Those intimate to the process know that I am an addict to The WAWLI Papers. Regardless of how enraged, or piqued, I may become, I CANNOT quit publishing them.
Okay. Here we go again. Only this time I must have your affirmation. If you have received this, and wish to receive the subsequent issues of what is now known as WAWLI REDUX, please hit the reply button and, on the subject line, write YES. Otherwise, you will no longer be aboard the "oldfallguys" mailing list.
In an earlier post, I asked for your opinion as to when WAWLI ended and RAW-Nitro-ECW began. Responses were varied, but not unanimous. The readership thinks WAWLI ended anywhere from 1966 to 1984.
I chewed on the data for a week or so, then began sorting out some possible material for WAWLI REDUX No. 1 . . . lo, and behold, no less a mat personage than Mick Foley aka Cactus Jack aka Mankind aka . . . well, you get the idea . . . had submitted to a Jim Ross interview 3-4 years ago, and therein was my answer.
In the interview, Foley reveals the precise night when he "discovered" his destiny. Me, looking for a tiebreaker in the above polling process, I shrugged and said to myself: "The day Mick Foley misunderstood professional wrestling is a perfect day for WAWLI to die."
From issue number one of the original WAWLIs, Ive made no bones about the fact that I thought WAWLI (Wrestling As We Liked It) dated from Wednesday, October 20, 1915, and the first Stecher-Lewis match, in Evansville, Ind. And now, courtesy of Jim Ross, the WWF, Foley and all that so often goes against our grain, I am presented with a reasonable "end" date (October 17, 1983) making for some 24,835 days one day shy of 3,548 weeks that WAWLI existed on the face of the earth.
Better, though, that you read Foleys itemization of his genesis, presented on the May 19, 1997 edition of "RAW is WAR." In response to queries from Jim Ross, Foley responded:
"That's all my brother and I wanted to do. We watched them all: Chief Jay Strongbow, Bruno Sammartino, the Valiant Brothers -- that's what we wanted to be. Then I broke his nose by backdropping him into his bedroom wall and mom said 'no more wrestling!' But she didn't say no more dreaming."
With regard to the Monday night, October 17, 1983 card at Madison Square Garden:
" . . . upstate New York, with its endless rolling fields, might be a nice place for a lot of boys, but not when Jimmy Snuka and Don Muraco were in a cage, in October in, Madison Square Garden. THAT'S WHERE I WANTED TO BE! I didn't want to ride horses along a field; I didn't want to fish for trout in a stream. I wanted to be where the blood and guts were, Jimmy! So I put out my thumb, Jimmy, and it took sixteen or seventeen hours, but I made my way to the Garden. It took just about all the money I had in the world, but I got a front row seat . . . and I saw the move that would change my life."
The following is exercepted from "THE HISTORY OF PROFESSIONAL WRESTLING Volume #3 Madison Square Garden 1880-1999 Research by Fred Hornby":
Mike Graham beat Bob Bradley, 4:53; The Invaders beat Butcher Vachon and Israel Matia; Tony Garea beat Rene Goulet, 12:33; Tiger Chung Lee beat S.D. Jones, 8:41; Tito Santana drew with Iron Mike Sharpe, 20:00; Rocky Johnson beat Sika Anoia, 1:46; Sgt. Slaughter beat Ivan Putski, dq, 8:49; Intercontinental Title Match, Cage Match, Don Muraco beat Jimmy Snuka, 6:48; Andre the Giant beat Afa Anoia, 1:07; WWF title match, The Masked Superstar beat Bob Backlund, cor, 16:13.
Mankind to Jim Ross (cont., May 19, 1987):
"When Jimmy Snuka came off the top of the cage, and I saw people stand up, and I saw people cheer, and I knew I wasn't the only person whose life was changed in that arena. And I realized, Jimmy, that I wanted to do the same thing. I wanted to hear people cheer for me because of some act of bravery that I'd committed. I wanted to hear-see peoples emotions. I wanted to see children cry out of love for me, for the things I could do inside a ring. That's my first time in Madison Square Garden -- my parents weren't there. I did it like I've done just about everything else in my life: all by myself!"
Appropriate, then, that WAWLI begins with a classic match which ended (in mild, "screwjob" fashion with Lewis going over the ropes and knocking himself silly on a chair below) after two hours and three minutes of action and ends with a modern-day, six-minute, 48-second enterprise that changed the life of young Mick Foley.
Now, of course, WAWLI REDUX will periodically drift back in time to the "prehistoric" days of the professional mat, i.e., the 40 or so years before the first Stecher-Lewis clash especially for materials that lend explanation to how the game developed in North America. And, if Hulk Hogan dies in a Paris bordello, or some such item of note regarding the "modern" game, well bother with that, too. Otherwise, though, were 1915 to 1983, like it or leave it.
WAWLI REDUX No. 2 will be along after everyone on the list has had a chance to say yea or nay to receiving the new format, probably on or about October 20 (it is no coincidence that the editor will be sojourning in Europe, on a research trip for other writings, in the meantime).
Our apologies for having discontinued the old format in such abrupt fashion, but it was probably time, anyway, for a change, and some clarification.
Another ongoing project will be the re-editing of the original series of some 800-plus WAWLI Papers and their reposting, on the Phocian web site (www.phocian.com). Those pages will begin appearing in four weeks or so, and you will be alerted to them in subsequent issues of WAWLI REDUX.
Any other queries may be sent along email@example.com but dont expect an immediate answer. I am going offline for more than three hours, for the first time in nearly seven years. Ill get to your responses in due time. Meanwhile, lets catch up with a few items of interest and then cap this initial issue with an Arthur Daley "Sports of the Times" column from a 1954 edition of the New York Times.
MATMANIA: The news regarding the respective battles of Johnny Valentine and Ed (The Sheik) Farhat versus health demons is getting grimmer by the day. Both are continuing lengthy hospital stays . . . Penny Banner continues to spearhead the drive for assistance for onetime mat glamour girl Nell Stewart, also ailing. Penny may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org for further info . . . Red Bastien, the energetic Cauliflower Alley Club president, jets to Montreal this weekend for confabs with Yvon Robert Jr. and Billy Two Rivers regarding an eastern CAC reunion in the Quebec city in September 2001. Our thoughts: Thats going to be a wonderful locale and a fascinating time in one of the truly great pro wrestling hotbeds. (Dont forget the big one, the 2001 Cauliflower Alley Club annual reunion, at Las Vegas Riviera Hotel, Feb. 9-11, and make those room reservations NOW.) . . .
Lou Thesz may think, as he wrote in "Hooker," that he never put over Buddy Rogers but the Houston Post of Saturday, May 11, 1946 disagrees: "Buddy Rogers regained the Texas heavyweight wrestling title Friday night at the City Auditorium before a capacity crowd by winning the only fall of a 90-minute match from Lou Thesz. The fall came after 66 minutes and 40 seconds of grappling with a straight body press. A second fall was not decided when the timer sounded the limit and referee Karl Sarpolis awarded the bout to Rogers." Kit Bauman, who helped Lou with the book and is now drafting the second edition with plans to have it available by Christmas notes that others on the Morris Sigel-promoted card that night were Tug Carlson, Dizzy Davis,Jules Strongbow, Bobby Wagner and Sockeye McDonald in a battle royal; George Temple (getting a big push from Sigel; he main-evented at least twice in Houston during the next month) vs. Gorilla Macias; and Bobby Bruns vs. Jim Casey . . . Correct me if Im wrong, but I believe Thesz is the only survivor out of the whole lot and maybe the newspapers (the Chronicle coverage mirrored that of the Post) had it wrong? . . . "Gorgeous George" Grant continues to let lazy reporters around the land confuse him with the late George Wagner, the original Gorgeous George. Latest victim is staff writer Mike Marshall of the Huntsville (Ala.) Times . . .
------------------------------------------CHARLIE KALANI, 70, REMEMBERED AS VERSATILE ACTOR
(Honolulu Star-Bulletin, September 15, 2000)
By Rod Ohira
Hawaii-born professional wrestler and actor Charles "Charlie" Kalani is best known as a villain.
But in real life, an Iolani School football coach, the Rev. Kenneth Bray, saved Kalani from turning into a bad guy.
"Attending Iolani turned his life around," the former Doris Peterson said about her husband of 47 years, who died Aug. 22 of a heart attack in Lake Forest, Calif., at age 70.
"He was a street kid getting into trouble and would have ended up in reform school if Father Bray hadn't helped him out by bringing him to Iolani. He felt Iolani saved him."
