THE NEW WAWLI (Wrestling As We Liked It) PAPERS No. 181-2001
(Los Angeles Times, Wednesday, May 21, 1952)
By Braven Dyer
Mat quiz …
Question –Why is wrestling?
Answer – Well, why not?
Q – Who is this guy Lou Thesz?
A – He’s the NWA (National Wrestling Alliance) champion, and don’t call him a "guy."
Q – Who’s Baron Leone?
A – Where you been hiding? The Baron’s Pacific Coast world champ.
Q – How many worlds are there?
A – Just one. It says so in a book by the late Wendell Wilkie.
Q – Is wrestling mentioned in the Bible?
A – Many times. The Lord wrestled with the devil.
Q – No kidding. Is wrestling the oldest sport?
A – You mean indoor or outdoor? Yes, it is, over 3,000 years old.
Q – Is wrestling a part of the Olympic Games?
A – Natch. It was one of the most important, back in 708 B.C., in the old Olympic Games – the originals.
Q – Why is the game so rough? Aren’t there wrestling rules?
A – Kicking and striking was permitted by the ancient Greeks in their wrestling bouts. I guess the Greeks had a word for it. We have one today: It is "Booo."
Q – Who’s the greatest wrestler of all time?
A – S’matter, you tryin’ to get me knocked off? Oldtimers insist it was Frank Gotch; others say the Great Gama, Hindu ace, was even better. Me? I’ll say the winner of the Thesz-Leone match (I’m a diplomat.)
Q – What’s the longest wrestling match on record?
A – Fellow named Eugene Tremblay wrestled a guy named Billeter, from Toledo, about 7 ½ hours; it went to a draw. They were lightweights. That was many years ago.
Q – How about nowadays?
A – Matches nowadays are limited; for instance, Thesz and Leone is a two-hour contest. If no fall is scored, the referee will render a decision.
Q – Is Michele Leone a real Baron?
A – Is Duke Ellington a real Duke? Is Count Basie a real Count? Is Prince Mike Romanoff a real Prince? Was King Baggott a real King? I dunno. In our circles we do not question a man’s ancestry; if Leone calls himself a Baron, that’s o.k. Lord Blears is legally a "Lord." Had his name changed by law.
Q – Will this be the biggest gate in wrestling tonight?
A – Oh, come now; it will be the biggest locally beyond a doubt; the Everett Marshall-Gus Sonnenberg match hit up in the 60 Gs, and so did Jeemy Londos and Man Mountain Dean. Tonight’s will beat those marks to flinders.
Q – Why is wrestling so popular?
A – Well, I heard one definition somewhere: Wrestling is co-operative, whereas boxing is competitive. I’m just kidding!
Q – How long is a wrestler’s life?
A – I presume you mean, how long can he wrestle? Well, Stanislaus Zbyszko wrestled at the age of 68; some of the boys now who are top stars are past 40. Barring accidents or injuries, a grappler can operate for anywhere between 20 and 30 years.
Q – How old is Baron Leone?
A – He says he’s 36. Oh, yes; Jack Benny is 39.
Q – And how old is Lou Thesz?
A – He admits to 33.
Q – How many bouts do big-time wrestlers work in their careers?
A – Strangler Ed Lewis – he is Thesz’ manager – wrestled 6,200; that’s over a period of 40 years. Thesz himself has wrestled 2,500. The Baron does not know; he thinks about 3,000. (Gosh, I think it’s more than that; I’ve seen him in 3,000 matches within the past year on my TV set!)
Q – Are wrestlers human?
A – Why don’t you ask one of them yourself.
LEONE, THESZ TANGLE TONIGHT AT GILMORE
(Los Angeles Times, Wednesday, May 21, 1952)
By Jack Geyer
One of the nation’s foremost television comedians – oops – wrestlers, Baron Michele Leone, will face Lou Thesz at Gilmore Field tonight in an affair d’cauliflower billed as a world’s heavyweight wrestling championship match.
A full house is expected to boost the crowd figure over 20,000. It’s the city’s first outdoor wrestling bout in more than a decade and is being staged with special permission from the city’s Smog Commission.
Five preliminaries, two of them billed as titular tussles, will precede the main event. The first begins at 8:30 p.m.
The big match, which won’t be televised or broadcast, is supposed to settle, once and for all, the owner of the heavyweight crown.
Thesz is recognized as champ by the National Wrestling Alliance. The Baron is just recognized – particularly by television viewers. He is as famous as Beanie.
Prestige has been lent the occasion by the California State Athletic Commission, which is unofficially sanctioning the match. William Smith, assistant chief inspector for the august body, said the commission is "going along" with the NWA.
Tonight’s victor will be recognized not only by the NWA but by the AAA, URA, WCTU, ABC, GOP and DDTs as the one and only up-to-the-minute, undisputed champ in most countries and counties this side of the Iron Curtain. The Iron Curtain champ is Igor Beaver. And for anybody he wrestles, it’s curtains.
Thesz, sometimes called the hungry Hungarian, has trained down from 230 pounds to 222. He’s 6 feet 2 inches tall and admits to 33 years of age. There are those who say he’s 33 like Jack Benny and Satch Paige are 39.
Leone is 5 feet 9 inches tall and weighs 208, at least eight pounds of which must be hair. He wears his hair Western Union style (that’s a fast pageboy), sports a mustache and has as much hair on his chest as the floor of a Russian barber college. Leone is coy about his age, admitting only that he’s old enough to vote.
Both Thesz and Leone have 50-inch chests and if you don’t think that’s big, remember that Marie Wilson’s is "only" 36.
Thesz is married; Leone is single, his only entanglements being those met while pursuing his profession.
The Baron doesn’t smoke, drink or chew. (With all that hair, gum could be dangerous.) Before some matches the Baron reportedly eats nothing but raw liver and raw eggs. He’s an easy man to cook for.
Lou Thesz, whose name sounds like someone with a lisp asking a question, has a hobby. He collects dogs. Leone’s hobby is money. And he, too, has quite a collection.
Thesz hails from St. Louis, Mo., while the Baron is from Abruzzi, Italy. Abruzzi, translated, does not mean "I bruise easily."
Thesz is managed by Strangler Ed Lewis, famed grappler of another day. Leone is supposed to be unmanageable.
Thesz is going to wear trick shoes tonight. His right shoe will have a slippery Neolite bottom while the left will carry a rugged rubber sole. This is supposed to aid both his wrestling and his waltzing. The Baron will wear shoes, also.
The match is scheduled for the best two-of-three falls with a two-hour time limit. If the bout has not been decided at the end of the time limit, the referee and the two judges will render a decision.
The title match is expected to be like all other wrestling bouts – only more so.
In the semiwindup, Danny McShain will meet Rito Romero for the junior heavyweight title. This is like the senior heavyweight title, only smaller.
Vic Christy and Sandor Szabo will try to flat a couple of Sharpes, Mike and Ben, in a tag team match. This, too, is for the title – the tag team title formerly held by two motorcycle policemen.
In the third bout the mighty midgets, Sky Low Low and Cowboy Cassidy, will attempt to cut each other down to size.
Two ex-champs, Billy Varga and Wild Red Berry, will battle in the second bout with Dr. Lee Grable and Ray Piret opening the card. No titles are involved in the first three bouts.
THESZ DEFEATS LEONE FOR WORLD MAT CROWN
(Los Angeles Times, Thursday, May 22, 1952)
By Jack Geyer
There was one less heavyweight wrestling champion in this neck of the woods last night after Lou Thesz of St. Louis, Mo., took two of three falls and the bout from Baron Michele Leone of Santa Monica, Pacific Coast pretender to the throne.
A crowd of 25,256 persons, attracted by the first outdoor grunt and groan spectacle since pre-World War II days, jammed its way into Gilmore Field to see the performance. They were joined by 25,256 bugs lured by the glaring ring lights.
The bout was billed as a heavyweight championship wrestling match to end all heavyweight championship wrestling matches. Which might be a good idea, at that.
The fans paid $103,277.75. That was gross. The net was $81,523.45. Wow!
Thesz, a 6-foot, 2-inch, 223-pounder, who bears a remarkable resemblance to Max Schmeling and who was billed as a proponent of Graeco-Roman rasslin’, won the thing after it was all tied up, 1-1. His winning hold was a backdrop, which is just the opposite of a frontdrop, in case you don’t follow wrestling.
It only took 31:20 to conclude Act I, although it seemed like hours.
Thesz tucked away the first fall although he was kept busy evading the fine and groping Italian hands of the Baron. The beginning of the end came when Thesz took the Baron. The beginning of the end came when Thesz took the Baron on a chartered flight in what the trade calls an airplane spin. This apparently brought on an attack of air sickness, and it was easy for Thesz to cut loose with three or four drop kicks on the wobbly Baron, each of them good for three points. Thesz then applied the necessary body press.
The Baron knotted the score 6:30 later with a neck-breaker. The Baron’s neck-twisting technique made Thesz’s manager, the famed Strangler Lewis, green with envy. Lou, meanwhile, was turning blue. Thesz then submitted. And that was the end of Act II.
The backdrop that decided things came 4:20 later.
Thousands of fans were turned away. Maybe they were lucky. Although the match didn’t win a Pulitzer Prize, there were those in the audience who thought it deserved the first two letters, P-U.
Leone added a cute touch to the occasion when he entered the ring clad in a Roman toga. A toga is a zoot suit without pants. Later Leone lost his shirt.
In a semi-windup billed as the junior heavyweight title match, Danny McShain and Rito Romero wrestled to a time-limit draw.
In a match called the world’s tag team title bout, two sharpies named Mike and Ben Sharpe defeated the duo of Sandor Szabo and Vic Christy, Mike Pinning Vic in 11:06.
Red Berry and Billy Varga went 15 minutes to a draw.
Two midgets climbed into the ring for the second bout; their friends put them up to it. Sky Low Low, at 86 pounds, pinned Cowboy Cassidy, at 92 pounds.
Dr. Lee Grable, fresh from the operating table (he’s quite an operator), pinned Ray Piret in the opener.
THE NEW WAWLI (Wrestling As We Liked It) PAPERS No. 182-2001
TALUN DISREGARDS MAT SCRIPT, FLOORS O’MAHONEY
(Chicago Tribune, February 1, 1939)
By Charles Bartlett
Wladyslaw Talun, the Polish rassler who makes Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, and the other Hollywood horror gents resemble so many Little Lords Fauntleroy, didn’t require any of his double barreled grimaces to pin Danno O’Mahoney of Ireland in their grappling conference in the Coliseum last night. A body slam in the brief space of ten minutes and 55 seconds proved adequate enough to convince Danno that he is not quite the same broth of a lad who once laid claim to the world championship.
Those in the gathering of 1,600 who were not frightened by the 6 foot 9 inch, 298 pound Talun at his entrance left the old building a mite disappointed by the swiftness of the outcome.
The scheduled piece de resistance of the evening hardly merited that title, for it smacked only frugality of those entertainments which made the Coliseum a cradle of rassling a few years back. Wladyslaw and Danno confined themselves to the orthodox pummeling and kneading which most of their colleagues use as warming up didoes.
To add to the general letdown, the ancient Stanislaus Zbyszko sat in Talun’s corner for the duration of the match. This was a distinct blow to those citizens who had heard the tale of how Talun, acting as old Stan’s second in a Detroit match last week, had reached into the ring, grabbed Stan’s opponent, and then sat upon him among the customers. Stanislaus didn’t even reach for a stogie last night.
The semi-windup was right lively theater, bringing together one of the better modern juveniles in Louis Thesz of St. Louis and that grand old trouper, Rudy Dusek, looking much the same as when he trod the Coliseum boards with Londos, Marshall, and Zaharias.
It was a fitting debut for young Thesz, who never went up in his lines once, despite considerable unethical hazing by Dusek. The latter culminated his little lark by smacking Louis through the ropes and out among the higher priced pews, but ground rules held the wallop to a two-bagger. It was then Louie’s turn to bat, and he drove out a pair of doubles for himself, much to Dusek’s discomfiture. The number was concluded when Thesz reached into his repertoire and hauled out the ancient airplane spin gang, topped off by a body slam, in 19 minutes and 12 seconds.
The opening skit saw Jack Conley of Boston and Roy Rickenbacker go through a routine mazurka for a 20-minute draw. The ensuing number turned out to be a football contest between Olaf Olson of Milwaukee and Ray Clements of Lubbock, Tex. They exchanged punts several times, using each other’s middles for targets. Olie finally dropped back in a fake kick formation and then called himself for a full Nelson which scored the winning touchdown.
Long legged Fred Grubmeier of Iowa had some difficulty in solving the rubber ball defense of Arthur Van Saxon, but finally entwined Art in a figure four scissors in 18 minutes and 20 seconds.
GALENTO SERIOUS! HE’S A WRESTLER
(Associated Press, April 29, 1947)
ORANGE, N.J. – Two-ton Tony Galento leered from behind the bar of his tavern, scraped the suds off a tall one, and muttered in characteristic fashion: "I'll moider da bums."
Then he broke into a big grin.
"Those ‘bum’ days are over," said Tony, who embarks on a new career tonight when he tackles his first professional wrestling opponent, Dutch Rohde, in Baltimore. "I’m in this new racket to make a business out of it, not to clown."
