson-O’Mahoney contest, Robert heckled the champion from ringside. This made the Irishman furious. After the match, he was said to have shouted at Robert: "I’ll take you some day. The sooner the better." Other ringsiders claim O’Mahoney demanded an immediate showdown.
At any rate, Robert charged into the ring and before the crowd knew what was transpiring, had O’Mahoney’s shoulders pinned to the mat.
Robert scored the second "fall" after the Irishman kicked himself free. O’Mahoney floored the Canadian twice with haymakers to the chin. Coming up the second time, Robert knocked O’Mahoney through the ropes into ringside seats.
The blow and fall knocked O’Mahoney unconscious.
DOING MONSTER FACTORY BETWEEN NFL ASSIGNMENTS
(Sandusky Register, Thursday, July 27, 2000)
By Dan Angelo
BEREA -- Bill Duff put a career as a pro wrestler on hold to bounce around the NFL.The defensive tackle from the University of Tennessee spent five months working at the Monster Factory after being released by San Francisco during training camp in 1998. But then the expansion Cleveland Browns called and Duff began a roller-coaster journey through the 1999 season and a spring with the Berlin Thunder.
"I do feel better this year," he said. "I got a lot more pro experience over in Europe and I think the coaches have more confidence in me. I can see little things here and there that show me that maybe this year I'll get more time in the game."
Duff was originally signed as a free agent by San Francisco in 1998 and was waived in August of that year.
The following February, Duff hooked on with Cleveland and made the roster out of training camp. He was waived for the first time on Sept. 14, resigned on Oct. 6, waived again on Oct. 25 and brought back for the remainder of the season Nov. 9.
"It was pretty frustrating, and I think anybody in that situation would be," Duff said. "From what I understand, every team has a guy like that every year and I just happened to be that guy last year.
"Hopefully I won't be that guy against this year, but I don't think I will be," he said. "I feel a lot better this year and I feel like I can contribute so hopefully they'll find someone else for that role."
Duff played in five games and made one solo tackle, then jumped at the chance of playing in Europe when the Browns suggested the idea.
"I hadn't played a lot of football in a while so it was something I had to do," Duff said.
"I had to do it for me too, to get a little more confidence because of what happened to me last year. I was here, then I wasn't.
"It was frustrating and it does start to take a toll on you. You start asking questions about if you're good enough, so I needed to get over there and play some football. I dealt with politics for a long time and I just got back into the football."
While Duff was getting back into football, the Thunder finished last in the league at 4-6.
"It was a great once-in-a-lifetime deal," he said. "I got to see a lot of Europe and I played a lot of good football against a lot of good competitors."
Duff also gained experience, something a 6-3, 285-pound defensive tackle must have in the world of giant offensive linemen.
"It's about technique," Duff said of playing his position at his size. "There are a lot of big and strong guys out there sitting a toll booth who can't play with the technique you need to play in the NFL. I just try to concentrate on my technique, getting stronger and staying lower than the other guy, which isn't hard since I'm 6-3.
"We basically get paid to make a big pile in the middle and get a tackle here and there. Defensive tackle is a thankless position. You have to be able to play with the proper technique, stay low, battle and take a beating."
Of course, Duff knows about taking a beating after working the pro wrestling circuit as the "Urban Legend."
"(Wrestling) is more of a career if football doesn't work out," he said. "Those guys put there lives on the line just like football players do. They risk injury just like a football player, but they are on the road 260 days a year.
"I've always been a great fan of football and I've always been a great fan of wrestling," Duff said. "I'm stuck in the middle, but apparently I like football a little more or I wouldn't be here."
THE NEW WAWLI (Wrestling As We Liked It) Papers No.48-2001
SHOT DEAD IN FLYING AUTO
(Tacoma News Tribune, Tuesday, January 30, 1934)
Rudger Terry, 28, Tacoma wrestler, died early Tuesday in a Tacoma hospital of a bullet wound inflicted by Cliff Tolson, state patrolman, who fired to stop a speeding car, in which Terry was a passenger, on the Pacific highway, three miles northeast of Tacoma.
Tolson said he had shot at the rear tire of a coupe driven by Jack Bailey, 516 Stadium Way, and containing Mrs. Terry, another woman and Terry. His motorcycle hit a bump, throwing up his arm and causing the bullet to strike Terry accidentally, the officer said.
The bullet struck Terry in the head. He was taken to the hospital by Tolson and he died an hour later.
Bertil E. Johnson, prosecuting attorney, was called from his home and began an investigation immediately. No charges will be filed until the case is gone into thoroughly, he said.