Kalani, who began wrestling in 1967 as "Professor Toru Tanaka," also appeared in more than 20 films -- most notably "Perfect Weapon," "Running Man," "Last Action Hero" and "Missing in Action 2" -- and television series such as "Airwolf," "The A-Team" and "The Fall Guy."
Contrary to his real-life personality, Kalani always portrayed a villain.
"He was just a gentle, good, soft-hearted island boy," Doris Kalani said. "And he had to work very hard all his life.
"It was hard not to be bitter when he got into wrestling and show business because he had to change his personality. He always told our kids, 'I'm your father at home and other people will not know the real me.' "
Kalani was a tackle and place-kicker in football. After graduating from Iolani in 1949, he attended Weber Junior College in Ogden, Utah, where he met his wife in 1952.
Sol Naumu of Pearl City attended Compton College and recalls playing against his former Iolani teammate and good friend.
"Charlie was playing linebacker and I remember going through the line and him hitting me hard," Naumu said.
"Then he stole the ball from me and ran for a touchdown.
"Everybody thought I gave him the ball."
Naumu, who last visited with his friend in 1998, described Kalani as "an easygoing guy, always kidding people."
"He was a happy Hawaiian from Waimanalo," he added. "He was very kind and compassionate but if you got him mad, watch out."
Kalani was drafted in 1955 and discharged in 1966 as an Army sergeant.
He began jujitsu studies in 1939 and held the rank of Danzan-Ryu Black Belt.
Survivors, all of whom live in California, include his wife, daughters Cheryle Kalani and Karen Kalani-Beck, son Carl, sisters Jeanette and Charlene, brother Robert, and six grandchildren.
The family plans to honor Kalani's request to have his ashes scattered at sea in Hawaii later this year.
----------------------------------------------------BARNUM WAS RIGHT
(New York Times, Monday, April 19, 1954)
By Arthur Daley
It was Phineas T. Barnum, the master showman, who received credit for the expression, "Theres a sucker born every minute." He proved his point by becoming wealthy through painlessly snatching dollars from the out-thrust hands of the gullible.
The birth rate of the naïve, the credulous and the overly trustful hasnt diminished a bit since Barnums day. Otherwise there wouldnt and couldnt be such a creature as a wrestling fan. In his blind, fatuous innocence this benighted individual believes every professional rassling match is a to-the-death struggle with the historic proportions of the match between Ulysses and Ajax.
The distress of the grappling fanatic would be totally unimportant and not worth even a passing glance if hed be content to hide his sublime belief in the always-on-the-level aspects of the mat game. But hes a shouter and a writer of indignant letters. He pesters sports editors and wants to know why newspapers refuse to print results of the utterly enthralling matches he views on television.
The answer is always awkward and embarrassing. Its almost as cruel as telling a child that there is no Santa Claus. It does no good to inform the fan that the mat game is as spurious as a three-dollar bill. He wont believe that, anyway. Besides, there are such things as libel laws, even though the wrestling trust never has dared sue anyone for libel. The Mahouts who handle the grunt-and-groan herds demur slightly at charges that wrestling is not quite as level as a billiard table. But thats mainly for the record and for the benefit of Barnums disciples.
Its completely untrue to state that the last honest wrestling match was the 1911 affair between Frank Gotch and George Hackenschmidt, two of the greatest. Old-timers still insist that Gotch was the mightiest of them all. He won 154 of 160 matches. Some crackerjack wrestlers followed them, including Joe Stecher, Earl Caddock, Stanislaus Zbyszko, Strangler Lewis, and Jim Londos. After them the deluge.
The one item that places the wrestling trust in a most untenable position is that the various state athletic commissions refuse to recognize the mat game as legitimate competition. Rassling never can be advertised as a "contest" but only as an "exhibition."
The dictionary defines a contest as "a struggle for victory or superiority; a conflict between competitors, a competition." Well?
Wrestlers are salaried employes of the beef trust that owns them. Winning or losing means nothing per se. Its a steady job, five or six nights a week, and the companionship is wonderful. The rasslers travel together by car from town to town, eat together, room together and enjoy the delightful camaraderie of their fellows.
Strictly speaking, the grunt-and-groan industry is populated by the most noble group of blubbery meatballs youd ever want to encounter. The milk of human kindness flows through their veins. Most of them are extremely intelligent, warm hearted, generous and so gentle that they wouldnt hurt a fly. If they appear satanic at times, so does Boris Karloff on the occasions when his job calls for him to act that way.
Tumblers in the circus are not better schooled than the grunters and groaners. The matmen learn how to fall without getting hurt. They are taught to crash to the canvas so that their feet land first on the rattling boards instead of their heads. They work "loose" so that the pressure of their holds is not the eye-bulger it seems.
It once was said of one master of his trade that "he could seem to rip your arm from the socket and break your back but he had a touch so gentle you couldnt even feel it." They become artists of pantomime with a gamut of expressive grimaces worthy of Sid Caesar.
The new batch of rassling fans, via television, swallows it all hook, line, sinker and fishing pole. They ridicule as blind cynics those who refuse to join in their delusion. Worse still, they continue to bombard newspapers with the demand that wrestling results be run regularly. The only sports editor to do that was Dan Parker, when he had a pipeline into the wrestling booking office. The catch was that Danl figured them in advance of the matches themselves.
So far as is known, there never has been much of a demand for a college wrestling match on television. Amateur wrestling is an admirably healthful sport that requires consummate skill. But it is so completely on the level that its dull and deadly without one element of the spectacular to it.
Whenever the professionals want to settle grudges or determine relative superiority, they stage their "shooting matches" in privacy behind the locked doors of a gymnasium. In their unadorned state and without histrionics, these "shooting matches" are too yawn provoking. The public only sees the "working matches."
Accept wrestling as mere entertainment, if you must, but please dont think that every vaudeville act on television deserves newspaper coverage.(ED. NOTE The dim memory of Daley did not encompass a time period, up to some 15 years before he wrote this condescending column, when the New York Times sports section ran full results of every professional wrestling match in its immediate circulation era. It was about 1939 that the Times reading the aforementioned Mr. Parkers "advance results" that were furnished him by Jack Pfefer ceased the practice. After that, only the Madison Square Garden cards received such treatment. Nor did Daley bother to remember, or mention, that most of the sportswriters in New York and everywhere else were accepting under-the-table bribes from wrestling promoters and other sports entrepreneurs eager for a share of the newspaper space.)
WAWLI REDUX # 2...MATMANIA: Mike Mooneyham, the diligent wrestling columnist in the Charleston (S.C.) Post and Courier, relayed the story "Bill Soloweyko, better known to five decades of wrestling fans as Klondike Bill, passed away Tuesday (Oct. 3) at his home in Charlotte at the age of 68. Klondike was a major draw in territories throughout the country, as well as overseas, and helped draw some of the biggest crowds ever at Charleston's old County Hall during the '60s. A 1967 match in which Bill seconded George Becker and Johnny Weaver against The Masked Red Demons (Billy and Jimmy Hines) and manager George "Two Ton" Harris drew one of the biggest crowds ever locally at that time, second only to a match a decade earlier between the original Gorgeous George and Angelo Martinelli. The longtime Charlotte native was born Dec. 1, 1932, in Saunders, West Alberta, Canada, having broken into the business in 1959 after being trained by Stu Hart in Calgary. Bill wrestled throughout the United States, Canada, Australia, Japan, China and India, but was perhaps best known for his long tenure with Crockett Promotions as a top-tier wrestler and later ring crew chief. Bill was stricken with a rare neuromuscular disease called Bulbar palsy." About the same time, Charlie Thesz, Lous wife, had more heartening news with regard to the health of Johnny Valentine -- "I talked with Sharon (his wife) this afternoon (Oct. 7) and John has been transferred to a rehab facility which is supposed to be the cutting edge in care. He was moved last night and she cannot believe how wonderful the care is . . . for them both. He has a private room and she has a roll-away bed in the room. Sharon is exhausted, but feels as if her prayers and our prayers for them have been answered. She asked me to tell all of you who have had them in your thoughts and prayers how much it means to them both.
It isnt a contest, except as a bit of entertainment. So, when the entertainment begins to lose novelty theres nothing left to draw the crowds. And the novelty has to wane. Wrestlers cant get up new torture holds, new flying falls, new dives out of the ring, airplane spins, new funny complications like getting sore at the referee and rolling him in the resin, for each wrestling show.
Big crowds have been going to wrestling shows for a couple of years or more. They paid at the gate, yelled, laughed and enjoyed themselves as long as there was some novelty to provide excitement. As a novelty it was hot stuff. But nobody pays to see the same show over and over again, with merely a change in the actors.
If there was some element of a contest, even this freak wrestling might last a while longer. But by this time everybody knows its all a show no real contest at all. There isnt, at this time, a real wrestling champion. How could there be, without real contests?