Weighing a modest 275 pounds, and having reached the relatively advanced age of 37 years, Tony has been in training for the past three months, and until a week ago no one except professional wrestlers and trainers was permitted to see his workouts.
ALBERT MILLS WINS EXHIBITION
(Seattle Times, Tuesday, April 29, 1947)
Albert Mills took the verdict from Ronnie Etchison in last night’s main event of the wrestling exhibitions at the Civic Auditorium. Danny Dusek beat Jack Kennedy, Frank Stojack won over Glen Stone and Doc Dorn and Vic Short drew in the other exhibitions.
DON McDONALD, FAMED MAT REFEREE, SUCCUMBS
(Los Angeles Times, Sunday, May 25, 1952)
Don William McDonald, 57, nationally known wrestling referee, died last night in Long Beach after a short illness.
Born in Obion, Tenn., McDonald had lived in California since 1906 and in Long Beach since 1922. He won the Pacific Coast amateur wrestling title while attending the University of California, Berkley, where he was graduated in 1918. He served overseas with the 816th Aero Squadron in World War I.
He was a Long Beach policeman from 1921 through 1927 but from 1924 on was connected locally and nationally with wrestling. He operated an arena here and after 1933 promoted such well-known wrestlers as Jimmy Londos, Don George, Nick Lutze, Vic Christy, Ray Steele and Ed (Strangler) Lewis.
Before he left wrestling just before World War II it was estimated he had refereed 10,000 matches from coast to coast. During the last war he was recreation director at Douglas Aircraft’s Long Beach plant, running bowling leagues, golf tourneys, volleyball, softball and table tennis events. Recently he had served as director of safety at the Douglas plant.
McDonald is survived by his widow, Hazel Dean McDonald; his mother, Mrs. Mattie Woodring; a sister, Mrs. Mary Plaskett, and a half brother, Worley Laden, all of Long Beach.
LEONE, TORRES TEAM TO FIGHT DAMAGE SUIT
(Los Angeles Times, June 10, 1952)
"It can’t be done!" Wrestlers Baron Michele Leone, 216 pounds, and Enrique Torres, 225 pounds, sang in duet yesterday when the Baron demonstrated he couldn’t possibly have "thrown" Torres from the ring in the Ocean Park Arena last January 5.
Leone, Torres and Mike Hirsch, arena proprietor, appeared in Santa Monica Superior Court yesterday for trial of a $30,000 damage suit, brought against them by Ian H. Caldwell and his wife Mary of 11690 Gorham Place, West Los Angeles.
The Caldwells allege they were injured while occupying the seat where Torres landed from the asserted toss.
"If I could forward pass a man like Enrique," the Baron declared, "I’d quite wrestling and try for the SC football team."
Both athletes explained that wrestlers may fall out of a ring but they can’t be tossed. Joe Varga, who was refereeing on the night in question, said that if either man had fallen, been tossed or even run out of the ring on the night in question, he, the referee, would surely have known about it.
At request of the attorneys, Judge Stanley Mosk placed the case off calendar until September when it will be reset by stipulation.
ROMERO DEFEATS LEVIN ON VALLEY GARDEN MAT
(Los Angeles Times, Sunday, June 15, 1952)
Rito Romero added another victim to his growing list last night on the Valley Garden Arena wrestling mat, where he downed Dave Levin in two out of three falls.
Sandor Szabo made Antone Leone say uncle in another match. Ray Piret bounced Bob Corby in the opener.
LEONE GAINS DUKE WHILE OUTSIDE RING
(Los Angeles Times, Thursday, June 19, 1952)
Conduct unbecoming to a gentleman, or just plain dirty work, got Danny McShain into nothing but trouble last night at the Olympic. And Baron Leone from Upper Bavonia came out with a mat victory even though he wasn’t quite up to his usual aplomb in acknowledging the triumph of virtue over villainy.
The Baron won the third and deciding fall from McShain in 1:12 while outside the ropes. McShain got the pitch for extracurricular activity on the Baron after the ref had vainly warned him to subsist from bopping the befuddled Baron until he climbed back in the ring.
McShain won the first fall in 12:34 with a body press, and the Baron squared things in 5:40 with a suplex neckbreaker. Then with McShain bopping the Baron outside the ropes, the duke went to Leone, McShain being disqualified. Other results:
Rito Romero and Hombre Montana triumphed over the Whiskers, Al and John Smith; Lone Eagle and Karl Davis drew; Ali Bey pinned Ray Piret, and Pablo Romero pinned wild Bob Corby.
BEARDED SMITH BROTHERS THREATAN BARBERSHOP POLES
(Los Angeles Times, June 22, 1952)
By Jeane Hoffman
Gentlemen, take heed! The day of reckoning has come. It is becoming increasingly apparent that women like wrestlers and that they like them H-A-I-R-Y. If this dangerous television trend continues, the barbershop pole will soon be as obsolete as the totem pole, and a beardless citizen will rank in low caste alongside the fringeless surrey …
Lend an ear and hair the facts:
"You can see for yourself what’s happening," said John Smith, who was distinguished from his bearded batterymate by the fact that his Mutton Chops parted in the middle, ‘til Al trimmed his to match. "My brother and I started the craze with our flowing foliage and now all the boys are bristling with undergrowth."
"It’ll take ‘em a while to catch up because our 6-inch bushes have a two-year start, but Hombre Montana has become Hair Apparent with his Henry VIII shrubbery; Honest john Cretoria’s mustache has an 8-inch beam and Rito Romero shows inHAIRant qualities with his ‘bird’s-wing’ mustache. I understand even Wild Red Berry is attempting to ‘win by a whisker’ but – " John lowered his voice " – he has trouble keeping hair on his head, let alone on his chin!"
"The day of ‘close shaves’ in sports is over," predicted Al, speaking around the jowled jungle which is rumored to conceal time bombs, six bids from razor sponsors, and the candidate for the Democratic nomination. "Women have fallen for the foliage. Why, they fight to clip curls from our camouflage and are battling to have the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval placed on our shrubbery. I unhesitatingly predict that the candidate for the 1952 presidency will not be clean-shaven and it’s said that even the ‘Continental’ of TV fame now whispers his endearments through a soup strainer."
"The beard – whether parted on the side, braided, or tucked under a napkin – is here to stay," said John Smith, who hails from Brooklyn. "Since we first appeared in local rings, the rassling fraternity’s theme song has become ‘Hair, hair, the gang’s all hair!"
"The only dissenter has been Bill Schroeder of Helms Foundation Hall, who traitorously shaved off his two-inch tuft after the Olympic Games Fund of $50,000 had been reached. But it was no great loss," hissed the KTTVillain. "It was only a LITTLE beard!"
"A beard is a great asset in wrestling," said Al, fondly stroking his thicket which, our operators report, he keeps in a snood at night. "It has many uses. For instance, you can sprinkle it with insect powder, causing your opponent to collapse sneezing. When it grows long enough, you can braid it around his neck in a new version of the stranglehold. If your opponent steps on your windpipe, it acts as a shock absorber."
"Of course, not everyone appreciates our appendages," John admitted. "In Seattle, fans tried to ignite our beards, and waited outside our dressing room with pickaxes to trim them.
"Beards are also an asset around the home," said John. "The day is not far off when the bow tie will be a relic of the past; it will be completely hidden and replaced by The Moss. Department stores will not longer have to search for bearded Santa Clauses. Styles in shrubbery will be as important as poodle cuts and permanents. Wives will choose husbands because of the texture and prominence of their beard. I know my wife did.
"She has never seen me without my beard. I courted her with it. I was wrestling alone then, billed as the Wolf Man, and if I say so myself, I was a good wolf. But I had too much competition here in Hollywood, so I teamed up with Al on the strength that two bushes are better than one. Now my wife is so proud of my fringe that she washes, trims and sets it. Thinks more of that beard than a mink coat."
She oughta. Because in the long run it amounts to the same thing. Under wraps – which is to say, whiskers – the Smiths expect to coin $50,000 each this year. So we asked Al how his wife felt about his breadwinner. He looked pained, glanced furtively behind him, then whispered, "Adelaide hates it. Why, I lie awake trembling half the night, because I’m afraid I’ll wake up SCALPED. I may not get beaten in the ring, but I’m terrified of losing out to the scissors hold at home!"
THE NEW WAWLI (Wrestling As We Liked It) PAPERS No. 183-2001
DID GREEKS HAVE WORD?
(Tacoma News Tribune, Tuesday, Mar. 7, 1939)
George Zaharias, aided and abetted by referee Nick Zvolis, chalked up a victory over Andre Adoree in the main event of the Monday evening wrestling card at Greenwich Coliseum, but a definite majority of the onlookers expressed vehement disapproval over the result.
Reason for the crowd’s protests was the apparent collusion between Zaharias and Zvolis, a couple of Greeks, and there was strong suspicion that the blood brothers "ganged up" on the Frenchman.
Zaharias, employing a series of reverse headlocks for which he might have been penalized, since they were nothing more nor less than illegal "choke" holds, won the first fall, pinning Adoree in two minutes, 54 seconds of the second round.
More of the same followed in the third round until Adoree, goaded into a desperate effort, felled Zaharias with a shower of elbow smashes to register a fall after three minutes, 17 seconds had elapsed. Zvolis censured Adoree for his tactics, whereupon the Frenchman turned on the arbiter, gave him a sound thumping and ripped off his shirt in the bargain.
Despite the fact Adoree’s attack upon Zvolis had no harmful effect on Zaharias, the referee promptly awarded the decision to the Greek and they both walked off, leaving an enraged Frenchman alone in the ring.
Pete Mehringer turned loose a spectacular series of flying tackles to pin George Harben in 20 seconds of the third round of the semi-final, putting appropriate finishing touches on an action-packed tussle; Jack Holland and Dr. Harry Kahoe went to a fast draw in the three-round special event; and Bull Venable and Raoul Lopez also broke even in the three-round opener.
NAGURSKI, MARSHALL – WELL, TUG AND PULL FOR 60 MINUTES
(Chicago Tribune, Thursday, January 18, 1940)
By Howard Barry
We’ll bet you think we’re going to come right out and tell you who won the wrestling match between Bronko Nagurski and Everett Marshall last night in the Coliseum. You’ll say that any news story should let you know what happened right smack dab in the first paragraph. But we have you there. You see, there’s no such thing as a news story about wrestling because wrestling isn’t news – it’s drama.
Now, the essence of good drama is conflict seasoned with suspense. So you can see that if we told you the winner right now we’d be cheating you. We’d be depriving you of the thrill of conflict and the agonizing experience of suspense.
You’ll probably sneak a glance at the headline now, thinking that the editor will give everything away. But it won’t tell you a thing because a headline on a wrestling story doesn’t profess to give you the news in one big smash – it’s like the title of a play.
Speaking of titles of plays – a fellow named Shakespeare knew a thing or two about them. And what kind of titles did he pick for his smash hits? He called them Hamlet, MacBeth, Othello, King Lear – just the names of a lot of guys – without giving you a hint of whether they won or lost.
Of course, those plays were tragedies, so it was a pretty safe bet that fellow who got his name in the title had two strikes on him to begin with. Wrestling, however, isn’t tragedy – it’s comedy.
At a few minutes past 10 o’clock, Nagurski and Marshall stepped into opposite corners of the ring looking quite natty, giving no indication that within a few minutes they would start a struggle for existence, recognizing only the laws of the jungle.
In the melee, each wrestler in turn was thrown thru the ropes, Marshall landing in a tangle of telegraph apparatus. Tho he was badly pressed for time to get back into the ring before the count of 10, Marshall paused politely to pick up the telegraph key and hand it back to the operator.
Then, as referee Lou Gordon struggled to separate them from an illegal hold, they shoved him out of the ring to the concrete floor. With an air of outraged dignity, Gordon scrambled back and pitched both of the wrestlers into the laps of the spectators.
They were picking up each other and whopping one another down when the bell suddenly clanged and Pep Kerwin climbed in to announce that the bout had gone 60 minutes to – guess what? No decision.
Ede Virag threw Seelie Samara, in 16:05; Cliff Gustafson pinned Herb Freeman in 7:16; Ray Steele and Ruffy Silverstein, wrestled 30 minutes to no contest; Lou Thesz threw Hans Schnabel in 19:16.
THESZ MEETS NAGURSKI ON MAT TONIGHT
(Chicago Tribune, October 5, 1951)
By Frank Mastro
Lou Thesz, fresh from his first vacation in three years, will return to his rigorous role of heavyweight champion of the National Wrestling Alliance tonight when he will meet Bronko Nagurski in the main event of the first mat show of the 1951-52 indoor season in International Amphitheater. Promoter Fred Kohler yesterday said more than 7,000 will attend the match, which is set for two of three falls with a one-hour time limit.
Thesz, who was 35 on April 24, was forced out of action last July when he appeared on the verge of a breakdown because of the strenuous schedule he had maintained without letup from July, 1948, thru July, 1951. During that period, Lou engaged in approximately 450 bouts in 30 states and nine provinces in Canada. His travels carried him more than 600,000 miles. He does most of his traveling by plane. His total purses for the three years exceeded $100,000.
