WRESTLING AS WE LIKED IT:
THE WAWLI PAPERS
by J Michael Kenyon
Volume 2, Number 20 Tuesday, April 15, 1997
IN THIS ISSUE: A Seven-Year Survey of Major St. Louis Wrestling Shows Promoted by
the Legendary Tom Packs
CORRECTION, CORRECTION, CORRECTION, CORRECTION
To: email@example.com From: Scott Teal <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Re:
[FAQ] Wrestling Relations List Date: Mon, 14 Apr 1997 13:04:13 -0500 (CDT)
I e-mailed Danny yesterday. Bill Golden is NOT Roy Welch's son. He was married to one of
Roy's sisters. That's their only connection. This mistake is probably the most common
mistake made and is reprinted everywhere. I told Danny and he's going to correct it. If you
see anyone using the wrong info, let them know. It drives me nuts every time I see it.
Scott "Whatever Happened to ...?" The Who's Who of Professional Wrestling
http://www.geocities.com/Colosseum/Field/9099 The publication that everyone's talking
TOM PACKS ST. LOUIS SHOWS FROM 1934 TO 1940
(compiled by Don Luce -- the old-fashioned way)
January 10, Arena
Gus Sonnenberg W Ray Steele, Cliff Olson W Pat O'Shocker, George Zaharias D Dick
Raines, Karl Sarpolis W Floyd Marshall (Att: 7,000)
January 19, Arena
Gus Sonnenberg W George Zaharias, Karl Sarpolis D Matros Kirilenko, Cliff Olson W Dick
Raines, Sol Slagel W Frank Speer (Att: 5,936)
February 2, Arena
Jim Londos W Gus Sonnenberg, Joe Malcewicz W Karl Sarpolis, Abe Coleman W Dick
Raines, Ernie Dusek W Sol Slagel (Att: 15,666)
February 15, Arena
Ed Don George W Gino Garibaldi, Ed Lewis D Joe Malcewicz, Abe Coleman W Joe Cox,
Dick Raines D Karl Davis
March 1, Arena
Dick Shikat W Ed Lewis DQ, Ray Steele W Charley Strack, Abe Coleman W Matros
Kirilenko, Milo Steinborn D Dick Raines (Att: 6,051)
March 15, Arena
Dick Shikat W Ed Lewis, Ray Steele D George Zaharias, Dick Raines W Lou Plummer,
Karl Davis D Charley Strack (Att: 8,219)
March 29, Arena
Ray Steele W George Zaharias, Milo Steinborn W Dick Lever, Karl Sarpolis D Joe Cox
April 11, Arena
Jim Londos W Dick Shikat, Ray Steele W Pete Schuh, Orville Brown W George Zaharias,
Charley Strack W Milo Steinborn (Att: 11,727)
April 26, Arena
Dick Shikat W Everett Marshall, Jagat Singh W Jim Parker, Gino Garibaldi D Orville
Brown, Matros Kirilenko W Blue Sun Jennings (Att: 5,558)
May 16, Arena
Jim Londos W Dick Shikat, Ray Steele D Orville Brown, George Zaharias W Matros
Kirilenko, Hans Kampfer W Joe Cox (Att: 10,138)
June 6, Arena
Jim Browning W Hans Kampfer, Orville Brown D Jim McMillen, Ray Steele W Dick
Raines, George Tragos W Floyd Marshall (Att: 3,574)
July 18, West Side Softball Park
Orville Brown W Karl Sarpolis, Dick Raines W Tommy Marvin, Abe Coleman W Whitey
Hewitt, George Tragos W Hank Metheny (Att: 2,036)
August 1, West Side Softball Park
Orville Brown W Charley Strack, Jim McMillen W Sol Slagel, George Tragos W Al Sparks
DQ, Chris Zaharias W Ed Theriault (Att: 1,611)
September 13, Arena
Abe Coleman W Gino Garibaldi, Karl Sarpolis W George Zaharias DQ, Orville Brown W
Laverne Baxter, Chris Zaharias W Al Szasz (Att: 3,959)
October 18, Arena
Ed Don George W Abe Coleman, Leo Numa W Orville Brown, Jim McMillen W Buck
Weaver, Karl Davis W Meredith Ruehle (Att: 5,238)
November 1, Arena
Ed Don George W Ernie Dusek, Leo Numa W Orville Brown, Abe Coleman D Jack Smith,
Karl Davis W Jack Zarnas (Att: 4,996)
November 14, Arena
Jim Londos W Leo Numa, Jim McMillen W Karl Sarpolis, Abe Coleman W Jack League,
George Tragos W Ellis Bashara (Att: 7,531)
December 6, Arena
Leo Numa W Ray Steele DQ, Hans Kampfer D Ernie Dusek, Orville Brown W Dick
Raines, Jack Donovan W Allen Brooks (Att: 4,795)
December 21, Arena
Ray Steele W Leo Numa, Ernie Dusek D Abe Coleman, Jim McMillen W Fred Grubmeier,
Dr. Pat Mulligan W Billy Burns, George Tragos W Casey Berger (Att: 3,362)
January 4, Arena
Ed Lewis W Ray Steele, Everett Marshall W George Mansor, Bronko Nagurski W Lou
Plummer, Abe Coleman D Paul Jones, Sol Slagel W Chris Davros (Att: 7,160)
January 16, Arena
Ed Lewis W George Zaharias, Everett Marshall D Mehmet Yousuff, Bronko Nagurski W
Dick Raines, Sol Slagel W Lou Plummer (Att: 7,466)
January 31, Arena
Jim Londos W Ed Lewis, Mehmet Yousuff D Ray Steele, Bronko Nagurski W Sol Slagel,
Orville Brown W George Tragos, Karl Sarpolis W Pete Schuh (Att: 14,921)
February 14, Arena
Ed Lewis W Jim Browning, Hans Kampfer D Ray Steele, Bronko Nagurski W Joe Cox,
Otto Kuss W Tommy Marvin, Joe Herman W Jack Warner (Att: 5,396)
March 6, Arena
Jim Londos W Ed Lewis, Ray Steele W Karl Sarpolis, Chief Little Wolf W Tommy Marvin,
Bronko Nagurski W Karl Davis, George Tragos W Pat Murphy (Att: 11,438)
March 26, Arena
Danno O'Mahoney W Rudy Dusek, Gus Sonnenberg W Ray Steele DQ, Bronko Nagurski
D Orville Brown, Dick Raines W George Tragos, Casey Berger W Pat Murphy (Att: 7,755)
April 16, Arena
George Zaharias W Leo Numa, Orville Brown D Mehmet Yousuff, Jim McMillen W Dan
O'Connor, Bronko Nagurski W Abe Rothberg, Otto Brexler W Jack Woodson (Att: 4,214)
May 2, Arena
George Zaharias W Bronko Nagurski, Orville Brown W Roland Kirchmeyer, Jim McMillen
D Dick Stahl, Sol Slagel W Marshall Blackstock, Lou Thesz W Tommy Marvin (Att: 3,905)
May 17, Arena
Danno O'Mahoney W George Zaharias, Dick Stahl W Jack Warner, Orville Brown W Chief
Chewacki (forfeit), George Koverly W Bob Wagner, Bobby Bruns W Pat Murphy DQ (Att:
July 11, Arena
Danno O'Mahoney W Ray Steele, Joe Dusek D George Zaharias, Orville Brown W
Charley Strack, Pat McGill W George Tragos, Carl Hansen W Pat Murphy (Att: 7,443)
September 24, Arena
Chief Little Wolf W Joe Savoldi, Ray Steele W Roland Kirchmeyer, Carl Hansen D Karl
Sarpolis, Paul Jones W Pat McGill, Rudy Strongberg W George Tragos (Att: 2,831)
October 24, Arena
Gus Sonnenberg W Chief Little Wolf, Man Mountain Dean W Orville Brown, Jim Browning
D Ernie Dusek, Emil Dusek W Karl Davis, George Calza W Frank Speer (Att: 8,597)
November 7, Arena
Danno O'Mahoney W Gus Sonnenberg, Man Mountain Dean W Ed Lewis, Ernie Dusek W
Karl Sarpolis, Ray Steele W Emil Dusek, Joe Dusek W Ellis Bashara (Att: 14,321)
November 19, Arena
Ray Steele W King Levinsky (mixed wrestling-boxing, 25 seconds), Gus Sonnenberg W
Jules Strongbow, Man Mountain Dean W Dick Daviscourt, Ernie Dusek W Tiny Roebuck,
Joe Dusek W Carl Hansen (Att: 11,262)
December 5, Arena
Man Mountain Dean W Ernie Dusek, Gus Sonnenberg W Tiny Roebuck, Paul Jones D Joe
Dusek, Ernie Zeller W Jules Strongbow, Emil Dusek W Hal Metheny (Att: 4,124)
December 19, Arena
Ed Lewis W Man Mountain Dean, George Zaharias D Sandor Szabo, Ernie Zeller W Lou
Plummer, Orville Brown D Cy Williams, Paul Jones W Bill Middlekauf (Att: 4,637)
January 29, Arena
Danno O'Mahoney W Ed Lewis, Rudy Strongberg W Leo Numa, Jim McMillen W Pete
Schuh, Pat O'Shocker W Babe Zaharias, Jack Kennedy D Paul Jones (Att: 9,170)
February 13, Arena
George Zaharias W Jim Browning, Pat O'Shocker D Paul Jones, Roland Kirchmeyer W
Ernie Zeller, Dorv Roche W Jules Strongbow, Otto Brexler W Tommy Marvin (Att: 3,150)
March 17, Arena
Daniel Boone Savage W George Zaharias, Gus Sonnenberg D Dorv Roche, Ray Steele W
Babe Caddock, Orville Brown W Leo Numa, Warren Bockwinkel W Babe Zaharias (Att:
March 25, Arena
Jim Londos W Daniel Boone Savage, George Zaharias W Cliff Olson, Ray Steele W Pat
Fraley, Dorv Roche W Frank Speer, Paul Jones W Babe Caddock (Att: 7,168)
April 22, Arena
Ed Lewis W Gus Sonnenberg, Dorv Roche W Abe Coleman, Pat O'Shocker D Ray Steele,
Warren Bockwinkel W Tommy Marvin, Lou Plummer W Pat Fraley (Att: 4,968)
May 20, Arena
Ed Lewis W Paul Jones, Dorv Roche W Gus Sonnenberg, Frank Brown W Mike Anton,
Stan Sitkowski W Pat Fraley, Warren Bockwinkel W Ray Villmer (Att: 3,195)
September 17, Arena
Vincent Lopez W Chief Little Wolf, George Zaharias W Dorv Roche DQ, Tommy O'Toole
W Karl Davis DQ, Ted Key W Al Maynard, Bill Bartush W Abe Goldberg (Att: 3,375)
October 8, Arena
Dean Detton W George Zaharias, Orville Brown D Dorv Roche, Roland Kirchmeyer W
Karl Davis, Tommy O'Toole D Chris Zaharias, Warren Bockwinkel W Nick Elitch (Att:
October 29, Arena
Everett Marshall W Dorv Roche, Jim McMillen W Vic Muhl, George Zaharias W Tommy
O'Toole, Am Rascher D Warren Bockwinkel, George Sauer W Babe Rodriguez (Att: 5,339)
November 13, Coliseum
Ray Steele W Lee Wyckoff, Roland Kirchmeyer W Len Macaluso, Dorv Roche D Milo
Steinborn, Terry McGinnis W Walter Sirois, Babe Zaharias W Nick Elitch (Att: 3,042)
November 25, Auditorium
Everett Marshall W Ray Steele, Lee Wyckoff W Dorv Roche, Roland Kirchmeyer D Ivan
Managoff, Milo Steinborn W Tommy O'Toole, Warren Bockwinkel W Cherry Vallina (Att:
December 17, Auditorium
Ray Steele W Paul Shikat, Ali Baba W Blue Sun Jennings, Lou Thesz W Roland
Kirchmeyer, Lee Wyckoff D George Zaharias, Warren Bockwinkel W Harold Metheny
January 9, Auditorium
Dick Shikat W Ray Steele, Ali Baba W Babe Zaharias, Lou Thesz W Warren Bockwinkel,
Frank Sexton W Dutch Hefner, Lou Plummer W Eddie Newman (Att: 2,843)
January 27, Auditorium
Ray Steele W Lee Wyckoff, Ali Baba W Paul Shikat, Bill Lee W Lou Plummer, Orville
Brown W Eddie Newman, Lou Thesz W Bill Bartush (Att: 4,654)
February 10, Auditorium
Everett Marshall W Ali Baba DQ, Lou Thesz W Hans Steinke, Chief Saunooke W Tommy
O'Toole, Paul Shikat W George Hagen, Bill Lee W Karl Davis (Att: 8,504)
February 24, Auditorium
Ali Baba W Ray Steele, George Zaharias W Dorv Roche, Lou Thesz W Whitey Hewitt,
Orville Brown W Cowboy Luttrall, Cherry Vallina W Chris Zaharias DQ (Att: 7,096)
March 18, Auditorium
Ali Baba W George Zaharias, Lou Thesz D Juan Humberto, Chief Saunooke W Lou
Plummer, Lee Wyckoff W John Grandovich, Warren Bockwinkel W Homer Wright (Att:
March 30, Auditorium
Ali Baba W Chief Saunooke, George Zaharias D Juan Humberto, Bill Lee W Roy Graham,
Killer Shikuma W Al Getz, Otto Brexler W Cherry Vallina (Att: 8,697)
April 15, Arena
Everett Marshall W Ali Baba, Jim Henry W Chief Saunooke DQ, Juan Humberto W
George (Red) Ryan, Lou Thesz W Karl Sarpolis, Lou Plummer D Don Evans (Att: 12,687)
April 29, Auditorium
Ali Baba W Gus Sonnenberg, Lou Thesz W Chief Saunooke, Bill Lee D George Zaharias,
Killer Shikuma W Chief Chewacki, George Mansor W Lou Plummer (Att: 6,306)
May 12, Auditorium
Everett Marshall W Lou Thesz, Killer Shikuma W George Zaharias, Juan Humberto W
Otto Kuss, Nanjo Singh W Dick Lever, Walter Podolak W Chris Zaharias (Att: 6,841)
May 28, Auditorium
Ali Baba W Killer Shikuma, Lou Thesz W Juan Humberto, George Zaharias W Walter
Podolak, Nanjo Singh W Steve Nenoff, Warren Bockwinkel W Gene Bowman (Att: 5,142)
June 17, Auditorium
Everett Marshall W Ali Baba DQ, Lou Thesz D George Koverly, Juan Humberto W Walter
Podolak, Nanjo Singh W Dan O'Connor, Harry Jacobs W Laverne Baxter, Warren
Bockwinkel D Ray Eckert (Att: 9,113)
July 22, Auditorium
George Zaharias W Nanjo Singh, Jim McMillen W Juan Humberto, Jim Henry W Blue Sun
Jennings, Bobby Bruns W Jim Coffield, Chris Zaharias D Ray Villmer (Att: 3,135)
October 13, Auditorium
Ali Baba W Ed Don George, Lou Thesz W Frank Sexton, George Zaharias W Pete
Peterson, George Koverly W Eddie Newman, Warren Bockwinkel D Ray Eckert (Att:
October 28, Auditorium
Danno O'Mahoney W Ali Baba, Lou Thesz W George Koverly, George Zaharias W Tom
Mahoney, Dan O'Connor D Frank Sexton, Ray Eckert W Cherry Vallina (Att: 7,618)
November 10, Auditorium
Lou Thesz W George Zaharias, Ed Don George W Frank Sexton, Orville Brown W Dan
O'Connor, Young Gotch W Chris Zaharias, Rudy Strongberg W Killer Shikuma (Att: 4,417)
November 26, Arena
Everett Marshall W Danno O'Mahoney, Johannes Van der Walt W Angelo Cistoldi, LeeW Rudy Strongberg, Young Gotch D Warren Bockwinkel, Orville Brown W Karl
Davis (Att: 8,022)
December 15, Arena
Jim Londos W Johannes Van der Walt, Ali Baba W Hardy Kruskamp, Lou Thesz W Pat
McClary, Rudy Dusek D Young Gotch, Ernie Dusek W Pete Peterson, Ray Eckert D Ray
Villmer (Att: 6,835)
December 29, Auditorium
LOU THESZ W Everett Marshall (53:48, won world heavyweight title), Danno O'Mahoney
W Paul Jones, Ivan Managoff D Ernie Dusek, Bill Lee W Rudy Strongberg, Hardy
Kruskamp D Joe Cox (Att: 7,534)
January 12, Auditorium
LOU THESZ W Danno O'Mahoney (15:45, world title defense), Ernie Dusek W Young
Gotch, Dorv Roche D John Katan, Ivan Managoff W George (Red) Ryan, Paul Jones D
Frank Sexton (Att: 9,091)
January 26, Arena
LOU THESZ W Everett Marshall (47:35, world title defefnse), Ernie Dusek W Dorv Roche,
Ivan Managoff W John Katan, Young Gotch W Tiger Joe Marsh, Paul Jones D Warren
Bockwinkel (Att: 12,262)
February 8, Auditorium
LOU THESZ W Ernie Dusek (32:45, world title defense), Rudy Dusek W Abe Coleman,
Ivan Managoff W Milo Steinborn, Gino Garibaldi W Pat McGill, Steve Savage D Doug
Wyckoff (Att: 7,990)
February 23, Auditorium
STEVE CASEY W Rudy Dusek (19:25, world title defense), Bill Lee W Willie Davis, Gino
Garibaldi W Mike Strelich, Abe Coleman W Tiger Joe Marsh, Young Gotch W Eddie
Newman (Att: 5,881)
March 9, Auditorium
STEVE CASEY W Everett Marshall (1:13:35, world title defense), Ernie Dusek D Gino
Garibaldi, Ivan Managoff W Doug Wyckoff, Young Gotch W Bill Bartush, Warren
Bockwinkel D Mike Strelich (Att: 10,173)
March 24, Auditorium
Lou Thesz W Gino Garibaldi, Bob Gregory W Stacy Hall, Young Gotch W Jim Wright, Abe
Coleman D Ivan Managoff, Pat Kelly W Pete Managoff, Warren Bockwinkel W Cal Reese
April 6, Auditorium
STEVE CASEY W Lou Thesz (1:11:23, world title defense), Young Gotch W Juan
Humberto, Ed Don George W Karl Sarpolis, Ernie Dusek W Pat Kelly, Pierre LaBelle W
Walter Stratton, Abe Coleman D Jim Coffield (Att: 11,144)
April 21, Auditorium
Everett Marshall W Young Gotch, Bob Gregory W Pierre LaBelle, Silent Rattan W Jacques
Bernard, Abe Coleman D Pete Baltran, Henry Piers W Jim Coffield (Att: 4,818)
May 6, Auditorium
Everett Marshall W Ivan Managoff, Yvon Robert W Young Gotch, Lou Thesz W Henry
Piers, Warren Bockwinkel D Dorv Roche, Silent Rattan W Pete Sherman (Att: 2,716)
May 25, Auditorium
STEVE CASEY W Everett Marshall DQ (28:05, world title defense), Ernie Dusek D Danno
O'Mahoney, Wally Dusek W George Zaharias DQ, Bob Gregory D Silent Rattan, Little
Beaver W Ray Eckert (Att: 6,833)
June 23, Auditorium
STEVE CASEY W Ernie Dusek (37:21, world title defense), Lou Thesz W Yvon Robert,
Dorv Roche D Little Beaver, Warren Bockwinkel W Frank Sexton, Floyd Marshall W Pete
Baltran (Att: 4,087)
September 28, Auditorium
Ali Baba W Ernie Dusek, Joe Savoldi W Little Beaver, Tom Sawyer W Bill Bartush, Emil
DFusek D Jim Coffield, Dutch Hefner W Joe Cox DQ, Benny Stein D Warren Bockwinkel
October 19, Auditorium
EVERETT MARSHALL W Lee Wyckoff (15:41, world title defense), Ali Baba W Abe
Coleman, Tom Sawyer W John Grandovich, Jim Coffield W Ray Eckert, Joe Dusek W Ben
Stein, Warren Bockwinkel D Mike Stampolis (Att: 5,669)
November 2, Auditorium
Ali Baba W Danno O'Mahoney, Ernie Dusek D George Zaharias, Tom Sawyer W Jim
Coffield, John Grandovich W Joe Corbett, Ralph Garibaldi W Carlos Rodriguez, Len Tocco
W Joe Millich (Att: 5,080)
November 17, Auditorium
Steve Casey W Ali Baba, Ernie Dusek W Ivan Managoff, Young Stecher D Joe Dusek,
Tom Casey W Joe Marsh, Tom Sawyer D George Zaharias, Ralph Garibaldi W Ben Stein
December 1, Auditorium
EVERETT MARSHALL W Tom Sawyer (27:04, world title defense), George Zaharias W
Ernie Dusek, Lee Wyckoff W Joe Corbett, Young Joe Stecher D John Katan, Warren
Bockwinkel W Jim Coffield (Att: 4,044)
December 30, Auditorium
Lou Thesz W Jim Casey, Ernie Dusek W George Zaharias, Ben (Jim) Morgan W Emil
Dusek, Bill Lee W Jack League, Joe Dusek D Joe Cox, Warren Bockwinkel W Dutch
Hefner (Att: 3,505)
January 12, Auditorium
EVERETT MARSHALL W Lou Thesz (1:04:46, world title defense), Ben (Jim) Morgan W
Joe Dusek, Ivan Managoff W Jim Coffield, Warren Bockwinkel W Fred Carone, Hans
Schnabel D Young Stecher, Len Tocco W Cherry Vallina (Att: 7,1 09)
January 26, Auditorium
EVERETT MARSHALL W Ben (Jim) Morgan (13:30, world title defense), Hans Schnabel
W Young Gotch, Jim McMillen W Rudy Kay, Charley Strack W Roy Dunn, Warren
Bockwinkel W Jack Rogers, Ray Eckert D Len Tocco (Att: 6,686)
February 9, Auditorium
Lou Thesz W Ben (Jim) Morgan, Jim McMillen W Hans Schnabel, Lee Wyckoff W Joe
Campbell, Warren Bockwinkel W Ralph Garibaldi, Dorv Roche W Roy Dunn, Ray Eckert
W Young Stecher (Att: 4,941)
February 23, Arena
LOU THESZ W Everett Marshall (47:53, won world title), Len Hall NC Ben (Jim) Morgan,
Jim McMillen D Ernie Dusek, Dorv Roche W Young Gotch, Lee Wyckoff W Hans
Schnabel (Att: 12,100)
March 9, Auditorium
LOU THESZ W Steve Casey (world title defense), Len Hall D Lee Wyckoff, Jim McMillen
W Warren Bockwinkel, Ben (Jim) Morgan W Dan O'Connor, Cliff Gustafson W Charley
Strack, Joe Millich W Cherry Vallina (Att: 6,164)
March 30, Auditorium
Ali Baba W Ben (Jim) Morgan, Everett Marshall W Bill Lee, Len Hall W Tom Sawyer, Cliff
Gustafson W Bob Jesson, Frank Sexton W Joe Corbett, Len Tocco W Jack Rogers (Att:
April 13, Auditorium
Ali Baba W Everett Marshall, George Koverly D Dorv Roche, Cliff Gustafson W Whitey
Hewitt, Mike Mazurki W Johnny Plummer, Henry Piers W Frank Sexton, Warren
Bockwinkel W Joe Rigoski (Att: 4,022)
April 27, Auditorium
LOU THESZ W Ali Baba (world title defense), Ben (Jim) Morgan D Ernie Dusek, George
Koverly W George Hagen, Mike Mazurki W Henry Piers, Tom Zaharias W Joe Corbett
May 9, Auditorium
LOU THESZ W Marv Westenberg (32:14, world title defense), Ben (Jim) Morgan W Dorv
Roche, George Koverly W Tom Zaharias, Mike Mazurki D Harry Kent, Henry Piers W
September 20, Auditorium
BRONKO NAGURSKI W Ben (Jim) Morgan (10:19, world title defense), Dorv Roche W
Frank Sexton, Abe Coleman D Joe Cox, Jim Coffield W George Hagen, Len Tocco W
Whitey Whittler (Att: 2,650)
October 26, Auditorium
Lou Thesz W Ernie Dusek, Everett Marshall W Mike Mazurki, Juan Humberto W Jim
Coffield, Dorv Roche D Hans Schnabel, George Tragos W Len Tocco (Att: 3,338)
November 9, Auditorium
Lou Thesz W Rudy Dusek, Iron Talun W Dutch Hefner, Cliff Gustafson W Emil Dusek,
Ernie Dusek W Hans Schnabel, Juan Humberto D Joe Dusek (four Duseks!!) (Att: 3,738)
November 30, Auditorium
Cliff Gustafson W Everett Marshall, Ray Steele W Joe Dusek, Jim McMillen W Ben (Jim)
Morgan, Warren Bockwinkel D Len Macaluso, Juan Humberto W Fritz Schnabel (Att:
December 14, Auditorium
Ray Steele W George Zaharias, Lou Thesz W Joe Savoldi, Len Macaluso W Warren
Bockwinkel, Dorv Roche W Chris Zaharias, Juan Humberto W George Tragos (Att: 3,925)
December 28, Auditorium
Len Macaluso W Lou Thesz, Ray Steele W Ernie Dusek, George Zaharias W Lou Plummer,
Warren Bockwinkel D Juan Humberto, George Tragos W Jack Kennedy (Att: 2,257)
1940 (most or all of them at Auditorium)
Ray Steele W Len Macaluso, George Zaharias D Danno O'Mahoney, Ruffy Silverstein W