Tolson told the prosecutor that while he was driving his motorcycle about 60 miles an hour, near the Puyallup River bridge on the Pacific highway, a coupe passed him and he started out in pursuit.
"I thought I was standing still when they passed me," he said. "I took up the chase and almost caught up with the speeding machine near the first turn after we had both slowed down to pass another auto. Then I drew up closer to them and sounded my siren. I must have been going 70 or 75 miles an hour."
Unable to keep pace with the speeding automobile, Tolson said, he sounded his siren several times and then fired his revolver at a rear tire, hoping to stop the machine that way.
"The car continued to creep away from me, so I fired again," he said. "This time, when I pulled the trigger, my motorcycle hit a bump and of course my hand moved up, raising my range. The bullet struck the rear window. Then the car slowed down and stopped."
Terry has been wrestling in Tacoma for about four years. Recently he has been refereeing wrestling matches at the Greenwich Coliseum.
THREE CLOUDS HANG OVER TERRY’S WIDOW
(Tacoma News Tribune, Wednesday, January 31, 1934)
By Bob Heilman
Three black shadows hung over the life of Mrs. Rudger Terry as she sat in the corridor of the county courthouse Tuesday morning.
One was fear, which still shakes her soul as she thinks of her narrow escape from death, when a bullet moved the black turban over her golden hair – so close it came.
Another was the death of her husband, who succumbed less than an hour after the bullet which grazed her own head ploughed through his brain.
The third was the welfare of her three babies.
Dry-eyed and calm, even in the face of a tragedy and a future which threatens financial woes, the blonde and lovely widow told the story of her sorrow. For today Rudger Terry, known to thousands of sports-lovers in the Pacific Northwest, is dead. It is not so many hours ago he was active as referee for a wrestling card, full of life and vital.
"We weren’t doing anything special," she said, quietly. "The children were with a friend for the night. After Mr. Terry was finished at the Coliseum we went to the Lincolnshire Hotel for a little beer. Jack Bailey asked us to go with him and Louise Hirschbloz to Seattle, just for the ride.
"It seemed all right, for the children were safe and we were just going around looking for something to do. I was sitting on my husband’s lap in the coupe when we started, but I was too tall and my head kept bumping the top of the car. So I asked the other girl to change places with me. She sat on Mr. Terry’s lap and I sat in the middle.
"I didn’t hear any siren; just those two shots. At first I did not know he was hit. I thought he and Louise just ducked when they heard the shots. They were both slumped over. When we got out of the car I saw blood streaming down his neck. I thought he was dead. The bullet just missed me. It grazed the side of my turban. The thick crepe folds must have saved me, for I could feel my hat move."
Mrs. Terry unconsciously put her hand to the side of her head and then swiftly drew it away again.
"I thought he was dead at first. Then I saw him breathing. We got back into the car and I held him. I put my hand over the wound as we rode back to the county hospital. Then I saw blood coming from his temple, and I knew the bullet had gone in the back of his head and come out the side. I don’t remember the ride back – not anything about it."
Recalling the tragedy this morning, the widow of the wrestler said she could remember no details from the time the car stopped and her husband was put in it again, until she heard someone at the hospital say, "Is there anything we can do for you?" Then she learned the bullet had claimed the life of her husband.
"I don’t know what we’re going to do. The children are with my mother, Mrs. Mary Songer, at the Ducher apartments, now. They don’t know about it yet." The youngest of the three children, Billy Boy, 2, was weeping, nevertheless, as though some instinct had warned him of trouble, as it does babies sometimes. But Bettejean, 4, and Marycathern, 5, were playing gaily.
Out at the Terry home, 5042 South M Street, the green blinds were drawn at the windows. A morning paper, unopened, hid the headlines which heralded the death of the head of the house. Two cats played with one another. Silence hung over the place.
The Terrys were married at Vancouver, Wash., in 1927. The Tacoma wrestler was born in Hinckley, Utah.
"The children will miss him so when they find out," Mrs. Terry said. "They all loved him, but especially the oldest one. Marycathern just followed him around, adoring him. She thought he was wonderful. She’s only five, but she knew the telephone number where he works and often called him up to ask how he was and tell him what she’d been doing."
In addition to his athletic activities, Terry had been employed as a watchman in a Tacoma brewery.
"Just before the wrestling match last night she went to the phone and called him up and asked him when he’d be home," the mother said.
"And "Terrible" Terry, as he used to be known in wrestling circles, answered, "Soon, dear."