Lou spent three weeks of his two months’ rest fishing, swimming and water skiing with his wife, the former Miss Freda Huddleston of Abilene, Tex., at Acapulco, resort spot in Mexico. Mrs. Thesz caught a nine and one-half pound sailfish, Thesz is quick to mention. He didn’t care to say anything about his exploits as a fisherman. Mrs. Thesz didn’t accompany Lou to Chicago, staying home to take care of her husband’s fan mail, which averages between 75 and 150 letters a week, mostly for autographed photos.
A capsule glimpse of Thesz’ routine during most of any given year:
Immediately after his match this evening, he will motor to Midway airport to board a Los Angeles plane at 1:20 a.m. to serve as "bouncer" at an annual press photographers’ ball at Ciro’s in Hollywood tomorrow night. On Sunday, he will take a public workout for television cameras at Ocean Park, before boarding another plane for Memphis, where he will wrestle Monday night.
THESZ DEFEATS NAGURSKI WITH BODY PRESSES
(Chicago Tribune, October 6, 1951)
Lou Thesz, National Wrestling Alliance heavyweight champion, whipped Bronko Nagurski in the featured wrestling match in the International Amphitheater last night. Thesz threw Nagurski in 11:50 with a body press and took the third fall by the same method after 3:55. Nagurski used a flying tackle and body press to take the second fall in 3:55.
The 5,255 who contributed to a gross gate of $10,051 saw one of the preliminaries cut short by the collapse of the ring. Al Williams and Gypsy Joe drew with Billy Goelz and Walter Palmer in 41:34 after each team had scored one fall. Joe Triner, chairman of the Illinois Athletic Commission, order the match halted after body slams weakened the floor and made it collapse.
O’CONNOR BIDS FOR THESZ MAT TITLE TONIGHT
(Chicago Tribune, Friday, June 27, 1952)
By Frank Mastro
Lou Thesz’ $100,000 a year National Wrestling Alliance heavyweight belt will be at stake in Wrigley Field tonight when he meets Pat O’Connor, big broth of a lad from Wellington, New Zealand.
Altho wrestling professional only 22 months, O’Connor has caught the imagination of enthusiasts after appearing in only eight previous starts in Chicago, all of which he won.
In case of rain the show will be postponed until tomorrow afternoon at 2 o’clock to prevent conflict with promoter Fred Kohler’s weekly program in Marigold Gardens tomorrow night.
Kohler yesterday predicted that 15,000, one of the largest crowds to attend a wrestling match here, will be on hand to see Pat, who is 6 feet 1 inch tall and weighs 233 pounds, put his rippling muscles on display against Thesz, who is 6 feet 2 inches and tips the beam at 228.
The bout, booked for two of three falls with a one hour limit, is scheduled to start at 10 p.m. First of four supporting encounters will start at 8 o’clock. Altho the appearance of Jack Brickhouse, WGN-TV mat commentator, as ring announcer may give the setting a television atmosphere, the show will not be televised.
The mat program will be the first offered in the home of the Cubs in two years. In the summer of 1950, Kohler promoted two cards in the north side ball park for charity, with Thesz a principal in each. Lou’s opponents were Nature Boy Buddy Rogers and Gorgeous George. Tonight Kohler is promoting for his own benefit.
Thesz defeated Rogers before 7,839 spectators, and disposed of George before 7,553. Tonight’s card:
Lou Thesz, National Wrestling Alliance heavyweight champion, vs. Pat O’Connor, New Zealand, two of three falls, one hour.
Verne Gagne, Excelsior, Minn., vs. Hans Schmidt, Montreal, one fall, 45 minutes.
Ivan Rasputin, Great Togo and Mighty Atlas vs. Walter Palmer, Wild Bill Longson and Tarzan Kowalski (Australian tag team match), two of three falls, one hour.
Jack Pesek, Omaha, vs. Fritz Von Schacht, Milwaukee, one fall, 30 minutes.
Billy Goelz, Chicago, vs. Carl Engstrom, Chicago, one fall, 30 minutes.
THESZ TOSSES O’CONNOR TWICE TO KEEP CROWN
(Chicago Tribune, Saturday, June 28, 1952)
By Frank Mastro
Lou Thesz retained his National Wrestling Alliance heavyweight belt by winning two of three falls in his bout with Pat O’Connor, 26-year-old Irish importation from Wellington, New Zealand, in Wrigley Field last night.
Thesz, 35 year old, 2233-pound native of St. Louis, took the first fall in 19 minutes and 30 seconds with a back drop and body press and the third with a body press in 1:15 after O’Connor pinned him for the second fall with a body press in 7:30.
Thesz’s victory was unpopular with the 12,823 spectators, who had backed the 231-pound O’Connor as a result of his eight previous triumphs in Chicago. The gross gate receipts were $34,218.
Promoter Fred Kohler, who had predicted a 25,000 crowd, said order cancellations due to cool and threatening weather were responsible for the lower actual attendance. The weather caused the main event principals to enter the ring at 9:33 o’clock, 27 minutes earlier than scheduled.
Billy Goelz and Carl Engstrom went 30 minutes to a draw in the opening encounter and Jack Pesek of Ravenna, Neb., was awarded the decision on a disqualification over Fritz Von Schacht, Milwaukee, in 21:22 for rough tactics, in one fall, 30 minute time limit matches. Verne Gagne, of Excelsior, Minn., threw Hans Schmidt of Montreal in 20:40 in their one fall, 45 minute event.
In the Australian tag team match, Walter Palmer, Ronnie Etchison and Wild Bill Longson beat Ivan Rasputin, Great Togo and Mighty Atlas in two of three falls. The time was 34:05.
THE NEW WAWLI (Wrestling As We Liked It) PAPERS No. 184-2001
THE ANGEL PINS MR. DUSEK AMID 6,000 O’S, AH’S
(Chicago Tribune, Thursday, March 21, 1940)
The Angel, that petit cherub of wrestling who resembles a drama parlay of an Edgar Allen Poe tale and a Walt Disney nightmare, had a busy day in our town.
Yesterday he submitted to a to-hour survey of his peculiar physique by Henry Field, curator of the Field Museum. Mr. Field decided after one glance to call up on the United States army engineers for a lift, but finally went ahead and did the job himself, skipping the aerial photos usual in such work.
Last night, a gaping throng of 6,000, including Mr. Field, witnessed the Angel’s Chicago debut as a wrestling artist in the Coliseum. That undertaking also was a success, for the 36-year-old Frenchman, whose right name is Maurice Tillet. It took him only 15 minutes 4 seconds to subdue tough Ernest Dusek with his own contribution to mat curios – the bear hug.
One cynic who knew that the Angel already had flattened the ornery Dusek with as much dispatch in New York recently insisted on throwing peanuts into the ring, but all in all the anthropologists and plain wrestling folk alike took to the Angel in such a fashion that there is danger of his returning.
Mr. Field found Maurice one of the most intelligent and gracious subjects he ever has run across. The regular sweat-and-snort clientele had to admit that the Angel, for all of the apparent unwieldiness of his 276 pounds on a 5 foot 8 ¾ inch frame, is a highly agile gent.
Dusek, whose wrestling manners never have won the Emily Post mat award, attempted to inject a touch of bare knuckle sauce into the entertainment, but a few dainty flicks of the Angel’s frying pan palm almost planted Ernest in Commissioner Joe Triner’s lap. Other results:
Ruffy Silverstein threw Olaf Olson (20:49); Lou Thesz threw hans Kampfer (23:34); Leo Lefebvre and Seelie Samara, wrestled 30 minutes no decision; Karl Pojello threw Rudy Kay (16:51).
THE ANGEL DROPS GUS SONNENBERG FOR THIRD TIME
(Chicago Tribune, Friday, April 26, 1940)
Maurice Tillet, better known as the Angel, threw Gus Sonnenberg, former Dartmouth football player, in 17 minutes of wrestling in the Coliseum last night. The victory was Tillet’s third in a row over Sonnenberg.
Everett Marshall and Lou Thesz wrestled 30 minutes without reaching a verdict in a semi-final. Jim McMillen beat Rudy Kay in 16:35. Bill Lee, Green Bay Packer tackle, threw Hans Schnabel in 14:22. In the opening match, Juan Humberto and Bert Rubi went 20 minutes to no decision. The attendance was 3,235 and gross receipts $2,669.70.
LOU THESZ WINS BOUT ON FOUL OVER SCHMIDT
(Chicago Tribune, Saturday, November 8, 1952)
Lou Thesz defeated Hans Schmidt last night in the main event in the International Amphitheater before 6,340 fans when referee Jim McMillen disqualified the latter when he leaped upon his opponent during the interval after the second fall. Thesz had won the first fall and Schmidt took the second.
During the rest period Schmidt rushed across the ring and applied a back breaker on the surprised Thesz. Referee McMillen immediately disqualified Schmidt.
In other matches, Verne Gagne defeated Bob Orton in one fall with a body press.Bill Melby beat Ivan Rasputin with a cobra hold. Sonny Myers whipped Al Williams with an atomic drop. In a tag match, Reggie Lisowski and Milt Olsen beat Canadian Angel and Ned Taylor in two straight falls. The gross receipts were $15,126.
THESZ, GAGNE CLASH TONIGHT IN MAT ENCORE
(Chicago Tribune, December 12, 1952)
By Frank Mastro
Lou Thesz, National Wrestling Alliance heavyweight champion, and Verne Gagne, who went to a draw in the International Amphitheater last January before a capacity crowd of 10,974, will meet in a return bout in the 42nd and Halsted St. arena tonight before a comparable attendance.
The Illinois Athletic Commission recognizes the encore as an exhibition. However, fans take their wrestling seriously, and at the end of this evening’s festivities they will acclaim the winner as "the champion," and Messers. Joe Triner, Lou Radzienda, and Enoc Waters of the commission can lump it.
Twenty-five per cent of the gross proceeds tonight will be turned over to the Leader Dogs for the Blind school, promoter Fred Kohler wsaid. He expects receipts to exceed $25,000. At increased prices of $5 for ringside tickets, the house is scaled to gross $35,000 for this rematch, which is booked for two of three falls with a one hour limit.
Hans Schmidt and Mighty Atlas, mat villains, will appear in a secondary engagement on the program, which will start at 8:30 o’clock. In other one fall acts, Chris Zaharias is paired with Bill Melby, and Bob Orton with Sonny Myers. Each of these is set for 30 minutes. Rudy Kay and Al Williams will be sent against Billy Goelz and Johnny (Great) Balbo in an Australian tag team encounter. This is scheduled for two of three falls with a one hour limit.
GAGNE, THESZ DRAW AS FANS BOO DECISION
(Chicago Tribune, Saturday, December 13, 1952)
By Frank Mastro
Lou Thesz, National Wrestling Alliance heavyweight champion, was held to a draw by Verne Gagne, former Minnesota football player, last night before 7,607, who vigorously booed the decision in the International Amphitheater.
The hectic bout in which a woman spectator ran down the aisle and threatened Ed (Strangler) Lewis, Thesz’ manager, drew a gross gate of $22,092.56. Twenty-five per cent of the net receipts of $16,994 went to the Leader Dogs for the Blind School.
Gagne, 218, appeared to have the edge all the way and the fans booed when referee Joe Joswiak announced that it was a draw. Chairman Joe Triner of the Illinois Athletic Commission ordered police and Andy Frain’s ushers to surround the ring after the decision. Actually, any bout that goes the limit without any falls automatically becomes a draw.
In the 39th minute, Thesz threw Gagne out of the ring for the second time. Gagne returned on the 13th count. In the 54th minute, Gagne resented Lewis giving advice to Thesz and kicked at the former champion but missed. This brought the irate woman spectator into action.
Al Williams and Rudy Kay beat Billy Goelz and Johnny Balbo two of three falls, Australian tag; Bill Melby beat Chris Zaharias; Hans Schmidt beat Mighty Atlas; and Sonny Myers beat Bob Orton, disqualification.
WCW ASKED TO PAY PIPER
(Atlanta Business Journal, May 25, 2001)
By Jarred Schenke
Even though no one's wrestling, things are getting rowdy over at the WCW.
The Atlanta-based World Championship Wrestling company -- recently purchased by its former rival, the World Wrestling Federation Inc. -- has its back against the ropes again with another lawsuit. This time, it's from one of wrestling's old guard who claims that he was unfairly fired.
Roderick George Toombs, known professionally as "Rowdy" Roddy Piper (at right), is suing the WCW for breaching his contract when he was abruptly let go from the once-struggling league's ranks after a wrestling-related injury.
Piper is being represented by the same Atlanta law firm -- Meadows, Ichter & Trigg -- that's trying to pin the WCW down over numerous racial discrimination complaints from former black and Asian wrestlers.
Piper claims his contract with the WCW was unfairly terminated in 2000 after an injury he claims he fully recovered from. And in an interview with Atlanta Business Chronicle, Piper said it was his age -- and the ages of his fellow "Millionaire Club" senior wrestlers -- that prompted the WCW to toss them out of the ring, unloading extra costs to prepare for a then-pending merger between AOL and Time Warner Inc.