Pat Kelly, Tom Zaharias W Jim Coffield, Tommy Nilan W Sam Menacher
Ray Steele W Danno O'Mahoney, Len Macaluso D Everett Marshall, Lou Thesz W Dorv
Roche, Ruffy Silverstein W Hans Schnabel, Dick Raines W Juan Humberto (Att: 4,153)
BRONKO NAGURSKI W Len Macaluso (23:45, world title defense), Lou Thesz W Ivan
Managoff, Everett Marshall W Dick Raines, Dorv Roche D Mike Mazurki, George Tragos
W Joe Vitale (Att: 5,538)
BRONKO NAGURSKI W Lou Thesz (30:29, world title defense), Hans Kampfer W Ben
(Jim) Morgan, Len Macaluso W Walter Sirois, Warren Bockwinkel D Ivan Managoff, Bob
Haak W George Tragos (Att: 5,898)
RAY STEELE W Bronko Nagurski (34:11, won world title), Everett Marshall W Len
Macaluso, Lou Thesz W Mike Mazurki, Hans Kampfer W Karl Sarpolis, Leo Lefebvre W
Dick Raines, Joe Millich W Jim Logas (Att: 8,588)
French Angel W Leo Lefebvre, Everett Marshall W Jim McMillen, Ruffy Silverstein W
Jack Conley, Bill Lee W Ed White, Karl Pojello D Ivan Managoff (Att: 7,547)
RAY STEELE W Hans Kampfer (20:54, world title defense), Lou Thesz D Cliff Gustafson,
Ruffy Silverstein W Juan Humberto, Bill Lee W Mike Mazurki, Bob Haak W Len Tocco
Everett Marshall W Cliff Gustafson, Ernie Dusek W Len Macaluso, Emil Dusek W Juan
Humberto, Lou Thesz W Chief Saunooke, Orville Brown W Albion Britt (Att: 2,916)
Bronko Nagurski W Everett Marshall, Gus Sonnenberg W Steve Brody, Ruffy Silverstein
W Andy Moen, Orville Brown W Ray Schwartz, Emil Dusek W Pete Managoff (Att: 3,000)
Bronko Nagurski W George Zaharias, Len Macaluso W Emil Dusek, Ruffy Silverstein W
Chris Zaharias, Orville Brown W Ron Etchison, George Hagen D Ray Schwartz (Att: 3,000)
Ernie Dusek W Len Macaluso, French Angel W Emil Dusek, Joe Dusek W Chris Zaharias,
Gus Sonnenberg W Mike Mazurki, George Tragos W Marvin Jones (Att: 3,224)
Ernie Dusek W Len Macaluso, D Gus Sonnenberg (hdcp), Joe Dusek D Cliff Gustafson, Ali
Baba W Pat Fraley, Joe Savoldi W George (Red) Ryan, Frank Sexton W George Tragos
Ernie Dusek W Joe Savoldi, Lou Thesz W Joe Dusek, Frank Sexton W George Koverly
DQ, Abe Coleman W Tuffy Cleet, Dorv Roche W Al Lovelock (Att: 4,449)
RAY STEELE W Ernie Dusek (39:44, world title defense), Ali Baba W Ted Christy, George
Koverly W Frank Sexton, Dorv Roche D Pat Fraley, Joe Pazandak W Len Tocco (Att:
Bronko Nagurski W Ali Baba, George Koverly D Joe Savoldi, Ray Villmer W Dorv Roche,
Ernie Dusek W George (Red) Ryan, George Tragos W Carlos Rodriguez (Att: 5,212)
RAY STEELE W Bronko Nagurski DQ (39:13, world title defense), Ray Villmer D Ernie
Dusek, Len Macaluso W Emil Dusek, Warren Bockwinkel W Frank Sexton, Joe Dusek W
Pat Fraley (Att: 7,281)
Lou Thesz W Len Macaluso, Ernie Dusek W George Koverly, Ray Villmer W Joe Dusek,
Emil Dusek D Dorv Roche, George Tragos W Whitey Whittler (Att: 5,448)
QUICKIE QUIZ: How many tag team matches did you see in the above listings?
WRESTLING AS WE LIKED IT:
THE WAWLI PAPERS
by J Michael Kenyon
Volume 2, Number 21 Wednesday, April 16, 1997
IN THIS ISSUE: Roland Barthes Excites Comment; the Truth About Danno O'Mahoney;
Haystack Calhoun & Count Rossi In Arkansas; Plus, the Phantom Tells All And Shares It
THE 'WORLD OF WRESTLING' IS A JOKE, HE SAYS
To: email@example.com From: Samgrass@aol.com Subject: Re: THE WAWLI
PAPERS VOL. 2, NO. 16 Date: Tue, 15 Apr 1997 23:22:16 -0400 (EDT)
Oh please. Spare me. Did you write this? Roland Barthes and his magic essays have been
around for years and quoted by many would-be deep wrestling thinkers. Only glitch is that
Barthes is not really referring to wrestling but to the text of meanings given by the specticle
of wrestling. Barthes was representative of a school of thought called Structuralism, which
eventually devolved into Deconstruction under Jacques Derrida. It's one of the greatest
academic jokes of all time, only no one is laughing.
Ed Garea __________________________________________________
DUSEK SLATED TO SUCCEED O'MAHONEY AS MAT CHAMP
(Reprinted from the Galesburg Daily Register-Mail, Dec. 3, 1935)
By Harry Grayson (Sports Editor, NEA Service)
NEW YORK - Those in command of the main body of heavyweight wrestlers are said to
have decided upon the successor of Danno O'Mahoney as champion. The fortunate young
behemoth is reported to be Ernie Dusek, of the Four Omaha Duseks. Ernie Dusek, 25, has
filled out to a good 240 pounds within the last year, and is blessed with all the qualities of the
ideal titleholder. He is one of the more magnetic attractions. He can emote with the best.
The bugs either attend to see him pull somebody apart or be pulled apart himself. And the
biggest thing of all in his favor is that he really can wrestle. The young man requires no
policemen or bodygu ards. Ernie Dusek has been around several years now, and is entitled
to the opportunity. Besides, his oldest brother, Rudy, is one of the powers of the industry,
being actively associated with Jack Curley and Joe (Toots) Mondt, of the New York branch.
I hear it was Rudy's insistence that brought about the decision in his kid brother's favor.
O'Mahoney Poor Repeater The dethroning of O'Mahoney is scheduled to take place
between now and the Irishman's return to his native land in March. O'Mahoney has served
his purpose and even the clan is commencing to object to his being the head man. The most
damaging indictment against the former soldier is that he cannot be brought back to the
more important centers at a profit. O'Mahoney had little or no experience when Jack
McGrath, of Worcester, imported him. Danno obtained a lot of publicity through the
introduction of the Irish whip, whatever that is, but it generally was agreed that Jim Londos
presented the title to him in Boston last summer. Danno was quite an attraction for a time,
particularly with the Irish of south Boston, but lost appeal with each appearance. He does
not look the part of a champion, and shortly began to attract unfavorable press notices. This
is fatal to a star pachyderm. "O'Mahoney doesn't know any more about wrestling than John
Quincy Adams did at the age of 3," read one typical New York report. "He isn't strong. His
arms and chest and legs are thoseof a youngster who is still years shy of complete
development. He drew only a handful to the Garden." San Francisco critic asserted that
O'Mahoney represented in the crudest pattern the fraud of wrestling. In Detroit, he "looked
like a high school tackle trying to make the team." The grappling lords basked in the glow of
O'Mahoney sucker money for a time, but have emerged with a painful sunburn. They
fumbled with the gates when they tried to stuff Danno down the patrons' throats.
Wrestlers Demand Change
As long as O'Mahoney drew the customers, the remainder of the field made no protest, but
when the trade stayed away in vast numbers, the clan commenced to howl for a worthier
leader. Billy Sandow, who managed Ed Strangler Lewis for more than 20 years, has led the
fight against O'Mahoney. It is significant that the man Sandow is ballyhooing, Everett
Marshall, has not met O'Mahoney since the son of old Erin gained possession of the
diamond belt. Every time Marshall appears, which is five or six nights a week, Sandow hops
into the ring to offer O'Mahoney a substantial guarantee and $5,000 to charity in return for
his signing a match with Marshall. This isn't doing the bonebending dodge any good, and the
better ear manglers want a limb twister on top who can do something about it. Ernie Dusek
appears to be the man. The Duseks are known as Wrestling's Riot Squad. The other two
brothers are Emil and Joey. They are Bohemians. Rudy was taught by the renowned Farmer
Burns and in turn instructed his brothers. The present plan is for the four to make a world
tour with Ernie wearing the crown. Those close to the racket tell you that O'Mahoney will be
the last of the trick, or built-up, champions. It is suspected that their experience with Danno
has taught the powers a good lesson. Wrestling may be largely acrobatics, but even those
who pay to see it insist that the champion know a flying mare from a flying trapeze.
GIANT GEORGIAN WINS - BUT QUICK; CYCLONE, TOO
(Arkansas Gazette, Sunday, Jan. 27, 1957)
Mountain Calhoun, 6-3, 550-pound good-natured behemoth from Culpepper, Ga., took
only seven minutes to get his "scuffling" done Monday night at the Fairgrounds Junior
arena, but he stole a big share of the spotlight from Cyclone Anaya, who had to come from
behind to beat Angelo Savoldi in their main event wrestling battle.
The Georgia giant, not long ago a high school football player, met the tag-team combine of
Red Donovan, 200, Butte, Mont., and Eddie (Scotty) Williams, 202, Springfield, Mo., in a
handicap match - and literally flattened Donovan. The big, bearded, overalled giant picked
Donovan up, slammed him like a sack of peanuts and then landed on him with all 500 pounds
for a body press that left Donovan almost as flat as a pancake. Williams started the attack
for his team, and after failing to get anything like a hold on the big boy, resorted to flying
body blocks. Using the ropes for a rebound, he hit Calhoun amidships four times - and each
time Williams landed in a heap about 10 feet from his target.
Big Boy Moves Well
Donovan tried the same thing, and met the same fate. Calhoun even used his king-size
posterior to bump Donovan and Williams around like rag dolls.
The huge Georgian was no immobile mass of humanity. He moved well, even leaping over
the top strand of the ropes to enter the ring. Once in action, however, he depended entirely
upon the direction of his discoverer and manager, Count Rossi.
Although it proved a mismatch, a couple of 200-pounders against this mammoth fellow,
Calhoun was pretty nice about it after the match offering his hand to both his opponents, but
they wanted no part of him.
"It was like butting your head into a stone wall," said Donovan. "They should match him
with four men instead of two."
After baiting the crowd and shooing away the youngsters who were seeking Anaya's
autograph, Savoldi went to work on Anaya and scored the first fall in 16 minutes with a
couple of corner smashes, two back body flips and a press.
Savoldi kept up his crowd-baiting tactics, picking on first one ringsider and then another -
but that strategy got him in trouble in the second round.
He was mouthing at a fan when the bell rang for the second heat. Anaya came out fast,
landed with fists and forearms, then sent Savoldi sprawling with a series of flying drop kicks
to win the fall in 50 seconds.
Welch Beats DeGalles
Anaya took the deciding fall in six minutes after a mixup in which referee Leo Voss was
knocked stem-winding. But Anaya finally slammed Savoldi and the referee revived in time
to toll the three-count.
Savoldi went on a rampage and the fans responded with a shower of pillows. Angelo then had
another session with the referee - but Voss won this one by stomping Angelo's toes and then
In the opening bout, Cowboy Les Welch, 204, Pawhuska, scored a straight-falls victory over
Paul DeGalles, 200, Paris, France. It was a mauling match most of the way.
Welch scored first in 18 minutes with a slam and body press, and won the second heat in 14
minutes with two forearms to the jaw and a press.
They fought at ringside during both rounds, and officers had to get them back in the ring.
Gorgeous and Valet After Anaya, Clancy
Wrestling matchmaker LeRoy McGuirk said Monday night he had received a telegram
from Gorgeous George and his valet, Jeffrey. It read: "We're perturbed about last week's
match in Tulsa. Tell Clancy and Anaya to consider themselves challenged." Junior
heavyweight Irish Mike Clancy beat Gorgeous George here on Jan. 21, but there was a wild
mixup after the bout as Jeffrey came rushing to the rescue of his boss, and Anaya barged in
to help Clancy.
"I know this valet Gorgeous George has now used to wrestle quite a bit," said McGuirk,
"and I suppose they want a tag team bout. I'll look into it."
THE PHANTOM OF THE RING
How I Do What I Do, If Not Why
I love doing this column. I know this because I've been doing it now, off and on, about 11
years. It's fun to write and I've met a lot of great people I wouldn't have met otherwise.
When people ask me what my column is about I tell them it's about wrestling. When pressed
for specifics I then go on to say that I explode myths about the sport. (Yes, despite the
current wisdom of the Smark, who can't think for himself anyway, wrestling is indeed a
sport.) In this column I will explode a long running myth. The myth is about myself.
Over the years, I've been described as a "wrestling historian," a "unique wrestling
historian," a "critical wrestling historian," and the "wrestling's foremost historian,"
depending on the hype involved. A nice myth is being created. Only one problem as I see it -
I am not a wrestling historian. If you must call me anything (in clean language, that is), call
me a historical writer. Am I needlessly splitting hairs? Perhaps, but I don't think so, and I'll
tell you why. In my vocabulary, a wrestling historian is one who actually does the leg work of
obtaining myriad amounts of wrestling results from obscure arenas and title histories from
long forgotten territories. I don't do that; not on a regular basis, anyway, and certainly not
enough to have something publishable. The closest I ever came was a list of wrestling
aliases. But I never published for profit, instead preferring to give the list to anyone who
could add aliases. Why? Simply because about 35-40% of the names in that list were wrong.
I am not about to sell a defective product knowingly to the public. That's not me. No, I would
rather be the Gypsy Rose Lee of wrestling historians - let me entertain you. That is my job,
to entice you enough into reading the work of real wresting historians.
Being a wrestling historian is not an easy task. For starters, professional wrestling is the
only major sport lacking any sort of officially organized history. So, if you want to be a
historian, count on spending many days at the public library searching a microfiche machine
for match results and that rarity, the feature article. Those are rare because wrestling loves
scrutiny like a vampire loves sunlight. Hence, the article must be generally laudatory. In
past days, promoters paid hungry young sports reporters for that privilege. Sometimes the
reporter's editor caught on and gave the scribe the boot. In which case, if he was lucky, the
promoter might take him on as a low-paid public relations man, especially if he had contacts
in the press.
After one day of searching, figuring an hour for lunch, you might have enough results to fill a
page. If you're lucky and the library has enough resources, you might be able to go back as
far as World War I. Still, it will take many trips to many different libraries and newspaper
research rooms (if available) before you have anything you can slightly call substantial. And
therein is what separates the historian from the mere compiler - the ability to discriminate;
to know the difference, to get it right. I see it this way: I may be old fashioned, but when I
shell out my hard-earned Hamiltons for a compilation of wrestling history, I want my
money's worth. No more, and certainly no less.
A good wrestling historian not only knows where the bodies are buried, he gives you the map
to the graveyard. The best wrestling historian currently plying his trade is J Michael
Kenyon. Kenyon fits the ideal of the wrestling historian to a tee: he knows where to look,
what to compile, how to compile, and he can write with the best journalists. Most of all, he
tells the truth. Sugarcoating the past is as foreign to him as water to the sands of the Sahara.
I've learned more from Kenyon than anyone else, save for Tom Burke, who directed me to
Kenyon's writings. If you are serious about wrestling and its history, Kenyon is a must-read.
(ED. NOTE --This corner has few quibbles with the above description, save for the fact that
the fellows listed below are all probably better at this stuff; one important missing name is
that of Don Luce, my idol, who resides at 3666 West Main Road, Batavia, New York 14020;
Luce has done more original research than most of the rest of us put together; amen, too, to
the gallant Tom Gannon of Australia, recently passed on.)
Other top historians are the aforementioned Tom Burke (31 Groveland St., Springfield, MA
01108), an expert on the history of women's wrestling and New England promotions; James
Melby (1018 E. Rose Ave., St. Paul,Minnesota 55106), whose record books on Lou Thesz,
Dick Hutton, and Verne Gagne, among others, set the standard for this kind of work; Scott
Teal, publisher of Whatever Happened To?, the best newsletter covering wrestling history,
in addition to being the man from whom to purchase compilations of Kenyon's WAWLI
(Wrestling As We Liked It) Papers (P.O. Box 2781, Hendersonville, TN 37077-2781); Mike
Lano (WreaLano@Aol.Com), who taught me more about California wrestling than I ever
thought I could know; and Fred Hornby (82 Highland Ave., Port Washington, NY
11050-4004), publisher of record books on Buddy Rogers, Gorgeous George, Gene Stanlee,
Antonio Rocca (which I used in an article on Rocca) and Primo Carnera (which I shall make
use of in a future article on Carnera). __________________________________________
WRESTLING AS WE LIKED IT:
THE WAWLI PAPERS
by J Michael Kenyon
Volume 2, Number 22 Saturday, April 19, 1997
IN THIS ISSUE: A Glimpse At the Historic First Issue Of Wrestling Illustrated; The
Whatever Happened To...? Site And How You Can Tap Into This Treasure Trove of Mat
INTERNATIONAL MAT RESULTS
(Reprinted from Wrestling Illustrated, Vol. 1, No. 1, January, 1965, "The Monthly
Magazine for Mat Fans," which included a full-color, fold-out poster of Bruno Sammartino,
and feature stories on Chief Billy White Wolf, "The Curious Decline of Antonino Rocca,"
Gene Kiniski -- "It Pays to Be an S.O.B.", Louie Tillet: "A Steel Cage Saved My Life,"
and "Why Buddy Rogers Had to Retire." This was from the Stanley Weston family of
magazines, then still housed in Rockville Centre, Long Island, N.Y., and in addition to
Wrestling Revue and Boxing Illustrated/Wrestling News; it sold for a newstand price of 50
cents; many of the following results were reported from TV house or studio shows, but no
distinction is made between squash matches and arena cards . . . but the compilations will
give you an idea of who was still active in, or just launching their, mat careers. Tommy
O'Toole, Lee Henning, Ron Etchison, Fred Blassie, Johnny Long, Joe Millich, Lou Thesz,
George Becker, Lou Newman, Whipper Watson and Dory Funk Sr. were approaching or in
the 25-30 year career range at this point.)