ACTION ON TOLSON WAITS FINDINGS OF INQUEST
(Tacoma News Tribune, Thursday, February 1, 1934)
Cliff Tolson, state patrolman, was under suspension from duty while an inquest was being held in the courthouse Thursday on the death of Rudger Terry, 28, Tacoma wrestler, killed early Tuesday by a bullet from Tolson’s gun while he was trying to stop a speeding car in which Terry was a passenger.
William Cole, chief of the state patrol, said that Tolson had been indefinitely suspended pending further investigation of the tragedy. He declined to comment further, but the inquest verdict probably will be the climax of the investigation. He intimated that Tolson may be restored to duty if the investigation absolves him of blame.
Following the fatal shooting, Bertil E. Johnson, Pierce County prosecutor, and deputies, took depositions from witnesses including the three occupants of the card in which Terry was riding when he was shot. These included Jack Bailey of Tacoma, driver, who admitted that he heard the pursuing officer’s siren and was trying to outdistance him. Other passengers were Mrs. Terry and Louise Hirschbloz.
RESUMES INQUEST INTO DEATH OF TERRY
(Tacoma News Tribune, Friday, February 2, 1934)
An early conclusion of the inquest into the death of Rudger Terry, Tacoma wrestler, was in prospect when the hearing was resumed under direction of Dr. Edward R. Perry, Pierce County coroner, late Friday morning.
The inquest was adjourned after all available witnesses had been examined Thursday morning. Jack Bailey of Tacoma, driver of the car in which Terry was riding when he was shot by Cliff Tolson, state patrolman, was to testify Friday. Bailey had left town after a preliminary investigation by the prosecutor’s office and after it was announced that an inquest was unlikely. When he learned that he was wanted as a witness he wired that he would return by today.
Witnesses Thursday included Mrs. Terry and her sister, Miss Catherine Sullivan, both of whom said they smelled liquor on Tolson’s breath when they met him at the sheriff’s office early Tuesday morning, two hours after the shooting. Tolson denied that he had been drinking and several other witnesses denied that they had noticed the odor of liquor on his breath.
Tolson is under suspension, pending the outcome of the inqury. He was firing at the tires of the speeding Bailey car, Tolson said, when a bullet went high and struck Terry in the head.
BENEFIT MAT CARD MONDAY
(Tacoma News Tribune, Friday, February 2, 1934)
Mrs. Rudger Terry and her three children, left destitute by the tragic death of their husband and father, will get all the proceeds of next Monday night’s wrestling show.
Lou Porter, Tacoma wrestling promoter, declared today that everything received beyond bare expenses will go to Mrs. Terry to pay the expenses of her husband’s funeral and to provide a nest-egg for the family. The regular prices will prevail at the benefit show.
As Terry, through his colorful and capable refereeing, was extremely popular with Tacoma wrestling fans and the card for the benefit show is highly attractive, one of the largest crowds of the season is expected.
TERRY’S WIDOW ANSWERS COLE
(Tacoma News Tribune, Tuesday, February 6, 1934)
Taking exception to a statement by William Cole, state patrol chief, in connection with the reinstating of Cliff Tolson following the Rudger Terry shooting fatality, Mrs. Terry yesterday issued the following statement:
"Referring to articles in Tacoma papers, I wish to state that I did not repudiate my statement regarding Officer Tolson. In my first statement I stated I had smelled liquor on Mr. Tolson’s breath. I still say so, but did modify my statement by saying the liquor may have been taken after the shooting. I also wish to state that I did not apologize to the man who killed my husband.
"MRS. GEORGEA TERRY"
MRS. TERRY GETS TIDY SUM IN SHOW
(Tacoma News Tribune, Tuesday, February 6, 1934)
By Nelson R. Hong
Numerous rackets perpetrated in the name of charity have made many persons skeptical of benefit shows.
Because of the black spots of the past, it is a pleasure to report that the benefit wrestling show for Mrs. Rudger Terry, widow of the Tacoma mat referee, was a real benefit in every sense.
Not one cent of unnecessary expense was incurred. The wrestlers received only their traveling and hotel epxenses, the rent was cut down to a figure which cared for only heat, light and actual labor of putting the seats in place and other expenses were held to figures that were surprisingly low.
The referee, timekeeper, club physician, matchmaker, ushers, doormen and cashiers all donated their services. Harry Lynch, inspector of the state athletic commission, turned back his fee into the fund for Mrs. Terry and her children. The total expense of the show was approximately $150, about 6 cents for each of the 2,500 fans present. Of this amount, more than $30 had to be paid to the state as a tax.