"The term `incapacitated' I can't even spell," Piper said. "It really hurts me that they'd talk to me like an injured dog and shoot me behind the barn. I gave my heart and soul [to wrestling]."
The WCW denied Piper's allegations in an answer filed in federal court. WCW's attorneys, Atlanta's powerhouse law firm Troutman Sanders LLP, declined to comment beyond the filed response.
According to the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia in Atlanta in February, Piper signed with the WCW in 1999 for a three-year term for a total of 18 pay-per-view events. During a regular wrestling broadcast soon after signing the contract, Piper ruptured his left biceps tendon, but continued to wrestle at events, the lawsuit states.
By the end of 1999, Piper underwent surgery for the injury and then appeared at one more WCW event in February 2000, according to the suit. After that, WCW executives failed to schedule him for other events despite a contract that lasted until 2002, the suit alleges.
Soon after, the WCW terminated Piper's contract, citing an "incapacity," the lawsuit states. Piper's surgeon allegedly gave the green light for him to continue to wrestle, but the WCW wanted Piper to undergo an exam by in-house doctors, the suit states.
Piper claims that was a move to have WCW doctors officially write off Piper as permanently injured.
"[WCW officials] wanted me to be examined by a WCW doctor for a full medical [checkup]. I said to them I had no problem with any doctor you want ... but why are you talking about a full medical [checkup]?" Piper said. "In asking that question, they just never called back."
Piper's attorney, Cary Ichter, said WCW's responses to Piper's lawsuit were "complete lies."
"The bottom line is apparently these people don't even care what they say in filings," Ichter said.
The suit is headed for discovery -- the period when both parties scrutinize and gather evidence prior to trial.
Ichter is no stranger to the WCW. His firm also is pursuing numerous lawsuits against the organization on behalf of 10 former African-American and Asian wrestlers who claim they were discriminated against. Those suits claim that the wrestlers were never properly promoted to help boost their standing with viewers, and that they were required to portray characters that had negative racial stereotypes.
WCW also has formally denied those allegations.
Ichter said there is a possibility that he may name WCW's new owners, the WWF, in all of these suits, including Piper's. It depends on how much of WCW's former assets -- namely the numerous wrestlers who are now on hiatus since the WCW ceased operating earlier this year -- the WWF acquires, Ichter said.
A WWF spokesperson declined to comment on the lawsuits, but said the wrestling giant had acquired "a handful of contracts" when it purchased the WCW. But the WWF's choice thus far of the players hired doesn't bode well for Piper.
"It's the more younger, more developmental talent," said WWF spokesperson Jayson Bernstein. "I don't know the details of why [the WWF] didn't pick up all the [WCW] contracts."
Bernstein declined to disclose who the players were or what the details of the contracts included. But Bernstein said AOL Time Warner Inc. (NYSE: AOL) has been left with the more high-priced contracts.
"The understanding that I have here is that some of the higher-price contracts were left up to the talent and AOL Time Warner on how they were to be settled," he said.
THE NEW WAWLI (Wrestling As We Liked It) PAPERS No. 185-2001
NEAR RIOT FOLLOWS DISQUALIFICATION OF WRESTLER
(Associated Press, December 13, 1932)
BILLINGS, Mont. – A near riot followed the disqualification of Joe Maning, El Paso, Tex., claimant to the welterweight wrestling title, in his match with Billy Romanoff of Milwaukee tonight.
The referee awarded the bout to Romanoff after an exchange of rabbit punches in which the fiery Texan allegedly struck with his closed fists. Each man had a fall to his credit and Romanoff came out of the melee groggy and reeling along the ropes.
The audience arose en masse to boo the decision and a mob of fans poured into the ring, surrounding referee G.M. Finfrock.
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA RESULTS, 1937
Los Angeles CA: April 7, 1937
(Olympic, att. 7,500) … Vincent Lopez beat Hans Steinke … Len Hall beat Ben Morgan … Kimon Kudo beat Dick Lever … Leo Numa beat Les Grimes … Pat Fraley beat Abe Yourist … Hardy Kruskamp drew Jules Strongbow … Jose Murguria beat Fred Carone
Los Angeles CA: April 14, 1937
(Olympic, att. 6,000) … Len Hall beat Vincent Lopez … Leo Numa drew Sandor Szabo … Casey Colombo beat Dick Lever … Pat Fraley beat Ben Morgan … Kimon Kudo drew Tommy Marvin … Jose Murguria beat George Maloney … Jules Strongbow vs Hardy Kruskamp
Los Angeles CA: April 21, 1937
(Olympic, att. 6,500) … Dean Detton beat Hardy Kruskamp … Pat Fraley beat Kimon Kudo … Sandor Szabo beat Tommy Marvin … Leo Numa drew Ben Morgan … Jules Strongbow beat Rudy Strongberg … Casey Colombo beat Hans Schultz … Howard Cantonwine beat Bull Martin … Pete Mehringer vs George Maloney
Los Angeles CA: May 5, 1937
(Olympic, att. 7,000) … Gus Sonnenberg beat Jules Strongbow … Sandor Szabo beat Pat Frlaey … Whiskers Savage beat Dick Daviscourt … Arjan Singh beat Leo Numa … Chief Thunderbird beat Bull Martin … Jimmy Sarandos beat Tommy Marvin … Jose Murguria drew Tiny Roebuck
Los Angeles CA: May 12, 1937
(Olympic, att. 10,000) … (WTM) Dean Detton* beat Len Hall … (Ladies) Clara Mortensen beat Betty Lee … Sandor Szabo drew Chief Thunderbird … Hans Steinke beat Alex Tatufi … Jumbo Kennedy beat Tommy Marvin … Arjan Singh beat Walter Underhill
Los Angeles CA: May 19, 1937
(Olympic, att. 4,500) … Whiskers Savage beat Jules Strongbow … Gus Sonnenberg beat Chief Thunderbird … Sandor Szabo beat Red Vagnone … Arjan Singh beat Pat O’Shocker … Leo Numa drew Pat Fraley … Jimmy Sarandos beat Wild Man Zim
Los Angeles CA: May 26, 1937
(Olympic, att. 9,000) … Vincent Lopez beat Hardy Kruskamp … Chief Thunderbird beat Pat Fraley … (Ladies) Clara Mortensen beat Marion Blondell … Whiskers Savage beat Howard Cantonwine … Leo Numa beat Pete Mehringer … Hans Steinke beat Arjan Singh (cor) … Sandor Szabo beat Walter Underhill … Bill Lewis beat Benny Ginsberg
Los Angeles CA: June 2, 1937
(Olympic, att. 7,500) … Vincent Lopez beat Chief Thunderbird … Whiskers Savage beat Bill Lewis … Len Hall drew Leo Numa … Hans Steinke beat Hans Schultz … Jimmy Sarandos beat Red Vagnone … Sandor Szabo beat Walter Underhill … Jules Strongbow beat Rudy Strongberg
Los Angeles CA: June 16, 1937
(Olympic, att. 8,500) … Vincent Lopez beat Len Hall … Whiskers Savage beat Hans Steinke … Man Mountain Dean beat Jules Strongbow … (Ladies) Clara Mortensen beat Mrs. Dick Rutherford … Nick Lutze beat Al Baffert … Pat Meehan beat Bill Lewis … Howard Cantonwine beat Red Vagnone
Los Angeles CA: June 23, 1937
(Olympic, att. 7,500) … (WTM) Dean Detton* beat Vincent Lopez … Whiskers Savage beat Len Hall … Man Mountain Dean beat Brother Jonathan … Sandor Szabo beat Otto Von Buskirk … Chief Thunderbird beat Jules Strongbow … Hans Steinke drew Nick Lutze … Jimmy Sarandos beat Pat Riley
GORILLA RAMOS WINS FROM TASSUS
(Albuquerque Tribune, January 1, 1938)
Gorilla Ramos took two consecutive falls from Tommy Tassus to win the decision at the Armory Friday night.
Ramos won the first fall in 11 minutes with an Indian death lock. The second fall came in three minutes after Ramos had been out of the ring three times. On coming back in the third time Tassos struck him before he was through the ropes. Ramos re-entered the ring and knocked his opponent out for the count.
Danny Russo won the semifinal by taking the last two of three falls from Hans Wisbar in one of the cleanest matches that Albuquerque fans here witnessed.
Jim (The Blimp) Monatary, Lubbock, Tex., fell the victim to the onslaughts of Russe and Antery in four and one-half minutes in the curtain raiser.
The bout that was originally scheduled between The Blimp, 380, and Tarzan Hill, 240, did not go on because the latter did not appear.
(ED. NOTE – The following series of clips probably pinpoints the origin of the National Wrestling Association’s junior lightheavy crown. The reasonably authoritative "Wrestling Title Histories," by Royal Duncan and Gary Will, makes just one short mention of this title, saying that Mike London was defending it in 1940. London later became promoter in Albuquerque, where this two-night tournament took place under NWA auspices.)
AL WILLIAMS IS FAVORITE FOR TITLE
(Albuquerque Tribune, February 16, 1938)
Wrestling will take the sports spotlight here Wednesday night, as eight matches of tournament competition are scheduled for the opening of promoter Clayton Fisher’s two-day junior lightheavyweight meet in the Armory.
Drawings will take place in the ring immediately before the first match, Fisher said. The ten men who have registered for the tourney will draw for pairings, and elimination will continue until only the championship bout remains.
Fisher plans to hold the title match Thursday night, with a consolation for a semi-final and a third match for a curtain raiser. The championship go will be two-out-of-three falls, while all of Wednesday’s events will be one-fall, one-hour limit matches. Sheriff Johnny Flaska will referee the title bout.
Rated uncrowned light-heavyweight champ of the world by eastern wrestling fans, Sailor Al Williams is a favorite of the local meet. But Williams will not have an easy task with such grapplers as Gorilla Ramos, Bill Cazzell, Stanley Buresh and Babe Kasaboski entered.
Ramos, Mexican wrestler, has never lost a match since he came to the United States. Cazzell tamed Frank Wolff two weeks in a row recently, while Kasaboski came out on top of a light-heavyweight tourney at Windsor, Ontario, a few weeks ago. Buresh, an Australian importation, claims to have originated the famous drop-kick, which he calls the "Kangaroo Kick."
In order to qualify for the title go, wrestlers must weigh in around 168 pounds, Fisher said. Col. Landry, president of the National Wrestling and Boxing Association, will come here from his home at Friar’s Point, Miss., to witness the tourney.
Other men entered are:
Jim Londes, Jack Hagen, Tommy Tassos, Hans Wisbar and Tony Bommerito.
GORILLA RAMOS GOES TO THE FINAL
(Albuquerque Tribune, February 17, 1938)
Scientific wrestling tactics proved superior to the "rough ‘n tough" school in the Armory Wednesday night, as Gorilla Ramos and Babe (Pretty Boy) Kasaboski, two scientific grapplers, fought their way to the finals of the junior light-heavyweight tournament.
Using the bracket system of elimination, the tourney gave Ramos a busy night. He had to tangle with three men in the course of the evening. On the other hand, Kasaboski took an easy win over Tony Bommerito and drew byes straight through to the finals.
Kasaboski and Ramos will grapple for the world’s light-heavyweight championship of the world in the Armory arena Thursday.
The five pre-meet favorites came out strong in the first round, every one of them winning. Sailor Al Williams downed Hans Wisbar; bushy Stanley Buresh floored Tommy Tassos; Ramos pinned Hagen to the mat, and Kasaboski made short work of Bommerito.
But Williams did not live up to his rating in the second round, as Bill Cazzell managed to win with a reverse crab hold. Williams protested to referee Wisbar, saying that his feet were outside the ropes, but Wisbar stood by his decision.
Ramos used a heavy lay to floor Buresh, after the Australian had employed two of his kangaroo kicks unsuccessfully.
In the semi-final, the battling Mexican, Ramos, got the quickest fall of the evening by slamming Cazzell to the mat with a series of blows to the face in five minutes.
Finalists will weigh in at Ringling Bros. Cigar Store at 3 p.m. Thursday. The main event will be two-out-of-three falls, two-hour limit, while other matches will be 30-minute, one-fall bouts.
GORILLA RAMOS TAKES WORLD TITLE
(Albuquerque Tribune, February 18, 1938)
The world’s light-heavyweight wrestling crown rested with Gorilla Ramos Thursday night, after the battling Mexican floored Babe (Pretty Boy) Kasaboski, Canadian champ, two-out-of-three falls in the final match of the tournament in the Armory.
A riotous crowd thundered its applause as the Gorilla employed a grapevine followed by a crucifying body stretch to force Kasaboski to concede the bout in the third fall.
The dapper Canadian came out strong in the early part of the match, taking the first fall with a series of powerful monkey flips. Ramos was baffled by Kasaboski’s tactics, and was pinned to the mat in 14 minutes and 41 seconds.
Back in the arena again, Pretty Boy attempted to repeat his earlier performance with more monkey flips. Just as the Gorilla appeared to be weakening, the Canadian slipped. Ramos took advantage, and came down with a powerful heavy lay to take the second fall in five minutes and 40 seconds.
Ramos took the last fall in five minutes and 54 seconds.
It was the cleanest and most scientific wrestling ever seen in Albuquerque, according to many old-time mat fans.