MADISON SQUARE GARDEN -- Bruno Sammartino W Waldo Von Erich, Klondike Bill D
Steve Stanlee, Pedro Morales W Robert Duranton, Fred Blassie-Gorilla Monsoon D Bill
Watts-Don McClarity, Gene Kiniski W Magnificent Maurice, Haystacks Calhoun-Bobo
Brazil W Jerry-Luke Graham, Miguel Perez W Bobby Davis DQ
OMAHA -- Billy Red Cloud W Maurice Vachon, Billy Red Cloud W Bill MacDonald, Baron
Von Krupp W Rene Goulet, Rene Goulet W Kurt Von Hess, Mongolian Stomper W Moose
Evans, Pampero Firpo W Chris Averoff, Pat Barrett W Pampero Firpo DQ, Baron Von
Krupp W Maurice Vachon, Mitsu Arakawa W Pat Barrett, Joe Scarpello D Pat O'Connor,
Maurice Vachon W Baron Von Krupp, Maurice Vachon W Great Dane, Guy Mitchell W
Great Dane, Guy Mitchell W Harley Race, Reg Parks D Pat Barrett, Reg Parks W Kenny
Jay, Billy Red Cloud W Tiny Mills, Pat Barrett W Joe Millich
EDMONTON -- Mr. Guillotine W Ricky Waldo, Ricky Waldo W George Kosti, Jerry
Dritsas W Dave Ruhl, Dimitri Dristsas W Bill Farkas, Cobra Singh W Bill Farkas, Cobra
Singh D Rene Marr, Steve Rickard W Skunk Man, Steve Rickard D Rene Marr, Betty
Ann Spencer W Sweet Georgia Brown
LOS ANGELES -- Cowboy Bob Ellis W The Bruiser, The Bruiser W The Destroyer, The
Destroyer-Hard Boiled Haggerty W Dom DeNucci-Bill Dromo, Hard Boiled Haggerty-The
Destroyer W Mr. Moto-Little Tokyo, The Hangman W Larry Evans, Dom DeNucci W Rip
Haw, Ripper Collins D Dom DeNucci, Cowboy Bob Ellis W Fred Blassie, Ray Stevens W
Red Bastien, The Destroyer W Bill Cody, Chris Belkas W The Alaskan, The Hangman W
Larry Evans, Ripper Collins D Mr. Moto, Cowboy Bob Ellis W The Bruiser, The Alaskan D
Mr. Moto, George Ringo W Art Mahalik, Little Tokyo W Ripper Collins, The
Destroyer-Hard Boiled Haggerty W Bill Dromo-Dom DeNucci
BAKERSFIELD -- The Destroyer-Hard Boiled Haggerty NC Mr. Moto-Little Tokyo,
Cowboy Bob Ellis W Ripper Collins, Dom DeNucci W The Alaskan DQ, Bill Dromo W
SAN DIEGO -- The Destroyer D The Bruiser, The Destroyer-Hard Boiled Haggerty W
Ramon-Al Torres, The Alaskan-Hard Boiled Haggerty W Mr. Moto-Little Tokyo, Bill
Dromo W Mike O'Leary DQ, Mr. Moto W The Alaskan, Cowboy Bob Ellis W Ripper
Collins, The Alaskan W Art Mahalik, Bill Dromo W Mike O'Leary, Dom DeNucci W
Ripper Collins, Hard Boiled Haggerty W Little Tokyo, The Destroyer W Cowboy Bob Ellis
LONG BEACH -- Cowboy Bob Ellis W The Alaskan, Cowboy Bob Ellis W Mike O'Leary,
Mr. Moto W Mike O'Leary, Ripper Collins D Little Tokyo, Bill Dromo W Art Mahalik,
The Destroyer W Bill Dromo, Dom DeNucci W The Destroyer, Dom DeNucci W The
Bruiser, Hard Boiled Haggerty W Ramon Zavalza
PASADENA -- Dom DeNucci W Hard Boiled Haggerty, Ripper Collins D Little Tokyo, Mr.
Moto D Masked Bomber, Cowboy Bob Ellis W Art Mihalik
SEATTLE -- Don Manoukian D Danno McDonald, Don Manoukian W Bobby Schoen (later
Shane), Soldat Gorky W Bobby Schoen, Pepper Martin W Pampero Firpo, Pepper Martin D
Buddy Marino, Buddy Marino D Jan Paul, Haru Sasaki W Pat Patterson
BUFFALO -- Ed Carpentier W Magnificent Maurice, Chris-John Tolos W Doc
Gallagher-Black Orchid, Ilio DiPaolo W Hurricane Smith, Cyclone Smith W Frank
Thompson, Sweet Daddy Siki W Chief Suni War Cloud, Donn Kewin W Wally Greb, Jim
Brody W Bull Johnson
NIAGARA FALLS -- Kentucky Hillbillies-Ray Villmer W Sweet Daddy Siki-Chris-John
Tolos, Hans Schmidt D Paul DeMarco, Little Beaver W Pee Wee James, Chris-John Tolos
W Kentucky Hillbillies, Ray Villmer W Hans Schmidt, Lee Henning W John Foti, Whipper
Watson-Kentucky Hillbillies D Sweet Daddy Siki-Chris-John Tolos, Chuck Conley W Duke
Noble, Sweet Daddy Siki W Chief Suni War Cloud
WEST HEMPSTEAD NY -- Bruno Sammartino W Jerry Graham, Red Bastien W Luke
Graham, Waldo Von Erich W Don McClarity, Bobo Brazil W Klondike Bill, Pedro Morales
W Bull Johnson, Arnold Skaaland W Ted Lewin, Robert Duranton W Miguel Perez
COMMACK NY -- Fred Blassie W Don McClarity, Miguel Perez-Pedro Morales W
Jerry-Luke Graham, Bobo Brazil W Robert Duranton, Arnold Skaaland W Pedro
Rodriguez, Ted Lewin W Umberto Mercado
PHILADELPHIA -- Bruno Sammartino NC Johnny Powers, Smasher Sloan W Arnold
Skaaland, Bobo Brazil D Fred Blassie, Waldo Von ERich W Don McClarity, Farmer
Pete-Chief Little Hawk W Lord Littlebrook-Little Brutus
FREEPORT NY -- Antonino Rocca W Killer Atilla, Bobby Thomas W The Rebel, El Toro D
Ivan Melnikoff, Arabians W Pete Sanchez-Ricky Hornerdo
WASHINGTON DC -- Killer Kowalski W Frank Martinez, Arnold Skaaland W Klondike
Bill, Waldo Von Erich W Frank Hickey, Bill Watts W Pedro Rodriguez, Miguel Perez W
NORFOLK -- Haystacks Calhoun-Johnny Weaver W Great-Mighty Bolo, Haystacks
Calhoun-The Kentuckians W Great-Mighty Bolo-Larry Hamilton, George-Sandy Scott W
Great-Mighty Bolo, George-Sandy Scott-George Becker W Bronco Lubich-Aldo
Bogni-Homer O'Dell, Skull Murphy-Brute Bernard W Ron Etchison-Chief Big Heart, Tim
Woods W Tommy O'Toole, Tim Woods W Tinker Todd, Tim Woods W John Heath, John
Heath W Jim Grabmire, Rip Hawk W Ron Etchison, Mike Clancy-Nick Kozak W Doc
Gallagher-Tommy O'Toole, Mike Valentino W Chris Averoff, Pedro Godoy-Pancho Gomez
W Gino Brando-Alex Medina, Penny Banner W Peggy Allen
LAFAYETTE LA -- Terry-Ron Garvin W Bobby Fields-Frankie Cain, Silento Rodriguez W
Rassle Royal from Joe McCarthy, Jan Madrid, John Belkas, Gene Murphy
MORGAN CITY LA -- Terry Garvin W Guy Taylor, Terry Garvin W Antonio Posa, Guy
Taylor W Pancho Villa, Guy Taylor W Bobby Fields, Mario Galento D Bruce Austin, Bruce
Austin-Bobby Fields W Terry Garvin-Pancho Villa, Bruce Austin W Pancho Villa, Ann
LaVerne W Barbara Boyette
HONOLULU -- Ray Stevens D Pepper Gomez, Curtis Iaukea W Mighty Ursus, Nick
Bockwinkel W Johnny Barend, Kinji Shibuya W Chief White Eagle, The Sheik W Gene
Anderson, Don Manoukian W Ken Hollis, Mark Lewin W The Spoiler,
Toyonobori-Yoshimura W Lou Newman-Harry Fujiwara (Asian tag team title), Lord Blears
D Tosh Togo, Neff Maiava D Shag Thomas, Sonny Boy Cassiday-Cowboy Bradley W Billy
the Kid-Irish Jackie, Curtis Iaukea-Johnny Barend NC Toyonobori-Yoshimura, Nick
Bockwinkel W Tosh Togo, Shag Thomas W Harry Fujiwara, George Drake D Lou Newman
SACRAMENTO -- Pepper Gomez W Ray Stevens, Kinji Shibuya-Karl Von Brock W Jose
Lothario-Dick Steinborn, Mark Lewin W Rocky Montero, Ray Stern W Rocky Montero,
Ken Hollis D Gene Anderson, Dom DeNucci W Charlie Kaloni
OAKLAND -- Ray Stern W Fritz Von Goering, Mark Lewin W The Spoiler, Jose
Lothario-Pepper Gomez W Gene Anderson-Karl Von Brock
SAN JOSE -- Jose Lothario W The Sheik, Don Manoukian W Ken Hollis, Mark Lewin W
Gene Anderson, Irish Jackie-Billy the Kid W Sonny Boy Cassidy-Cowboy Bradley
SALINAS CA -- Ray Stevens W Jose Lothario, The Alaskan-Don Manoukian W Red
Bastien-Paul Jones, Billy White Wolf W Gene Anderson
KNOXVILLE -- Steve Kovacs-Len Montana W Kurt-Karl Von Brauner DQ, The
Kentuckians W Lord Blair-Red Donovan, Cora Combs W Sherri Lee
MEMPHIS -- Kurt-Karl Von Brauner W The Kentuckians, Corsicans W Alex Perez-Jackie
Fargo, Tojo Yamamoto-Mitsu Hirai W Rocky Smith-Ron Etchison, Ron Etchison D
Torbellino Blanco, Joe Scarpa W Johnny Long, Alex Perez-Jackie Fargo W Kurt-Karl Von
ATLANTA -- Buddy Fuller-Joe Scarpa W Dick Dunn-Sputnik Monroe, Don Fargo W
Antonio Posa, Scufflin' Hillbillies W Red Roberts-Baby Blimp, Greg Peterson-Frankie Cain
W Billy Boy-Bad Boy Hines, Pepe Gomez W Charlie Carr
BEAUMONT -- Sailor Art Thomas W The Clawman (Ike Eakins), Duke Keomuka W Killer
Karl Kox, Al Torres D Ron Reed, Ramon Torres D Jerry Miller, Ron Reed W Jerry
Miller, Judy Grable W Toni Rose, Judy Grable D Fabulous Moolah
ST. LOUIS -- Lou Thesz W Fritz Von Erich, The Bruiser-Bill Miller-Bobby Graham D John
Paul Henning-Wilbur Snyder-Johnny Valentine, Dory Funk Sr-Jr. W Angelo Poffo-Bob
Geigel, Moose Evans W Don Jardine, Pat O'Connor-Ray Gordon W Mongolian Stomper
(hdcp), The Sheik D Lorenzo Parente
SPRINGFIELD MO -- Dan Hodge W Mike Gallagher, Karl Gotch W Chuck Carbo, Nelson
Royal W Alex Medina
JOPLIN MO -- Hiro Matsuda W Jerry Kozak, Karl Gotch W Chuck Carbo, Mike
Gallagher-Pee Wee Lopez W Buddy Allen-Tiny Bill
MINNEAPOLIS -- Verne Gagne W Mitsu Arakawa, Larry Hennig-Harley Race W Jack
ST. PAUL -- Verne Gagne D Reg Parks, Butch Levy W Kurt Von Hess, Moose Cholak W
Pat Patterson, Billy Red Cloud W Chris Averoff, Harley Race-Larry Hennig W Wilbur
Snyder-Jack Lanza ___________________________________________
ON THE WHATEVER HAPPENED TO...? WEB SITE
The WAWLI Papers
"Wrestling As We Liked It"
The WAWLI Papers is a serious inquiry into pro wrestling history over the Strangler
Lewis-Lou Thesz era (1915-1966). J Michael Kenyon, one of professional wrestling's most
knowledgeable historians, opens his personal archives and shares his treasures of wrestling
history. Riveting stories of the greats are found in The WAWLI Papers. Inside each issue,
you'll find: reports of famous matches, news articles, win-loss records of the legends, results,
and stories about most of the major, and minor, territorires. All of this and much more can be
found in TWP.
Try an issue of TWP and determine for yourself if this isn't going to be one of the most
significant and encyclopedic works on wrestling of the century. Each 40-page issue is printed
in a professional format and literally packed with information. No ads, blank space, or filler
material. Highly recommended.
The WAWLI Papers: Issue #1 Features Ed Lewis vs Joe Stecher The Last Years of Frank
Gotch Ring Record - Strangler Lewis (1932-35) Ring Record - World Title Matches
(1936-48) Jim Londos vs Strangler Lewis Ring Record - Don Leo Jonathan
Results Evansville, Indiana: 1934-35 Spokane, Washington (1939) Washington, D.C.
(1942-43) Southern California (1951) Washington state (1953)
Articles Wladek Zbyszko, Billy Sandow, Farmer Burns, Rudy Dusek, Karl Davis, Lofty
Blomfield, Kara Pasha, Dick Shikat, Paul Jones, Bull Curry, and more.
The WAWLI Papers: Issue #2
Features Charley Cutler beat Strangler Lewis Deaths: Strangler Lewis, Bronko Nagurski
Fall Guys, the Barnums of Bounce (excerpts) The Championship Muddle Circa 1929-30 The
Life and Times of Andy Kaufman Wrestlers in the Movies New Zealand
Results Dubuque, Iowa: 1956 Kansas City, Kansas: 1938-39 Salinas, California: 1940
Paducah, Kentucky: 1940 Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: 1936 San Diego, California: 1936 Great
Falls, Montana: 1936 Memphis, Tennessee: 1938 New Orleans, Louisiana: 1939 United
States: Fall-Winter 1965 California: 1933
The WAWLI Papers: Issue #3
Features Gotch Quits the Mat Deaths: Mildred Burke, Bibber McCoy Caifornia's Boxing
and Wrestling Laws Jim Londos vs Gus Sonnenberg Ring Record - Jim Londos (1931)
Results Atlanta, Georgia: 1929-31 Honolulu, Hawaii: 1936-37 Worldwide: 1929, 1956 Twin
Cities (AWA): 1959-61 The Big Arenas
Articles Jim Londos, Strangler Lewis, Jack Pfefer, The French Angel
The WAWLI Papers: Issue #4
Features 1939 Wrestling Expose by the New York Daily Mirror World Title Confusion The
Difficulty with History by J Michael Deaths: Antonino Rocca, Lou Daro Wrestlers in the
Movies Lou Daro in Shooting Incident Highlights from 1940 Where Were They? ... Summer
Results Atlanta, Georgia: 1946 Wichita, Kansas: 1950 Buffalo, New York: 1950 Honolulu,
Articles Jimmy Londos, Dean Detton, Jim Browning, Verne Gagne, Ed Don George
The WAWLI Papers: Issue #5
Features History of the Mat: 24 World Champions Traced Wrestling Datebook: 1915-1920
The Masked Marvel's Last Toehold John Pesek: The Nebraska Tiger Man More
Wrestling Exposes by the New York Daily Mirror Lou Thesz: Back in the Ring! Jim
Londos' Five-Year Reign Chapter One of Lou Thesz' biography -- "Hooker" Mike
Mazurki: Wrestling's Man in the Movies Eddie and Jerry Graham Killer Karl Kox: The
Meanest Killer Of 'Em All
Results San Francisco: 1942 New York: 1959 New Zealand: 1929 Bremerton, Washington:
Articles Dick Lane, The Wrestling Channel, Jack Dempsey, Bulldog Jackson, Frank Gotch
Issue # 1- 5 --- $10 per issue ($12 overseas)
All items are postpaid Send cash, check or money order to:
Scott Teal P.O. Box 2781 Hendersonville TN 37077-2781
ALSO AVAILABLE: HISTORY OF PROFESSIONAL WRESTLING
Tampa, Florida: The Post-War Years, 1943-1949
This examination of wrestling is a continuing series that will fill several volumes. Volume 1
covers the period between 1943 and 1949, the post-war years that saw the rise of pro
wrestling in Tampa ... a city that would become a hub of exciting wrestling action in the later,
modern age of pro wrestling. You'll read about the full-scale wrestling war between rival
promotions in 1946 and 1947; the events that moved wrestling from the downtown Municipal
Auditorium into Fort Homer Hesterly Armory; the appearance of the first version of the
Florida Heavyweight Title; and the beginnings of the promotion headed by C.P. "Cowboy"
Luttrall. The first volume is literally packed with information. It includes all of the finishes
for the matches during those years, plus many reprints of newspaper clippings that are, for
the most part, lost or unavailable to anyone else.
Issue #1: Tampa, Florida: The Post-War Years, 1943-1949
$12 per issue ($14 overseas)
All items are postpaid Send cash, check or money order to:
Scott Teal P.O. Box 2781 Hendersonville TN 37077-2781
Whatever Happened to ...? #1
Profiles include: Jimmy Valiant, B Brian Blair, Count Billy Varga, Gene LeBell, Ivan Koloff,
Don "Spoiler" Jardine, Jerry Oates, Len Rossi
Finishes: Andre the Giant, Bruiser Brody, Chris Taylor, Eddie Graham
Article: Street Corner Wrestlemania by Don Greene
Whatever Happened to ...? #2
Profiles include: Waldo von Erich, June Byers, Dick Steinborn, Nelson Royal, George
Harris, Buddy Colt, J.C. Dykes, Jack Laskin
Finishes: Bulldog Don Kent, Bobby Shane, Little Coco, Lou Plummer, Billy Hines, Rip
Articles: A New Life by J.C. Dykes, Cheaters Never Win by Buddy Colt, Rubber Bands and
Devils by Eddie Blanks
Whatever Happened to ...? #3
Interview: Al Costello, the Fabulous Kangaroo
Profiles include: Sputnik Monroe, Don Kirk, Rocket Monroe, Balk Estes, Bill Bowman, Joe
Roy Heffernan, Bulldog Don Kent
Article: Strange, but True by Dick Steinborn
Whatever Happened to ...? #4
Interviews: Dick "The Destroyer" Beyer (part one), Dave Levin
Profiles include: Lou Thesz, Penny Banner, Danno O'Shocker, Red Bastien, Ace Freeman,
Finishes: Rufus R. Jones, J.C. "Jimmy" Dykes
Whatever Happened to ...? #5
Interview: Joe Powell (Gulf Coast referee)
Profiles include: Bobby Fields, Lee Fields, Don Fields, Speedy Hatfield, Rip Tyler, Eddie
Sullivan, Cowboy Bob Kelly, Donald Lortie
Finishes: Frank Hickey, Tony Enos, Sam Menacker, Hurricane Castillo, Larry Cameron,
False Finish: Gene "Flash Monroe" Dundee
Articles: The Little Shooter by Eddie Blanks, Red Bastien's Texas Shoot-Out
Whatever Happened to ...? #6
Profiles include: Don Jardine, Afa Anoai, Jay York, Fabulous Moolah, Billy Anderson, Mae
Young, Eddie Sharkey, Diamond Lil
Finishes: Eddie Creatchman, Antone Leone, Farmer Burns, Kit Fox, Ronnie Etchison
Articles: Gulf Coast Wrestler's Reunion (report), I Was A Teenage Pro Wrestler by Ted
Lewin, The Way I Remember It by Dick Steinborn (Al Costello, Ken Lucas, Billy Wicks)
Whatever Happened to ...? #7
Interview: Gorgeous George Grant
Profiles include: Karl von Hess, Mae Weston, Dano McDonald, Angelo Poffo, Dick
Cardinal, Charlie Smith
Finishes: George Drake, Ernie Dusek, Wilbur Snyder, Ray Candy, Don Kirk
Articles: Seattle Wrestling Reunion (report), The Way I Remember It by Dick Steinborn
(Ray Candy, The Invisible Man and Sputnik Monroe)
Whatever Happened to ...? #8
Interview: Bob Orton
Special feature: Gorgeous George and Cheri Dupre
Profiles include: Bob Geigel, Ella Waldek, Ossie Timmins, Tito Carreon, Bill Parks, Chico
Cortez, Paul Bearer (Percival Pringle), Norman Frederick Charles III
Finishes: The Great Malenko, Paul Anderson, Frankie Talaber, George Cannon, Dick the
Bruiser, Kay Bell, Dr. John Bonica, Scott Peterson, Art Barr, Joey Marella
Articles: The Way I Remember It by Dick Steinborn (Nick Bockwinkel, Billy Hines, Jerry
Oates), Chico the Shooter by George Grant, Cauliflower Alley Club Reunion (photos)
Whatever Happened to ...? #9
Interview: Don "The Buffalo Bomber" Curtis
Finishes: Hardy Kruskamp, Gene Dundee, The Great Malenko, John Regus
Articles: The Way I Remember It by Dick Steinborn (Tim "Mr. Wrestling" Woods), Red
Bastien's Texas Shoot-Out
Whatever Happened to ...? #10
Interview: Lord James Blears (part one)
Profiles:Lumberjack Luke, Jim White, Jerry Barber
Finishes: Jerry Blackwell, John Studd, Eddie Gilbert, Woody Strode
Article: Gulf Coast Wrestler's Reunion (report)
Whatever Happened to ...? #11
Interviews: Roger Kirby, Dennis Hall
Articles: Tales of the Road by Rocket Monroe, Flash Monroe, Mickey Doyle, Cauliflower
Alley Club Reunion (report), Ray Stevens Day in San Francisco (report)
Whatever Happened to ...? #12
Interview: Lord James Blears (part two)
Profiles: Mickey Doyle, Don Duffy, Johnny Eagle, Tony Lawo, Burrhead Jones, Terry
Lathan, Ida Mae Martinez, James Melby
Finishes: Ilio DiPaolo, Stan Macelak, Pancho Villa
Whatever Happened to ...? #13
Interviews: Les Thatcher, Bill McDaniel
Articles: Everything Except Pink Elephants by Dano McDonald, A Night To Remember,
Memphis Memories, Charlotte Memories Show, Seattle Wrestling Reunion (report)
Whatever Happened to ...? #14
Interviews: Bulldog Bob Brown, Gene Dundee
Finishes: Dick Dunn, Chuck Richards, Red McKim, Mr. Chin, Don Ross, Tiny Anderson
Article: Cauliflower Alley Club Reunion (photos)
Whatever Happened to ...? #15
Interviews: Roy Heffernan
Finishes: Vic Christy, Treach Phillips
Article: The Way I Remember It by Dick Steinborn (Dick Dunn, John Tolos)
Whatever Happened to ...? #16
Interview: Ox Baker
Profiles: Steve Stanlee, Sam Muchnick
Finishes: Frank Dalton, "Alaskan" Jay York, Black Venus
Whatever Happened to ...?#17
Interview: Lou Thesz
Finishes: Buddy Fuller
Article: Hooker: Lou Thesz autobiography(review)
Whatever Happened to ...?#18
Interview: Don and Al Greene
Finishes: Little Beaver, Killer Karl Krupp
Articles: Northern California Wrestler's Reunion (report), A Night to Remember (Calgary
Whatever Happened to ...?#19
Interviews: "Pretty Boy" Larry Sharpe, Tom "The Intern" Andrews
Articles: The Way I Remember It by Dick Steinborn (Milo Steinborn, Lou Thesz, Antonino
Rocca), Cauliflower Alley Club Reunion (report), The Empty Ring(Superstar Billy Graham)
Whatever Happened to ...?#20
Interviews: Don Fargo, Sara Lee, Corsica Joe
Article: Gulf Coast Wrestler's Reunion (report/photos)
Whatever Happened to ...?#21
Special Tribute Issue: Ray Stevens
Profile: Therese Theis
Memories of Ray Stevens by: Nick Bockwinkel, Pepper Gomez, Red Bastien, Don Fargo,
Dick Beyer, Billy Wicks
Article: The Way I Remember It by Dick Steinborn (Ray Stevens)
Whatever Happened to ...?#22
Interviews: Dick Beyer (part two), Dutch Savage
Articles: The Way I Remember It by Dick Steinborn (Lou Thesz), Lou Thesz' 80th Birthday
Whatever Happened to ...?#23
Interview: Dr. Ken Ramey (part one)
Article: 5th Pole of the Mat by Dean Silverstone ("Promoters and the Microphone")
Whatever Happened to ...?#24
Interview: Dandy Jack Donovan
Articles: Wrestling Legends of the Aud (report), Looking Back ... Tampa, Florida: 1943
Whatever Happened to ...?#25
Interviews: Captain Lou Albano, Dr. Ken Ramey
Articles: 5th Pole of the Mat by Dean Silverstone ("Blue Laws")
Whatever Happened to ...?#26
Interview: Pepper Gomez
Finishes: The Missouri Mauler, Bette Clark
Memories of The Missouri Mauler by: Jody Hamilton, Killer Karl Kox, Frankie Cain, Bob
Whatever Happened to ...?#27
Interview: Gary Bruce (son of Ivan Kalmikoff)
Finishes: Ivan Kalmikoff, Ken Farber, George Temple, Cowboy Carlson, Neil Superior,
Ivan the Terrible
Articles: Tales of the Road by Killer Karl Kox, Night of Champions and Legends (report),
5th Pole of the Mat by Dean Silverstone ("Stuff")
Whatever Happened to ...?#28
Interview: Tom Jones
Finishes: Benji "The Mummy" Ramirez
Articles: 5th Pole of the Mat by Dean Silverstone ("Seattle Wrestling Reunion"), The Way
I Remember It by Dick Steinborn (Nick Gulas), Frankie Cain autobiography (review)
Comeback: Len and Joey Rossi
Whatever Happened to ...?#29
Interviews: Gladys "Killem" Gillem, Ricky Romero
Finishes: Juanita "Sapphire" Wright
Articles: Elmer D. "Pet" Brown, Thesz Sez (Buddy Rogers)
Whatever Happened to ...?#30
Interviews: Nick Bockwinkel (Part One), "Sodbuster" Kenny Jay
Articles: Cauliflower Alley Club Reunion (Tampa, Florida - report), The Way I Remember It
by Dick Steinborn (Razor Ramon, Ray "Thunder" Stern)
Whatever Happened to ...?#31
Interview: Nick Bockwinkel (Part Two)
Finishes: Ray Eckert
Articles: Noell's Ark Gorilla Show, Thesz Sez (Bulldog Jackson)
Whatever Happened to ...?#32
Interview: Ronnie West
Coming up in future issues of Whatever Happened to...?