The total net proceeds, including $156.77 received in a free-will collection, were $603.45. This amount probably will be increased by a few dollars from persons who said that they were unable to attend the show but wished to aid Mrs. Terry and her children.
As the funeral for her husband was donated by Edward B. King of the Buckley-King Company, the entire sum will be available to care for the future.
According to present plans, the money will be deposited in a local bank and a cashier’s check for $12 sent to Mrs. Terry each week for the next year. The amount will be ample for shelter and food and will tide her over until such time as she can make other arrangements.
One cannot find too high praise for Lou Porter, Tacoma wrestling promoter, for the fine manner in which the benefit show was put over. The wrestlers who appeared on the card – Bobby Miller, Joe Reno, Les Grimes, Al Schnell, Jack Gorman and Herb Burgeson – are also to be highly complimented for their part. Not only did they donate their services, but they put on as colorful and interesting a show as has been seen in Tacoma for a long time. Arthur E. Grafton Sr., member of the state athletic commission, also is deserving of praise for his part in making the benefit something that will be long remembered. Fifty other wrestlers, many of whom have never appeared in Tacoma, deserve thanks for their unselfish attitude in volunteering their services without cost. Tacoma firemen, who aided in taking up the collection, helped put over the benefit.
The wrestling fans of Tacoma responded in wonderful fashion, not only in their turnout for the show, but in the supplementary collection which was taken during the program. When Mayor M.G. Tennent stepped into the ring to suggest the collection, there was a roar of approval which left no doubt as to the attitude of the crowd.
Anyone who had any part in the show last night, as a spectator, wrestler, official or employee, may well be proud of it in every respect.
THE NEW WAWLI (Wrestling As We Liked It) Papers No.49-2001
FANS FEEL IAUKEA GOT WHAT HE DESERVED
(Asbury Park Evening Press, Saturday, July 2, 1966)
By Wes Moon
Prince Iaukea, that big 385-pound brute from Hawaii, deserved just what that nice Bruno Sammartino gave him last night in the feature wrestling match at Convention Hall, most of the fans agreed.
Sammartino, the world heavyweight champion, used a back flip on Iaukea and flipped him up on the ropes, then took a running jump and kicked him out of the ring with both feet at 18:14 of their fight to the finish. And Sammartino, a nice Italian fellow, only weighs 265.
The champion had taken a lot from Iaukea throughout the match. The Hawaiian choked him, banged him around and then took some stuff he had hidden in his trunks to rub Sammartino’s eyes – and the referee was too dumb to catch up with him.
But just when he thought he had Sammartino and was getting ready to jump on him with his whole 385 pounds, the champion jumped up and flipped him over hard enough to hurt old Iaukea’s back. Then Bruno really went to work on him while the crowd roared for blood.
One old fellow with a cane was trying to help the champ and another guy came all the way out of the top balcony row to try to show the referee where Iaukea was hiding the stuff he rubbed Bruno’s eyes with, but the referee couldn’t find it.
A little woman in a wheelchair became thoroughly disgusted with the way Iaukea didn’t wrestle nice and called him a "big animal" and said the referee should put him out of the ring. That was before Sammartino kicked him out. The cops had to sit the old guy with the cane down a half dozen times and chase the other guy back up into the bleachers.
Another fellow the crowd didn’t like almost as much as it didn’t like Prince Iaukea was Angelo Savoldi who was in with the nice Miguel Perez, always a favorite. This Savoldi just wouldn’t act right and he had Perez almost out a couple of times but Miguel revived himself just enough to pin the big bully.
The real villain, though, besides Iaukea, was that Baron Mikel Scicluna who came into the ring wearing a long black robe like he was a count or something and he had one of those real sneers on his face. Argentine Apollo, who was wrestling him, was too nice for Scicluna. He is a well-built, good looker who most of the women felt sorry for and the men liked because he wrestled barefoot and is cleancut.
Scicluna wouldn’t have pinned him in 11 minutes if he hadn’t been using something secret that he jabbed Apollo with and made him go into convulsions.
The worst pair of all was that team of Smasher Sloan and Waldo Von Erich who looked like they were trying to kill Johnny Valentine and Antonio Pugliese. But the good guys got a draw out of it although the crowd figured Smasher and Von Erich should have been disqualified and barred from the ring until they learned some sportsmanship.
They did everything from trying to strangle Pugliese with the cord they were supposed to hold on to until they were tagged, to getting him over in the corner and hiding him from the referee while they worked him over.
And that referee Ray Wilding, according to the sentiments of the crowd, needs to get some glasses. It’s hard to tell how he was ever a heavyweight prizefighter the way he believed everything Smasher and Von Erich told him.