Col. Harry Landry, president of the National Wrestling Association, presented the title belt to the new light-heavy king of the world. Sheriff Johnny Flaska refereed.
Reverting back to the old rough style, Jack Hagen and Tommy Tassos brought out cheers and boos in a prelim, in which Hagen took the decision. The boys furnished the fans with thrills by fighting outside the ring at every opportunity, and even brought police to the ringside once.
Unsatisfied with the decision, Tassos started fighting again, but Flaska intervened and sent the grapplers to the showers.
Australian Stanley Buresh showed a flash of brilliant wrestling to send Al Williams to the mat with kangaroo kicks, known in this country as drop kicks. Buresh was worked up to fighting pitch after Williams tried to throw him outside the ropes.
Wild Bill Cazzell defeated Hans Wisbar and Jim Londes and Tony Bommerito fought to a draw in other prelims.
RASSLE GROUP MONOPOLY IS UNDER PROBE
(International News Service, March 6, 1955)
LOS ANGELES – Charges that the National Wrestling Alliance is monopolistic are under investigation today by the Los Angeles office of the U.S. Department of Justice.
The inquiry comes in the wake of a $600,000 damage suit filed against the boxing and wrestling promoter of Los Angeles’ Olympic Auditorium and others by Frank Pasquale, who promotes wrestling at South Gate (Calif.) Arena.
Named in Pasquale’s suit were Olympic promoter Eaton; his son, Robert; Hugh Nichols, wrestling promoter at Hollywood Legion Stadium, and Mike Hirsch of Ocean Park.
Pasquale charged the group with violations of the Sherman and state Cartwright Anti-Trust acts and with unfair competition.
A pre-trial hearing in connection with the suit will be held Tuesday in Los Angeles superior court.
The National Wrestling Alliance is the mat world’s equivalent of boxing’s International Boxing Club, which the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled to be engaged in interstate commerce and, therefore, subject to anti-trust laws.
THE NEW WAWLI (Wrestling As We Liked It) PAPERS No. 186-2001
AN INTERVIEW WITH TERRY FUNK
(November 5, 2000)
By Eric Gargiulo
There is no long introduction necessary when you interview
Terry Funk. Is there any other wrestler that is more respected than he in or out
of the ring? I would go on a limb to say that there may never be another,
either. Every time Terry steps into the ring it is special.
I had the honor of working with Terry several times in ECW. When Terry walked in to the arena, you could sense a change. It was as if your grandfather just walked in. Sure the boys still had the fun. There was a sense however that you did not want to make a mockery of yourself or the business in front of the Funker. Whether you were at the top or the bottom of the card, it was always an honor to speak with Terry Funk. Terry Funk is the most humble man you will ever meet. He is very different from your current stars. Terry will not only stop to give you an autograph, but he will spend hours with his fans.
While some of today's stars would rather sit in a bar and
chase women and drink with the boys, Terry would rather sit down with a group of
fans, answer their questions, and thank every one of them for being there. Terry
is truly an inspirational man. The last year has not been a banner year in the
career of Terry Funk. While he is once again working in a major promotion and
getting a few last paydays, that is about all. While Terry is a company man and
will go along with whatever he is told, he isn't stupid. He is well aware of the
current situation of WCW and the wrestling business overall. Terry Funk is one
of the most brutally honest men you will meet. That is why I asked the questions
I did. To get inside this man's head for an hour is like talking physics with
Albert Einstein. I hope you enjoy this interview, as much as I was honored to
EG: What is your current status and role with WCW?
Terry: My current status and role with WCW is I'm sitting back and taking a look at a lot of mistakes being made and that's not a bad place to be at this time. Watching them and not being a part of them.
EG: How are you feeling?
Terry: I feel great. I feel absolutely terrific. Just been diddling around, just got off a vacation, a big vacation, the longest vacation I've ever taken. It was to Key West, seven days, so that's pretty good. Always have something going on.
EG: How will WWF buying WCW effect the wrestling business?
Terry: Well, first off is that hopefully WWF doesn't buy WCW. We all know that's a possible detriment to the wrestlers in the United States today. That is the most important factor of it. The next most important factor is that somebody needs to get the reins down there. I think it's the worst environment that there's been in a long, long time. As far as having a direction and I think that they better grab a hold of the reigns and get a direction. Again, what is Vince McMahon buying if he does buy it? You know, my father told me many years ago that the Arizona area was for sale. The territory died many years ago. I said "Gosh Dad, we ought to expand our area, we ought to buy Arizona, Phoenix and Tucson, and that would be a wonderful thing." He says "What are you buying son? You're buying blue sky is all you are buying." That's very true. What are you buying? Are you buying a bunch of debts? Are you buying a bunch of contracts already? Are you buying TV time? If you're buying TV time on a Turner station with a number of years that are locked in, then you are buying something that is a viable product then that you could sell to others. But if you're not buying that TV time, which I am sure that somebody would be buying, but what is it worth? Is it worth the money that they want for it? What do they want for it? Do they want their losses back? Again, as I'm thinking this thing through as I'm talking to you it could be a very dangerous situation as far as the business is concerned if you assume all of these debts and everything. Yet if you don't assume the debts it could be a very good deal, if you get TV time. I keep on hearing it's for sale, but never have heard a figure mentioned. Is it for a million dollars? I might buy it. Is it for 50 million? That's the thing ... I think all of us are on the outside. What do they want for it? I never have heard a figure from any individual from WCW whatsoever. Is it worth it? How can I answer that? Maybe they want $500 for it. It's worth it. If they want a 100 million, then no. We really can't answer that. I really can't answer that as far as if it's a good deal or not. They might be surprised if they had a decent figure that was not inflated too much, they might be surprised. If they made it public, they might have more people than they think of wanting the thing.
EG: Is the business on a down swing?
Terry: You know I've tried to figure it out, if it's on a downswing or not. I always think it's on a downswing or it's on an upswing. I am always conscious of the swing of the business. I've been wrong on it before, but the figures show it right now. What you have to do is you have to add, which I have said for a long time, longer than three months ago. About six months ago I started saying that -- total up the figures. I'd talk to my brother on the phone and tell him the same thing. Vince is doing better than he ever has, yet if you add the two figures together they're dropping. I think it's a staleness in the product. I think the product changed and the product moved whenever the competition was closer. Right now if you add up the two numbers ... You know, I've gone through a lot. What would I do if I owned WCW? Well, you know the first thing I'd do is steal Kurt Angle or somebody with a great athletic background and I'd build my company on that. I wouldn't build it on anything else but that, as you have to have a viable athlete, a viable wrestler and a person like that to build your company around and somebody with freshness and new. He's not the only one in the country. There's a lot of guys you can build it on. But you better build on something fresh and right now at this time and I'm not talking about a 20-year-old, either. I'm talking about Kurt or a person of that stature. I used him as an example. I'm talking about building it on a reputable guy with a reputation in wrestling and you have to build wrestling on heritage as they have done in Japan. You look at that and you have to make things mean things and nothing means nothing anymore. To be point frank with you, that is a fault of Vince Russo.
EG: What do you think about the job Vince Russo has done?
Terry: (Long pause) Honestly, I think it sucks. Let's get serious. Let's get down to the bottom line. What are we? We are not sitcoms. We are not soap operas. We are not storylines. What we are is professional wrestling. That is what has kept us going for years and years, is what we are. What we are, we are finishes. Let's not become something that we are not. Wrestling has lasted forever. I don't remember prehistoric man acting out a sitcom. But they did wrestle. Do you understand what I am saying? They are our identities, but we give them up so easy. What we are is different from what they are. An actor cannot be a wrestler. You understand?
EG: How much longer are you tied into WCW?
Terry: I'm not tied into them and never have been tied into them.
EG: When you came to WCW, the WWF publicly stated that you were still under contract with them. Is that true?
Terry: Total lie. Total 100% bullshit. 100% bullshit. That's what it was. It was just all bullshit.
EG: Are you aware that you were Bret Hart's final opponent and your thoughts on him retiring?
Terry: It's not sad at all if that's what he wants to do. I have a great fondness for every one of those kids and always have. Right at this particular time I think that Bret is financially capable of hanging it up and not having to worry. I wish that I would have been financially capable of hanging it up when I was 43 years old. Seriously and had my life set as to do what I wanted to, when I wanted to, and how I wanted to do it, my kids would have money in the bank and forever have it. Unfortunately I did not come through the business whenever it was in a state of making people financially capable of retiring at younger ages. I'm proud of him. I'm proud of all the guys. I think that it's great that he can get out of the business. Especially after all the shots that he has taken. That might have been my last shot, the shot that I gave him. That might be a feather in my cap, maybe I'm the one? Maybe I got him out of the business? Maybe that's a favor?
EG: Has working for WCW unmotivated you from wrestling?
Terry: Not at all. Not at all. I still love the business. Being very honest with you, as I can sit here and tell you that "by golly I can get a good one out of my body" and I can. There were better days. I love it whenever I have an opportunity to get back in the ring. Physically it doesn't feel good for a week, ten days, two weeks, or even longer. I'm trying to cut down on it and make myself sound stronger. I start to lie a little bit, but I find myself telling the truth. I woke up bright and early this morning and you caught me in a moment of honesty about everything. It's very hard to be honest with yourself. That's the hardest person you have to be honest with.
EG: How would your father work in a WCW locker room? What would he do?
Terry: Probably about the same thing that I do. I think that he would probably, it depends on what position he walked in to the locker room. As a wrestler, I'm sure that he, and believe me it's not all bad. Remember that, too. I'm not sitting here saying it's all bad. I'm saying we are below the heights of where we once were. I'm talking about the last two years’ time. You understand? My father would be in the dressing room, he'd be working his butt off I am sure, he'd be giving them great matches. That's what you got to do to get on top.
EG: Why do you think nobody has started another major promotion in the United States?
Terry: Expense. You have to almost own the situation, own the television. You have to be an AOL, you have to be a Time Warner, you have to be. Let's face it, Vince could be in trouble tomorrow. TNN says "kiss my ass" if they get in a bickering, fighting argument over this WCW deal, even if it takes place or doesn't take place. Vince is no stronger than his television and when you are owned by a television company, that makes you as strong as the television company, as long as it exists. You're talking about if Vince didn't have all of his television stations laid out and his ducks in a row, and if it wasn't for his father building that, I don't think that would be possible. I think in a way that he is archaic through his father. You understand, but in a good way? He just moved on forward with all of that. That's not something that happened, it has just grown and changed. It's something that has not happened just through his life and career in wrestling, it happened in his father's life and career in wrestling too.
EG: What are your thoughts on the future of ECW and the current state of affairs?
Terry: Well, it's difficult to run without TV. What would I do if I was WCW? I think Paul Heyman would be willing to take a minimal amount for his company right now and dance away, but you don't want him to dance away because he's got a good mind for the business. What's wrong with WCW taking over ECW? Not taking it over, just taking them and putting them on TV. Give half the TV to ECW and half the TV to WCW, put them on the same station, do the same context, which I have said for years is to have them against each other. You understand what I'm saying? Have a one-year pay per view. This is not something that is a great, mind boggling, wonderful idea of Vince McMahon's. I've been kicking this around and so have other wrestlers for years. Put Heyman in control of one organization down there and somebody else in control of another one and put them together once a year and don't ever talk for that year except having some kind of coordination between the two. It would ease off the television and the pressures off of one person and be able to produce two separate shows and be able to prosper from it at the end of the year by ultimate pay per view.
EG: Do you think if Vince bought WCW he would do something similar?
Terry: Well, I think it would be a very good product. Again, he would have to run it the same way I'm talking about because you are talking about twenty pay per views a year then. You are talking about an astronomical amount of pay per views to come out of one company. Then you have your one major one. I think that Vince has been sniffing his own farts or something or getting a little dizzy with himself.
EG: Why did your angle with Tommy Dreamer end so suddenly in ECW?
Terry: I got hepatitis. I picked up right down there and it just kicked me right in the rear end. It sure did. I was very, very sick for about three months.
EG: Would you ever like to finish the angle with Tommy Dreamer?
Terry: No, but I would certainly like to find out who the heck poisoned my food. I'd like to go ahead and do that. I think I just picked it up on the road, eating in so many restaurants.
EG: What happened with your proposed explosion match with Onita for CZW and Onita Promotions?
Terry: They contacted me, but it was about three quarters bullshit. Nobody ever sent me any papers on the thing. They said "would you do this for this certain amount of money" and I said "of course I would." That's how that got out. I've got some guy, and I'm still waiting for his money from up there right now. I said "send me half of the money" and he said "will you come up here and wrestle for me" and I said "sure I will for this amount of money and send me half up front" so he agreed and he's advertising me without sending me half upfront so if he's out there listening and he's in your part of the country, he better get my money to me or else I'm not coming.
EG: What are your thoughts on Bill Goldberg and have you sat down with him at all?
Terry: How the hell do I know? I was down there for six months and didn't talk to him five times. He just wasn't there for whatever reason. Evidently it was problems with him and the office, or whatever it was. I had no interaction with him whatsoever. I like the guy, met him on about two or three occasions. Five minutes bullshit and that was it. That's nothing bad to say about the relationship, I just don't know him. I don't know him well enough to give you an assessment of him.