There are thousands of wrestlers, all working along the same line, all trying to be original. The number of stunts that can be pulled in a wrestling match is rather limited. Of late some of the boys have tried to introduce such humorous novelties as kicking an opponent in the stomach, swinging punches at an opponent, missing and accidentally socking the referee, pretending to bite opponent, etc. It just shows how hard up they are for ideas. And they have to put on new stuff or people wont pay to see them. Its a tough spot, lads.
Frank Gotch was first to use a "torture hold" that had nothing to do with wrestling, the object of which always had been to put an opponent on his back. Gotch invented the "toe hold." With it he wrenched an opponents ankle until he quit. Gotch always seemed to think there was a fine bit of humor concealed somewhere in this performance. I once saw him wrestling a tall young German in Chicago. The German was no match for Frank as a wrestler, so to put a little pep into the match Frank sat on him, got his toe hold, and very slowly bent his ankle back until it was nearly broken.
The German wrestler, unable even to roll over on his back, screamed. This was before the days of grunt and groan wrestling, and it was a real scream. The crowd piled into the ring and pulled Gotch away. Frank got up and walked around, grinning. The German was carried out. I heard afterward his ankle actually was broken, and six months later he was still partly crippled.
After Gotch, Strangler Lewis developed his "head-lock," a mauling grip supposed to be very painful and to render an opponent so groggy that when Lewis was ready to let go he could easily flop the victim over on his shoulder blades. Papers were full of pictures of Lewis practicing his head-lock on a wodden block, developing a grip that could dent a human skull like a watermelon.
Joe Stecher has his "body scissors," locking his strong legs around an opponents middle and putting on the squeeze until he gave up. Another torture hold.
It was big Wayne Munn who revolutionized wrestling. Knowing nothing of wrestling, he picked up Strangler Lewis and threw him over the ropes, giving him such a bump that he was through for the evening. Theyve all been chucking each other out of the ring ever since. Its a regular stunt. For a long time people went to wrestling shows hoping to see some beefy behemoth dumped into somebodys lap at the ringside which was a great laugh getter.
Then Sonnenberg came along with his flying tackle. He butted them out of the ring, or just for variety he missed and went head first through the ropes into somebodys lap himself. That was so entertaining that he was made champion. Then came airplane spins just a modernizing of the way Hackenschmidt threw Jenkins over twenty years ago and new "torture holds," and, tickling, and jiu jitsu nerve pressure, and one "doctor" wrestler is supposed to use hypnotism.
The grapplers grunt and groan, squeal in "agony," take turns with "torture holds," not too roughly applied, make faces, scowl, snarl, butt, kick, grind their teeth and try to make their act like unrestricted murder. College football heroes are rushed into the mat game, and they tackle and cavort around and are nursed along without knowing much of what its all about, as long as their football reputations can be capitalized.
But with the element of real contesting left out the circus stunt
stuff has its limit. Begins to look as if the limited has nearly been reached. If it has,
a lot of large beefy boys will have to go back to work. Well, from the looks of them, that
oughtnt to be any hardship. Most of them could move a piano up six flights of stairs
(Washington Post, December 15, 1941)
By Shirley Povich
Beauty has its place, but not on the rassling mat. These are not direct quotes from Goldie Ahearn, who is promoting tonights show at Ulines Arena. The only agency capable of quoting Ahearn directly is the sound track. The Kings English has proved itself the Joe "rimm of all modern tongues by its peristence in the face of Ahearns attacks.
"Im tallink you the poblic wants its rasslers should be ogly," Ahearn seemed to say, "und I am giving them ogly rasslers with two pair pants, yet. I am showing my mother-in-law a picture from the Swedish Angel and tallink her if she gets fresh I will invite him home to dinner, already. Myself, I am a toff guy but I look at the Angel and I haff a bad dream. Soch ogliness I did not see in the zoo, yet. It is vonderful."
For his show tonight, Ahearn seems to have cornered a good share of the rassling industrys most frightening pusses. George Zaharias, who has been billed as the Greek Hyena, is matched with the Angel. Zaharias could hire out as a nightmare, himself, if he chooses to put on his best fighting face. Just to give you an idea of Zaharias, hes the husband of Babe Didrikson, and the boss in his household.
Thats the first match of Ahearns card Zaharias vs. The Angel but its only a warm-up for the extra added attraction and the real killer-diller. In a four-man battle royal, Ahearn will toss into the pit a Seminole Indian, an Australian nobleman, an Oklahoma cowboy, and the champion of France. The battle royal, though, is only a warm-up for the eight-reel feature bout which presents bewhiskered Benny Crusher Feldman, a 310-pounder, versus Mustafa Hamid, the Terrible Turk.
The hand of Jack Pfefer is an obvious in this arrangement of tonights talent as the bacteria in Ahearns accent. Pfefer is the peripatetic promoter who periodically summons his bush-beaters and scours the world for physical freaks. From Moscow, to Istambul, to Burma, to Shanghai, Pfefer has traipsed, routing the more spectacular natives out of their workaday world and into rassling trunks.
When the world caught on fire a couple of years ago and Pfefer began to have passport trouble, he was not content to sit by and see his source of supply exhausted. He leaped lightly into the distaff side of the rassling business and began a search for feminine beauty of the mat. Available now to the Pfefer promotions is a stable of lady rasslers, headed by Champion Betty La Bushey. Two well-muscled Polish beauties, Soszka Burska and Hanka Kavetzka, are in Pfefers string. France has given him vivacious Frances Coti, and a jitter-bugging young Hungarian lass named Alga Hulaban was also prevailed on to join Pfefers troupe. And any listing of his feminine stars wouldnt be complete without the addition of Tomboy Gracie Costello, of Hoboken, N.J., a 21-year-old who has won all of her 25 bouts.
Ahearn and Ulines arena are Pfefers Washington outlet for his talent which is in direct competition with the long-established rassling trust known as the Curley-Bowser-Dusek group. That latter unit has been playing at Turners Arena for years, and hogging the towns wrestling interest. Rassling has been doing very well at Turners. So well that Joe Turner is able to pay off his boxing losses and still find something in the till.
The Pfefer technique of promotions doesnt trust the action in the ring as its selling point. The accent is on freaks and laughs, and if Pfefer can get even one picture of one of his freaks into the papers before a show, its success is almost guaranteed. His is a trouping circus.
Ahearn is very frank about it. "Maybe," he says, "I can make a few bucks with this stuff. Myself, I dont understand this rassling business. Why intelligent people go to see rassling, I dont known, because it is such a phoney. But for some reason, I see smart people buying rassling tickets. Nicer-looking people than the boxing fans, for some reason. Maybe they got a funny sense of humor, or something. From all kinds of people a woild is menufectured, perhaps."(ED. NOTE For that first "opposition" show in the nations capital, Pfefer trouped in Karol Krauser, Bobby Bruns, Swedish Angel, Chief Bamba Tabu, Pierre DeGlane, King Kong Marshall, Adolf Von Schacht, heavyweight boxing contender Abe Simon as referee, and Tony Martinelli as sub for Zaharias, said to be with his "sick wife" out on the West Coast a week after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.)
By Hubert Mizell
"They should keep those characters who wrestle almost entirely as showmen, rather than athletes, out of wonderful places like the Coliseum here in Jacksonville."
How many times have you heard the antiwrestling bugs come up with those words? Many times, probably.
Even fans who claim to love bonafide mat work do plenty of yelling about the "actors" of the ring. This time, however, the words seemed to mean more.
They were uttered yesterday by Lou Thesz, the worlds heavyweight wrestling champion, who successfully defended his crown here last night against Don Curtis before 11,085 fans.
This may seem a bit odd since Thesz, a 47-year-old St. Louis product, makes something like $150,000 a year on the mat. But, he has a special reason.
"Wrestling is a wonderful sport that molds a beautiful body," Thesz said while gobbling up a rich dessert. "Athletes need sugar," he added when the interviewer looked rather surprised at the strawberry tart.
The fact that wrestling has become associated often with showmen more than with athletes, ires the hulking, 6-2, 228-pound Thesz.
"You will usually find that fellows who are long on showmanship are short on wrestling ability," he commented. "Dont get me wrong. All forms of sports need a bit of showmanship. Take Leo Durocher and Jim Piersall of baseball. They break me up, but theyre loaded with ability, too."
As for the matmen who depend on what he calls "local television hate campaigns," Thesz said "they belong under a tent with the other clowns."
Thesz said that financial success of wrestling in Florida is "due to constructive promoting. The promoters who dwell on showmen, and not athletes, stink as far as Im concerned. None of them are where these fellows in Florida are, moneywise. There are some fine athletes among the wrestlers who appear here regularly. They arent all that good, of course."