Interviews: Don Carson, Gus Raap, Len and Joey Rossi, Lou Thesz, Dr. Jerry Graham
Finishes: Dick Murdoch, Dr. Jerry Graham, Tom Rice, Bearcat Brown, Tuffy Truesdale
Memories of Dick Murdoch by: Frankie Cain, Terry Funk, Don Carson, Killer Karl Kox
WHATEVER HAPPENED TO ...?
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WRESTLING AS WE LIKED IT:
THE WAWLI PAPERS
by J Michael Kenyon
Volume 2, Number 23 Sunday, April 20, 1997
IN THIS ISSUE: Roy Shire Tells All to the Los Angeles Times; Bruno Sammartino's Life,
Courtesy of the Gordon Solie Page
ROY SHIRE BLABS ALL TO THE LOS ANGELES TIMES
(ED. NOTE--Good news for the editor's tired old typing fingers! Bob Barnett's swell
wrestling web site at
has a transcribed copy of the Saturday, October 8, 1983 Los Angeles Times story about Roy
Shire, ex-wrestler and legendary San Francisco promoter, thus saving us the trouble of
re-typing this interesting piece. Enjoy, and visit Mr. Barnett's site for all sort of keen stuff,
including his collection of wrestling videotapes.)
Confessions of a Pro Wrestling Booker Professor Says He Just Got Tired of Making a Fool
Out of the Public
By RICHARD HOFFER, Times Staff Writer
Sometime in the late 1970s, Roy Shire burned out. Suddenly one of the best bookers on the
West Coast couldn't think of a single finish for his wrestlers, even bad finishes for bad
wrestlers. In 20 years of promoting, he'd worked all his angles, exhausted every gimmick,
overused every gotta-be-a- rematch flourish. Even if the public was stupid, of which he was
sure after his years in the business, he had finally grown tired trying to fool it. So when Bob
Roop, one of his stars that year, came to him with an angle, Shire was ready. "Roop, he
wrestled on the Olympic team once, not only a 'shooter' but a good worker," Shire says. "So
he has this idea. Bring this guy from Florida that he knows out to San Francisco's Cow
Palace. Build him up. The gimmick is this: Let Roop take the title, get a feud going, make
people think they couldn't stand each other. Story'd be Roop hurt this guy in Florida and
he's chased him here."
Well, in pro wrestling, this is not considered a real fresh angle. A feud? Couldn't stand each
other? It had come to this? But as we said, he was tired choreographing all this nonsense. "I
just ran out," he says. So Shire let it ride and allowed the boys to work their own angle.
"Roop finally announces he'll wrestle the babyface, whose name is Kevin Sullivan," Shire
says, "but only on the condition it's not for the title. If he beats him, then he'll put the title
up. Been done a thousand times. OK. Now here's the part I wasn't so sure about. Kevin's
been talking about his poor old dad on TV during his buildup, how he's doing it all for dad,
that kind of thing. Flies him all the way in from Boston for his match with Roop. And there he
is, this old gray-headed guy, I'd say about 57, sitting at ringside, cheering his son, proud and
"Kevin beats Roop, big upset. Then the father gets into the ring to raise Kevin's hand. Well,
Roop comes up behind Kevin and hits him a good one and knocks him out of the ring and
then, this was hard for me to believe , he does a knee break on the old guy." Shire pauses
here, still awed by the memory. "Then it really got wild. I had to send all the guys in to chase
Roop, and he runs. Meanwhile they're carrying the old guy out, and the word spread through
the Cow Palace-you never have to announce anything, the word just spreads-that he's been
taken to the hospital."
All in all, one of the most satisfyingly spectacular evenings in pro wrestling, ever. "We put a
cast on theold guy's shoulder the next day and got some pictures taken," Shire says. "Billed
the rematch for a month, packed the Cow Palace to the gills. We brought it back five times.
"Course, Roop and Kevin were the best of friends." What follows is the colorful confession
of a con man, a guy who made a pretty good living fooling people although the work, as
we've just seen, wasn't alway that hard. Roy Shire, known to you as Professor Shire in the
50s when he strutted into rings wearing a gown and mortarboard, wrestling those poor little
babyfaces in all the big territories, has also been both a booker and promoter on the West
Coast. What he hasn't seen in pro wrestling hasn't happened.
Until Shire, a stocky man of 59 whose trademark bleached-blond hair has turned a natural
white, came along with a chip on his shoulder, mad at the game, there haven't been a lot of
promoters willing to describe their tricks. Oh, we knew the game wasn't exactly on the up
and up ("Up and up' Are you kidding? Even when it was supposed to be real 40 years ago it
wasn't on the up and up!"). We knew the wrestlers weren't real, mortal enemies, that they
weren't in as much pain a they appeared to be, that some of the holds were more theatrical
than athletic that the blood wasn't real, that ..."Hold on," says Shire, off and running, "the
blood, a least, is real." Real? "We'd all have little razor blades wrapped in adhesive tape,
except for a little corner. We'd get thrown into a ring post, say, we'd fumble around and
blade ourselves. Just a nick really, but if you stuck it in your forehead right, you could get a
lot of blood. Didn't hurt at all. Really."
When Shire was wrestling in the Texas territories there was a big call for blood. "They love
blood in Texas," he says, "One week, I had to blade myself ever night, just worked across
my forehead, left to right.I used to tell people I had 487 stitches. I didn't. I had 70, but most
of those were from when a fan hit me with chair."
Shire says there's hardly a wrestler alive who doesn carry his own blade, hidden in his
trunks, in a wrapped finger, anywhere. "I used to hide mine in my mouth," he says, "but one
night I almost swallowed it.You can get hurt in wrestling, you know. But only by accident."
Besides blood, there is not much that is real in pro wrestling, you will not be shocked to hear.
The holds are real, true. But their effects are so exaggerated that, nobody really bothers to
insist that anything like wrestling is going on in there.
Some pro wrestlers, like Shire, really were wrestlers, "shooters" in the trade. Shire was a
big school and AAU champion in the 1940s. It's nice to be able to wrestle, but it's hardly a
qualification. "Nowadays you just have to be good with the stick (microphone) -and be able
to take the bumps," he say with some disdain for the new breed.
Shire's introduction to the game was probably the traditional one in his day, He walked into
Al Haft's office back in Columbus and applied. Haft told him to strip down. Shire, who lifted
weights, revealed an impressive physique. Haft wondered whether he could wrestle , so sent
him upstairs to the gym for some live tussling punches.He was a real wrestler, all right. But
not yet a big-time wrestler. So he spent 2 1/2 hours every day learning to perform fly off
drop kicks and assorted other basics, the kind of self-defense stuff that doesn't work as well
in a dark alleys as it does before the camera. These are important skills in pro wrestling, but
not moneymaking skills.
Haft had Shire wrestling in the prelims, making about $175 a week in 1950, a nice living but
a long way from top billing or financial security. After about nine months, Haft sensed
Noticing that Shire always seemed to be reading this same textbook on
"psycho-semanties," Haft hit on an angle.
"How'd you like to make some real money, Roy?" Haft asked, somewhat unnecessarily.
"What I'll do is make you a professor, get you a gown and a mortarboard. What's more,
you're not a 'babyface' (good guy) anymore, you're a heel (you guessed it, bad guy). And I'll
make you the junior-heavyweight champion."
So Shire learned to strut-"You ever strut? It's not easy"-got his mortarboard and gown and
made his debut in Dayton. "I didn't think I was ready," he says. "And I was begging guys to
take my place. They were laughing at me. So there I am, my first main event, and on TV,
and I'm strutting into the ring. I'm trying to make people hate me and they're laughing like
hell. I was so embarrassed I could hardly wrestle."
Not too embarrassed to collect his $1,000 a week paycheck, though. And this was in 1951.
He became a popular attraction during wrestling's heyday, when TV was so starved for
programming it put the game on in prime time. His cockiness was infuriating. He always
made his opponent look better than him, but he always got his hand raised. However, it was
about this time that
Shire discovered that only person to really hold the upper hand was the promoter. Shortly
after Shire "won" his championship, Haft approached him with the news that, from now on,
they would be splitting Shire's pay after the first $500. If Shire didn't like it, his belt was
It was extortion of the highest, yet most routine, order. "Well," sighs Shire, with no
apparent malice, "he did give me the break."
Shire had about 10 more productive years on the circuit, moving from territory to territory
as he exhausted both the promoter's and public's tolerance of his villainy. This was amazing,
as he could be very difficult to get along with. He says be once tried to defect from Haft's
stable but found himself blackballed across the U.S. They managed a compromise. And he
nearly got himself kicked out of the Texas territory where he tried-this is about the worst
thing a pro wrestler can do-to actually wrestle.
What happened there was that Baron Leone (Shire snorts, "He was no baron"), the world
junior heavyweight champion came to the state to "go over" the state champion, Shire. The
Baron would have to win, of course. But Shire should look decent in the loss, for the pride of
the territory. "I have to put him over, which I don't mind," be says, "But the Baron says, 'I
beat him in two falls.' He don't even want to Iet me have one fall. I say this isn't very good.
I'm the Texas champion and I don't even get one fall? That hurts the whole territory."
The Baron took the first fall as planned, then went for the second, as planned. Shire was
mad, though. "I've decided you're going through," he told the Baron. Shire wasn't going for
it. "Now the Baron gets mad, but he don't know a hammerlock from a padlock.
He tried to kick me but I bar -armed him and almost broke his arm." Texas' pride was
saved. but Shire was nearly kicked out of the territory for one of the few recorded instances
of real wrestling.
But Shire's time was coming to a close. He was tired, lonely and hurting. A missed drop-kick
resulted in torn knee ligaments. As Texas champion, he couldn't very well take time off for
surgery-what would that mean to the territory?-so he shot himself up with novocaine to
continue competing. "If it started to wear off during a match," he remembers, "I'd let the
other guy beat on it so a limp would look realistic." Later, the whole knee had to be
reconstructed. A knife, stuck so firmly in his backside by an irate fan, that doctors had to cut
it out, also persuaded him that this was not a gentleman's game. The future, as Haft had
seen a long time ago, was in the promoting, not the wrestling,
You may have seen pro wrestling and acquired an appreciation for the participants'
theatrics. The bombast is not easily learned. Nor is the dramatic ability. Let Sir John
Gielgud play The Assassin for awhile. It may be his audience is not, uh, real tough, but then
his shooting script may have some holes in it, too. Yet these guys perform. As somebody
said, as a wrestler was being hauled out of a ring on a stretcher, the winner savaging the
helpless corpse all the way, "Tell me that's not for real."
It's a kind of genius, Buster Keaton style. The winner's long shinny up the pole where the
bag of money is hanging, the loser slowly coming to, recognizing the desperate situation. And
rising, amazingly, to pull his opponent back down.
And what of the cage matches, in which four tag-team wrestlers are put in a pen and the last
to crawl out must leave town. Must leave town! Imagine the last guy's sad plight as his
teammate-his teammate!-is crawling out, leaving this crippled hulk behind. "I'm hurt! This
isn't a matter of leaving town! I need help.' Who wouldn't go back. Whereupon he who was
formerly the last guy, beats the new last guy into a bloody submission. It's exactly like real
Still, the real genius belongs to the booker, the man who decides not just who wins, but how.
This is the man who plots the feuds, who develops the story lines, who builds the house. Who
keeps pro wrestling going, in other words. The personnas are fairly easy to develop. And the
ring action isn't that hard to choreograph. A good worker knows how to control the crowd,
when to take his high spot, to cut meat (punch), and when to relax a little, to lean some. The
wrestlers call it heat and they know when to turn it up and down.
"The really hard part, the toughest part is figuring the finish," Shire says. "The problem is
figuring what can I do that the fans will buy that will get another rematch. Say your heel is
the champion, wrestling a babyface. Last fall. Your champion goes into his finishing hold and
slams the baby face into the ring post. He blades himself, gets some heat up. Takes the
20-count then comes back to beat the heel, your champion. Thing is, in my territory, the ref
is allowed to stop a fight on cuts. He had stopped the fight. Everybody thinks the baby face
has won but here comes the ref to announce he stopped the bout because the baby face was
cut too badly to continue. Almost have a riot."
Shire goes on: "The thing to do in this case is to bring them back for the rematch, bill it: 'No
stopping for blood."'
Other finishes: Fight on the floor to a draw, run out the time limit, then come back without a
time limit. "The public buys it," Shire says. "I could never understand how the public could
be so damned stupid."
Then there are the injury finishes, as many of them as there are pages in "Gray's
Anatomy." As a wrestler, Shire used to leave the ring in a coma pretty regularly. He read a
medical text and got all the symptoms down.
"It was easy. You lie still, then act like you're coming out of it, then go a little nuts, but not
quite," he says. "Depends how bad a concussion you want to have, but you might want to
swallow your tongue. In fact, I was doing that once when I noticed somebody reaching down
my throat with a safety pin; he was trying to get my tongue." Whoever that man is, he
should get the Nobel Prize for curing concussions. Incredibly, Shire came to.
As a booker, Shire sent lots of guys to the hospital with head injuries, but "Not all the time,
you don't want a pattern developing in your territory." As part of the scam, which of course
would lead to a rematch, the wrestler would have to stay in the hospital at least a little while,
the longer the better, for publicity purposes. Shire remembers that one of his wrestlers
decided, he didn't want to spend time in the hospital, didn't want a concussion after all, and
tried to come to in the ring. Shire leaped in and, in as violent terms as he could articulate,
made his wrestler understand the importance of a relapse. "There's money in our pockets,"
he tried to explain.
Some men were gifted in this regard, others not. In Shire's circle, there was a Memphis
booker who was regarded as incompetent. "He was a nice guy, but we thought of him as kind
of an idiot.
He had this wrestler that was real, uh, effeminate. See if you think they'd buy this in
Effeminate wrestler puts his finishing hold on the guy, who blades himself. Effeminate
wrestler sees the blood and faints. The Southern crowds always were the easiest." But there
are heroes in this small and unusual circle. The booker in Montreal is Shire's hero. "See if
you like this one. Babyface pins the heel, who happens to be the champ. Well, this is
amazing. The referee counts one, two and then, this was even more amazing, fell over
clutching his heart. Had to take him out to the hospital, of course. Sold it out the next time."
ANOTHER WONDERFUL WEB SITE HAS THE BRUNO STORY
(This article's time frame rather pushes the window for WAWLI, but Sammartino was a
force on the mat scene by the early 1960s, although his most remembered bouts happened in
the late '60s and early '70s.)
Bruno Sammartino: The Living Legend
By: Erwin Michael Green
This article was originally published as a series in the Bagpipe Report and is reprinted here
in its entirety with the permission of the author and Bagpiper Publications editor Charles
The place: New York's famed Madison Square Garden. The time: May 17, 1963. He wore
the world's heavyweight championship belt for the first time in his life, four years after
turning into a professional wrestler. Since then he had held that title for fourteen years,
undefeated except on one occasion in 1971. He was a consummate athlete, and he
commanded respect from friend and foe alike. He held a wrestling attendance record in
Australia for selling out twenty-one consecutive nights and he once drew in an estimated
crowd of 40,000 fans in a bull ring in Caracas, Venezuela.It's no surprise that Bruno
Sammartino is truly known as wrestling's living legend!
Bruno was born in Abruzzi, Italy and immigrated here to the United States at age 15. His
lifelong dream since age 8 was to become a wrestler. He idolized a Greco-Roman wrestler
named Batisti who represented Italy in the Olympics in the 30's. He loved amateur
wrestling, but he said it's not really a spectator sport because it didn't have any thrills or
surprises. In pro wrestling, you have to add a lot of stuff to make it exciting. While going to
high school during the day, Bruno worked out constantly at a local gym in Pittsburgh where
His first job while living here in America was as a construction worker and during the
evening he wrestled at various arenas. He finally turned pro in 1959. Then on May 17, 1963,
Bruno defeated Nature Boy Buddy Rogers to capture the WWWF Heavyweight Wrestling
Championship and from that night on he successfully defended his title with such enthusiasm
and tenacity that no other wrestler could ever hope to defeat him.
That is, until he met "The Russian Bear" Ivan Koloff. Koloff became the new heavyweight
champion by defeating Sammartino on January 18, 1971 in Madison Square Garden. It was
a night of humiliation for Bruno and a night of victory for Koloff who boasted and bragged
about how he became the only man to ever defeat Sammartino, and that Bruno was no living
legend. And from that night emerged a devastating feud that would become historic in the
annals of professional wrestling.
Koloff subsequently lost the title to Pedro Morales at Madison Square Garden a month
later on February 8, and Morales held the belt for two years, then lost it to Stan "The Man"
Stasiak. Stasiak held the title for a mere nine days before losing to Sammartino on
December 10,1973. The living legend then became the first two-time WWWF champion.
Throughout his entire career, Bruno has met and fought challenger after challenger and
emerged victorious in the WWWF. Most of his matches have been grueling and sometimes
have ended in controversy. But no matter the outcome, Bruno has defended his title with
such tenacity that he truly lives up to being called the "living legend."
Bruno had also introduced the fans to two proteges that he had trained: Larry Zbyzsko and
Spiros Arion. Zbyszko was also from Pittsburgh and became an almost identical wrestler to
He was very successful and talented during his WWWF tenure, and even won the tag team
championship along with Tony Garea by defeating the Yukon Lumberjacks. But he always
thought he was in the shadow of Sammartino, and decided he didn't need to follow Bruno any
longer, resulting in a bitter rivalry. This teacher vs. student feud ultimately ended before an
excited crowd at New York's Shea Stadium when Bruno defeated Zbyszko in a steel cage
Spiros Arion was another friend who became one of Bruno's bitter enemies. Spiros was born
in Athens, Greece and had been wrestling since he was a teenager. He was a fan favorite
and had also become a very good technical, scientific wrestler during his time in the WWWF.
Spiros became friends and eventually a tag team partner with Bruno. During their brief
partnership they were very successful as a tag team, but it wasn't about to last.
Arion had his mind tainted by Freddie Blassie, who somehow convinced Spiros that Bruno
was jealous of him and that he was not to be trusted. The confused athlete would eventually
dump Sammartino as his tag team partner. After an incident which involved Bruno, Spiros
and Chief Jay Strongbow, Spiros sided with Blassie and viciously turned on Bruno. However,
the two unsuccessfully tried to wrestle the title from the living legend.
Opponent after opponent, feud after feud, no one could take the title from the waist of
Sammartino. Wrestlers from Ivan Koloff , The Executioners, Cowboy Bob Duncum, to
Nikolai Volkoff, The Valiant Brothers, Waldo Von Erich & Buggsy McGraw fought fierce
battles but in the end Sammartino emerged victorious.
Then it happened, in Philadelphia on May 1,1977. Bruno Sammartino has been defeated and
lost the heavyweight championship to Superstar Billy Graham. The reign of wrestling's living
legend was over. Bruno would never again regain the championship he so proudly defended
for 14 years.