THE NEW WAWLI (Wrestling As We Liked It) PAPERS Nos. 187-2001 & 188-2001
THE LOW BLOWS AND HIGH HOPES OF PRO WRESTLING IN VEGAS
(Las Vegas Weekly, November 10, 2001)
By Damon Hodge
The Williams progeny stand center ring, duking it out.
Kevan, 8, flings 5-year-old Kijana into the ropes. Kijana bounces off, ducks an elbow and begins tattooing his sibling doppelganger with a multiple-punch flurry.
Kevan stumbles. A smattering of young onlookers scream with glee. Suddenly, Kevan recovers and nearly seats his sister with an assortment of punches.
More applause from the bloodthirsty pubescents.
The violence continues two more minutes until their father, Manuel Williams, tells everyone the show's about to start. He beckons his kids to join the crowd huddled inside the Las Vegas Pro Wrestling Academy's garage-sized arena on this hot Friday night in late June. Everyone's eager to get their fill of scripted mirth and mayhem.
For the next two hours, Kevan and Kijana watch men twice their height and quadruple their weight bite, bear hug, chop, clothesline, elbow, eye-gouge, kick, knee, piledrive, punch, slap, slam, smack, suplex and stomp mudholes in each other.
When chairs thwack backs, they hoot. When bodies torpedo bodies, they holler. As referees give 10-counts to the vanquished, the young fans mimic, motioning their arms in like manner: 1, 2, 3...They're diehard wrestling fans. And they're not alone.
Las Vegans are in love with pro wrestling. Some bars feature it on big-screen TVs and thousands pack live events, like the more than 15,000 war mongers who invaded the Thomas & Mack Center for a March 5 event hosted by the World Wrestling Federation, the Microsoft of pro wrestling. The event grossed nearly $700,000, pushing the WWF's revenues from Las Vegas events to nearly $1.5 million since 1999.
Wrestling in Las Vegas is so big there's even an audience for the stuff that never makes it on TV, the kind of bashing and crunching that's really only made for someone's backyard.
The Moon Pie Wrestling Federation is a traveling circuit of death-defying backyard grapplers who beat the shit out of each other--on purpose and for fun. Broken bones are just part of another day in the office.
Also indicative of the city's pro wrestling craze is the existence of two schools for would-be grapplers--the 5-year-old Buffalo Wrestling Federation and the upstart Las Vegas Pro Wrestling Academy, which opened in April. The battle between these two has so far been confined to a war of words.
Joe DeFalco, the creative force behind the Pro Wrestling Academy, has landed several Buffalo Wrestling students and teachers.
"(BWF founder Jim Barrier) has turned off a lot of people with his tactics," DeFalco says. "We're a real school dedicated to professional wrestling. Our goal is to compete with the WWF. We'll succeed. He won't."
Counters Barrier, whose school is the city's first successful conservatory for made-for-TV tussling: "Those guys'll never last. I'm the only one in town with a promoter's license ... I'm the only one in town with a TV show ... and I'm about to come out with a comic book. The LV Pro guys, I taught them. I'm already 10 steps ahead of them. They can't beat me."
Sounds like these guys have their scripts down pat.
WRESTLING IS LAS VEGAS HISTORY
With a quirky history and a penchant for everything larger-than-life, wrestling operators have long counted on Las Vegas as the perfect place to teach others how to inflict pain.
Barrier says Vegas is an ideal place for his wrestling school--not because we're all a bunch of bloodthirsty cretins who can't get enough of the fake (think: breasts)--but because the city is so geared toward entertainment. And that's exactly what pro wrestling's all about. He doesn't, however, believe Las Vegans are really into wrestling.
DeFalco doesn't dispute the entertainment value of wrestling, but he disagrees with Barrier's assessment that Vegas is not a wrestling town. Stone Cold Steve Austin was probably still getting schoolyard beatings when pro wrestling first set up shop in Sin City.
Verne Gagne, a decorated amateur wrestler, brought the now-defunct American Wrestling Association to town in the 1980s. Matches were held at Showboat, now renamed Castaways. The Boulder Highway hotel-casino was a prime spot: The food was cheap and wrestlers stayed for free. Used mostly as a boxing venue, the casino pavilion proved an optimal place to hold and film wrestling matches. ESPN taped AWA events there and broadcast them twice a day.
Occasionally, my father took me to matches. The pavilion was always packed, the crowd comprised mostly of blue-collar types like my pops, who got into wrestling through boxing. The well-sculpted characters, the crowd interaction, storylines and great physical drama, sparked their intrigue.
Grappling regularly at the Showboat were future stars such as Terry "Hulk" Hogan, arguably pro wrestling's first mainstream superstar, and Sean Michaels, a high-flying daredevil who would rocket to prominence in the late 1990s.
Equal attention was given to ring generals like Larry Zbyszko, a martial arts expert, and former American Wrestling Association World Champion Nick Bockwinkel, men who favored mat wizardry and Greco-Roman combat over haymaker-punches and off-the-top-rope aerial acrobatics.
Back then, says Pro Wrestling Academy trainer Mike Lane, wrestling was pure--at least as pure as a pseudo-sport could be. Most wrestlers had some sort of athletic pedigree, be it amateur wrestling, boxing or football, notes Lane, who was a boxer before spending a decade as a wrestler.
But as wrestling evolved, it also devolved, becoming less sport and more entertainment.
"Nowadays, it's about acting, not action," Lane says. "All the subplots and interplay are lead-ins to pay-per-view programs. There were real wrestlers back in the 1970s and 1980s."
POPULARITY WAXES, WANES, WAXES
In the 1970s and 1980s, wrestlers could choose from 32 independent, regional federations, including the American Wrestling Association. Lane worked in federations in the South and East Coast, performing in civic centers, school gyms and fire stations. The money was good, earning Lane anywhere from $750 to $2,500 a week.
As the industry's popularity surged in the mid-1980s, businessman Vince McMahon Sr. got involved.
McMahon, then a proprietor of the World Wide Wrestling Federation, a precursor to the WWF, scoured the country for talent, lifting the best and brightest from regional federations. Next came a buying binge in which McMahon snatched up wildly popular independent organizations such as the Texas All-Star Wrestling to pad a still-growing talent pool.
Ravaged by the talent drain were the AWA and others, their stars bolting for the WWF or its main rival, the National Wrestling Alliance, predecessor of WCW. It, too, amassed talent from smaller federations.
On March 31, 1985, the WWF upped the ante.
Wrestlemania I, held in Madison Square Garden in New York City, marked wrestling's arrival on a large mainstream stage.
Twenty-six-year-old Jimmy Fouts, a construction worker who trains at the Pro Wrestling Academy, remembers it vividly. He ordered the pay-per-view event mainly to see Mr. T, the brash-talking, gold-jewelry wearing, mohawk-sporting enforcer of "A-Team" television fame. Mr. T was teaming with Hulk Hogan to face "Rowdy" Roddy Piper and Paul Orndorff. Adding to the event's legitimacy were the celebrities: Liberace, Billy Martin, Muhammad Ali. More than 1 million fans watched via closed-circuit television.
"It was the most exciting thing I'd seen on TV," Fouts says.
And while the sport grew from there, it was nearly dealt a death blow by the admission that the brutish soap operas were fake. And to some, it had just become ho-hum.
"Everything had become boring," says Fouts. "You had the same guys doing everything. There was no originality. It wasn't hardcore."
To compensate for the lack of go-for-jugular action, wrestling intelligentsia began thinking deviously. Bolstering the standard fare of steel cage and no disqualification matches would be two-on-one bouts, intergender contests and midget grappling. New characters also emerged: androgynous, racist, sexist, misogynistic, Communist. The ploy worked.
Recalls Lane: "Here I am, a Louisiana boy, and I'm playing a Russian at one time and a Mexican at another. Whatever a promoter wanted me to be, I became ... the promoter's always right. Promoters on the East Coast liked me because I talked different. They weren't used to a country boy. The differences created interest."
Profits soared--and they continue to do so. In fiscal 2000, more than 7 million households purchased WWF pay-per-view programs, generating retail revenues of $150 million, according to the company.
And today, wrestling stars promote everything from sports drinks to ravioli. That major companies would eventually seek to cement ties in marketing-friendly Las Vegas was natural, Fouts said.
"Las Vegas is a place where marketing and image are important," Fouts says. "It's no wonder that the city that has accepted pro wrestling. Every WWF event I've been to here has been sold out. This city is about entertainment, so it's made for wrestling."
But Las Vegas hasn't necessarily welcomed every wrestling-related venture. Scores of local wrestling federations have come and gone. Even the WWF and WCW failed at wrestling-related endeavors.
In December, the WWF sold its Convention Center Drive hotel-casino for $11.2 million to Chicago-based Mark IV Realty Group. WWF officials declined to elaborate on the reason for selling the 193-room property, which it bought for $10.6 million from Debbie Reynolds in 1999. The company had planned to raze the property and build a $100 million, 35-story, wrestling-themed hotel with 1,000 rooms.
Then last September, the $2 million wrestling-themed WCW Nitro Grill inside the Excalibur hotel-casino closed after less than 16 months.
Ironically, Nitro Grill's death helped give birth to Joe DeFalco's dream.
IN IT FOR LOVE, RESPECT
DeFalco readily admits that he once thought wrestling was
goofy. So what's he doing running a wrestling school in Vegas? "It sort of
just happened," he says.
Blame some of it on his great-grandmother, "Aunt Abuela," a diehard who consumed wrestling and introduced him to the sport. The Queens, N.Y., native grew up watching old-school warriors like Terry Funk and Bruno Sammartino and occasionally trekked to Nassau Coliseum in the mid-1970s to watch matches.
DeFalco ignored wrestling as a teenager, put off by its goofiness--only to be drawn back in by Wrestlemania II in 1986, featuring Hulk Hogan vs. King Kong Bundy and the 7-foot-5-inch Andre the Giant in a battle royal.
Over the next five years, DeFalco became a wrestling junkie. After moving here in 1991, he found and became loyal to a wrestling radio show hosted by future WCW announcer Mike Tenay, a former sports book official at the Gold Coast.
But the show soon went off the air, leaving DeFalco with no local outlet for the wrestling news he craved. He toyed with the idea of starting a wrestling show, but found work as a DJ at a strip club. Getting fired provided the avenue to pursue his own show.
"The Internet had a lot of great information and I figured there was a market for wrestling news," says DeFalco, who paid $200 a week to host a wrestling show inside Gameworks on the Strip. He called the WWF and WCW to secure interviews with their stars. And due to a scheduling quirk, he scored big on his first show: He got then-WWF Champion The Rock.
Things got better with the opening of the WCW Nitro Grill. DeFalco moved his radio show to the Excalibur and got to interview stars who visited every month for promotional events. Meantime, he continued burning the ears of WWF and WCW officials and mining their ranks for juicy tidbits.
When the Nitro Grill closed, DeFalco began supporting Barrier's Buffalo Wrestling Foundation. Those ties were severed in February after an event at a local club--DeFalco contends Barrier and he had a minor disagreement, and they've been apart ever since.
And as it so often does, friction led to invention. With a friend, Gary Rush, DeFalco created a new wrestling school in town (he estimates there are more than 100 pro wrestling schools around the country). DeFalco planned it as a place to not only teach pile drivers and suplexes, but where wrestling fans could come to watch matches. DeFalco planned to expose students to all facets of the industry, especially the non-wrestling jobs--promoting, announcing, photographing, filming videos.
"I wanted to make this the home of the Las Vegas wrestling fan," DeFalco says.
The Las Vegas Pro Wrestling Academy opened in April with Buffalo Wrestling defectors like Lane. And there's no love lost for the competition.
"Fuck Buffalo Jim," spat wrestler Manuel Williams, aka Sho Nuff Bad.
Barrier can't understand the vitriol. He's shocked, hurt even.
Caught off guard by the bad-mouthing, the 6-foot-3 inch, 365-pounder seemed sullen. But it doesn't take long to rev him up.
"This is the first I'd heard that anyone was talking bad about me," he says. "I never did anything wrong and I never screwed anybody. I don't know where this is coming from. It must be jealousy."
Jealousy, says Barrier, stemming from his success in building local interest in pro wrestling. Among Barrier's boasts: He's the only licensed wrestling promoter in town; he has the city's only wrestling TV program; more than 100 students have trained at his school at 2456 Industrial Road; and casinos are courting him to put on events.
"This is why they're jealous," Barrier says. "It's been a long, hard road to get here but I've earned everything I got."
Abandoned at age 12, the Cleveland native worked at a gas station to earn a living. He padded his income by "shoot wrestling"--a 1970s form of ultimate fighting--behind the gas station. It was violent. This wasn't choreography, these bones were really broken. The winner of each match got $20. Barrier got good.
Armed with his winnings, Barrier moved to Las Vegas in 1970 at age 18. He printed up 1,000 business cards, took residence near a pay phone and started an auto repair in 1971--it's still open. As time passed and his auto shop grew, Barrier indulged his passion for wrestling by assisting local federations. But none ever stayed open long enough to make an impact.