It was Lous second trip to Jacksonville and, needless to say, the citys growth impressed the man who now resides in Phoenix, Ariz.
"Its amazing," Thesz said while looking at the local skyline. "All these great buildings have replaced the old ones. But the greatest improvement of all lies in the Coliseum over that other place."
The "other place" referred to by the mat king is the old Arena at Main and Beaver Streets, now an indoor parking garage. "Thats a good thing for that spot," he added with a grin on his bronzed face.
Thesz recalled his first visit, sometime shortly after World War II, with a laugh:
"When I saw those ropes in the Arena taped with back tape, I knew this was it. Youve seen these movies portraying a small, dim-lighted fight club? That was even worse. Ill tell you the truth they had men with .22 rifles between matches who went around to the holes in the floor to look for rats who came up for a bite off the hot dogs and buns."
The next question was going to be "What is the worst place you ever wrestled before as far as conditions?" That one was scratched for obvious reasons. No use making him repeat himself.
Ed (Strangler) Lewis, a one-time mat great who is now totally blind and lives in Tulsa, Okla., was on that trip with Thesz. "Mr. Lewis coached me in public relations for awhile," Lou said. "But as far as a manager, Ive never had one. I like to handle my own money."
Thesz is an ultrasuccessful businessman outside the ring. His holdings include a resort in Phoenix and several apartment buildings in La Jolla, Calif. "I make as much money off real estate as wrestling," he said. "I usually get about a dollar a mile when on tour. I make about 150,000 miles and dollars a year."
Thesz learned wrestling from his father, who performed on the mat in his native Hungary. Lous physical condition is amazing from his 50-inch chest to his 32-inch waist. "I dont follow other sports too much," he freely admits. "My family and I stick to the sports we can compete in."
Thesz and wife of 18 years, Fredda, have one son, Jeffrey, 11.
"He wants to be a wrestler," Thesz says with typical fatherly pride.(ED. NOTE Thesz previous visit to Jacksonville and Florida came in mid-November of 1950, early on in the five-year period during which Ed Lewis served, primarily, as the National Wrestling Alliance champions advance man.)
WAWLI REDUX # 3...
MATMANIA: Ever since returning from Europe, Ive been kicking myself for not trying harder to sort out the confusing publicity surrounding the Bushwhackers-Yokozuna-Greg Valentine "All-Star Wrestling" tour that coincided with my stay in the United Kingdom. Because there were two distinctly different schedules floating around, I was reluctant to make a trip down the South Coast to Torquay to see the tour stop on October 12th despite the fact my wife is absolutely the No. 1 Bushwhackers fan in the world (Ive always liked em, too). Now, the word arrives from Liverpool this week that Rodney Anoia, aka Yokozuna onetime WWF champ is dead, age 34 (or 38, as suggested by the folks at SLAM!). The British tabs, of course, had a field day with the "42-stone" (588 pounds) victim, the Evening Standard noting that six men were required to lug the body out of a Liverpool hotel and The Sun wondering whether the sight of a spider in his room (an old WWF storyline) had prompted Anoias fatal heart attack. Chris Schramm has a good review of the mans career at: http://www.canoe.ca/SlamWrestlingBiosXYZ/yokozuna_bio-can.html . . . Linda McMahon told Bloomberg News (Oct. 25) that WWFE had been talking to WCW about a takeover deal, a huge rumor that has run rampant on the Internet for nearly a month. The main snag may be Viacom, WWFEs new television partner, which is thought not to have been keen on an alliance that would have embraced TNN competitors WTBS and TNT, the WCWs principal TV partners. Of course, this may lead to the original WCW suitor, Mandalay Sports Entertainment, coming back into the takeover picture . . . Greg Oliver, SLAM! Wrestlings diligent editor, capped a nice piece devoted to the death of "Klondike Bill" Soloweyko with the following information: The family requests memorials be made to Hospice at Charlotte, 1420 E. 7th St., Charlotte, NC 28204 or to A.L.S., 2021 Ventura Blvd., Suite 321, Woodland Hills, Calif. 91364. The entire article may be viewed at: http://www.canoe.ca/SlamWrestlingBiosK/klondike_obit-can.html and, from there, you may scan the entirety of this best of all professional wrestling web sites . . . Joe Svinth, the tireless researcher, writer and historian from Edmonds, Wash., is hot on the trail of what would be an eye-opening story if it pans out. He asks: "What do you know about a match between Frank Gotch and Taro Miyake in New York in 1911? Gotch's challenge was reportedly $500 to anyone who lasted an hour, and Miyake reportedly lasted without much trouble. If this was not a fix, then this means that Gotch has to be the most overrated wrestler in history. It would also explain why Gotch ducked Maeda in Cuba, as Maeda was at least one level better in judo than Miyake, and had a lot more experience with catch. There is, after all, no money to be had wrestling foreign menaces who are not on the payroll." Anyone with details supporting, or denying, the story may contact Mr. Svinth at email@example.com (and dont forget to copy firstname.lastname@example.org) . . . Nell Stewart, battling cancer of the throat in Birmingham, Ala., received a visit from mat contemporary Ida Mae (Martinez) Selenkow, who followed that up with a visit to the late Tony Parisis family in Niagara Falls. Ida once billed as the "Mexican womens champion" back in the 1950s hey-day of womens wrestling -- is a nurse and takes seriously the role of administering to those in need. Hats off to this kind, caring and fun-loving lady . . . Shades of Jimmy Snuka? This, via Associated Press, from Brisbane, Australia: "Juventud Guerrera, real name Eduardo Anibal Gonzalez-Herandez, a World Championship Wrestling competitor from San Diego, pled guilty to assaulting police, causing bodily harm, disorderly behavior, willful exposure and possessing a dangerous drug. The court was told he was naked, yelling and violently swinging his arms and legs at three police officers sent to detain him Saturday morning. He pushed and struck all of them, breaking the rib of the female officer after punching her in the chest. The 25-year-old wrestler was placed in a padded jail cell, where two green ecstasy tablets were found in his sock, police said. His lawyer, Peter Shields, said his client had been celebrating with other wrestlers the night before and had accepted the drugs." . . . Bret Hart, one of the better ring workers of recent years, is apparently through with the game after being let go by WCW. He published his own swan song in the Calgary Sun and, thanks to our friends at SLAM! Wrestling, you can read it at: http://canoe.ca/SlamWrestling/hitman_home.html . . .N.B.A. REFUSES TO RECOGNIZE MAT CHAMPIONS
CHICAGO The National Boxing Association does not recognize any champion in the field of wrestling, General John V. Clinnin, president of the organization, said today.
General Clinnins statement was made following information that Jim Londos had been circulating a photostatic copy or a reproduction of a letter written by Stanley Isaacs while acting as head of the N.B.A. in 1930 purporting to indorse Londos as the National Boxing Association heavyweight titleholder.
"The National Boxing Association, in annual convention at Omaha in October, 1930,
eliminated wrestling from its scope of control," Clinnin said.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. Lou Daro, Los Angeles wrestling promoters, today offered Max Baer $25,000 cash with privilege of taking a percentage if he would enter wrestling under his supervision. Baer said he would become a wrestler if there was any money in it, but both he and Daro admitted that the final decision was up to Baers manager, Ancil Hoffman.
"If I thought I could make money at it," Baer said, "I would enter wrestling very seriously. Ive refereed wrestling matches and if I couldnt do better than some of those now in the good money I would go back where Joe Louis sent me to the ranch, eating turkeys."
Maxie, the ex-champion of heavyweight fighters, then wisecracked: "I would at least feel at home on the mat."
Although the flat assertion was made tonight in Los Angeles that Baer had definitely accepted Daros offer, it was learned here that Hoffman has as yet failed to give his consent. Unless that approval is forthcoming, Baer cannot enter the mat game because he is tied up with Hoffman on a contract. Hoffman indicated that no decision would be forthcoming immediately on the proposition. "We have too many irons in the fire to jump at a thing like this without careful study," he explained.
Daro planned to send an experienced, prominent wrestler, probably Nick Lutze, here to train Maxie if the former champion decided to enter the grappling business.
"I believe that with proper training," Daro said, "Baer would become one
of the greatest drawing cards in the game and might very easily win the worlds
SACRAMENTO There will be no professional wrestling by Max Baer, ex-heavyweight boxing champion, if Mrs. Baer has anything to say in the matter.
The former Mary Ellen Sullivan was a ringside spectator at a match between Emil Dusek and Joe "Elbows" Malcewicz which Max refereed tonight, watching a first-class demonstration of the modern grunt and groan art.