Throughout his career in the WWWF, in every championship bout that Bruno fought in at
Madison Square Garden it was to record crowds. Bruno's claim to fame was that during his
career he had never lost a steel cage match. Bruno also became the only wrestler in WWWF
history to ever wrestle in Shea Stadium....twice. Once in a rematch between the master of
The Lariat, Stan Hansen and in a steel cage match against his former pupil Larry Zbyszko.
Bruno had survived against every hold & maneuver his opponents used on him: "The
Lariat", "The Heart-Punch", "The Claw", "The Axe", and "The Swinging Neckbreaker",
every kind of match from a "Texas Death" & "Russian Chain" to even a "Sicilian
Stretcher" match and he still held onto the title. Managers like The Grand Wizard, Fred
Blassie and Captain Louis Albano continuously dogged the trail of Sammartino plotting his
defeat in their quest for the gold.
Stan Stasiak, George "The Animal" Steele, Bruiser Brody (seen on the right in this shot),
Tor Kamata, Ernie Ladd, Killer Kowalski, and Ken Patera (shown here on the left) all faced
the mettle and wrath of Bruno and realized the he would never go down in defeat and that he
had more heart and determination than any wrestler they would ever face. There will never
be another wrestler like Sammartino, he honored and cherished being world champion than
any wrestler wrestling today.
He truly will forever be known as wrestling true living legend.
WRESTLING AS WE LIKED IT:
THE WAWLI PAPERS
by J Michael Kenyon
Volume 2, Number 24 Monday, April 21, 1997
IN THIS ISSUE: WAWLI Continues 'Borrowing' From Others; The Careers of Jack
Wentworth & June Byers from Norman Kietzer's Old Wrestling News Magazine
JACK WENTWORTH -- FORTY YEARS IN WRESTLING
(The Wrestling News, June 1983)
By Doug Chambers
The life of Jack Wentworth has often seemed to resemble a "Boy's Own" adventure; an
epic athletic existence with elements of high drama played out on the wrestling rings of the
Born in Lancashire, England, in 1907, and christened Alfred Hodgson, he was brought to
Canada two years later when his family settled in the village of Stoney Creek, Ontario,
seeking a better life. Young Alfred was educated in local schools and in his late teens went
to work for the Firestone Comapny. Hodgson was already deeply involved with sports and
besides being a powerful swimmer and a soccer player under the auspices of the firm's
sports club, he was an amateur wrestler at the YMCA. To this day he cherishes a sterling
silver medal won in the Ontario light-heavyweight division.
Hodgson married Winifred Chappel in 1930 and over the next few years they had a son,
Robert, and a daughter, Audrey. The Great Depression was ravaging the world economy,
but he firmly decided to try and enter the ranks of professional wrestling, insecure as it may
have seemed in those financially troubled times. Hugh Lennox ran a sporting club that
trained young boxers and wrestlers and it was there under the watchful eye of seasoned pros
that Alfred learned the professional techniques and worked at building strength.
Later that year, 1932, he engaged in first paid matches for promoter Sammy Sobel -- at $5
per bout. Eager to establish his reputation and earn more money, Hodgson decided to
journey to England and break into the well established overseas circuits. He and fellow
grappler Archie Smith paid thirty dollars each to a shipping outfit for the "privilege" of
being allowed to work their way to Southhampton on one of the firm's vessels.
In London he made the acquaintance of promoter Irving Berlinger who quickly gave him an
opportunity to prove himself. Britain was in dire economic straits so it came as a pleasant
surprise to the eager young wrestler to earn five pounds for his first match (nearly $25 -- or
the equivalent of a week's wages if you were lucky enough to have a job). The British
circuits were thriving and the fans somehow scraped together their pennies to see the
matches, ensuring crowds of 2,000-3,000 at halls throughout the land.
Noticing that Hodgson was a very common surname in Britain, Alfred took the name that he
was to become known by for his entire career. Wentworth was the name of the county where
his Canadian home was situated, so in late 1932 the wrestling posters started carrying the
monicker of Jack Wentworth. He was then about 175 pounds on a solid, five-foot-8 frame,
with powerful legs and great stamina developed from his soccer and swimming days. He
favored armlocks and headlocks, and he often finished off an opponent with a painful
stepover toehold. The endurance came in handy because when asked how often they
wrestled at that time, Jack smiles and says, "We often wrestled nine times a week. Every
night and also matinees on Saturday and Sunday."
It was an exhausting schedule but they earned the tidy sum of around 45 pounds weekly, and
battled in cities and towns throughout England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Jack
was now established and brought his family over to join him.
He continued on the circuits for another four years and has fond memories of meeting some
prominent people at the hall in Blackfriars. Music hall entertainer and film star George
Formby was a fan and often went back to the dressing rooms to visit the matmen. Douglas
Fairbanks Sr. once visited the arena and Jack recalls being introduced to the famous actor.
Some of the British, Commonwealth, and continental wrestlers appearing in these years
included Jack Pye, Clem Lawrence, Al Angus, Jack Dale, Tony Baer, Tiger Tasker, Bert
Assirati, Whipper Billy Watson, Pat Flanagan, Hans Lagren and Spider Harvey, a prominent
referee of the time. Wentworth even found time to train his brothers George, Jim and Bert
to enter the pro ranks.
In 1937 he used his British connections to book a tour to South Africa. In this era before the
jet plane it was a three-week voyage from Southampton to Capetown. South Africa accorded
touring grapplers a celebrity status in those days that astounded them; at very stop the
press would interview the men and take photos for large spreads in the newspapers. Jack
has numerous clippings that not only showed posed photos, but often action shots from the
arena matches. It was a pre-television time and the fans turned out in droves no matter
where they appeared, which always assured a healthy gate.
"In my first big match against the South African champion, Johannes Van Der Walt, I was
paid 165 pounds," he recalls, "and I thought I was rich. I went straight back to the hotel and
tossed the money into the air and watched it flutter onto the bed." The fight went six rounds
and Jack lost when the rugged Afrikaaner scored the only fall.
He got settled, then brought his family to Capetown. Using Capetown as a home base, Jack
wrestled throughout South Africa, Northern Rhodesia, Southern Rhodesia, Windhoek,
Mozambique, and the Belgian Congo. By now he was a barrel-chested powerhouse of nearly
225 pounds, and with close to 1,400 matches under his belt was a seasoned veteran ready to
face anyone. And face them he did, as he met not only the top local men, but also went in
against visiting greats such as Everett Marshall and Ray Steele.
After the grind of Britain, the African schedule seemed almost idyllic. Because of the great
distances to be covered they wrestled no more than two or three times a week, and the
promoter covered their expenses and put them up at the best hotels. This sojourn into
sunshine and prosperity was about to end as it was now 1939 and war was imminent in
Europe. Jack had been hoping to travel on to Australia and New Zealand but the outbreak of
hostilities ended those plans. Passage was arranged on a ship headintg to England but he
and his family got back from the interior too late to board her. It was a providential
occurence because the ship was torpedoed and sunk with heavy loss of life. They nervously
boarded another ship and managed to arrive in Southampton safely. Wentworth, at 33, was
still within conscription age, but the troops needed entertainment and he continued on the
English circuits for another six months. At this time wrestling posters carried the notice that
servicemen in uniform were admitted for half-price.
In 1940, the family returned to Canada and Wnetowrth appeared in Montreal, Ottawa,
Detroit, and all the cities and towns in between. The next year he moved to New York and
went to work for the famous promoter Toots Mondt. Working the major cities of the
northeastern U.S. for this promotion, he also appeared at the old Madison Square Garden.
One evening while wrestling at the old Boston Garden, the promoter from Chattanooga,
Tennessee, saw him and liked his style neough to extend an invitation to the South. It was
the start of a lot of touring over the next few years that took him through Georgia, the
Carolinas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana and Florida. In Florida he
would travel to the Bahamas every week alternating between bouts in Freeport and Nassau
on consecutive weeks.
Through the war years and into the late 1940s Jack continued to wrestle in Canada and the
United States. His America visa would expire every six months and it would mean a return
to Canada to renew it. In 1946 he took out landed immigrant status which allowed him to
reside in Birmingham, Alabama. His regular pattern emerged as his wife and two children
soon joined him. He had held the Canadian lightheavyweight title and he quickly challenged
Mike Chacoma for the Southern junior heavyweight championship. They engaged in a series
of bruising encounters until Jack added this title to his list of accomplishments. Over the
years a number of local and regional belts also had come his way in England and Canada.
Eighteen months later, the family moved to Amarillo, Texas, as Jack made his debut in the
Southwest. They enjoyed the Texas hospitality for a year as he campaigned throughout the
Lone Star state plus Oklahoma and New Mexico. The Wentworth clan spent the summer of
1949 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, before heading home to Ontario. Around this period there was
very nearly another member of the family in the business. Daughter Aubrey was an
excellent athlete skilled at many sports, and the women's champion Mildred Burke offered
to train her and get her started in the game. However, Audrey was only seventeen and Jack
decided she was too young for the rigors of life on the road.
The '50s loomed and Jack had nearly two decades as a professional. The advent of televised
wrestling suddenly made the sport a growth industry, and a wrestler Jack knew on the
circuits as George Wagner suddenly became a star as "Gorgeous George," with bleached
blonde hair and sequined robes. It amused Jack to remember how Wagner was often telling
the other grapplers that he planned to change his image, and how nobody else saw the
potential for mixing showbiz, television, and wrestling. Jack claims that George Wagner
even offered other wrestlers -- including himself -- a chance to dye their hair and join him as
a tag-team partner. Nobody was intersted, but then nobody realized that television was going
to launch Gorgeous George on an unbelievable career and earn him huge sums.
Over the years Wentworth had trained his brothers and several other young men to help
them take that first step into the paid ranks and in 1953 his son Bob was old enough to take
the plunge. After going through rigorous conditioning Bob and several other young rookies
accompanied their mentor on a tour of Britain in 1954. From there they went on to France
where Jack introduced tag-team wrestling to the French. It had originated in Australia and
spread to other countries but it was new to the Parisians and enthusiastic crowds in excess of
15,000 per show turned up for the cards at the Palais des Sports. Wentworth (billed as being
from Chicago) headlined one card with Eddie Brush as they turned back the local duo of
Francois Miquet and Yvar Martinson. They also embarked on a brief tour of Germany.
The career just kept rolling along and in 1958 Jack opened a wrestling school in temporary
premises at Hamilton, Ontario. That same year he made another tour of Britain with his
young wrestlers. It was a busy schedule as they fought throughout the south for promoter
Bert Assirati, then headed north to work for George Relwysko.
Two years later they got their own building on Queenston Road in Hamilton and for the next
12 years the Queenston Health Studio trained hundreds of young men in conditioning and
bodybuilding, and wrestling for those with an aptitude. The school eventually turned out 60
men who joined the touring professional ranks, and when Jack was working on other circuits
the training was conducted by his brother George and son Bob, who had long since decided
not to put up with the hard travleing and frequent injuries incurred in the sports.
In the '60s Jack stayed closer to home with his touring and devoted more time to the training
at his school. Finally, after 35 years as an active professional, Jack Wentworth had his final
match at the age of sixty. He wasn't ready to call it a day, though, as he continued to referee
for a further five years, often for Larry Kasaboski in northern Ontario and Cowboy Luttrall
Though never wrestling them himself, Jack remembers appearing on the same cards and
having the honor of meeting the immortal Ed (Strangler) Lewis and Jim (Golden Greek)
And then there were the champions he faced in the ring, before, during, and after their
championship tenures; magic names such as Wild Bill Longson, Everett Marshall, Ray
Steele, Bronko Nagurski and Lou Thesz.
Other big names that he went in against in those days include Baron Leone, Dick Raines,
Dory Funk Sr., Hans Schmidt, the Swedish Angel, Nanjo Singh, and "The Weeping Greek
from Cripple Creek," George Zaharias.
The memories just tumble out and to even attempt to go beyond scratching the surface
would take more pages than this magazine holds.
These days Jack and Winifred enjoy their retirement years. They have been married for 53
years and it has been a happy and productive life. Every winter they spend a few weeks in
the Florida sunshine. Jack, in his blue blazer and tie, could pass for a retired businessman if
it weren't for the telltale marks of the longtime pro; a nose broken several times, a slightly
cauliflowered ear, and the still powerful heavyset chest. He is gracious, and surprisingly
soft-spoken. It is hard to believe this man is a veteran of several thousand wrestling
matches. His comment on the integrity of the sport that earned him his livelihood for so very
"In all my years in the sport I never signed a contract with a promoter. The crooked guys
were soon driven out of business. With the others their word, or a handshake, was the only
contract they needed."
At a recent dinner for Jack's 75th birthday, his son Bob proposed that the group in
attendance make it known that they want the city to set aside a room in the proposed new
Hamilton civic arena to honor the many matmen who came from the city. Jack, and a
roomful of former and current wrestlers, gave their approval.
It seems that anything connected to the sport he loves will still draw a positive reaction from
Jack Wentworth. _____________________________________
THE GREAT AND INIMITABLE JUNE BYERS
(reprinted from The Wrestling News, June 1983)
By Sam Menacker
In every sport, and in fact in any line of endeavor, there are outstanding personalities. There
are great leaders in industry, great stage and motion picture actors, great stage performers,
great boxers, baseball and football players.
When we look back in time, we remember only certain names which are forever and
indelibly etched in our memories. Certainly among the top male wrestlers there is the one
and only Ed (Strangler) Lewis. In the recent past, who can forget Lou Thesz. And there have
been many lady wrestlers. Without a doubt the truly great and inimitable one is June Byers,
retired undefeated and undisputed champion lady wrestler of the world.
To digress for the moment, I recall watching various sports events and hearing people say
that when they were kids how great they were. I have heard many older (and retired)
wrestlers say how many tough guys they had defeated, even if they had never wrestled
them. I suppose that people always like to put their best foot forward. Possibly there is no
harm done, when, for example, a father tells his young son how great he was when he played
football or wrestled. But there are times when a wrestler might claim victories over a star of
the past, which would besmirch the reputation of that particular top name. I have had
wrestlers tell me how they defeated Lou Thesz, when in fact they had never wrestled him. I
feel certain all the stars of the past have at times been defeated in conversation only.
Let's get to June Byers. Sometimes we read stories of how she had been defeated. I'm sure
that when she first started wrestling there may have been a time when she was not always a
winner. But she had that great determination which brought her to the very top in her chosen
profession. No one could ever match her accomplishments. She developed a wrestler
maneuver known as the "Byers Bridge." With this intricate hold she won many hundreds of
bouts. The hold is difficult to apply, but when June used it it meant victory. No wrestler, man
or woman, has been able to use that hold.
june Byers did come up the hard way. She started out in the preliminaries, but in a very
short time proved to be among the top ten lady wrestlers. In the summer of 1953 she was
entered in a tournament in Baltimore, Maryland, which was sponsored by the State Athletic
Commission. The winner was to be declared world champion girl wrestler. June won that
tournament and was presented with the title belt -- but Mildred Burke had a belt, also. She
had been claiming that she was the true champion. She did not enter the tournament.
June was proud of her title, but felt it was clouded by the fact that Mildred kept her claim to
the title. It was therefore inevitable that these two girls would wrestle so that the winner
would be proclaimed undisputed champion.
The match was held in Atlanta, Georgia, on August 20th, 1954. It was a classic match, won
by June Byers. She was the undisputed lady champion.
June did not rest on her laurels but continued defending her title for ten more years. Finally,
following a successful tour of Australia, June retired on January 1, 1964.
A number of girl wrestlers, some of them now claiming the world's title, have stated they
have defeated June, but these claims can never be authenticated.
>From August 1954 to her retirement in 1964, June wrestled every top contender and
remained victorious. No one defeated her. In memory's eye, we still see her in her dazzling
beauty, as the ring announcer says, "...and now, ladies and gentlemen...it is my privilege to
introduce the world's champion lady wrestler, the great and inimitable June Byers!!!"
(ED. NOTE--Sam Menacker, a wrestler, announcer and promoter in his own right, was
married to June Byers.) ________________________________________________
WANTED: Submissions to the WAWLI Papers (including the reasoned response to the
Roland Barthes essay from a Harvard University subscriber -- which was accidentally lost
one night recently when the editor's computer burped!) Send directly to the editor at
<firstname.lastname@example.org> or <email@example.com> -- & thanks!
WRESTLING AS WE LIKED IT:
THE WAWLI PAPERS
by J Michael Kenyon
Volume 2, Number 25 Tuesday, April 22, 1997
IN THIS ISSUE: Symphony & Wrestling in Houston; More On the Roland Barthes Essay;
Mat Tapes From '50s & '60s
THE ORIGINAL MESSAGE (LOST AMID A COMPUTER BURP)
Dear J Michael,
I can't support Ed Garea's views about Barthes' essay. I Endorse your decision to print it
here. While Derida's De-Constructionism is questionable scholarship, the structuralists had
a serious and lasting impact on the study of myth and popular culture.
I have been thinking for a while about structural analysis of pro-wrestling, and I honestly
believe that serious and significant academic work can and will be done on pro-wrestling
using structural analysis.
For example, Vladimir Propp a Russian structuralist scholar has argued that all fairy tales
are in essence (in structure and plot) the same. It's simply the personalities and the
arrangement and rearrangement of a series of recurring themes, motifs, and plot structures
that form the storyline.
Each hero and villain fulfills a *functional* role in the narrative, though the actual heroes
and villains are differenct characters. In addition, oral narratives are created and recreated
anew during each performance, and the narrator simply draws upon his repertoire of plots,
images, repetitions, and functions.
I think similar arguments could be made about pro-wrestling: there are a limited number of
outcomes, and a finite number of moves and holds. The wrestlers in performance create and
recreate the narrative anew from their repertoire and experience. The heroes and villains
fulfill the same functional roles in match after match, though the actual
wrestlers/characters/persona and context of the match (such as location, feuds, pre-match
buildup, etc.) are constantly in flux. In many cases the booker assists in creating the plot,
similarly drawing upon his own knowledge of the genre, experience, and his concepts of what
the audience wants to see.
Thus, his role is similar (though not functionally or structurally equivalent) to that of a
traditional oral narrator who lengthens or shortens narratives as a result of cues from the
audience itself during performance, even whole storylines can be changed at a moment's
notice by picking up subtle (and not subtle) cues from the audience in performance context.
I think there are many parallels to be established between professional wrestling and
traditional entertainers. Especially since both trades are learned informally through
apprenticeship from established masters of the craft. In addition, members form an
exclusive guild that self regulates itself with little outside interference. Members of the guild
are united by common forms of coded knowledge and virtually sworn to uphold the secrets of
the trade. In addition, the hazards and hardships of an often itinerant lifestyle of traveling
from place to place creates a lifelong camaraderie among those who are members of the
Other parallels could be elucidated. Thus wrestling is central in our society because it
fullfills in some sense the structural place of earlier spectacles and traditional forms of
I would be interested to hear from wrestlers, fans, and bookers whether they might agree
with my characterization of the profession.
Thanks for a great newsletter,
Brian J. Boeck Graduate Student in History <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Reprinted from Upbeat: The Online Newsletter of the Musicians of the Houston Symphony
SYMPHONY NO MATCH FOR WRESTLERS
As told by Irving Wadler, retired violinist
[The posters were plastered all over town. "Symphony Concert and Wrestling Match!" The
Houston Symphony Orchestra conducted by Ernst Hoffman, followed by a wrestling match
featuring champions Bashara and Gorgeous George. Admission: purchase of one War
It was 1944 and America was at war. Sidney Van Ulm, sports editor of a local paper,
conceived a brilliant idea. Van Ulm, who covered the weekly wrestling matches also
attended the Monday night Symphony concerts. Both events were then held in the City
Auditorium. "Why not," he reasoned,"combine the two events into one Gala evening? The
sports enthusiasts would be exposed to good music, while the concert-goers would get a
taste of the manly art of wrestling. The admission purchase of a War Bond would help our
country's war effort." The idea was enthusiastically received by Symphony conductor
[Ernst] Hoffman and Morris Sigel, wrestling promoter, and the musicians and wrestlers
agreed to donate their services for what promised to be a memorable evening.
The City Auditorium served as a multi-purpose hall. It had a large stage for the Symphony
concerts, but the seats on the floor level were movable, so that a ring could be set up in the
center for the Friday night matches. The day of the big event arrived. At the rehearsal that
morning Van Ulm was introduced to the orchestra. "I want you to know that this event will
go down in the history of our city. The house is completely sold out; reporters from New
York and Washington and newsreel cameras will be present. I want to thank you all for your
cooperation." His enthusiasm was contagious and we all applauded heartily. Then Hoffman
outlined the program: after some short speeches by local dignitaries, the orchestra would
perform about an hour playing works by only American composers. After intermission, the
wrestling match would begin with the symphony accompanying the action. "We will use four
pieces," he said. "If the action in the ring becomes exciting, I will hold up one finger and we
play the storm music from William Tell. If the men get into a clinch, I'll hold up two fingers
and we go to the Blue Danube. Three fingers is the signal for Delibes' On H earing the First
Cuckoo in Spring. And if one wrestler is finally pinned to the mat, we play the Chopin
Funeral March." It sounded like fun!
That night the hall was packed. Since there were no reserved seats, we chuckled at the sight
of elegantly dressed matrons and bank presidents sitting next to cigar-chomping wrestling
fans. All were out to do their part for culture and country.
Finally, the lights dimmed and Hoffman gave the downbeat for the Star Spangled Banner. At
the conclusion, a voice boomed out, "Play ball!" and everyone laughed. The concert
continued without incident, although we sensed a certain restlessness on the part of the
After intermission, the wrestlers entered the ring to the roar and shouts from the audience.
In one corner stood the 300 lb. Bashara waving to the crowd while the equally massive
George glowered at him from the other corner. The bell rang and the two men lunged at each
other to the sounds of the storm music. They soon got into a clinch and as they waltzed
around the ring, we switched to the Blue Danube. Bashara broke loose by landing a
smashing blow to George's head. As the dazed George reeled back, we began the Delibes
piece to the amusement of the crowd. Fuming, George grabbed Bashara from behind, lifted
him and with a mighty heave, tossed him out of the ring.
Bashara was helped back in the ring by his trainers, blood streaming down his face. Before
he realized what was happening, George grabbed him again and pinned him to the mat. This
was our cue for the Funeral March; the auditorium rocked with laughter.
Bashara rose, and visibly upset at hearing the funeral march, turned toward the stage. He
leaped out of the ring and ran onto the stage. He grabbed Hoffman in a headlock while the
crowd roared at the incongruous sight of the gargantuan wrestler attacking the slight,
bespectacled 120 lb. conductor. Hoffman tried to laugh it off, and we all assumed it was just
part of the act. But when his eyes began to bulge and his face turned blue, we realized
something had gone wrong. Had Bashara suffered a brain injury and gone berserk?