After a group he was affiliated with, the National Wrestling Council, closed shop in 1994, Barrier opened a wrestling school. His motivation was twofold: It would not only create future wrestlers, it would also help boost the health of Yokozuna, a friend and former sumo wrestler who'd ballooned to 800 pounds.
Students came. And Yokozuna, who is now deceased, beat Hulk Hogan for the WWF title.
"I wanted to open something that would stay open, a school that would create a demand for wrestling," Barrier says. "I realized that Las Vegas didn't need pro wrestling because there's already so many forms of entertainment here. But I wanted to teach people who wanted to learn about pro wrestling and to give them a chance to perform. I've done that. I was the first one to succeed at doing that."
On his way up, Barrier contends, he helped dozens. But none of his protégés, he says, will ever equal his success. Though the Pro Wrestling Academy is showing some good signs, with nearly 20 students and decent-sized crowds for its Friday night matches, Barrier's not worried. "They're just a bunch of kids," he says.
"They won't say that stuff in my face because they know they won't get away with it. They should know that they can't succeed, especially if they are doing things behind my back. I got many of (the students) trained and on TV, and never once did I complain about their lackluster performances. These guys weren't WWF or WCW material."
According to Barrier, no one, not even his students, should expect to earn a WWF paycheck.
"I tell my students that they will not make the WWF," he says. "Guys need to be 6-foot-8-inches, 365 pounds and chiseled like Arnold Schwarzenegger. I tell them that they're here to have fun. That's it.
"Some of these kids (at the Pro Wrestling Academy) are starting to believe that they're tough, when they're not. Listen, brother, I'm not competing with them. My only competition is the WWF. I wish (Pro Wrestling Academy) the best of luck ... those cowards."
CASUALTIES OF A STAGED WAR
Injuries are expected in sports. Death isn't.
The WWF is linked to two cases of death, at least one of which was wholly avoidable.
In a case that shocked many, 14-year-old Lionel Tate was sentenced to life without parole for the March 1999 murder of 6-year-old Tiffany Eunick. Tate was 12 when he killed his playmate with wrestling moves he saw on television.
Despite appeals for clemency from his lawyer and the Florida Episcopal dioceses and a psychologist's report showing him to be developmentally slow, a Florida jury in January convicted Tate of first-degree murder. Attempts to get stars such as Sting and Hulk Hogan to testify and to assign blame to the WWF failed.
Surprisingly, few parents queried at Pro Wrestling Academy events in May and June knew much about Tate's case. Most said their children understand the dangers of actually using wrestling moves. It's a message Manuel Williams says is ingrained in his children's heads. Education, he says, is the best way to mitigate chances for injury. His kids are allowed to emulate the moves, but only on each other and never with violent contact.
"They know they can't do these things at school," he says. "Believe me, I understand the danger as a parent. Here, I'll show you that they understand."
He summons Kevan and Kijana. "Kevan," he says, "show him how you hit your sister."
Kevan cocks backs, lifts his foot and delivers a blow in sequence with his foot hitting the ground. The punch lands at least two inches from Kijana. She doesn't flinch.
"See?" Manuel says.
Officials at University Medical Center and Sunrise Hospital say doctors there treat few injuries resulting from pro wrestling.
But the dearth of accidents doesn't mean the danger isn't real, cautions UNLV Sociology Professor Kate Hausbeck, especially since wrestling primarily targets an adolescent demographic with toys, T-shirts, video games and the like.
"To me, wrestling is the closest example of real people behaving like cartoon characters and if you think back, the basic, classic cartoons were extraordinarily violent," Hausback says. "The good guy chased the bad guy and you had all these outrageous stunts. Pro wrestling brings cartoon violence and buffoonery into the real world. It's easier for kids to mimic real people than to mimic cartoons."
No need to tell that to Lionel Tate's parents.
WRESTLING FUN FOR ALL, REALLY
Every Friday night, families pile in their cars and drive to
the Pro Wrestling Academy for two hours of staged violence.
As I pulled up, I noticed that the parking lot, normally half-full, was full. Cars were lined up on the streets and in slots in the adjacent commercial center.
A star was in town: Booker T.
Hundreds had come to the academy for a chance to meet the WCW champion. A photo shoot at the halfway point of the two-hour card lasted 45 minutes, though pegged for 15. Everyone scurried to get a piece of Booker T, motioning to get his attention as he was interviewed on DeFalco's show and furiously snapping photos.
Just four days earlier, Booker T had been in New York City, making his inaugural appearance on the WWF's top-rated cable show "Raw is War."
A little star struck, Bryson and Jasmyn Gordon needed encouragement from their father, Marcus Gordon, to slip through the ring ropes and side up next to the statuesque champion for a picture.
Booker T eased their trepidation with a big smile.
A break in schedule allowed Booker T to visit Las Vegas, at the request of his mentor, Scott Casey. The Houston native took part in the Friday night merriment, defeating arrogant Don Diamond for his Universal Wrestling Federation title. The next day, he, Casey and Diamond treated students to a closed-door training session.
Broached were the finer points of choreographed combat, such as mastering "spots" or moves. Moves and countermoves should be instinctive.
"You should know what to do in every situation--if your heel puts you in an arm bar, you should know how to get out of it and go on the offensive," the Houston native told the students. "Everything should be second nature. There were times when I wrestled a guy and we never said a word to each other the whole match."
Casey steps in: "You have to work toward that level. In the meantime, use can use your moves to communicate. But don't be obvious. Hell, you can even use the referee to communicate."
Taking it all in was James Burright, a rail-thin 24-year-old movie theater attendant influenced to wrestle by his grandfather, Perry Burright. Though he'd yet to begin training, he already had his sights set on the WCW cruiserweight championship. Sure, he knows the road to paydirt is long and filled with bumps and bruises.
But Burright remembers when he was as young as Kijana. He remembers how his grandfather had always wanted to wrestle and how he'd said he would fulfill his grandpa's dream. Noble as that is, it's not Burright's real reason for wanting to make a living in the squared circle.
"I want to fight," he says. "What more can you want than to see guys beat the hell out of each other. That's entertainment."
THE NEW WAWLI (Wrestling As We Liked It) PAPERS No. 189-2001
DARO PLANS LONDOS, SONNENBERG BATTLE
(Glendale News-Press, January 5, 1931)
By Don Ashbaugh
Weary of having Jim Londos parade around the east claiming the "world heavyweight wrestling championship" because the commissions of New York and Pennsylvania chose to recognize him, Lou Daro has practically ironed out details for a match between Gus Sonnenberg and the Greek veteran. According to Daro, Londos has telegraphed his willingness to meet Sonnenberg here next month.
"Huh," snorted Daro. "I’ll call his bluff. Londos claims the championship. That makes us laugh. Don George won the title by ability and through defeating the outstanding men. Londos claims the title because two commissions have declared him to be the titleholder.
"Strangler Lewis challenged Londos, the proceeds to go to charity, but Londos refuses to meet him. Lewis has beaten the Greek a dozen times or more.
"But Sonnenberg is willing to meet Londos and if the so-called ‘champion’ will face Gus I’m willing to promote the match on a non-profit basis just to clear up any cloud on Don George’s title."
The eminent Glendale wrestling entrepeneur, carnation grower and golf tournament sponsor, is planning a series of bouts between the topnotchers for Southern California’s human pretzel devotees during the coming months.
Wednesday night he offers Sonnenberg against Henri De Glane, the Adonis-like French Graeco-Roman champ who has been causing a furore among the leading bone benders of this section.
The bout looms as one of the finest Daro has staged in many months. It will serve to show Sonnenberg in the role of a challenger instead of as champion.
He has indicated that he will drop his former attitude of taking the defense and show the fans some of the tricks he learned while he held the crown.
Everett Marshall, the La Junta towhead, also has heaved back into town and is heaving challenges right and left.
He’d like to tackle the winner of Wednesday night’s battle and follow this up with a shot at the new champion.
Things are far from quiet on the wrestling front – let the bones fall where they may.
WRESTLERS MIXED IN NEW MAT WARS
(Glendale News-Press, Tuesday, January 6, 1931)
With Gus Sonnenberg, erstwhile heavyweight champion among the big elbow and muscle men of the padded ring, meeting Henri De Glane, grinning Frenchman, at the Olympic tomorrow night, Lou Daro has broiled a new stew in mat circles to follow the bout. "Jeem" Londos, the bad boy of the human pretzel industry, who claims the world championship in Pennsylvania and New York, has agreed to meet Gus, reports have it.
Gus is reputed to have ducked "Jeem" while both were "champions" of different precincts.
Now Daro has arranged the battle, to eliminate, if he can, the sardonic claims of Londos and make Don George the one and only heavyweight champion.
But into these well-laid plans steps the menacing figure of Ed (Strangler) lewis, who insists and demands that Londos meet him instead of Sonnenberg.
The Glendale broiled steak king has posted a $5000 forfeit with the state commission for the match. He has forfeits posted in other states for bouts with "Jeems."
But Londos refuses to have anything to do with Lewis – he has lost to the Strangler no less than a dozen or more times – and seemingly wants no more of him.
So if Sonnenberg can get past the stout shouldered De Glane tomorrow night it seems as if Gus is set for a bout with the champion of Pennsylvania and adjacent precincts.
Tomorrow’s match will be the first in which Sonnenberg has appeared at the Olympic as a contender for the heavyweight wrestling title. In all of his previous local appearances he has entered the ring as champion.
Now that he no longer has a title to risk, Sonnenberg apparently is willing to chance using the famous tackle, against which the state athletic commission raised a rumpus.
Using a flying tackle, Gus defeated De Glane at Boston a year ago, putting the French titleholder in the hospital for a week.
Henri has improved as a wrestler since then, however.
Since he last matched holds with Sonnenberg, the Frenchman has wrestled draw bouts with Everett Marshall and Ed (Strangler) Lewis here.
Marshall has challenged the winner of tomorrow’s match, and Lewis also is seeking to get a whack at the leading mat contenders.
Besides the Sonnenberg-De Glane match, which is to be a two-out-of-three-falls bout to a finish, tomorrow’s card at the Olympic will bring together Dan Koloff, powerful Belgian, and "Wild Bill" Beth in a one-fall, one-hour time limit match.
Myron Cox and "Red" Fredericks will open the card with a one-fall bout.
EX-CHAMP AFTER ANOTHER CHANCE
(Glendale News-Press, Wednesday, Jan. 7, 1931)
Primed for his "comeback," Gus Sonnenberg tonight attempts to remove the first stumbling block from the path of his ambitions to recover the world’s heavyweight wrestling crown when he meets Henri De Glane, stocky Frenchman, at the Olympic.
The bout, for the best two out of three falls, will be Lou Daro’s initial mat offering of the 1931 season.
A sizeable crowd is expected to watch Sonnenberg, now "just another contender," start back up the wrestling trail.
Sonnenberg, who, a few weeks ago, lost his diadem to youthful Ed "Don" George, met De Glane once before.
In Boston last year he precipitated the Graeco-Roman exponent into the fourth row of the ringside seats with one of his smashing flying tackles. It took De Glane a month to recover from the match.
De Glane is out for revenge and expectations are that tonight’s struggle will be a grueling affair. Sonnenberg is being picked to wear down the Frenchman with his greater stamina, however.
The "comeback" trail is a hard one, and Sonnenberg is ready to meet his opponents with a fast, furious and aggressive style of wrestling, a complete metamorphosis from that which he used while champion.
Sonnenberg will weigh about 210 pounds. He believes the wrenched ligaments in his shoulder, which largely contributed to his defeat at the hands of George, have completely healed and he will be able to display all his wares.
De Glane will come in about ten pounds heavier. Since coming to the coast, hot on the heels of Sonnenberg for a return go, the Frenchman has held both Ed (Strangler) Lewis and Everett Marshall to draws.
A new young collegian, Barney Ostapowiecz, hailing from Michigan State college, will make his debut in the semi-windup, tackling Buck Olsen, a veteran from Minnesota.
Barney turned pro only recently after a brilliant amateur record.
Myron Cox, youthful Venice lifeguard, meets Dr. P.A. Mullikan in the opener. This, like the semifinal, will be a one fall, one-hour affair.
SONNENBERG WINS CHANCE AT TITLE
(Glendale News-Press, January 8, 1931)
By Don Ashbaugh
When Henri De Glane neglected to flop upon Gus Sonnenberg several times when the former champion was reclining groggily upon the canvas last night at the Olympic it cost the Frenchman a chance at Don George, heavyweight wrestling champion, two weeks hence.
A well-packed house braved the rain to see the former titleholder absorb copious quantities of punishment and emerge the victor after nearly an hour and a half of diverse kinds of wrestling on Lou Daro’s semi-monthly card.
Both had captured a fall, Sonnenberg with a well-planted butt to the pit of the stomach which rendered Henri into a docile mass for long enough to have his shoulders pinned, and De Glane with an airplane spin, when Gus straight armed the Frenchman and landed atop him to score the winning spill.
Gus won the first in 28 minutes, 27 seconds. De Glane captured the second in 46 minutes and 56 seconds and Sonnenberg won the last in 8 minutes and 2 seconds.
De Glane was the aggressor throughout and apparently had Sonnenberg in a bad way numerous times through the use of his potent headlocks.