You could tell you couldn’t trust that Von Erich. He even had the nerve to make a Nazi salute when he came in the ring and he was awful nasty to the kids trying to get some autographs. No wonder some of the people threw stuff in the ring at him.
But they didn’t bully Johnny Valentine too much. When he charged in they found out what was what. Each team had a fall and then the bout turned into a brawl and the referee declared a draw.
Now, the first match was nice. Arnold (Golden Boy) Skaaland and Ronnie Etchison put on a fine, clean match. Etchison is kind of new, the announcer said, and he tried a few dirty tricks but Arnold straightened him out and pinned him.
Boy, two weeks from now is going to be something to see. They’re going to turn Sammartino loose on that Baron Sicluna and see how much he gets away with then.
And they’re going to have a six-man match with Apollo, Perez and Pugliese on one team and Smasher, Von Erich and Iaukea on the other.
That Apollo, the way he can cartwheel around and kick like a mule, will take care of that big brute Iaukea and Smasher Sloan will find out that business of his of pulling off a guy’s trunks and butting him in the groin isn’t going to go over too big with Perez.
WWF MOVING TO THE NASHVILLE NETWORK
(Corpus Christi Caller Times, July 20, 2000)
By Ricardo Baca
. . . Meanwhile in a sport more known for fake pile drivers and staged sleeper holds, the WWF is making a move to The Nashville Network for three nights a week. The deal includes "WWF Raw is War" at 8 p.m. Mondays, "WWF Livewire" at 9 p.m. Saturdays and "WWF Superstars" at 9 p.m. Sundays, and the three series will remain in their original timeslots where they've experienced ratings success.
"Vince and Linda McMahon and the WWF team have created one of the most valuable franchises in television," said Brian Hughes, vice president of programming with TNN. "Their brand of entertainment is unique and will be a perfect fit for TNN."
Recently TNN was bought by Viacom, and the group of networks are now known as the MTV Networks. With the merger, TNN is trying to adapt to MTV's trademark brand recognition. TNN wants to be known as the home to high-energy (so-called) sports and entertainment. Linda McMahon said their company is continually changing, trying to judge the viewing trends of tomorrow and the future.
"We believe we have a finger on the pulse of the marketplace," McMahon said. "The ability to remain popular is the ability to re-invent yourself and to continually be creative.
"We have the ability four nights out of every week for probably the largest focus group that ever happens," she said. "We have a minimum of 16,000 to 17,000 fans congregated in one area. We know almost immediately if they aren't buying into the soap opera storyline that we're creating."
PROFILE OF VINCENT KENNEDY McMAHON, 1945 –
(Birmingham News, August 2, 2000)
By Clyde Bolton
The press conference announcing that Birmingham would have a team in his XFL had ended, and Vince McMahon, resident of Greenwich, Conn., remembered when he was a boy living in Havelock, N.C.
He delights in the laid-back, friendly Southern way, he said, obviously having experienced heaping helpings of it during his visit to the Magic City.
"The people are affable. They say hello," McMahon offered. "I wish that mood would spread to the Northeast."
But then he mentioned a North Carolina Marine installation, and he doubled his fists and struck a boxer's pose and said, "I used to love to take on the Marines on Saturday night."
His daughter, Stephanie, looked on admiringly. "He's not kidding you," she said.
So much for affable.
McMahon isn't easily explained, readily compartmentalized. He has become perhaps the best known, most recognizable sports executive in America-if you will extend the umbrella of sports to pro wrestling. His success involved a complete abandonment of the customs of wrestling, in the ring and in the office.
A profile in Newsweek magazine last February said:
"... McMahon has set new standards of sleaze, outraging some parents and embarrassing many of the genre's legends. Cardboard good guys and bad guys were replaced with pimps, porn stars and sociopaths."
Newsweek said McMahon "has transformed a modest family company into a media machine of surprising scale and synergy -- a louder, raunchier version of the Disney kingdom.
"To the uninitiated or unconvinced, pro wrestling may seem like a dopey spectacle in which really big guys put on silly tights and pretend to beat each other up. And OK, it is that, but it is also a very big business, and has become an addiction for a broad cross section of young America.
"The WWF's Raw is War, watched by about 5 million households weekly, is the highest rated show on cable; SmackDown!, seen in another 5 million, is the top-rated show on UPN.
"These are just the wheels of the machine, though. The WWF's home videos routinely rank No. 1 in sports, its action figures outsell Pokemon's and its Web site is one of the first outlets to turn steaming video into profits (other than porn sites, of course - and some would argue the distinction is subtle).