Mary eyed a cauliflower ear blooming on Malcewiczs head, and remarked:
"None of those for Max. Therell be no wrestling for Maxie if I can help it."
She added that she did not oppose his refereeing.
NEW YORK Wladek Zbyszko, five times world heavyweight wrestling champion, was killed during street fighting in Barcelona, Spain, Aug. 6, according to unconfirmed reports reaching here today via South America.
Word of the wrestlers reported death was sent to Ismail C. Pace, director of the Luna Park Stadium in Buenos Aires, from his home office. Pace immediately communicated the word to Jack Curley, local promoter, under whose auspices Zbyszko rose to fame in the sporting world.
Planning a comeback attempt, the wrestler, native of Poland, had been in Barcelona for some time. He was said to have been in touch regularly with Polish consular officials here until a few days ago, when his communications ceased abruptly.(ED. NOTE Reports of the "younger" Zbyszkos death proved vastly premature.)
WAWLI REDUX # 4...
MATMANIA: First of all, note that the new mailing list is in effect and that the new e-mail address for WAWLI REDUX is email@example.com please forward all submissions, suggestions and complaints . . . secondly, reader Joseph Willis shares some of his memories of WWWF-WWF television "early days" in the Hamburg, Pa., Fieldhouse: "When the WWWF was formed in 1963 they held the TV tapings in Washington, D.C. In the late 60s or early 70s they were moved to the old Philadelphia Arena where Championship Wrestling was taped till around 75 or so, then moved to the Ag Hall in Allentown, Pa. They taped All-Star Wrestling at Hamburg and every now and then they would switch shows. I lived about an hour and twenty minutes away from Hamburg. What was great, if you sat in the bleachers it was two dollars at first. Then it went to eight dollars. The ringsides were three dollars at the beginning, but as high as $12 by the time they discontinued the shows. The building itself was (and is) a basketball gym (rather large). The set-up at the front (entrance): to the left you had a roped-off area where the heels sat. The locker room for them was behind. Also there was a garage door. To the right between a single set of bleachers and the large section was the good guys locker room. Funny thing, outside the good guys locker room, the door to the outside was across from a cemetery. Each side of the arena had a long bleacher capacity, or about 3,000 total. Ringside had three sides of chairs . . . the other side (the side you never saw on TV) had the still camera and the commentator booth.Total seating was roughly 4,000 . . . The cards themselves were held every three weeks on Wednesday nights. They would tape three shows, plus they had two or three dark matches. . .
"The average was 20 matches a night, mostly squashes, then the dark feature match was always a top event, either a WWWF title match, an Intercontinental title match, or a tag-team title match. Or, sometimes, a top grudge bout . . . Vince (McMahon) Sr. was the boss. He usually was in the office. Gorilla Monsoon was the booker. He would be seen going from locker room to locker room setting up the bouts. Vince Jr. was the commentator and interviewer. They did all the interviews (cut-ins) for their various house shows before the fans were let in. They, however, did do a live interview in the middle of every show. I remember Antonino Rocca, Pat Patterson and Bruno Sammartino doing color with Vinnie Jr. . . Through the years I saw em come and go: Jay Strongbow, Baron Scicluna, Billy, Jerry and Luke Graham, Garea, Zbyszko, S.D. Jones, Backlund, Koloff, Mosca, Albano, Grand Wizard, Fred Blassie, Waldo Von Erich I could go on for about four hours naming them . . .
"They also had the Rogers Corner Interview segment with none other than Nature Boy Buddy Rogers . . . One of my favorite stories I tell is about the riot that happened. The match in question was for the WWWF tag title. The Blackjacks, Mulligan and Lanza, against Victor Rivera and Dom DeNucci. The match went back and forth for 10 minutes or so when they all began to fight on the outside. Rivera looked really pissed. He took a chair and started beating on the Blackjacks, all four were fighting up the aisle to the heel area when a fan got out of his seat and punched Mulligan in the back. He turned around and punched the fan right in the kisser. At that moment all hell broke loose. I, along with an old guy sitting next to me, got nailed by a guy jumping from the top of the bleachers. I was OK and so was the other fan but, wow, people were throwing chairs and and other stuff. I remember seeing Vince Jr. standing in the ring pleading with everyone to settle down. All the while he had chairs coming at him and, well, he didnt stay there too long. The state and local police came in and tear gassed the place . . . Towards the end at Hamburg they were lucky if they could draw 500 fans. It got bad. People got tired of the squash matches. It seemed like you could only see Steve King getting hammered by anyone he got into the ring with. The product did not only get stale, it damn near rotted away. Then, I guess, they did the shows for a while up in Canada before taking them onto the road."MILWAUKEE TIDBITS
Subj: Milwaukee Tidbits
Date: 9/11/00 5:45:58 PM Pacific Daylight Time
From: CrusherBolo@webtv.net (Crusher Bolo)
I found these in the notes I made while researching Milwaukee results more than twenty years ago. They are all from the Milwaukee Journal:
Monday, Sept. 10, 1951 "Sports in Short"
Heavyweight champion Lou Thesz of St. Louis and junior heavyweight title holder Vern Gagne of Minneapolis were commended Sunday by the National Wrestling Alliance for defending their titles against all comers. The alliance et at Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Tuesday, Sept. 11, 1951 "Sports in Short"
Jim McMillen, former Chicago Bear football player and heavyweight wrestler, will referee the Mighty Atlas-Vern Gagne match at the Auditorium Saturday night.
Saturday, Sept. 29, 1951
Wrestler Mildred Burke, 36, of Columbus, Ohio, suffered a fractured vertebre when her car blew a tire and collided with another near Barstow, California, Friday. Her stepson, Billy Wolf Jr., 29, suffered a skull fracture.
Tuesday, Oct. 30, 1951
Rocky Marciano, who knocked out Joe Louis last week, signed Monday for a series of personal appearances and officiating jobs on the Toots Mondt wrestling circuit.
Friday, January 11, 1952
A schedule for Milwaukee wrestler Frederich von Schacht (formerly Frank Altinger; Schacht is his legal name now) appeared in todays paper:
Jan 3 - Milwaukee
Jan 4 - St. Paul
Jan 5 - Chicago
Jan 6 - open
Jan 7 - St. Louis
Jan 8 - Minneapolis
Jan 9 - Kankakee, IL
Jan 10 - Milwaukee
Jan 11 - St. Louis
Jan 12 - Milwaukee
Saturday, January 26, 1952
THESZ AND GAGNE FAIL TO DECIDE CHAMPIONSHIP
Chicago, Ill (AP) - Lou Thesz, 233, St. Louis, and Verne Gagne, 218, former University of Minnesota gridder, wrestled to a draw Friday night in their "championship" match before a sellout crowd of 10.974 in the International Amphitheatre. The gate was $25,136.
The title at stake was that of the National Wrestling Alliance, held by Thesz since 1948.
Thesz took the first fall in the 60 minute time limit match in 32:10. Gagne took the second fall in 17:30. They struggled the final 10:20 minutes without a fall.
Saturday, March 22, 1952
Leon Kirilenko, the Mad Russian wrestler, was sued for divorce Friday by Mrs. Ann Baumgartner Kirilenko, who accused him of striking her and failing to support her. They were married March 27, 1951.
Tuesday, March 25, 1952
Verne Gagne Tuesday requested a no time limit on his championship match with Lou Thesz at the Auditorium a week from Saturday night. In their four previous meetings, a one hour time limit has prevailed. Gagne said he felt additional time would be a factor in his favor.
Tuesday, May 13, 1952
Tarzan Kowalski, who will meet Mighty Atlas at the Auditorium on Sunday, May 18, won the Canadian Heavyweight championship last week in Montreal. He defeated Bobby Managoff, who held the "title" more than 2 years.
Saturday, June 28, 1952
THESZ TOSSES OCONNOR IN WRIGLEY FIELD BOUT
Chicago, Ill (AP) - Lou Thesz, world heavyweight wrestling champion, pinned Pat OConnor, 26 year old Wellington, New Zealand, contender, two out of three falls before 12,823 fans at Wrigley Field here Friday night.
Saturday, August 23, 1952
GAGNE WINS A FALL AND BEATS OCONNOR
Chicago, Ill (AP) - Vern Gagne scored the only fall with a flying head scissors and defeated Pat Oonnor in their featured wrestling match at the International Amphitheatre Friday night. A crowd of 8,125 paid $21,326. Gagne weighed 218 and OConnor 225. Gagne scored his fall after fifty-one minutes, five seconds. The 60 minute time limit ran out before either wrestler could score another fall.