Just before the final fall promoter Lou Daro announced that Don George had agreed to meet the winner on the night of January 21.
In the preliminary matches, Myron Cox dropped Dr. P.A. Mullikan with a powerful body slam after 9 minutes and 50 seconds and Buck Olsen was pinned by Barney Ostapowiecz, a broad-shouldered, ambitious looking young fellow from Michigan State College.
ATHLETIC COMMISSION MEETING
(excerpted from Glendale News-Press, January 9, 1931)
Dr. Harry W. Martin, chairman of the new California State Boxing Commission, today commented on the demands made by many wrestling fans for a match between Gus Sonnenberg and Jim Londos.
He declared that Ed (Strangler) Lewis has prior right to match with Londos, who claims the N.B.A. championship.
The Strangler’s claim is given priority by the fact that he has a $2,500 forfeit up for the match, posted with the old commission, the commissioner declared.
Members of the new commission will hold their first official meeting at Fresno next Thursday, at which time action will probably be taken on all of the plans outlined by Dr. Martin.
DE GLANE GIVEN CHANCE AT TITLE
(Glendale News-Press, Sunday, Jan. 11, 1931)
The world’s championship in the ranks of the heavyweight wrestlers will be at stake when Henri De Glane, able French grappler, meets Don George, present titleholder, at the Olympic Auditorium on January 21.
The clever Frenchman was signed for the bout, which will be a finish match, after Gus Sonneberg, former champion who was originally scheduled to meet George, announced that former engagements would prevent him from trading holds with the titleholder.
The match, which was arranged by Jack Daro, matchmaker, and brother of promoter Lou Daro, will mark the present champion’s first appearance in Los Angeles since he won the heavyweight crown at the Olympic.
De Glane, who has been wrestling since 1919, came to America three years ago with the avowed intention of winning the title, has been appearing on the coast for the past three months, and has shown himself to be real championship material.
He is considered one of the most scientific wrestlers in the game, and has plenty of speed and strength.
Since coming west, the Frenchman has won numerous bouts, and has held Ed (Strangler) Lewis and Everett Marshall, outstanding heavyweight grapplers, to draws.
His only defeat has been at the hands of Sonnenberg in a return match last week. In the 659 matches he has had since coming to America, he has downed such formidable opponents as Marin Plestina, Joe Malcewicz, Nick Lutze, Stan Stasiak, Dan Koloff and Bibber McCoy.
De Glane won the Graeco-Roman wrestling championship at the 1924 Olympic Games in Paris, and in 1926 captured the world title in that form of grappling.
Since then, he has acquired an ambition to be world’s champion in the catch-as-catch-can field, and his match with George will give him a long-awaited opportunity.
His only former chance at the title was in his first bout with Sonnenberg, which he lost.
THE NEW WAWLI (Wrestling As We Liked It) PAPERS
WITH THE RASSLERS
(The Knockout, February 10, 1940)
By Bernice Sandboe
DON’T LOOK NOW but I DIDN’T get Leo Daniel Boone Savage to write the column this week and I hang my head in utter dejection and shame … but you see it was like this – all of a sudden-like POOF and Mr. Savage completely disappeared from the map (yaaa, yaaa, said Leo and the little Foxies, you can’t catch me) and despite my Sherlock Holmes efforts, I have been unable to locate him, although I may have a sneaking suspicion that he may have gone possum hunting … I’m sorry as all get-out folksies … saw BELLE MARTELL, the charming lady promoter at the Riviera Country Club last Sunday afternoon avidly watching the polo games … also at the Riviera, Errol Flynn, who, as I always say, could easily double for DON JUAN SEBASTIAN … and speaking of seeing celebs (or am I wrong?) JACK ROPER, in a long Hollywood polo coat, before the mike at BULL MONTANA’S Little Italy … I am extremely sorry to hear of HOWARD CANTONWINE’S unfortunate ring accident … he had his back broken … please accept our heartfelt sympathy, Howard, and best wishes for a most speedy recovery … goody good news to hear that Eddie Borden, ace fight writer for the Ring Magazine, will breeze out for the Armstrong-Garcia battle … Hollywood Stadium mat fans really seem to enjoy their matches and quite frequently engage in verbal battles with the rasslers as they go to and from the dressing rooms … STEVE STRELICH has the same good-natured appearance as Eddie Albert, the screen comedian, who incidentally is now lost in the wilds of Mexico … by the way, how is your friend DOC MULLIKAN, Steve? … little SUGY HAYAMAKA, who looks like a pocket edition of a wrestler, is cute enough to wear on a charm bracelet … Comes word that JIMMY LONDOS will be back among us before very long … and CHIEF THUNDERBIRD is back from Hawaii and is in Seattle now …
EASTSIDE ARENA Ninth and Loren Streets THE BEST IN BIG-TIME WRESTLING EVERY THURSDAY EVENING Ladies Free, With or Without Escorts, Every Week POPULAR PRICES – JOHN J. DOYLE, Matchmaker
PAN. MANLAPIG 1 fall GEORGE ZAHARIAS … Tabbed a grudge struggle … Zaharias too much for the Filipino.
EGG HAGGERTY/R. LA DITZI Team Bout ED PAYSON/NICK LUTZE … Heroes Lutze and Payson will tame villains Egg and LaDitzi.
LEO SAVAGE 1 fall SANDOR SZABO … Szabo the winner.
COUNT VON SCHACHT 1 fall, 45 min. DEAN DETTON … A tournament match … Dean will win with toeholds.
DR. LEN HALL 1 fall, 45 min. RUBE WRIGHT … Rube won last week … Hall will level tonight and is the winner.
MAX KRAUSER 1 fall, 45 min. PAT FRALEY … Max a European champ … he’ll dust off Pat with some wicked grips
LITTLE WOLF 1 fall, 45 min. LEE WYCOFF … Lee to win a sensational struggle from the Indian
VINCENT LOPEZ 1 fall, 45 min. KARL DAVIS … Lopez’s elbow wallops will put Davis out of the tournament
BOB MABREY 1 fall JIM POWELL … Powell the choice.
ART LARSON 1 fall TED SARRIS … Sarris to steal the show.
LEO NARBARES 1 fall PAT ROONEY … A wild draw.
ELBOWS GARCIA 1 fall JACK KUGOT … Kugot will bounce the Filipino
DOC. MEYERS 3 falls BILL HANSON … Hanson all the way.
OCEAN PARK WRESTLING
PAT FRALEY 1 fall JOE WOODS … A fine al-around card. Woods has edge.
MIKE WARKS/PAINTER HOGAN Team Bout BOB COLEMAN/YG. STECHER … A wowser – we like Coleman and Stecher.
BUDDY O’BRIEN 1 fall VIC HILL … Buddy’s back – a sensational winner.
JULES STRONGBOW 1 fall SANDOR SZABO … Szabo will flop the Indian.
VINCENT LOPEZ 3 falls GEORGE ZAHARIAS … For 1940 club championship – we like Zaharias after a wild classic.
EL RIO WRESTLING
MANUEL RODRIGUEZ 1 fall JOE WOODS … Both know what it’s all about – a pleasing draw.
JACK REEDER 1 fall PETE PETERSON … Two toughies – we like Pete to roll Jack.
VIC CHRISTY 1 fall HANK METHENY … Vic to pin baldheaded Hank with a hook scissors.
GEORGE ZAHARIAS 3 falls VINCENT LOPEZ … Rough and wild –Lopez the winner.
ERNIE PETERSON vs. AL FERONA … Ernie a bit too rough.
OTIS CLINGMAN vs. YUKON JAKE … Jake will stamp on Otis’ features.
BOB GREGORY 3 falls KARL GRAY … A classic – favor British Bob.
SUGAI MATSUDA 3 falls JESSE JAMES … Greek vs. Japanese – tab Jesse – he’s too powerful.
SAN DIEGO WRESTLING
BOB COLEMAN 1 fall BILLY VARGA … Varga the pick.
HARRY JACOBS 1 fall SAMMY STEIN … Stein all the way.
LITTLE WOLF 1 fall PAT FRALEY … Wolf will death grip.
KARL DAVIS 1 fall NICK LUTZE … A draw and the best match of the nite.
R. LA DITZI 1 fall ED PAYSON … Payson should outtackle Rudy.
SANDOR SZABO 3 falls RUBE WRIGHT … Szabo will roll Rube over for the fall.
POUNDING THE MAT
Laugh of the month … Dr. Len Hall losing to Rube Wright at the Olympic last Wednesday in a tournament bout. These bouts are supposed to be "shooting matches" and while Rube is no rube at torso twisting it’s quite ridiculous to anyone who knows a toehold from a pillow slip that Wright has no business pinning Dr. Len Hall.
Toots Mondt is now telling the local public, in print, about the local tournament. Every man to his own racket.
N.Y. Jack Pfefer, mat promoter, who advertises who’ll win and why, turned them away recently when Bobby Bruns picked Dick Shikat. Jack sends in a picture of speculators actually peddling tickets in front of his club, the first time such a thing has happened in N.Y. or U.S. wrestling in many a year.
Pfefer floods this writer with eastern mat news, some true, some false. He says Dean Detton will soon join his group of independent wrestlers, known as the Trust Busters. Dave Levin already has joined Pfefer. Kola Kwariani and Nanjo Singh are two coast lads now working for Pfefer.
Sammy Stein has opened a liquor store in Hollywood and we hope all the steins go down Stein.
Lee Wycoff says he’ll accept challenges from Nagurski, Bobby Bruns, Marshall, Shikat, Casey and will meet the above "champs" in matches which he is willing to promote himself. Lee is a pretty fair kid, but Bruns, in our opinion, would make a humpty-dumpty of him.
Wrestlers are tumblers, huh? … well, Howard, the Hangman, Cantonwine suffered a fractured back, in five places, last week in a Salinas bout with Joe Pazek (Pazandak). Cantonwine was injured when he fell out of the ring. They say Howard may never wrestle again.
E. Sanders’ new mat rules will put an end to his unnecessary wildness and thus save the State Boxers and Wrestlers Fund many a dollar.
--Did you know that the late Stan Stasiak and Ed Don George were the best of friends off the mat yet during a match between the two George broke Stan’s arm and later poison set in, causing Stan to lose his life?
A few mat results you might have missed … The Angel won his American debut by tossing Leo Lefevre at Worcester … Nagurski pinned Dick Raines at Minneapolis … Jim Londos tossed Gino Garibaldi at Camden, N.J. … Yvon Roberts took care of Ernie Dusek at Montreal.
The first mat craze took place at S.F. in 1870 when Theo Bauer and Prof. Miller packed them in until "the suspicion arose that their rematches were more theatrical than sincere."
The most courageous athlete award of 1939 by the Philadelphia Sports Writers Association was given Robert Allman, 22-year-old captain of the University of Pennsylvania wrestling team. Allman won 44 out of 58 intercollegiate mat matches, despite the handicap of blindness.
STRANGLER LEWIS HEADLINES AS MAT SPORT RETURNS
(Sacramento Union, September 14, 1942)
After long last, the wrestling fan gets his inning tonight. The mat sport returns to Sacramento, first time in more than a year, with Ed (Strangler) Lewis, patriarch of the sport, headlining the program as arranged by Johnny Rogers, making his bow as promoter here. Lewis is billed in the feature match against Cy Williams, terror of Tallahassee.
The show will start at 8:30 o’clock. There is a special rate for service men.
Lewis, a six-time holder of the world’s crown, will depend, as he always has, on his crushing headlock to win the one hour, two in three falls struggle from Williams, who is rated one of the country’s "bad men" of the mat.
Ted (King Kong) Cox, the "Lodi Dynamiter," whose "diamond head twist," a hold that has been ruled out by some commissions as being too dangerous, will use the weapon on Jim Powell in their 45-minute, two in three falls semi-windup.
For his 30-minute, one-fall opener, Rogers has Jim Casey of Ireland and Pedro Brazil of South America.
STRANGLER LEWIS WINS MAT DEBUT IN STRAIGHT FALLS
(Sacramento Union, February 15, 1942)
Wrestling returned to the Memorial Auditorium here last night following a long absence, with an enthusiastic crowd of 676 on hand. Ed (Strangler) Lewis, although a little loggy about the waist, flipped Cy Williams, the Tallahassee Terror, in two straight falls to take the feature bout.
Weighing 275, Lewis clamped on his famous headlock to cop the first fall in 22:55. Williams, 225, still groggy from the first fall, fell easy prey again in 3:35 as Lewis applied a series of headlocks for the deciding fall.
Ted Cox, the Lodi farming squire, used his famed series of diamond head twists, barred by several commissions, to take the measure of Jim Powell in two straight heats. Cox, 240, won the first fall in 8:10 and the final one in 7:55.
He gave referee John Taupin a bad time of it through the entire bout with his usual rough tactics.
The curtain raiser saw handsome Jim Casey, 220, take the measure of Joe Benicassa in 13:55 with a series of elbow jars and finishing him for the one-fall match with a shoulder flip.
Johnny Rogers, well known fight promoter who piloted Jackie Jurich and Small Montana to world’s flyweight titles, indicated he would continue to show Sacramento fans the cream of the coast in grappling entertainment.
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