"The autobiographies of two WWF wrestlers, Mankind (Mick Foley) and the Rock (Dwayne Johnson) are currently Nos. 1 and 3 on The New York Times best-seller list. Add in revenue from live ticket sales, pay per-views, platinum-selling CDs and a new theme restaurant, all in turn promoting the shows and each other."
The article continued: "The company is projecting sales of $340 million for this year, up from $250 million in 1999. The stock market values the company, 83 percent of which is owned by the family, at more than $1 billion."
Vincent Kennedy McMahon was born on Aug. 24, 1945, as his parents headed toward divorce. He was raised in rural North Carolina by his mother and stepfather. He met his father, a wrestling promoter, when he was 12 and became fascinated by the game.
In those days promoters controlled territories and didn't infringe on each other. As Vince grew in the business, he urged his father to branch out, but to the old man that was apostasy.
Vince bought his dad's business in 1982 and began promoting shows in other territories, making enemies in the process. "He took 37 of my people, including my announcer," promoter Vern Gagne said. "Then he came into my territory and used them against me."
But there was no holding back McMahon. He seized on the possibilities of cable and pay per-view TV, and WWF wrestling became as familiar as The Andy Griffith Show to couch potatoes.
NBC and the WWF are 50-50 partners in the XFL. Dick Ebersol, chairman of NBC Sports, said: "The absolute key to the success of this league lies in the incredible success Vince McMahon has had throughout his career in reaching the most elusive audience in television -- young males.
"For example, in weekly head to-head competition with Monday Night Football over 17 weeks in 1999, McMahon's live event programming outdrew Monday Night Football among adult males, ages 12-24, by 47 percent. That is an incredible triumph of marketing and promotion by the McMahon organization."
It also reflects a disinclination to care how it's done. Half-naked women, sexism, profanity and lurid plots are staples. The old baby face-vs.-heel script is as outdated as a Model-T.
The WWF even admits wrestling is fake, calling it sports entertainment. But that was because state athletic commissions wanted to tax pay-per-views.
The WWF is no mere TV production. It draws huge in-person crowds. At Tuesday's press conference, McMahon said Birmingham's football franchise would have to draw 20,000 per game to break even. "But that's not anything we'd be satisfied with."
Will 20,000 attend games in a city that's been repeatedly burned on pro sports?
Even with Vince McMahon promoting? That is the question.
THE NEW WAWLI (Wrestling As We Liked It) Papers No.50-2001
COAST WRESTLER DENIES CHARGES
(Associated Press, January 3, 1936)
AMARILLO, Tex. – A near-riot of 1,500 wrestling fans, precipitated by a match in which tobacco juice or some other fluid was the deciding factor, reached the grand jury stage here today.
Spectators were incensed when Danny McShain, villain-type mat artist from Seattle, squirted what they thought was tobacco juice into the eyes of Bob Castle, the people’s choice, to take the third and deciding fall of their mat battle last night.
McShain insisted he was too much of a gentleman to resort to expectorating anything, much less tobacco juice, in order to triumph. Referee Jack Van Bebber said he saw no spitting. But two members of the grand jury who witnessed the match were of the opinion that 1,500 spectators couldn’t be wrong.
The grand jury heard testimony from McShain, Van Bebber and promoter Dutch Mantell, then issued a subpoena for Castle, but the alleged tobacco juice victim had not been found late today.
An investigator for the district attorney’s office hinted that whatever McShain might have done was for revenge. Castle, serving as referee, sent a chair chasing down on McShain’s head during a match last week.
Castle, apparently blinded for the moment, was tossed easily after the squirting episode. McShain dashed to his dressing room amid boos and catcalls. Angry fans yelled loud and long and refused to leave the building for more than 10 minutes.
POLICE HALT WRESTLERS, THEN HOLD UP PURSES
(Associated Press, January 6, 1936)
PITTSBURGH – Police halted the wrestling bout between Danno O’Mahoney, world’s heavyweight champion from Ireland, and Ernie Dusek, Omaha grappler, tonight after the two refused to accept a draw decision by referee Charles Dickerhof.
The two giants rolled off the mat into the crowd, biting, kicking and slugging each other after wrestling 45 minutes. They paid no attention to the referee’s demand to return and he counted 10 over them both, declaring the match a draw.
Six officers jumped into action, pinning both men. Danno weighed 227 and Dusek 238 pounds.
The boxing commission announced the purses of both wrestlers will be held up pending an investigation. Total receipts were approximately $3,000.