Wednesday, August 27, 1952
LEON KIRILENKO CASE GOES TO GRAND JURY
Chicago, Ill (UP) - Leon Kirilenko, 34, was bound over to the grand jury on $2,500 bond Tuesday by Judge Jay A. Schiller on a charge of a crime against a child.
Kirilenko,a professional wrestler with shoulder length blond hair, was arrested August 19 when police found a 10 year old girl with him in his Leland hotel room.
Kirilenko said at the time he was only showing his publicity clippings to the girl, whose mother had reported her kidnapped after she walked away with the wrestler. He pleaded innocent to the charge.
Tuesday, September 30, 1952
WILL SHE BEAT HIM IN MARRIED LIFE?
Tokyo, Japan - (AP) - Ojiro Yamamoto, 396 ¾ pound wrestler, announced Monday that he planned to marry 22 year old Tomiko Ishida, who weighs 82 pounds.
Thursday, October 30, 1952
WRESTLER KIRILENKO GETS SENTENCE; CHILD IN ROOM
Chicago, Ill - Leon Kirilenko, 34, who wrestles professionally as the Mad Russian, was sentenced for one to two years Wednesday in criminal court for a crime against a child. He was arrested in August after police found a 9 year old girl in his hotel room. Kirilenko denied that he molested the girl. His attorney filed notice of appeal and the wrestler was released on bond.
Thursday, November 6, 1952
Gypsy Joe won the national wrestling alliance heavyweight title [Note: they meant light-heavyweight title] Wednesday night at Des Moines, Iowa, by defeating Johnny Balbo in three falls.
Friday, November 21, 1952
A list of big gates drawn by Lou Thesz appeared in todays paper:
Jan 25 - Chicago vs. Gagne___$25,712
Mar 1 - Milwaukee vs. Kowalski_$26,718
Apr 11 - St. Louis vs. Gagne___$22,617
Jun 20 - Chicago vs. OConnor_$35,717
July 15 - LA vs. Leone___$103,517
Nov 12 - LA vs. Rocca____$51,670
Nov 18 - New York vs. Stanlee___$57,396
Thesz gets 15% of all gates and reportedly made $200,000 in 1951.
Monday, November 24, 1952
THESZ TO MEET ROCCA
New York, NY - (AP) - Madison Square Garden Sunday announced the matching of Lou Thesz of St. Louis and Antonino Rocca of Argentina for the next wrestling show at the Garden January 5.
Tuesday, December 2, 1952
OLD-FASHIONED WRESTLING PLAN OF NEW CLUB HERE
"Good, clean, old-fashioned wrestling" will be offered by the new South Side Athletic Club, President Bruno Cetnarski said Tuesday in announcing the first show on December 11 at the South Side Armory. Henry Tolle had made these matches: Gene Stanlee vs. Jack Guy, Axel Cadier vs. Alo Leilani, and Al Composki vs. Tiger Jagindar.
Saturday, December 13, 1952
Lou Thesz, world heavyweight wrestling champion, and Verne Gagne wrestled to a 60
minute draw in Chicago Friday night. The bout drew 7,607 fans and a gate of $23,164.
(Huntsville, Ala., Times, September 8, 2000)
By Mike Marshall
MADISON Propped up by two artificial hips, the old man in a red, white and blue tie heads toward his 1992 maroon Chevrolet Caprice Classic with a South Carolina license plate and 140,000 miles on the odometer.
He walks out of Madison Baptist Church and stops about 20 feet from the front door. He reaches for his right leg and grabs the pants of his blue suit.
''Feel this,'' he says, wanting to show how well he's functioning almost 10 years after full hip-replacement surgery.
He also likes to show off his biceps, still thick and firm.
''Oh, man,'' he says, ''I used to pump a little iron when I was young.''
When he was young, he was ''Gorgeous George,'' the first great professional wrestler in the era before prime-time television and pay-per-view -- before wrestlers rivaled rock bands as pop-culture icons, before an ex-wrestler known as ''The Body'' was elected governor of Minnesota.
Now, ''Gorgeous George'' is a roving Baptist preacher named George Grant. (''No middle name,'' he says.) Meeting him for the first time is like running into an electric fence.
Who is George Grant? Imagine a 76-year-old Rush Limbaugh talking about getting saved and wanting to execute drug dealers on national television.
''I believe in making good things available to God's people at a good price,'' he says.
Then he's off, walking again, bound for the trunk of his Caprice Classic. The black-and-white wrestling pictures are in the trunk.
Hard to believe, with a ''Jesus Saves'' window sticker on his car, that this man once rolled his bleached-blond hair in curlers and entered the ring through a perfume shower. (''The cheapest perfume I could find,'' he says.)
He wore a green robe, tailored by a man in Canada, the initials ''GG'' glittering like icicles. On his neck was a green choker with sequins.
In ''Gorgeous George's'' heyday, the 1950s and early '60s, Elvis watched him wrestle through peep holes in a curtain at the Memphis City Auditorium. Later, after Elvis died and ''Gorgeous George'' became a preacher, Grant gave a sermon entitled ''Seven Reasons Why Elvis Presley Didn't Go to Hell.''
''Elvis didn't go to hell because he was a rock 'n' roll singer or because he made a lot of money,'' Grant says. ''The only reason anybody goes to hell is because they refuse to accept Jesus Christ. From all indications, Elvis was not a saved man.''
As a way of connecting with teen-agers, Grant usually gives the Elvis sermon on church youth nights.
''I don't tell anybody Elvis went to hell,'' he says. ''I'm not foolish enough to condemn somebody like that.''
George Grant found religion in 1965, when he was wrestling at a place called the Hippodrome in Nashville. He and his wife attended a service at Grace Baptist Church, along with the family of Don Greene, another wrestler.
From then on, Grant began attending church regularly. He studied the Bible. He was convinced God wanted him to be a preacher.
In 1971, the year he quit wrestling, he became a full-time preacher. He became a fire-and-brimstone orator who acknowledges only the King James Bible, who has preached from Maine to California, who considers himself ''a ham.''
''The first thing every man, if he's a true man, should belong to is a fundamentalist Baptist church,'' he says. ''The second thing he should belong to is his wife. The third thing is the NRA.''
Then comes the punch line, followed by two of Grant's favorite questions.
''Bill Clinton is not my president,'' he says. ''Charlton Heston is my president. How do you like that? You like that?''
Then, after a member of Madison Baptist Church teases Grant about preaching when Lincoln was president, he deadpans: ''Hey, speaking of Lincoln, isn't it time for another assassination?''
Apparently, this is what happens to professional wrestlers who have been retired for almost 30 years: They're still in a TV studio, looking for an announcer with a long-neck microphone, ready to issue another loser-leaves-town challenge.
In the case of ''Gorgeous George,'' he has gone from battling trash-talking Tojo Yamamoto (rest his soul) and Len Rossi (former sleeper-hold artist) to seeking a Texas Death Match with gun-control advocates and wife abusers.
''Oh, man, he was loud and emotional when he was here,'' Larry Nicholson, the associate pastor of Madison Baptist Church, says of Grant. ''He really got into it. And he knows the Bible, for sure.''
He's so emotional, in fact, that he never noticed two women who walked out of church in the middle of his testimonial.
''They kept saying, 'When's he gonna preach?' '' Nicholson says. ''He didn't miss a click when they left.''
In the trunk of Grant's car are cassette tapes, FedEx packages and a sheet with the words ''Italian proverb'' in lowercase letters and ''BREAKA YOUR FACE'' in caps.
The cassette tapes are recordings of Grant reading the New Testament.
''25 bucks, 12 tapes,'' he says.
Finally, he pulls out the black-and-white pictures. Some are 8-by-10s, others 3-by-5.
Usually, he charges $5 for the pictures, taken in 1954 in a photo studio in Charleston, W. Va. But here, two days before he's scheduled for Sunday sermons at Madison Baptist Church on Hughes Road, the pictures are free.
Two men are in the pictures. One of them looks like Claude Rains in ''Mr. Smith Goes to Washington'' or ''Casablanca.'' The other is ''Gorgeous George.''
The man who looks like Claude Rains is named Tom Clark. He has a cane in the crook of his arm and he's tinkering with the wrestler's curlers.
Clark, nicknamed ''Pretty Boy Clark,'' was a valet for ''Gorgeous George.'' In his 26-year wrestling career, ''Gorgeous George'' went through 10 valets, including a midget named ''Diamond Jim.''
His valet carried a comb and a brush on a silver tray, then rolled a red carpet and sprayed perfume as ''Gorgeous George'' strolled into the ring.
''Hey, show biz,'' Grant says. ''That's what draws the money.''