Pandemonium broke out. While women were screaming, several musicians rushed to
Hoffman's aid. One big bass player began pounding the wrestler on the back with his heavy
German bow. The conductor's stand came crashing down and cracked a beautiful Vuillaume
cello wide open. The police finally made their way through the maze of instruments and
players and dragged the ranting wrestler off the stage. Hoffman, somewhat dazed, bravely
mounted the podium and signaled for us to resume playing, hoping to restore order. Before
we could begin, however, there was a flurry of excitement in the second violin section and
shouts of "Call a doctor!" One of our elderly violinists had fainted and she had to be carried
off the stage. That ended the Gala evening.
At our rehearsal the next morning, Van Ulm appeared somewhat sheepishly to thank us for
helping to raise more than $100,000 for the war effort. He assured us "Bashara's blood was
simply a mixture of ketchup and mercurochrome poured on him by the trainer, and the whole
act was prearranged. Bashara just got carried away a little."
I thought if Bashara was just acting, he deserved a special Oscar for his performance!
(ED. NOTE--Ellis Bashara was there that night -- although weighing nowhere near 300
pounds; Gorgeous George? Not likely, though he was from Houston. The above
correspondent remembers him as "equally massive." George Wagner, as he was still known
in January, 1944, was barely 180 pounds, soaking wet. I suppose this is an example of
literary license . . . or excess. Nonetheless, there was an occasion on which wrestlers and
symphony staged a combined show. I believe Bill Longson was on the card; Lou Thesz may
have been, as well.) ______________________________________________
A PARTIAL GLIMPSE AT A WRESTLING VIDEO LIBRARY
John McAdam, 64 Tennis Plaza Rd, Unit #1 Dracut, MA, USA 01826 E-Mail:
Dear Wrestling Fan:
My name is John McAdam, and this is a catalogue of my Wrestling Video Collection. I
bought my first VCR in 1985, which opened up a whole new avenue for me to enjoy the
sport- by trading and collecting videos of the best matches in the world.
I've been a fan of this crazy business since 1975, and I've even been fortunate enough to
briefly prommote wrestling matches in New Hampshire in 1992 and 1993. Wrestling has
changed dramatically over the years, but I still love it.
I have around 500 tapes listed here, and I send out updates every two months or so.
My tape prices are as follows:
ANY ONE TAPE: $17.99 *** ANY TWO TAPES: $33.99
ANY THREE TAPES: $47.99 *** ANY FOUR TAPES: $59.99
ANY FIVE TAPES: $69.99 *** ANY EIGHT TAPES: $99.99
ANY TWELVE TAPES: $139.99 *** ANY FIFTEEN TAPES: $169.99 *** ANY TWENTY
I'll also make "custom tapes" at these prices:
TWO-HOUR CUSTOM TAPE: $44.99
FOUR-HOUR CUSTOM TAPE: $64.99
All prices (for U.S. and Canadian orders) include first-class postage, and I only use quality,
name-brand blank tapes. For orders outside the U.S. or Canada, add an additional $5 for the
first tape, and another $1 for each additional tape.
TRADES: I'm always open to trading tapes- about 90% of this list was aquired through
trade. But, please bear in mind that not everything I have is on this list. I still haven't put
some of the tapes on disk, and some have never been catalogued. In addition, I have
literally over 100 tapes in my basement that I haven't watched, so I'm pretty picky about
what I trade for.
(ED. NOTE: Mr. McAdam has listed on his web site a huge array of tapes from over the
past 40 years, catalogued in various genres -- WWF, WCW, ECW, Mid-South, by decade,
etc. -- but I have listed only those tapes from his '50s and '60s collection. I offer the info only
as an information service and don't vouch for the quality of the tapes, as I have never seen
TAPE #A226: MATCHES FROM THE 1950's and 1960's:
Antonino Rocca v Benito Gardini Lou Thesz v Vic Christy Edouard Carpentier v Mike
Valentino Bruno Sammartino v Magnificent Maurice Rikki Starr v Karl Von Hess Verne
Gagne v Butcher Boy Hennig Gene Stanlee v Kola Kawarni Bobo Brazil v Johnny Barend
Sam Steamboat v Mike Sharpe Antonino Rocca & Great Scott v Karl & Eric Von Hess
Gorgeous George v Larry Moquin Johnny Valentine v The Crusher Eddie & Jerry Graham
v Antonino Rocca & Miguel Perez Fred Blassie v The Hangman Buddy Rogers v Abe
Jacobs Nikolai & Boris Volkoff v Dick The Bruiser & Hans Schmidt
Fritz Von Erich v Bobby Brown Killer Kowalski v Yukon Eric Lou Albano/Tony Altamore v
Jack Allen/Bavarian Boy Rudy The Fabulous Kangaroos v The Miller Bros.
All matches are joined in progress.
3 hours, excellent black & white picture throughout.
TAPE #A227: MATCHES FROM THE 1950'S AND 1960'S:
Fred Blassie v Rikidozan The Destroyer v Rikidozan Fabulous Kangaroos v Moose Cholak
& Mighty Atlas The Gallagher Brothers v The Stanlee Brothers Fritz Von Erich v
Magnificent Maurice Gorgeous George v Ilio DiPaulo Bruiser & Crusher v John Diamond
& Lew Askew Gorgeous George v Dr. Lee Grable Fred Blassie v Wild Red Berry
Argentina Apollo v Bob Boyer Art Thomas/Dory Dixon v Johnny Barend/Magnificent
Maurice Art Thomas & Sweet Daddy Siki v Lou Albano & John Owen Dick The Bruiser v
The Beast Antonino Rocca v Kurt Von Hess Bobo Brazil & Yukon Eric v The Lisowski Bros
Very good black & white picture throughout, 5 hours.
TAPE #A228: MATCHES FROM THE 1950's and 1960's:
Lord Layton & Lord James Blears v Joe Pazandak & Mr. Moto Fred Blassie & Warren
Bockwinkel v Joe Pazandak & Mr. Moto Mike & Doc Gallagher v Guy & Joe Brunetti
Fritz Von Erich v Ilio DiPaolo Antonino Rocca v Frank James Blassie/Wilbur Snyder v Wild
Red Berry/Sockeye McDonald Dick The Bruiser & Hans Schmidt v Nikolai & Boris
Killer Kowalski v Yukon Eric The Shiek & The Crusher v Sky Hi Lee & Rudy Kay Ernie &
Emil Dusek v Wild Red Berry & The Great Togo Buddy Rogers v Killer Kowalski
Gorgeous George v Jesse James The Sheik v Bobo Brazil Dick The Bruiser v The Brute
Very good black & white picture, 5 hours.
TAPE #A229: MATCHES FROM THE 1950's and 1960's:
Antonino Rocca v Hans Schmidt w/ Joe Louis ref Vittoro Apollo v Bob Boyer Edouard
Carpentier v Mike Gallagher Fabulous Kangaroos v Moose Cholak & Mighty Atlas Ernie
& Emil Dusek v Wild Red Berry & The Great Togo Dick Beyer (The Destroyer) v Bob
Brown Ricki Starr v Frank Fozo Hans Schmidt v Ilio DiPaolo Verne Gagne v Roy McLarity
Don Leo Jonathan v Jack Moore Wilbur Snyder v Mr. Moto Fred Blassie v Wild Red
Berry Larry Chene v Bobby Olsen Leo Newman v Tony Baillargeon Ricki Starr v Duke
Keomuka Danny McShane v Danny Pleaches Killer Kowalski v Mr. Moto Edouard
Carpentier/Dom DeNucci v Ivan Kalmikoff/Al Costello
5 hours, very good black & white picture throughout.
TAPE #A230: MATCHES FROM THE 1950's and 1960's:
Hard-Boiled Haggerty v Mike Valentino Chief Don Eagle v Ramon Lopez Tarzan Tourville
v Don Arnold The Masked Marvel v Timothy Geohagen Verne Gagne v Lee Henning Bob
Orton Sr v Adrian Baillargeon Reggie & Stan Lisowski v Lord Layton & Farmer Townsend
Tony Marino v Roy McLarity Bobo Brazil v Hans Schmidt Larry Hamilton v Don Arnold
Wilbur Snyder & Sandor Szabo v Mr. Moto & Karl Davis Gordon Hessell v Larry Chene
Hans Schmidt v Yukon Eric Pat O'Connor v Rasputin Hans Herman v Yukon Eric Edouard
Carpentier v Legs Langevin Gorgeous George v Frank Talaber Mr. Kokota v Tommy
Martindale Pat O'Connor v The Mighty Atlas
5 hours, very good black & white picture throughout.
(ED. NOTE--I have cleaned up the spelling on almost all of the above, but am unable to
deciper "Mr. Kokota." Any guesses? "John Diamond" and "Lew Askew" don't ring any
bells, either. ______________________________________________
WRESTLING AS WE LIKED IT:
THE WAWLI PAPERS
by J Michael Kenyon
Volume 2, Number 26 Friday, April 25, 1997
IN THIS ISSUE: Lou Thesz Interview in Houston From 1965; Perhaps the Final Word on
the Roland Barthes 'Controversy'
WRESTLING WRANGLINGS FROM HERE AND THERE
(Ring Magazine, Vol. 1, No. 1, dated February 15, 1922)
"Give me a chance at Earl Caddock," said Nat Pendleton recently, "and I'll be the next
heavyweight champion of the world. I have a coterie of friends who will put up $5,000, which
they will guarantee the Iowan for the match."
"How about the $5,000 gurantee to Caddock?" asked a wrestling promoter of Pendleton
about three days afterward. "Well -- ah, hum, I -- now, in the first place, of course you
understand, that was not the proposition, but I'll see the people and find out if there is
anything that can be done."
Another victory for the square and honest. --------------------------
The name, Renato Gardini, strikes terror to the hearts of Italian wrestlers with the
exception of George Calza, now managed by Morandi Stefani. Calza thinks that to make
five or six millions in this country would be very simple if he could only get Gardini on the
mat with him.
Gardini has never refused to meet the challenger, but, like all other topnotchers, is
interested in getting something beside the credit of a victory over an unknown in the
engagement. To Gardini it means nothing to throw Calza. With the newcomer it is different.
No promoter can see his way clear to pay Gardini what he demands for the match, so the
smart thing for Stefani to do, is build up Calza to a point where the proposition will mean
something at the gate. -------------------------------------
Alex Hedlund, a light heavyweight, is on the warpath. He wants to meet anybody at his
weigh barring Caddock. Looks like his monologue is going to be short and sweet, because
Caddock is so far ahead of him that the Lick telescope can't spot him.
Ed White is the big promoter around Chicago and the Middle West. His next show at the
Coliseum should be the biggest thing in Chicago since the Gotch-Hackenschmidt affair. If
White lands the card for the 22nd of this month that he is angling for, look out.
Old Joe Coffey is with White in this proposition. As Lou Houseman says, "Joe Coffey was a
young man when Clark Street was an Indian trail." ---------------------------------------
George Toughey handles the big matches in Boston. That is, on the surface. Mrs. George
Toughey is the real handler of the dough-bag.
And what a successful combination they are is shown by the facdt that Mechanics Hall will
not let any other promoters in the building at any price. That's what you call a square
The Mrs. is very systematic. She soon found out that athletes like to carry big bills around
with them, and after settling every night here share was in "aces." So now, when the boys
get paid off, there are twenty-five one-dollar bills in every package of $100. And the rules of
equity and fair-dealing are upheld once more. ---------------------------------------
Wladek -- "Zibby's" younger brother -- wants to meet any man in the world. "That goes for
them all, excepting Stanley," said the Pole. "As long as he's champion, I am willing to take
everyone but him." ---------------------------------------
This same Wladek and Strangler Lewis two years ago wrestled the most exciting match that
has ever been seen in New York. It is still the topic of conversation when wrestling fans get
together. They threw everything but the mat at each other, and blood, eyes, arms and legs
were scattered literally around the ring all of the time.
What would happen now is much in doubt. Lewis has unquestionably gone back. Wladek was
never in better shape. It might be that the Cracow athlete would break the Kentuckian in
But regardless of the outcome, this match, anywhere in New York, will pack the place it is
put into. Lewis is the most popular mat artist that has ever shown here, and without a
question of a doubt has given great performances every time he has stepped into the ring.
WRESTLING RESULTS, JANUARY-FEBRUARY, 1922
January 3--Kansas City--Wladek Zbyszko won two falls from Cliff Binckley
January 9--Springfield, Mass.--Stanislaus Zbyszko won two out of three falls from Armas
January 16--Columbus, Ohio--Stanislaus Zbyskzo defeated John Olin, one fall in 19 1/2
January 17--Canton, Ohio--Stanislaus Zbyszko threw Ivan Linow in 1:20:00 and the second
fall in 12 minutes
January 18--Pittsburgh--Stanislaus Zbyszko threw William Demetral in 1:02:00; Young Bill
threw Joey Fisher; Charles Fox defeated Cyclone Burns; Johnny Korda drew Bull
Maddock; Joe Vargo defeated Young Sandow
January 24--Omaha--Joe McGill threw Clarence Eklund
January 30--Boston--Stanislaus Zbyszko defeated Dick Daviscourt in two falls, 42:35 and
January 31--Bridgeport, Ct.--Stanislaus Zbyszko defeated Hjelmar Johnson in two falls,
25:30 and 7:00
February 1--New Britain, Ct.--Stanislaus Zbyszko defeated Charlie Burkhart in two falls,
15:40 and 4:45 ______________________________________________
ED. NOTE--That inaugural issue of the Ring included a full-page advertisement proclaiming
that "Tuesday, February 21 (1922)" would be the date of a MONSTER WRESTLING
SHOW in Madison Square Garden under the direction of "Mr. Tex (Gil) Rickard." WAWLI
readers will recall a recent issue detailing how the New York State Athletic Commission
subsequently denied Rickard a wrestling promoter's license. And thus Joe Stecher, R.D.
Lewis, Jim Londos, Wladek Zbyszko, Laurent Gorstmans, Nat Pendleton, Earl Caddock and
Dick Daviscourt did not appear on the so-called "monster" show, which advertised "ten
thousand seats at $1 and $2 -- reserved seats $2 and $3"
(Houston Post, Sunday, December 5, 1965)
By Harold Scarlett
A catlike young pincher named Joe Louis won the world's heavyweight boxing championship
in 1937, and out in St. Louis a young unknown named Lou Thesz became world's champion
Louis retired as boxing's king in 1949 after the longest heavyweight reign in history.
Thesz flew into Houston the other day to defend his wrestling title for about the 270th time.
He no longer keeps an exact count.
"I've held the title six different times," he said. "I've been in wrestling for 30 years now and
have been champ for about 18 of those 30 years.
"The number of title matches would be about 15 a year for the 18 years."
A lot of sports fans sneer at wrestling as hammy offshoot between tiddley-winks and
hopscotch on the scale of serious athletics.
Be that as it may, the 49-year-old Thesz' tenure at the top has rarely been equaled -- either
in sports or show business.
Before his Houston match with a masked challenger called the Destroyer, Thesz talked
some about himself and his bruising way of making a living.
"Oh, there's a lot of showmanship, sure," Thesz said.
"The guy who started it all was Gorgeous George, and he was a good wrestler without that
baloney. Bob Hope helped him put the gimmick together. Unfortunately, a lot of fellows
copied him. And, unfortunately, a lot of them couldn't wrestle.
"They're just histrionic idiots. We call 'em gimmick wrestlers."
Thesz gave a wicked leer and continued:
"We discourage these characters. We give 'em a bad time. When we get a chance, we tear
their tails off. That's one way of trying to eliminate them -- and we do eliminate some of
"Now this fellow I'm wrestling here, the Destroyer, he runs around and screams a lot. But
he can really wrestle, that's all right.
"The gimmick wrestlers, though, they're on the way out. The only fellows drawing big money
now are the wrestlers."
Thesz was in his Rice Hotel room, lounging in a navy blue robe and socks. He was waiting
for a lost bag to get in from the airport so he could shave and clean up for the match.
His fingers and hands are a study in knobs and strange angles. His cauliflower ears look like
pastry puffs. His eyebrows are like fat black caterpillars, and his jaw is a blue-shadowed
"Do the ears hurt? At first they do, not now. It's calcified -- as hard as a rock," he said. "I
can get them fixed up when I quit. My only problem is going to be the hair."
His hair is thinning on the top.
"The body's in good shape, but the face is beginning to tell. The face is what catches it.
There's an old joke in wrestling, asking a fellow how many faces he's gone through with that
Thesz said he weighs 232 pounds now, only about eight pounds more than when he first won
The son of a Hungarian immigrant who did some amateur wrestling, Thesz grew up around
St. Louis. A lot of top wrestlers, Ed (Strangler) Lewis for one, trained there in those days.
And Thesz worked out with them, and with a first-class wrestling coach from the University
"At the end of two years of this, Everett Marshall came to town. I was just a kid, and they
didn't pay much attention to me. Marshall had been barnstorming and he was tired, and I
was ready for that match, and I took the title from him."
The new 21-year-old champ lost his title after a few months, regained it again in 1938, then
lost it again in Houston in 1939 to Bronko Nagurski.
"I got a broken knee in that match and had to lay off for a year," Thesz said.
His longest stretch as champion, he said, was about 7 1/2 years, from the late 1940s into the
'50s. He has held the champion's belt this time for three years.
"I had sort of retired," he said. "We were living out in LaJolla, and I was enjoying myself,
sailing and skiing. Then I got the bug again and started training and beat Buddy Rogers in
Thesz now lives in Phoenix, where he owns a winter resort, the Casa Siesta Lodge. His wife,
Fredda, an interior decorator and painter, runs the lodge while Thesz is off wrestling -- about
100 matches a year.
They have two sons, Jeffrey, 13, and Bobby, 20 months.
Jeffrey is keen on amateur wrestling, and Thesz has been showing him some little tricks. But
he plans to stop and turn his son's training over to an amateur wrestling coach.
"I'm going to show him some things he's going to get disqualified for," Thesz said with a
Thesz has shown some things to opponents around the world -- and learned some himself. He
has gone against sumo wrestlers in Japan, counted the house at Albert Hall in London,
wrestled Olympic and Grego-Roman style against Europeans.
"It really takes you 20 years before you know what you're doing," he said.
How many more years he has left, he isn't sure.
"As long as I feel good, I'll keep going," he said. "Of course, if I broke a knee again and
had to lay off for a year, that would end it. Falling out of condition at 49, it'd be tough to get
Thesz noted that Strangler Lewis wrestled when he was pushing 60. That is one record Thesz
is content to let stand, but there is one thing he wants to do before he quits.
"I've carried the championship around the world twice, and I'd like to do it one more time,
and wrestle in India," he said. "I've never wrestled there, but they have some great
wrestlers, India and Pakistan both."
The wrestling there is a modified form of sumo, Thesz said, and he believes he could pick it
up in a month.
"What about training? I just work, I wrestle," he said. "No secret yoga exercises. These
guys with their secret training, that's all baloney.
"Archie Moore -- I used to work out with him in St. Louis, too -- you know what that secret
diet of his is, the one he says he got from the aborigines?
"Don't eat; that's it."
Thesz, a hunk of polished menace inside the ring, is a relaxed and amiable man in his hotel
room. He doesn't bounce visitors against the wall for asking about that widely accepted
story that wrestling matches are rehearsed down to the last groan.
"That's a popular notion," he said, "but our livelihood depends on our records. If I have a
decent record, I have bargaining power. Otherwise you end up a palooka."
Another base canard pinned to the mat.
Unlike the wrestlers coming up now, many of whom are college graduates, Thesz got only a
grade school education. But he seems to know his way around when it comes to
"You know the story of most athletes -- they end up broke," he said. "I plan to end up a
bookkeeper, counting my money."
To ease the heavy income tax bite on his wrestling purses, Thesz and his wife invested in
real estate -- hotels, apartment houses, and now the resort lodge.
They own a little ranch, a hideaway, in Apple Valley in California where they are next-door
neighbors to Roy Rogers.
What kind of wrestler does Thesz try to be?
He answered the question by telling of a wrestling jaunt to Mexico several years ago. The
wrestlers down there, he said, go more for gimmicks than grappling.
"They have the Batman and El Miracle Kid and so on," he said. "So when I showed up at
one match just wearing my trunks, the promoter asked me where my gear was."
What gear? the puzzled Thesz asked. He told the promoter he had it on.
"No, no, I mean where's your mask and your hillbilly overalls?" the promoter asked.
"What's your gimmick?"
"I told him, 'My gimmick is wrestling,'" Thesz said. "Then I went in the ring and ate the
other fellow up." ___________________________________
ED GAREA TAKES EXCEPTION TO REMARKS OF MR. BOECK
To: email@example.com From: Samgrass@aol.com Subject: Re: SONG OF ROLAND
Date: Tue, 22 Apr 1997 00:28:57 -0400 (EDT)
Dear J Michael,
Thanks for your kind comments on the essay. I have to take exception with the remarks of
Mr. Boeck. If he wants to know what wrestling is really about, he need not look for fanciful
interpretations based on academic woolgathering. He should look no further than WAWLI
No. 2, issue 23, in particular the story on Roy Shire. There is interpretation and then . . .
there is reality.
Actually, we can analyze anything to death, and sometimes I wonder if by doing so we are
indulging in a form of revenge. As children watching wrestling we all believed it to be real,
and the fact we still follow it today is powerful testament to the hold it exercises upon us.
Perhaps to justify our continuing interest, especially in the face of friends and co-workers
who think wrestling is a transparent waste of time, being as everyone and his brother-in-law
knows it's not on the level, we weave complex intellectual arguments about the game.
Almost as if to convince ourselves that our years of enjoyment were not all wasted. The best
comment on all this was by the late philosopher A.J. Ayer, who often attended wrestling
cards, and was once ejected for hitting a wrestler with his shoe. When asked how a person of
his intellectual stature could be a fan of such a dubious sport, he simply answered that the
beauty of wrestling was that it did not require him to think; his only concern was to enjoy
himself and relax.
In a postscript to all this, what would our structualists make of the latest wrinkle in
wrestling? The line between good and evil has been definitely blurred and faces and heels
are being replaced by "cliques." (By the way, has wrestling ever been just a contest of good
versus evil? Or is it, as I believe, just an academic myth built on an easy generalization?