WRESTLING RIOT AS MATCH ENDS IN CHAOS
(Spokane Spokesman-Review, Thursday, January 16, 1936)
The weekly wrestling show last night before the season’s largest crowd at the Masonic Temple arena broke up in a riot between wrestlers, spectators and policemen, but ended before any one was seriously hurt. The police finally chased indignant spectators out of the ring, escorted the wrestlers and referee from the scene and restored order after five minutes of the wildest excitement.
It all came about during the final match between Brother Jonathan Heaton, 235, Salt Lake City, and Paul Boesch, 215, Brooklyn, N.Y. During the four rounds of their struggle, Heaton, who claims to have once been a deacon in the Mormon church, had been kicking and choking Boesch. Hat Freeman, recently appointed referee by the state commission, and outweighed some 70 pounds or so by the wrestlers, had tried more or less unsuccessfully to make Heaton stop these tactics.
Finally, in the fourth, Heaton had choked Boesch into apparent unconsciousness and after tossing Freeman into one corner of the ring, jumped on the recumbent Boesch and began kicking and beating him. Freeman haulted Heaton away, raised the prone Boesch’s right hand in token of victory, and tried to make Heaton leave the ring. Again, Heaton threw Freeman to the floor and dropped down on Boesch, choking and beating him.
Prior to this, several spectators saw that Freeman was unable to handle Heaton and tried unsuccessfully to get the seconds to interfere. At this point a half dozen angered customers made a rush for the ring. They swarmed through the ropes and fell on Heaton with a will. A second wave of charging men broke through the ropes and fell on the spectators; these were the police and firemen stationed in the crowd. A majority of the policemen were not in uniform, and there were a number of fights among them until they identified each other.
Finally, order was restored to the ring, Heaton being escorted through an angry crowd that booed and took pokes at him despite his uniformed escort. Boesch was then carried from the ring and the crowd gave him a cheer. Freeman left under his own power.
On the way to the dressing room a policemen not in uniform tried to get in and an usher barred his way. The policeman promptly poked the usher for obeying orders, and they had to be separated again later. The officer contended that he was a policeman 24 hours a day, whether he was in uniform or not, and he seemed to expect that everybody would know that. The officer "chose" several others in or near the dressing rooms.
Dr. Vince Valentine, state commission physician, declared shortly after the riot that Boesch had not been seriously injured.
Dave (the Wild Man) Johnson, 208, Duluth, Minn., won two out of three falls from Jack (Rebel) Russell, 209, former Northwestern football star, in a rough and tumble battle. Johnson took the first fall in the second round with what he called an "Australian thunderbolt" hold. Russell came back to even the match in the third round with an "Indian deathlock."
Russell apparently had all the better of the fourth round, for he had Johnson’s shoulders pinned to the mat, but referee Freeman ordered the pair to their feet because Johnson was half out of the ring. Russell tried to argue the matter with Freeman and Johnson climbed on the talking Russell and flopped him for the third and deciding fall.
In the opening bout Jack Wagner, 205, Providence, R.I., and King Elliott, 208, New Zealand, battled through five rounds, each getting a fall and the match was called a draw.
INDIAN WRESTLER DOES TRICKS
(Associated Press, January 22, 1936)
SAN DIEGO, Cal. – A dental plate missing from his mouth and his nose smashed in, Chief Chewaki, 237-pound Oklahoma City Indian wrestler, today appeared before Thomas Whelan, district attorney, and joked his way out of charges of assault with a deadly weapon.
Out of a riot Tuesday night, precipitated by what fans described as "brutality" administered by Chief Chewaki, former Haskell football star, in his match with Gino Garibaldi, San Francisco, the chief emerged with stories of the "joke" he played on his opponent.
Rioting broke out when the chief jerked a bent clothes hanger out of his trunks, wrapped it around Garibaldi’s neck, pushed a foot against his head, and pulled the wire tight.
"I had a hard time thinking up that joke," the Indian told Whelan. "I do these things so that the fans will get their money’s worth."
After the "joke" had been described by the Indian in Whelan’s office, the wrestler was sent to the police station for questioning. He later was released.
"You need to think up these jokes to please the crowds," the chief said. "I was having a hard time thinking up something to do last night. At the last minute I spotted the clothes hanger and decided to use it."
Before the chief finished describing his tricks even Garibaldi joined in with a laugh and told Whelan he did not want the Indian prosecuted.
AT THE SPORTS DESK
(Spokane Spokesman-Review, Friday, January 24, 1936)
By Charles R. Stark Jr.