Big money for wrestlers in the days of ''Gorgeous George'' --1945 to '71 -- meant steak and shrimp cocktail for dinner.''Gorgeous George'' spent plenty of money on his friends. But wrestling didn't make him rich.
Now he lives on a 10-acre estate in York, S.C., about 30 miles from Charlotte. He says everybody in York, population about 10,000, can tell you where he lives.
Says Grant: ''I'm not saying this in a bragging way, but the preacher of my home church has said: 'All you people who live a dull, humdrum, routine life, start hanging around Brother George.' Really, he said that from the pulpit.''
Really, Muhammad Ali once credited ''Gorgeous George'' for teaching him the value of showmanship. Ali said it on ''The Gary Moore Show,'' according to Grant.
''What about an autograph?'' Grant asks after passing out a free 3-by-5 picture.
Using a blue felt-tip pen, he signs the picture: ''Best Regards, George Grant, Gorgeous George.''
After years of charging $5 for autographed pictures, he has learned you can't sign a glossy picture with a ballpoint pen.
''Gorgeous George'' is 5 feet 9 inches tall and weighs 250 pounds - about 30 pounds more than when he was wrestling for the now-defunct American Wrestling Alliance.
He spends most of his free time attending wrestling reunions, renewing acquaintances with ''Two Ton'' Davis, among others. He says he does not have time for modern-day professional wrestling, though he can rattle off the names of two of today's best-known wrestlers -- Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair.
''I don't watch the wrestlers today,'' he says, like a schoolboy who insists he no longer has a crush on an old girlfriend.
Instead, he watches game shows and quiz shows. ''Jeopardy,'' ''The Price Is Right'' and ''Wheel of Fortune'' are his favorites.
''I like those quiz shows because I think I'm a smart aleck,'' he says.
Another thing Grant likes to do when he's home: shoot guns.
''I'm an avid target shooter,'' he says. ''Ted Kennedy's car has killed more people than my guns.''
Then, as if he's doing a stand-up routine, he waits for the reaction.
''How do you like that?'' he asks. ''You like that?''
As soon as Harry Truman, a Democrat, gave Gen. Douglas MacArthur the heave-ho in Korea - April 1951, to be precise - George Grant became a Republican. He has been fit for the John Birch Society ever since.
He compares himself to Daniel, who, in the Bible, was given a position of power after interpreting Nebuchadnezzar's dream. Among Grant's interpretations:
On capital punishment: ''I believe in capital punishment. George W. Bush, as governor of Texas, was getting a few of 'em.''
On the penalty for child abuse: ''Public beatings.''
On homosexuality: ''See what the Bible says? If a man also lies with mankind as he lies with a woman, both have committed an abomination. That means something God hates. They shall be put to death - their blood should be put upon him. . . . Now that doesn't mean we should go out and start killing homosexuals.''
On President Clinton: ''All these draft dodgers should be executed for treason.''
Then he says in a playful tone: ''I'm easy to get along with, in case you hadn't noticed.''
Springing out of a chair and bending his knees, George Grant flexes his two artificial hips and sits down.
Then he raises his legs.
Then he wants you to know what it means for a 76-year-old with two artificial hips to be able to bob up and down like a sports fan doing the wave.
''God is not through with me yet,'' he says.
When God is done with him, Grant wants to be cremated. A blue card in his wallet verifies he has given his body to the University of South Carolina School of Medicine.
''Are you ready?'' Grant asks. ''As far as I'm concerned, the southwest quadrant of the International Dateline is the most beautiful place on earth. My son is in charge of making sure my ashes are thrown there.
''What do you think of that?''
WAWLI REDUX # 5...
MATMANIA: A "special" issue this time around, concerning "whats cooking" in Davie, Florida, another example of "life after wrestling" . . .DAVIE TOWN EMPLOYEE AT CENTER OF SEX FUROR
(Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, Oct. 14, 2000)
By John W. Allman
DAVIE -- It began with a rumor, the new town employee making out with a woman during work hours at a community center.
Then it snowballed.
Finally, the town began an internal investigation of Rocky Johnson, a friend and business partner of Mayor Harry Venis, hired in June to work part time as an activities leader and to supervise the weight room at Pine Island Community Center.
Allegation upon allegation surfaced, each one more disturbing than the last: sexual activity in a back room, unwanted groping of a female employee, illicit discussions of sexual anatomy in front of children, even an invitation to a 12-year-old girl to play strip poker.
The investigation was conducted by Sharon Kent, the town's parks and recreation director. It involved accounts from 13 current and former town employees who worked for three months at a youth camp with Johnson, father of Dwayne Johnson, better known as "The Rock," a popular professional wrestler.
Kent delivered her report in memo form to acting Town Administrator Tom Willi, who said he then ordered her to delete references to Venis he deemed irrelevant.
That included statements claiming Johnson used Venis' name to intimidate other employees, statements asserting Johnson made frequent daily phone calls to the mayor and a statement alleging an incident in which Johnson told another town employee that he and Venis had spent time socializing with two women while Johnson was nude.
"It was garbage, unprofessional as it gets," Willi said, defending his order that the memo be changed.
Kent turned in a second memo, which was also ordered changed because it still contained references to Venis.
In late September, following the third draft, Kent sent Willi an electronic message questioning how he could allow Johnson to continue working around children after witnesses were questioned and substantiated the allegations.
At the same time, Willi said he called Venis and Johnson into a private meeting to warn Johnson, 56, a former professional wrestling champion, that he might lose his $9-an-hour job.
A day later, Johnson was suspended with pay and all town records pertaining to Johnson and the investigation of his activities were turned over to police, Willi said.
Three weeks later, Willi placed Kent on administrative leave and fired Mark Dornacker, a sports coordinator for 14 years, who was one of the witnesses questioned in the investigation.
Dornacker had alerted his supervisors in early September that Johnson was soliciting personal business on town time and not working his scheduled hours.
But Willi said he had questions about Dornacker concerning an unrelated investigation into how sports officials were paid by the town. The system involved Dornacker receiving checks from the town, cashing them and then giving cash to sports officials who refereed the town's youth athletic events. The money was distributed without any taxes taken out and with no tax forms filed.
Willi said he only recently learned of the controversial payment system. But Town Council member Richard Weiner said he alerted Willi to the issue about two months ago.
Willi blamed Kent for not catching the problem. He also criticized her handling of the Johnson investigation, which he asked her to oversee in early September.
Kent's report to Willi said "the most notable findings that we were able to conclude" against Johnson were:
He grabbed a female camp employee twice on the buttocks. The same employee told Kent that Johnson also made comments such as, "Why don't you take off your shirt to see what you look like in a bathing suit."
He spent time with a woman not employed by the town in a room at the community center napping, kissing and getting massages.
He twice complained about being interrupted while spending time alone with a woman. In one incident, a 16-year-old female employee walked in on Johnson receiving a massage from a woman straddling his back. On a separate occasion, Johnson allegedly complained to another employee that he was interrupted by a male employee while he was receiving oral sex.
He asked a 12-year-old girl to play strip poker.
He wore a tank top in front of children bearing the word "PUTA," a Spanish word for prostitute. A parent complained about the shirt.
He made a comment in front of a group of children about the size of his penis.
He promised children that his son, "The Rock," would visit the community center. "The Rock" did not appear during the summer.
He left children supervised by only a counselor in training while they wrestled and boxed, and several children suffered injuries.
While saying those allegations needed to be formally investigated by police, Willi said Kent, a 23-year town employee, went too far in trying to include the mayor in her findings.
"The investigation had to do with the alleged improper conduct on town property," Willi said. "I think the steps I took to focus the investigation directly where it needed to be, and keep all the information in that memo relevant, was within my purview."
Johnson's attorney, Daniel Aaronson, called the allegations a smokescreen to keep town officials from focusing on the manner in which sports officials have been paid.
"There is some crossover with the people who are accusing Rocky of some things and those people being accused of mismanagement of the parks," he said.
Aaronson, who has advised Johnson not to comment, said that Johnson's job was "sabotaged" and that his client "categorically denies" the allegations.
Johnson was to be considered for a full-time position on Oct. 1, but Willi said it is unlikely he will be hired in the future regardless of the outcome of the police investigation.
Town Council member Geri Clark said any information about Venis that did not pertain to Johnson's conduct during town time did not belong in Kent's memorandum.
"That was improper of Ms. Kent, very improper," said Clark, who added she had not been shown any of Kent's memos.
Neither had Weiner.
"I have a lot of questions," Weiner said. "I don't know where I'm going to come down on it, or when I'm going to come down on it, but I would like the benefit of a police investigation to know which parts are credible and which allegations may be questionable."