Beware those who use interpretations to get facts rather than vice versa.) All this courtesy
of Japanese influence. Has pro wrestling gone postmodern? It's enough to make Lacan read
Ed Garea ___________________________________________
WRESTLING AS WE LIKED IT:
THE WAWLI PAPERS
by J Michael Kenyon
Volume 2, Number 27 Saturday, April 26, 1997
IN THIS ISSUE: Paul Boesch Obituary from Dave Meltzer's 3/20/89 Wrestling Observer,
Including Ode from George Bush
PAUL BOESCH, 1912-1989
(Wrestling Observer, March 20, 1989)
Paul Boesch, a name synonymous with the term "Houston Wrestling," passed away late
Tuesday night (March 7) at his home in Sugarland TX after a sudden heart attack at the age
Boesch, whose career in wrestling included lengthy stints as a wrestler, television announcer
and promoter, was involved with pro wrestling for more than 55 years. Both inside and
outside the wrestling fraternity he was recognized as, with the possible exception of Sam
Muchnick, the most popular promoter of the modern era of wrestling.
A native of the Bronx in New York, Boesch began wrestling in 1932 and had his first main
event three months later. His career as an active pro wrestler lasted through the late 1940s,
with an interruption for World War II where he was a decorated war hero, before he settled
down in Houston and became the television announcer for Morris Siegel's promotion. When
Siegel passed away in 1967, Boesch bought the promotion from Siegel's widow and remained
the promoter in Houston until his retirement on August 28, 1987, after a short, but bitter
relationship with the World Wrestling Federation after the sale of the Universal Wrestling
Federation to Jim Crockett Promotions.
Boesch made a brief return to wrestling as a figurehead member of the Board of Governors
of the NWA last year, and helped with the NWA's promotion of wrestling in Houston, but his
association ended late last summer when the NWA pulled out of running regular cards in
Houston due to dwindling crowds.
Boesch played basketball in high school, but left school after two years to help with family
bills due to the Depression and was a lifeguard in the summer and worked as a gym
instructor in the winter before breaking into pro wrestling two years later. He also played
pro basketball and semi-pro basketball before his wrestling debut and placed third in the
North Atlantic Coast lifeguard competition in 1932.
While he never held a major wrestling championship during his active career, he received
several world title shots, particularly while in Texas when "Wild Bill" Longson held the title.
He wrestled most of the major names in the 1930s and '40s such as Lou Thesz, Gorgeous
George, Gus Sonnenberg, the Dusek brothers, Dirty Dick Raines, etc. While wrestling in
Portland in 1935, he occasionally worked as a color commentator on the radio broadcasts
with Rollie Truitt.
Boesch's career was interrupted in 1942 when he volunteered for service in the Army during
World War II and during his army tenure was awarded a silver star and cluster; bronze star
and cluster; purple heart and cluster; French Croix de Guerre with star; a Combat
Infantryman's Badge, a Distinguished Unit Citation and three battle stars and was later
awarded the distinguished citizen award by the 121st Infantry Association.
After the war, Boesch wrestled in New Zealand, and then to Texas, where he achieved his
greatest success as the controversial master of the "sleep" (now called sleeper) hold. His
career was cut short in 1947 by an automobile accident, and while recuperating, became
Siegel's promotional assistant and in 1948 started doing wrestling play-by-play on radio
station KLEE in Houston. When KLEE received a television license in 1949, the wrestling
shows moved to TV and Boesch became best known for his work as the host of the show, a
position he maintained uninterrupted for 39 years, mainly with KHTV (Ch. 39).
Boesch's 21 years of promotion in Houston included affiliations with Southwest Sports (now
World Class Wrestling), Southwest Championship Wrestling, independent affiliation, Mid
South (later UWF) Wrestling and finally a brief affiliation with the WWF. The early 1980s,
while promoting in combination with Bill Watts' Mid South Sports, were the high point and
most profitable years for the sport under Boesch's auspices.
When Mid South became the UWF, and eventually was sold to the NWA in April of 1987,
Boesch, whose relationship with Watts turned quite bitter at the end, instead of joining up
with the NWA, opened the door to negotiations with Vince McMahon, and McMahon closed
the surprising deal in record time. The four-month affiliation with Titan proved to be an even
more bitter pill to swallow than the last months with Watts. Claiming McMahon reneged on
every promise made in their deal and believing McMahon was trying to get him out of the
picture, Boesch announced he was retiring from promoting and had a farewell show on
August 28, 1987 in Houston before a sellout 12,000 fans.
Boesch also wrote three books, a hardback called "Road to Hurtgen," in 1962, about his
experiences during World War II, a poetry book called "Much of Me in These" in 1966,
and just before his death completed a book called "Hey Boy! Where'd You Get Them
Ears?" -- a very informative book about the history of pro wrestling.
DAVID MELTZER GETS PERSONAL ON BOESCH
The above would constitute a normal, impersonal obituary for Paul Boesch. Now I'd like to
share some memories with you about the Paul Boesch that I knew.
I first became acquainted with Boesch in 1986, shortly after the death of Gino Hernandez,
who was like a son to Boesch. The one thing that always stuck in my mind about him before
I'd become acquainted with him was the quote of a famous wrestling star of the '70s, who
said that, "If every promoter in wrestling was like Paul Boesch, this would be the greatest
business in the world."
We exchanged letters and phone calls on an infrequent basis. My own perception, although
he would never say so, was that while he liked reading the Observer and myself personally, I
don't think he liked the idea of a kayfabe newsletter. He grew up and lived this business in a
different era, and the idea that someone would even insinuate wrestling was anything but
pure sport was a crime against the business that he loved. It personally hurt him to see the
changes that were made within the wrestling business over the past four or five years,
enough that he felt it just wasn't fun for him anymore. His idea was that the fans were the
people he had to please as a promoter and genuinely felt bad about bad matches or no-shows
or problems with the card. He hated the notion that those who followed him had thought of
fans being nothing but statistical numbers.
I recall one time, after a fairly bad house, he called me up out of the blue. He told me about
the house, and then started giving excuses one after another. The weather was bad. It was
the end of the month and money was tight. The economy is bad of late. The TV show got
moved back an hour the week before the card because the baseball game went into extra
innings. We had to change one of the main events because a guy got hurt two weeks before
the card. He had about 15 of them in a row. What I'll remember most was his last comment.
"I'm telling you all these things now so you'll know every excuse I can give you for the fact
that I put together a card nobody wanted to see."
In April of 1987, when Boesch made his decision to join Titan Sports, a decision he quickly
regretted, his office, upon airing of the television show which made the announcement,
received a deluge of mail from fans upset about the fact they weren't going to be able to see
their favorite wrestlers (from the UWF) anymore. Paul Boesch personally wrote individual
hand-written letters to everyone that wrote him, explaining that the UWF had been sold, that
he had not been informed about the deal and why he made the decision to start promoting
WWF events. That in itself says more about his character as a promoter than anything else.
A few months later, myself, Jeff Bowdren, Mr. Mike and a few others went to Houston to
see an NWA show, and he invited us to his office, the back of which was probably the only
real wrestling museum that I know of (with the exception probably of Tom Burke's house).
He asked us to come down on a Saturday, when the office was closed, so he could personally
show us around, and stayed with us all day as went through all the artifacts from the earlier
I met with him a few more times after that, most recently at the Cauliflower Alley Club
meeting for oldtime boxers and wrestlers about a year ago. He had invited me to come in for
the annual reunion and introduced me to dozens of major wrestling stars who I only knew by
names written in old books and magazines and told me stories about all of them. I could tell
it was very important to him to give me a greater knowledge of what wrestling was well
before most of us were born and how it evolved into whatever it has evolved into.
He called me again about six weeks ago, since the Cauliflower Alley reunion would be taking
place on March 11th and wanted me to attend with him and his family once again. He had
just gotten back from the presidential inauguration, and had just completed his book on the
history of wreslting as well. He was very much enthused I recall, since he considered George
Bush a friend for many years (by the way, George Bush is a wrestling fan and I believe his
favorite wrestler is Ric Flair). He also asked me to make sure and read his book from the
beginning to the end, and not just start with the 1960s when all the stories would have more
We talked a few times more, most recently early this past week just to make sure we'd be
meeting over the weekend. He was about to make a deal to sell his entire wrestling
collection, and in fact closed the deal Tuesday night with someone who was a mutual friend
of ours. He asked me about certain passages in the book to make sure I really read the
parts about the 1930s. He complimented me on some of the recent issues and I actually
believe he finally accepted that the Observer is good for the wrestling business the way it is
being run today. In fact, he told me he couldn't wait for the yearbook to come.
The last thing I'm going to print about this is a telegram reprinted from the program on the
final card he promoted:
To All Houston Wrestling Fans,
I'm sorry to miss the gala event in honor of my friend Paul Boesch. Paul has made a
fantastic contribution to American sports. Through his leadership and foresight, wrestling is
now enjoyed by millions of Americans. I treasure my friendship with Paul Boesch. We have
know each other for many years. He is a great guy and wrestling will never be quite the
same without his firm, principled leadership.
George Bush __________________________________________
THE ACADEMIC DEBATE WILL NOT ABATE!!
To: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com From: Brian Boeck
<firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Song of Roland Date: Fri, 25 Apr 1997 21:15:22 -0400
Dear J Michael,
Let me begin by agreeing with Mr. Garea that items such as the Roy Shire article and other
materials printed in the WAWLI Papers give usan excellent body of evidence for a social
history of Professional Wrestling. Your interviews with Lou Thesz for example provide great
info about the development of the "business" within one individual's lifetime.
It seems that Mr Garea rejects in general any "fanciful interpretations based on academic
woolgathering" that would help us to understand the importance of wrestling in modern
popular culture as well as its roots in past entertainment forms.
I view professional wrestling as a particular kind of performance art that includes both
traditional and "modern" elements. I find no discrepancy between "reality" and
"interpretation" in this case. My point is simply that comparison with other performance art
traditions may prove interesting and entertaining. Rather than simply watch wrestling in an
unthinking stupor or react viscerally to the action, I prefer to ask questions about the genre,
the psychology and the "tricks of the trade."
Its very similar to the various approaches to magic. Some prefer to simply believe and be
entertained, others are fascinated with how it's done and why it's entertaining.
I agree with Mr. Garea that many unsubstantiated theories about wrestling as "morality
play" have been put forward. This element is indeed present in some angles, but its
importance has been overexaggerated at times. I feel that much of the info in the Shire
article supports some of my ideas. I find it highly interesting that he reached a point at which
he had "worked all his angles and exhausted every gimmick." This points to some of the
structural limits of the genre.
Finally, I'm willing to reconsider my interpretations as long as compelling evidence can be
deduced to refute them.
Thanks again for your work in compiling the WAWLI papers. For me the WAWLI papers
both provides fascinating glimpses of the history of the business and raw materials for new
Brian J. Boeck ___________________________________________
(ED. NOTE--I don't know how many of you keep track of modern-day wrestling, but it
should be noted that the "last" of the WAWLI-era grapplers, Terry Funk, survived the
three-way dance on ECW's Barely Legal PPV and then promptly went over reigning champ
Raven (Scotty Flamingo, Johnny Polo) for that wild-and-wooly group's world title belt
Sunday, April 13. Funk has long been one of my favorites to watch, always reminding me of
a large-sized Dangerous Danny McShain, with the same propensity for juicing -- he bled
profusely during the indescribable scene at Barely Legal -- and for a moment I could
fantasize being transported back to ringsides at Amarillo, Borger, San Angelo, Houston,
Dallas and Waco, Texas, among a few of the venues where I got my "real" wrestling
education in the early 1960s. The difference, of course, being that what is done in ECW
provides not so much a rooting interest for the mostly-male-early 20s-demographic which
attends but more a homage to pure, hardcore mayhem. They sit, mostly in awe, as they
watch wild men like the Sandman bringing out steel trashcans, stepladders, barbed wire,
tables, chairs and you-name-it to continue the -- literal -- carnage. There are few, if any,
"marks" in the ECW audience. This show more closely resembled some sort of religious
pilgrimage in honor of "extreme" wrestling. The ultimate icon of all this insanity, of course,
is none other than 53-year-old Terry Funk, a man with eroded knees and an indomitable will
to trade exchanges with young men 25 and 30 years his junior. For Funk, in his 32nd season
of wrestling -- he "retired" in 1983, but has come back repeatedly, even including a storied
1989 stint in the WCW (nee NWA) that revived that group's fortunes when it was being
steamrolled by the WWF -- to be still going strong at the end of the wildest 30 minutes in the
history of Pay-Per-View wrestling, well, it takes another 53-year-old -- me -- back toward a
bulging knapsack of wonderful memories, even including watching Terry's late dad, Dory
Funk Sr., in some supercharged bouts nearly 40 years ago. If wrestling as we know it now
had just ended with Funk's winning the ECW title, it would have been fine with me. It's hard
to imagine anyone ever topping it, short of committing murder in the ring -- which, at the rate
things are going, may not be too far away.-- J Michael Kenyon
WRESTLING AS WE LIKED IT:
THE WAWLI PAPERS
by J Michael Kenyon
Volume 2, Number 28 Tuesday, April 29, 1997
IN THIS ISSUE: Primo Carnera in Rockford, Illinois, 1946; Gorgeous George Stuns Don
Eagle to Win Titles in Chicago ...And....The 'Real' Meaning of Roland Barthes (None?)
SOUVENIR PROGRAM -- JOE FERONA, PROMOTER West High Gym, 1914 North
Rockton Avenue, Time: 8:30 p.m. THURSDAY, DECEMBER 26, 1946 -- ROCKFORD,
PRIMO CARNERA versus JULES STRONGBOW
In a recent conversation with Primo Carnera we learned many things that are not generally
known about him. For instance, the former heavyweight boxing champ was married in 1939
to a beautiful blonde Italian girl in Glorizia, Italy. They have two children, Umberto, 7, and
Joanna Maria, 4.
"Sometimes at night I am dreaming about her," he said. "Now that I am far away from her,
she is everything. I am very proud of her. She's a good woman, a good wife, and a good
mother. She's a peach of a woman. I dream to see the family. I can't wait to go hom.e
Tonight I am going to call her in Italy and find out how the kids are. I do not hear from her
for a few days."
Primo's family lives in his 17-room villa and adjoining gymnasium, which he built in 1932.
"My first earnings I had, I put here," he said. "It is my own museum. Everything is me;
everything I did I put there. On the walls of my gymnasium are pictures of me all over the
Carnera lost 45 pounds during the war and bandits lined him and his family up against a wall
to rob him of $40,000 which he had just withdrawn from the bank. It was either pay up or be
killed, so da Preem paid up.
"I feel wonderful here in America," Primo continued. "I really feel good. Everywhere I
wrestle before packed houses. Everybody greets me wonderful. 'We are glad to see you
back, Primo,' they say. Up to now I have won all of my wrestling matches. It would be
wonderful to become the wrestling champion, too."
Jules Strongbow, full blooded Sioux Indian from Oklahoma, is 6 feet 8 inches tall and weighs
289 pounds. Much effort was spent in bringing the Indian star to Rockford. Strongbow
comes here with a record of wins over such men as Londos, Orville Brown, O'Mahoney and
many other tough wrestlers who have suffered defeat in tangling with the powerful American
JOE FERONA PRESENTS: THURSDAY, DECEMBER 26, 1946
Main Bout, 1 Fall or 1 Hour
PRIMO CARNERA, Italy vs. JULES STRONGBOW, Oklahoma
2nd Main Bout, 1 Fall or 1 Hour
JACK STEELE, Iowa vs. JOE MILLICH, Canada
Semifinal, 1 Fall or 45 Minutes
JACK CARTER, Australia vs. MICKEY GOLD, California
Preliminary, 1 Fall or 30 Minutes
RUDY KAY, Chicago vs. JOHNNY SILVI, Detroit
Opening Bout, 1 Fall or 20 Minutes
FARO RENALDI, Italy vs. LEO JENSEN, California
Leo Jensen, of Scandinavian descent, is a resident of Hollywood. Leo, a former
intercollegiate champion of Stanford U. in California, likes to recall the time when he worked
as a logger alongside Clark Gable in Longview, Wash.
"When I started to carve out a career after leaving college," said Jensen the other day, "I
worked with Clark Gable logging timber in the state of Washington. At that time Gable also
was making a living the hard way, and it was a short time later when he got a break in the
movies to become a star of the first magnitude."
Jensen is a prosperous land owner now. He has 400 acres and raises Angus and Hereford
cattle. He also owns a champion race horse named Ferris-Direct. The animal is a pacer and
Leo races him at New Orleans in sulky races.
Jensen played halfback in football at college and he also is an A.A.U. champion at tossing
the javelin in track meets. ___________________________________________
A TREAT FOR ALL -- SHRINE TEMPLE New Year's Afternoon -- Wednesday, Jan. 1,
1947 Starting Time 3:30 p.m.
BY POPULAR DEMAND! RETURN TAG TEAM BOUT
RUDY KAY, Chicago Ring Buster and JACK CARTER, Australia --versus-- JOHNNY
SILVI, Detroit and FARO RENALDI, Italy Plus Two Other Good Bouts Plus
THE M-G-M SINGING STAR, JOHNNY LaBEL We introduced Johnny Silvi's song,
"Where Are You Now." Now may we present in person the singer of Johnny's song, Johnny
LaBel, who co-starred with Mickey Rooney in the movie, "Men of Boys Town." He'll sing
for you direct from the ring at Shrine Temple, Wednesday afternoon, January 1
Popular Prices-- Gen. Adm. $1.00; Reserved $1.50, tax. inc.
GORGEOUS GEORGE DEFEATS DON EAGLE
(Wrestling As You Like It, Chicago, June 10, 1950)
History and amazement was created at the International Amphitheatre in Fred Kohler's mat
show Friday night, May 26th, when Gorgeous George defeated Don Eagle.
After Referee Earl Mollohan had counted three, signifying that Gorgeous George had
pinned the Indian for the third and deciding fall, the Mohawk grappler attacked the referee
and created terrific confusion.
Don Eagle had, three days before, beaten Frank Sexton in Cleveland for the European and
Eastern title. The Indian held the crown for three days when Gorgeous George defeated
Promoter Kohler had anticipated a match between Lou Thesz, recognized as World's
Champion by the National Wrestling Alliance, and Don Eagle for the ballpark, June 21st,
however after observing the conduct of the indian, the promoter passed that contemplated
Gorgeous George now has the Eastern and European titles and is willing to risk the awards
against Lou Thesz, but he cannot make the June 21st date as he is committed to matches in
the northwest and he may be in Portland on the above June 21st date.
It is the consensus of opinion that if Jack Dempsey had been in the ring as referee the night
Don Eagle showed poor sportsmanship, the Manassa Mauler would have handed out a
Wild Bill Longson scored an outstanding victory in defeating Farmer Marlin on the
Amphitheater show. Verne Gagne was sensational in his win over Jim Spencer. The latter,
after failing to outscramble his rival, suffered a disqualification. Fans were on their feet in an
uproar from start to finish during the Australian Tag Team match that saw Cyclone Anaya
and Walter Palmer defeat Benito Gardini and Al Williams. Each team had won a fall when
the Gardini-Williams duo was disqualified.
Close to 6,000 fans paid $11,728 to see the show, easily the most sensational of the year.
WAWLI'S INTELLECTUAL DEBATE . . . AIN'T DONE YET
To: email@example.com From: Samgrass@aol.com (Ed Garea) Subject: Re: THE
WAWLI PAPERS VOL. 2, NO. 27 Date: Sun, 27 Apr 1997 01:32:55 -0400 (EDT)
THE PHANTOM OF THE RING
The Song of Roland
I have spotted a new trend in the newsletter biz as of late. Everybody seems to be quoting
that noted wrestling writer Roland Barthes. Barthes? Wrestling writer? To the uninitiated,
yes. They would only know Barthes as a wrestling writer, given the context in which he is
quoted. Unfortunately, those who quote Barthes so liberally have no idea of who he is,
either. All they know is that a French intellectual (at least they presume him to be an
intellectual) wrote some fancy analysis of wrestling and it looks real good for them to quote
him in their publications or web sites.
So, who the hell is Roland Barthes anyway, and why should I even give a rat's ass about
him? Good question. Roland Barthes was indeed an intellectual; in fact, he was a professor
at the College de France in Paris. There he taught sociology and lexicology (the study of the
context or meaning of words). His wrestling fame is derived from a 1954 essay entitled "The
World of Wrestling." At first glance, it appears to be a simple essay on the cultural
phenomenon of professional wrestling, but, no, it's not that simple. It never is with Barthes.
He is indeed giving an insight into wrestling, but not in the way that those who quote him
suppose. When I have voiced objections to this essay in the past I was met with arguments
on the line of "You should just be happy that an intellectual such as Roland Barthes is
taking the time to write about wrestling." I would be happy if that's what Barthes was really
writing about, but, unfortunately, this essay only uses wrestling as a springboard into
Barthes' essay on wrestling, as well as his writing on practically anything else, was a product
of his interest in semiotics, a pseudo-science of signs first postulated by Ferdinand de
Saussure in his Course in General Linguistics (1916). The basic idea of semiotics is that
every sort of behavior is communicative, which is to say that they "signify." Everything
from the color of your shirt to a manned flight to the moon can be understood as a "sign"
analogous to a word or sentence. We speak even when we say nothing. Semiotics studies
any system seen as similar to language, in which signs assume meaning.
Barthes was the high priest of semiotics, taking it beyond analysis of language into everyday
life. In his collection of essays, Mythologies (1957), from which his essay on wrestling is
taken, Barthes examined the cultural significance of everything, examining the meaning of
objects and actions we ordinarily take for granted. The title of his work is explained by the
fact that in the Atomic age, old myths (such as religion) are no longer relevant and new ones
must be found.
In other words, Barthes was obsessed with the meaning of practically everything around
him, which he then proceeded to analyze into the ground. He believed there is a hidden
meaning behind not only books and what is called "high art," but also behind slogans, trivia,
food, and the popular pastimes and rituals of everyday life. His essays reflect that search for
Deep Meaning and if these essays are any indication of his personality, M. Barthes is that
deadliest of species: The Insufferable Bore. He's the person at the cocktail party whom you
notice is all alone. You go over to talk to him and after a few minutes that seem like an
eternity, you discover exactly why he is all alone.