"Wrestling is nothing but a vaudeville show put on to entertain and fool the public."
"I tell you that wrestling is on the level, there’s nothing fake about it. Those guys are plain mad at each other and will do anything to win."
Those are a couple of samples of remarks overheard after any wrestling match here or anywhere else on the circuit. The audience divides over the question, gets serious enough to start a young riot and generally has a gloriously happy evening. No matter what the truth may be it is generally a fine show, and after all people pay their money to be amused.
But what do the wrestlers say about it themselves? If you corner any of them and put the question baldly to them they’ll act hurt that you should even doubt their sincerity. They’ll ask you, almost with tears in their eyes, if you think for a minute that any one would go into a ring and take the punishment they take unless it was on the up-and-up.
Don’t be fooled by those fears for a minute. They were probably brought on as a result of a prolonged fit of laughter over the gullibility of the public in general and the wrestling public in particular. If you want to get at the real truth of the matter adjourn to a police station in California and listen.
Chief Chewaki, formerly of the Haskell Indian football squad, is standing before the desk about to be booked on a charge of "assault with a deadly weapon, to wit one wire coat hanger." He is a wrestler of no mean ability and the alleged assault took place during a match.
The chief doesn’t like the idea of being put in jail for a bit of innocent fun. He also doesn’t like the idea of exposing any of the inside tricks of his trade. He is faced by a dilemma. Keep the trick secret and go to jail, expose it and go free. No jail for him, he decides to tell all, and does.
Carefully he explains to the prosecuting officer who is questioning him that he had no lethal designs on his opponent when he dragged the coat hanger out, straightened it quickly and wound it around the other man’s neck, tightening it by putting his foot against a chin and pulling up the wire. He explains that he didn’t mean to precipitate a riot, especially as he lost one dental plate and had his nose flattened in the rush of the crowd.
"You see it’s this way," he goes on. "We have to be thinking up tricks all the time to amuse the crowd. Sometimes it’s one thing and sometimes it is another. I just happened to see this coat hanger and it gave me an idea for something new so I tried it out. I thought the crowd would get a real kick out of it."
And so he goes on explaining the inside of the wrestling game. Before he is through tears are glittering in the yes of every one present, real mirthful tears, and the prosecutor decides to call the matter a draw and let him go, particularly as his opponent is standing right there pleading for his release. The party winds up in peace and harmony and everybody declares it was a brand new, swell trick.
Don’t think I have any quarrel with the wrestlers, for I haven’t. Ever since they stopped calling the bouts matches and advertised them as exhibitions it has been all right with me. It is the finest bit of vaudeville acting you can find in these days and well worth the price of admission.
REMATCH WON BY ACCIDENT
(Spokane Spokesman-Review, Wednesday, January 29, 1936)
"Brother Jonathan" Heaton, 235, Salt Lake City, defeated Paul Boesch, 215, Brooklyn, N.Y., for the second time in their return wrestling match last night before a medium sized crowd in the Masonic Temple arena. Heaton took the first fall in the second round with a series of body slams and headlocks.
Boesch evened up the count in the fourth round with a series of flying kicks and butts, and was trying to kick Heaton to the mat again in the fifth. Boesch missed Heaton and knocked himself to the floor, and Heaton piled on him for the third and deciding fall. The crowd, much disgruntled, filed silently from the hall.
The pair went at it hammer and tongs from the opening bell. Heaton, who caused a small riot several weeks ago by apparently choking Boesch out of the match, started the same tactics again, but his time referee Louis Taylor broke Heaton’s grip before he could cause much damage. Boesch took the apparent punishment in fine style for one round, and then grabbed Heaton by his flowing beard, rushed him round the ring and then tossed him through the ropes.
In the semi-final event Casey Kazanjian, 216, former Stanford star, applied armlock after armlock to Dale Raines, 210, Venice, Cal., to finally take the only fall of the match in the fifth and last round.
The match had not been under way more than a minute or two in the first round before the string of Raines’ wrestling tights broke, and time was called. Raines called for a hairpin and a woman in the audience supplied it. Raines and Taylor then collaborated to thread a new string through the tights and the match was resumed. This match consisted either of Raines securing a leg bar on Kazanjian or else Kazanjian securing an armlock on Raines.
In the opening event Stanley Bishop, 190, former W.S.C. athlete, took a pair of peculiar falls from Wellington Martindale, 196, Minnesota. Neither time that Bishop was awarded a fall did Martindale’s shoulders appear to be on the mat. Of course, the referee was closer than the ringside fans.
Herb Sutherland was the official timer and Joe Albi the announcer.
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