So, let's take a look at the essay which is causing all this hoopla. We can easily see why
wrestling makes an interesting subject: everybody knows or at least suspects it's not on the
level. At the same time, however, not only does it have a core of die-hard fans who watch it
week after week but it manages to exercise a mystique over those who doubt it. This is
basically what Barthes notes in his essay, only he says it in more words, many many many
more words. Most Barthes essays are one or two pages long, but "The World of Wrestling"
weighs in at eleven pages. Obviously, not only was Barthes impressed with what he saw, he
felt he really had something to say about it. Take it from me, he didn't. I didn't know
anymore about wrestling after reading "The World of Wrestling" than I did going in. What I
did learn was how many words can be used to express so little.
Barthes could write a textbook on boredom. He begins this long-winded piece by stating that
"all-in" wrestling is not a sport, but rather a spectacle. Once we accept this, it is no more
ignoble to see a performance of wrestled Suffering than it is to see any other staged
performance. So far, so good; sounds like Barthes is a wrestling fan at heart. But then he
makes an unnecessary distinction between "false" wrestling, "in which the participants
unnecessarily go to great lengths to make a show of a fair fight," and "true" wrestling,
wrongly called amateur wrestling. This kind of wrestling is,
performed at second-rate halls, where the public spontaneously attunes itself to the
spectacular nature of the contest, like the audience at a suburban cinema. Then these same
people wax indignant because wrestling is sport (which ought, by the way, to mitigate its
ignominy). The public is completely uninterested in knowing whether the contest is rigged or
not, and rightly so; it abandons itself to the primary virtue of the spectacle, which is to
abolish all motives and consequences: what matters is not what it thinks but what it sees.
Want to run that one by me again? I may be wrong but I think he's saying that wrestling is
entertaining. However, he loses me with all the talk about "true" and "false" wrestling. It
could be the distinction between professional tournament wrestling and regular
catch-as-catch-can as we know it in the States. Who knows? Barthes is as clear as mud, and
he gets murkier with each passing sentence.
Now if you thought the previous passage was unreadable, it is my unhappy duty to inform
you that Barthes is only warming up. His next flash of brilliance comes when he informs us
that boxing and wrestling are not the same. No kidding. According to Barthes, wrestling fans
are not so much concerned with outcomes as they are with the entire spectacle: "Thus the
function of the wrestler is not to win; it is to go through exactly the motions which are
expected of him." This is over-generalization at its turgid best. I have news for him.
Wrestling fans do go to the arena to see their favorites win; the drama lies in how they win
or lose, thus the emphasis on high spots and finishes. I'm sure it is the same in France as it
is here, no matter what Barthes may have thought.
Actually, when you sit down and think about it, wrestling is pretty straightforward,
regardless of how Barthes tries to over-intellectualize it. In fact, many of his statements in
this essay are right on the mark. But keep in mind that these are simply cases of direct
observation. You and I could easily come to the same conclusions. The difference between
us and M. Barthes is that we do not attempt to over-embellish our observation with layer
after layer of interpretation. This is where Barthes goes off the rails.
A casual observer might note that it's almost as if he feels compelled to say something
profound; however, Barthes is a French intellectual, and overanalysis is as natural for a
French intellectual as is honey for a bee. And what overanalysis. Barthes' problem is that he
just doesn't know when to shut up. He's got a good thing going with this essay, as wrestling
makes for a fascinating subject (especially for intellectuals who have problems relating to
mass culture). But Barthes' idea of commentary is to analyze every point to the Nth degree,
taking every observation and weighing it down with insight after insight. A good example of
this is his comparison of wrestling to the stage. It doesn't take a genius to make this
comparison, but given Barthes' literary reputation, we look for a few bon mots tossed our
way; perhaps he sees something we don't. Are we naive. Barthes focuses on the message a
wrestler's body sends to the audience, as if this is a major discovery. Of course a wrestler
sends messages with his body - wrestling is a form of pantomime, you idiot. This is mild,
though, compared to his next point. It seems that all the messages and motions of a
wrestler's body are merely to prepare us for the Grand Message of Wrestling: that of
Suffering, Defeat and Justice. This is the Grand Meaning hidden behind the seemingly
trivial actions in the ring. All it took to find it was a little over-analysis.
The first thing to take into consideration here is that the French are big into this type of
motif. The French mind in particular is addicted to the postulating of elaborate systems in
order to explain everything. Barthes is just keeping up the tradition. Wrestling is about
Suffering, he informs us. Gee, no fooling. All you have to do to prove the veracity of that one
is simply go to the matches. It seems that whenever a wrestler is split open, the fans act as if
they're at a Bela Lugosi convention. They stand up and gaze in awe, looking for the Red
Stuff. But for Barthes, Suffering is on another plane of existence entirely. Wrestling
"presents man's suffering with all the amplification of tragic masks." If this is what he has to
say about wrestling he must really wax poetic when thinking about game shows.
Defeat, the second character in this bizarre Trinity, looms next. For us normal wrestling
fans, defeat means pinfall and usually marks the end of a feud or series; the character
pinned is then phased out of main event status. But for M. Barthes, Defeat is not, nor could
it possibly be, so simple:
Defeat is not a conventional sign, abandoned as soon as it is understood; it is not an
outcome, but quite the contrary, it is a duration, a display, it takes up the ancient myths of
public Suffering and Humiliation: the cross and the pillory. It is as if the wrestler is crucified
in broad daylight and in sight of all. I have heard it said of a wrestler stretched on the
ground: 'He is dead, little Jesus, there, on the cross,' and these ironic words revealed the
hidden roots of a spectacle which enacts the exact gestures of the most ancient purifications.
This is the sort of thing that gives mindless pedantry a bad name. Barthes, in his own little
demented way, is trying to compare losing a professional wrestling match with the
Crucifixion. In other words, wrestling takes the place of religious experience. Talk about
reading something into nothing.
The idea was preposterous then; today, it seems even sillier, if that's possible. If the
preceding tells us anything, it's that anything can be overanalyzed to death. However, the
price paid for this overanalysis is our enjoyment of wrestling as wrestling. What Barthes
really does is to take the fun out of watching wrestling by attempting to reduce it to a grand
experiment via the tolls of overanalysis.
Need I even go into Justice? We know by now that Barthes will transform it into something
equally unrecognizable and by now you get the gist of his meaning, or Meaning, which is
this: if you go looking for Something hard enough, you will find it. Even if you must wind up
boring everyone to death. It's funny, Barthes and I see the same event, yet we don't see the
same event. He sees the unfolding of human injustice; I see a wrestling match. He sees the
crucifixion of Mankind; I see a wrestler being pinned. He sees the drama of history being
played out in the squared circle; I see a silly French professor overstating the obvious. He
sees even more essays on even more mundane topics; I've seen enough.
WRESTLING AS WE LIKED IT:
THE WAWLI PAPERS
by J Michael Kenyon
Volume 2, Number 29 Friday, May 2, 1997
IN THIS ISSUE: Pappy Boyington Describes His Days As A Drunken Wrestling Referee;
Leroy McGuirk Goes Blind
ACCIDENT MAY COST McGUIRK HIS ONE GOOD EYE
(Associated Press, February 8, 1950)
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- A freak accident may cost professional wrestler LeRoy McGuirk,
Tulsa, his one good eye.
The eyeball and eyelid were severely lacerated. He underwent surgery this morning and his
doctor said it will be some time before full effect of the injury can be determined.
At Arkansas Baptist hospital here, it was reported that McGuirk was thrown against the
windshield. The impact broke his glasses and the broken glass cut his eye.
McGuirk was not driving. The driver was Bob Clay of Muskogee, wrestling protege of
McGuirk. He stepped on the brake, which "grabbed," throwing McGuirk into the
windshield. Clay was not hurt, and didn't lose control of the car.
McGuirk and Clay were dirving downtown to eat after wrestling on the card in Little Rock.
McGuirk reached in the back seat for his hat and had to get up on his knees to reach what
he wanted. At that instant a truck pulled from the side of the road directly in their path. Clay
was forced to slam on the brakes. The sudden stop threw LeRoy into the windshield.
McGuirk lost one eye in childhood, but became a top-ranking amateur wrestler at Oklahoma
A&M. He has been a well-known professional wrestler for many years and is recognized as
the national junior heavyweight champion. _________________________________________
CHEER FROM FRIENDS WOULD HELP LEROY McGUIRK
(Tulsa World, February 9, 1950)
By B.A. Bridgewater, Sports Editor
Friends of LeRoy McGuirk -- and he has them in Tulsa by the hundred -- could boost his
spirit no end by sending telegrams of good cheer to him in the Little Rock hospital where he
awaits the verdict on the operation that followed his eye injury.
It's a bleak outlook for the one-time Tulsa Central and Oklahoma A&M star athlete who
achieved brilliant success despite the handicap of having only one eye. If he is reminded that
friends are rooting for his recovery it will help his morale and very possibly improve his
chances to win the fight against infection.
Mrs. Virginia McGuirk is with her husband at Little Rock. She flew over yesterday
immediately after being advised of his injury.
LEROY McGUIRK GRANTED DIVORCE IN DISTRICT COURT
(Tulsa World, February 10, 1953)
LeRoy McGuirk, former junior heavyweight wrestling champion of the world, Monday was
granted a divorce from his wife in Tulsa district court. He charged her with gross neglect and
McGuirk, who held his ring title for 11 years until he was blinded in an automobile accident
in February, 1950, was granted custody of the couple's 13-year-old daughter and was given
all the couple's real and personal property.
His wife, Mrs. Virginia Lee McGuirk, signed a waiver permitting the suit to be heard the
same day it was filed.
The peitition did not list any specific charges other than claiming gross neglect and extreme
cruelty. McGuirk's request for custody of the girl, the family home, at 3707 S. Sandusky
Ave., and an 800-acre farm in Rogers County were not contested.
The couple was married October 25, 1930, in Muskogee.
EXCERPT FROM TULSA WORLD ARTICLE, JANUARY 10, 1982
"I guess you might say it was my fault," McGuirk says today. "I was twisted in my seat and
not properly braced. I insisted on wearing my dark glasses most of the time because I didn't
think my false eye matched my good one."
Tragically, the lens over the good eye was the one that shattered and the broken bits
destroyed his remaining vision. The lends over the false eye was undamaged.
Doctors at Little Rock treated LeRoy to no avail and on the advice of his Tulsa
opthamologist, the late Dr. Charles G. Stuard, LeRoy went to Baltimore for conferences,
operations and treatment. Finally the word came down; he probably would never see again.
You don't recover from such a situation easily.
But LeRoy did with the help of multitudes of friends and admirers. Wrestling had been good
to him and he had made money, too.
Over the years, he had been buying grazing land east of Claremore. The ranch embraces
about 1,600 acres now, including four houses, he estimates.
He bought a half-interest in Sam Avey's wrestling promotions in Tulsa and a half-dozen
When Avey -- the Tulsa wrestling boss since 1924 -- relinquished the promoter's reins,,
McGuirk fell heir in 1958. Aided by Strangler Lewis, McGuirk conceived the idea of
promoting wrestling shows throughout the country to raise funds for the Leader Dog Schools
for the Blind. He was able to raised $55,000 from these bouts for the construction of a new
dormitory for blind students at the Rochester, Mich., school.
He and his second wife, Dorothy, eventually incorporated as Championship Wrestling, Inc.,
with offices in the Expo Pavilion where the weekly wrestling bouts are put on, carrying on
the match-making chores for a half-dozen or more professional wreslting centers in
Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana.
LeRoy's office has pictures of wrestling and entertainment figures he has encountered the
past 45-50 years. Some are obvious, with or without autographs -- persons such as Sam
Avey, Ed (Strangler) Lewis, Johnny Mullins, Jack Dempsey, Gene Autry, Curtis Huff, B.A.
Bridgewater, Jack Benny, Hugh Finnerty, an Oklahoma A&M wrestling team (including
LeRoy) sporting cowboy hats, W.C. Fields, James Cagney and many others.
He has his typewriter at his desk and points out he uses the touch system, learned in high
school when his ambition was for a newspaper career. He had a year or two of the
fundementals of printing then, too.
A nationwide radio network broadcast by Ted Malone from Chicago honored LeRoy in 1952
for his work in helping blind persons obtain Leader Dogs. He was inducted into the
Oklahoma Athletic Hall of Fame in 1977.
EXCERPT FROM 'BAA BAA BLACK SHEEP' (1958) --True Stories by America's Wildest
War Hero, Leader Of the Famed 'Black Sheep' Squadron of World War II
By Col. Gregory (Pappy) Boyington, USMC, Ret.
Shortly after the war the glamour was gone and there was nothing in my life but turbulence
for nearly ten years.
To start with, the Medical Department of the Navy recommended that I be retired because
of injuries received during the war. For this, I was thankful; it saved the Marine Corps the
trouble. Or, I probably should say, a few people in the Corps were robbed of the pleasure.
The outlook ahead appeared to be getting darker instead of lighter, and somehow I sensed
that I was eventually going to get "socked" in tight and run out of gas. For as time went on I
seemed to be on some one-way street on which the buildings were becoming closer and
closer together as I moved along.
To add to my problems, I found that it was next to impossible to obtain employment. Nobody
seemed to want any part of me. There had been so much notoriety printed about me that I
can hardly blame anyone for not wanting to hire me. Any hopes that had been entertained at
intervals were always smashed just about the time I thought I was going to work for some
top-notch company. I was lucky to get any kind of a job . . .
If it hadn't been for a money-making hobby of mine, my family would have had some mighty
slim pickings, the way things were going. This hobby took very little of my time, maybe two
nights a week, sometimes three. These nights were spent inside of a squared circle
surrounded by a pack of howling idiots who fouled up the air with smoke and words while I
was busy refereeing professional wrestling . . .
There were many occasions when I entered the dressing rooms half blind from vodka just
before the first match. I told myself that I had to get this way so the crowd wouldn't bother
me, but before the night was over I usually had the crowd screaming for my blood.
During the first match I usually had some difficulty in keeping out of the way of the
wrestlers. But as each match would come along I would be sweating it out, so by the time the
main event arrived I was in rare form. The shows were regulated so that the preliminaries
were dull, gradually working up to a climax in the main event. My actions fitted the program
In case I forget it, or anybody wonders how on earth I arrived at these arenas that were
spread all over Southern California, my wife usually drove me. My troubles were mild
compared to what they could have been without her help.
On several occasions when I couldn't even stagger into the ring one of the wrestlers had to
referee the first match -- and sometimes the second match -- to protect me. The wrestlers
were all big, good-natured fellows who wouldn't hurt a fly, and they must have liked me
because they did their best to help keep me out of trouble. The State Athletic Commission
had its hands full checking on fixed boxing and crooked promoters without having to carry
me -- and they did look the other way. I might add that infuriating crowds is not healthy, for
they can become uncontrollable, even though they are only watching an exhibition. The
referee's duty is to see that the hero-villain act doesn't get too gruesome. It was small
wonder that I wasn't hurt or even killed, the way I conducted myself a few times. I imagine
that a psychiatrist would claim this form of amusement took the place of my combat flying.
Wrestling, as well as other professions, has a language all its own. In fact, even if people
heard us talking above the clamor, they weren't able to understand what we were talking
about. For examples: wrestle is "work"; fall is "going over"; "finish" is the routine just
before the deciding fall; hero is "baby-face"; villain is "heel"; and building a hysterical
crowd up to a climax is called "heat."
But to get back to my darling and very capable wife, and the part she played in my wrestling
career. Sometimes help arrives from sources where one would least expect it. The fact that
Franny has always been an outdoor girl, and remains in good physical condition by playing
golf several times a week, came in right handy one night while we were putting on a show at
Southgate, where there was usually a rough crowd. Some of these audiences were rough,
some were gentle, but we thought we knew just how far to go with each before they became
As I mentioned, it was up to the referee to control the "heat," but I had disregarded this, as
I had on other occasions. This time I had made up my mind to wait for a particular wrestler
to make the decision himself. In the past he had repeatedly coaxed me to permit the "heat"
to build up a little longer. The idea behind all this was to excited the cash-paying customers
sufficiently so that they would pay for a ticket the following week. When this wrestler
realized that I wasn't going to say anything if the fans tore the place apart, he became
worried and said: "Pappy, we'd better turn off the heat, this crowd is going crazy."
Then I needled him: "Oh, come on, let's build it up just a little bit more."
He said: "To hell with you, there isn't a cop in the joint, we're going to 'finish' right now."
So the main event and the evening were wound up, I thought. It was just another tag-team
match with two baby-faces against two heels. The baby-faces (guys with hair and youth) were
beaten by every piece of foul play and skulduggery known to man. The heels (balding men
with fat bellies) had triumphed. The arena was a holocaust -- a bedlam. Wadded-up paper
cups, because the fans aren't permitted to keep bottles for obvious reasons, women's shoes,
and other non-lethal weapons came sailing into the ring.
The heels were going up an aisle to the dressing room back to back, so that the fans who
were now a mob couldn't jump them from behind. The baby-faces who pretended to be
demolished and would never speak to the heels again were not far behind them -- to protect
their play-acting buddies in case things got too rough for them.
The referee was waiting in the falling debris in the ring, as usual, waiting for the wrestlers to
open a path in the aisle leading to the dressing room. Prior to my reaching the dressing-room
door my path became blocked by some oversized fan who had enough to drink to make him
brave. In trying to work my way around this gent I soon found that I was surrouned by an
infuriated mob, and the wrestlers were out of sight.
The safest thing to do was to get through as diplomatically as possible, I knew; I was an old
hand at this. I had no fear of this big jerk and was itching to belt him, but i was also smart
enough to know that if I didn't flatten him with one punch I would really be in trouble.
Whatever I did, it would have to be quick!
This big fellow seemed to know what I had in mind -- and he wanted my blood. He wasn't
going to attempt this with his own capable hands. He wasn't that type of hero. He was going
to give the mob a chance to jump me by delaying my exit. I sensed all this.
The mob would do the job if he could stall me a few seconds. They would release all their
pent-up hatred for every crooked public official they had ever known, such as mayors,
policemen, congressmen, and what have you. So I said: "Come on, be a good guy, and get
out of my way."
He answered: "Come on by, I'm not going to stop you."
I said: "Thanks," and started to pass. But instead of permitting me to pass he grabbed me,
and I was forced to give him the knee to shake him loose.
This was all the encouragement the mob needed, and I felt someone trying to jump on my
back. The same thoughts I had when I was shot down in the South Pacific came through my
mind: "Wise guy, you finally got it, didn't you?"
My wife screamed: "Turn around, Greg!"
She had jerked some man from my back. I started a swing going as I wheeled about and
planted it flush on the button of this man, who dropped like a steer in a slaughterhouse line.
It was only a matter of a few seconds before Franny and I were standing in the center of a
circle of fallen fans. About that time the eight wrestlers came back to help. After all this
commotion there wasn't a scratch on my body other than few skinned knuckles, but Franny
had lost a couple of her precious fingernails, and some dame had sunk her teeth into a
wrestler's arm while he was pulling me off the guy who had stopped me.
One might gather that all the fans were alike, but this is far from true. However, it was
obvious that most of them used these matches for emotional releases, or believed that the
purchase of a ticket entitled them to act along with the paid performers. Outside of a few
people who seemed to laugh throughout the entire program, no matter how we acted, the
bulk of the fans were mousy-looking people who appeared hen-pecked. They looked like
they spent five or six days each week saying to their boss, or to a mate, yes sir and no sir.
The type of people who felt like they had to laugh at a joke whether it was funny or not, just
because somebody else told it. But these people changed once the matches started; they
were different persons completely. They would yell what they were going to do to the referee
and the heels after the matches, just like they were sure of themselves for the first time in
their lives. Some of these milquetoast creatures would take off their glasses and pull off
their coats, shaking their fists in anger. Yet they were confident that their threats, swearing,
and actions were never going beyond the ring ropes.
One night, out of a clear blue sky, one of the wrestlers started another one of our
conversations that had nothing to do with wrestling. As a matter of fact, very few of them
did. He said: "Pappy, did you realize that wrestling fans had such stupid faces before you
"No, I didn't. It's a pity my psychiatrist couldn't work in my place some night."
"How's that, Pappy?"
"My God, he'd find enough customers in one arena to last him a lifetime."
"I have a more horrible thought than yours."
I asked: "Yeah, what is it?"
"Look at them again. Then stop and think that each one has a vote, and that it counts as
much as yours or mine."
"I see what you mean. Nauseating, isn't it?"
Sometimes one of the wrestlers would get to laughing when he was supposed to be
registering pain or anger, so his opponent would cover his face with his body somehow. He
would have to pretend he had some kind of new hold, or something, until the laughter died
The largest part of our audience was out of sight, the television fan. However, many of these
would send in complaints to various addresses. The Athletic Commission would answer some
of this mail, but the majority was unsigned for obvious reasons, or needed no answer. But
when some of the more persistent folks got a letter into the governor's office -- now, then,
that was a horse of a different color.
To begin with, a governor usually doesn't give one Nippon Rising Sun about anything but
votes. He weighs everything in his mind against so many votes -- a unit of measure with a
man in that position. The fact that some voters are crazy doesn't make a particle of
difference; it is their votes that counts.
Because it was mandatory that all wreslting had to be announced several times as an
exhibition during every television show, about all the governor's office had to do was send a
mimeographed letter emphasizing this to some stupe. But no, the votes. The commission
secretary gets the bright idea of having the referees answer these crackpots whose
important-sounding letterheads had reached the governor's office -- to take any "heat" off
The few I did answer were much the same, with a copy mailed to the Athletic Commission,
and an extra copy marked for the governor's office. Being a "patsy" in the ring was of my
own choosing, but I have always balked when somebody else tried to make one out of me.
Perhaps the few letters I did answer were sufficient, I don't know, because there never was
any response from any address.
The commission stopped passing the buck to me when they read their copies, I don't know,
and care less. But the most amazing thing about these letters and their personal slurs is that
not one of these mentioned a single word about my drinking, which was no doubt the most
damning thing in my character.
My wife dreaded this hobby of mine, and pleaded with me to referee differently or to quit.
But I couldn't seem to stop this part of my life any more than I could drinking. They went
hand in glove. Refereeing doesn't affect some people the way it did me, but, by the same
token, neither does alcohol. Perhaps, because I wasn't capable of controlling my own
immature emotions, I was taking sadistic delight in fooling around with thousands of other
human beings' emotions -- such as violence, fear, hatred, and even passion -- but violence
seemdd to be my pet.
About four years ago I was forced to give up my hobby, but not because anyone asked me to
leave. The most powerful thing that I had run into up to date, alcohol, had made up my mind
I had reached the point where I knew that I could work the entire card and not even sober up
for the main event. This is the only reason I stopped refereeing.
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