Venis said he saw a copy of the third revision of Kent's memo, dated Sept. 20. He said he was unaware of any previous versions.
The information deleted between the first and third versions came from an interview with Ed Hanson Jr., 29, who has worked part time with the town's sports programs since 1994. Hanson told Kent he heard Johnson use inappropriate language toward a female employee and that he saw town property being kept at Johnson's home.
Hanson said Johnson also told him about a night on which Venis and Johnson were "partying" with two women.
"He mentioned that the mayor was embarrassed because (Johnson) was walking around
in the nude," Hanson said.
Venis denied the story. "It never happened," he said.
In 1997, Venis apologized to town residents and employees after it was revealed he had paid for sex acts on several occasions at a Dania Beach massage parlor.
Venis and Willi assert Hanson is disgruntled because he had sought Venis' help in an unsuccessful attempt to secure a full-time town job.
"He wanted a full-time position very badly," Venis said.
Hanson said when he expressed an interest in a job in the town's building department, Johnson called Venis on his behalf. Hanson said he wasn't angry when the job didn't materialize. And he said he told the truth to Kent.
Although Venis insisted, "I don't get people jobs," he did in fact play a role in Johnson's employment with the town.
The mayor drove Johnson to the Parks and Recreation Department in April for his interview. Venis also admitted he sat in on the interview with Johnson.
Venis and Johnson plan to open Harry and Rocky's Sports Academy Inc., an educational wrestling school, in Davie. Venis said this week he is undecided whether to maintain his partnership with Johnson. "I'll make that decision once I read the full (police) report," Venis said.
Willi, 36, a former building official, was handed the job of acting town administrator
after the Town Council voted June 21 to fire former administrator Robert Middaugh. Venis
suggested Willi as a possible replacement, and the council voted 4-1 to offer Willi the
The State Attorney's Office is investigating a complaint filed in July alleging improprieties on the part of the Town Council in its firing of Middaugh.
Willi, who has an associate's degree in business administration and management, has no experience as a town administrator. Since assuming the office, he has fired two veteran employees and demoted a third. A fourth resigned in August after learning he was to be demoted by Willi. The employees lost since June had more than 60 years of combined experience in Davie.
On Thursday, Willi said some municipal employees get "promoted to a point where they're no longer effective."
"This has been the case with a few longstanding positions with the town," Willi said.
He said Davie needs "team players," and "teamwork."
As for the recent spate of firings at Town Hall, Willi suggested the town's personnel changes might not be finished. "You know who's afraid of me, and should be afraid of me, the people who are dead weight and haven't been doing their job," he said.
Willi said Johnson's experience as a fitness instructor and professional athlete made him "an asset to the town." Johnson was well-liked by children and parents, he said.
However, Willi said Johnson might not have been a perfect fit as an employee.
"He was an older guy," Willi said. "He's one of the 'good old boy' guys, one of the people who still think it's OK to talk to women in a certain way."
By John W. Allman
DAVIE -- One by one the questions came, followed by accusations and then observations of disbelief.
Each parent, coach and resident gave the same bottom line -- there is a problem in Davie, but the wrong people are being held to blame.
For more than two hours Wednesday night, the public spoke out about the recent disciplinary action taken against two parks and recreation employees by acting Town Administrator Tom Willi.
The crowd was angry that sports coordinator Mark Dornacker was fired and temporary parks employee Rocky Johnson was not.
The meeting, requested by a resident and set up by Vice Mayor Richard Weiner, was the first opportunity for citizen comment. About 60 people attended.
The bulk of criticism was levied at Willi and Mayor Harry Venis, who is a friend and business partner of Johnson. Neither Willi nor Venis was at the meeting.
Both men were accused Wednesday night by residents of allowing Johnson to remain employed after allegations surfaced that he might be acting inappropriately at the Pine Island Community Center. An internal investigation cited allegations from 13 people against Johnson, 56, ranging from his having sexual relations at the community center on town time to his twice groping a female parks employee.
One of the most disturbing allegations involved a statement that Johnson asked a 12-year-old girl to play strip poker.
Johnson was not suspended with pay by Willi until Sept. 21, almost a month after rumors of improper conduct were first mentioned. His contract with the town has since expired, and he is no longer employed by the town.
Dornacker, one of the 13 people interviewed, was fired Oct. 12 by Willi. "I think Mr. Willi has to be held accountable, and I want to know why he hasn't been fired," resident Lisa Edmondson said. "Mr. Willi doesn't have the education or the experience to make those decisions on his own."
Davie police are investigating the allegations against Johnson. Their report, when finished, will be turned over to the State Attorney's Office. Johnson, through his attorney, has denied the allegations.
Dornacker has a hearing scheduled for Nov. 6 to dispute his dismissal. Dornacker, who coordinated five sports programs involving more than 2,000 athletes, was fired, in part, because he allegedly made a racist statement in August about Johnson and Venis. Willi has said the town has a "zero-tolerance policy" regarding racist remarks or actions.
Johnson, who is opening a professional wrestling school with Venis, was hired by the town in June. Venis has admitted driving Johnson to his job interview and sitting in on the interview.
Doug Notman, whose children took part in activities at Pine Island while Johnson was employed, took issue with the mayor's influence. He said Venis' personal business relationship "has placed the children of Davie at risk."
Notman requested Wednesday's meeting, and he is giving the Town Council until its Nov. 1 meeting to address more than 20 written questions about the handling of Johnson and Dornacker.
"Our presumption is when we send our kids to town of Davie parks and summer programs, they will come back innocent," Notman said.
Notman fired questions at Weiner and several town employees present at the meeting. Many of the questions went unanswered because of the police investigation.
Weiner said he would have responded differently to the allegations than Willi did. Weiner said he would have suspended Johnson immediately, conducted an investigation and apologized later if the allegations proved untrue.
One resident defended Venis and the town's action Wednesday night. Dean Alexander said
the community stood to gain by Johnson's employment. Johnson is a former professional
wrestling champion and his son, Dwayne, is "The Rock," one of today's most
popular professional wrestlers.
(Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, Oct. 30, 2000)
By John W. Allman
DAVIE -- Suspended from his job and under police investigation, Rocky Johnson never turned in his town-issued cellular phone.
Instead, he kept dialing on Davie's dime.
Since being suspended on Sept. 21 and released for good Oct. 1, Johnson has used his phone more than 600 times.
His most recent phone bill, charged to the town, will cost taxpayers $723. It includes calls made from Sept. 13 to Oct. 12.
Johnson, who spent less than four months as a part-time parks and recreation activities leader, still has the phone despite being the focus of a criminal investigation for misconduct.
His attorney, Daniel Aaronson, said Monday that Johnson, 56, will turn the phone over to the town if asked. "This is not going to be an issue," he said.
Johnson, a friend and business partner of Mayor Harry Venis, was suspended following an internal investigation into allegations he had sexual relations while working at the Pine Island Community Center; twice groped a female employee; and invited a 12-year-old girl to play strip poker.
Davie police have taken over the investigation of those and other allegations and will turn over their findings to the State Attorney's Office. Johnson, father of professional wrestler Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, has denied any wrongdoing.
Venis said Monday he thought Johnson should have turned in his phone once he was suspended and "Mr. Johnson should reimburse the town, or pay the bill directly, for any calls he made that were unauthorized."
The mayor said he believed all temporary employees with the town's Parks and Recreation Department received cellular phones.
Since being hired in June, Johnson has used his phone more than 1,000 times, talked for more than 46 hours and accumulated $888.63 in total bills.
Of those calls, 36 were to Venis -- 16 to his home and 20 to the mayor's cellular phone. The records do not reflect the phone number of any incoming calls Johnson received.
Venis said he assumed Johnson, a former professional wrestling champion, was making calls from a personal phone. And he said he believed his calls with Johnson were work-related.
The mayor, who is opening a professional wrestling school in Davie with Johnson, has been criticized for influencing the town's decision to hire Johnson, a charge he denies.
Venis drove Johnson to his job interview, sat in on the interview and was listed by Johnson as a reference.
The town has tried to downplay allegations that Johnson spoke frequently with Venis.
Acting Town Administrator Tom Willi ordered a town memorandum on its internal investigation changed because it included repeated mention of Johnson's calls to Venis. Willi called such information "irrelevant."
Willi was out of the office on Monday and was unavailable for comment.
A review of phone records showed only five of the phone numbers dialed by Johnson included the 797 prefix used by all town offices.
More than 20 long-distance calls were made to Tampa phone numbers. Johnson lived and worked in Tampa prior to moving to Davie, according to his job application. Two Miami phone numbers received numerous calls. Johnson called one of the numbers more than 60 times between June 20 and Oct. 12.
Venis said he knew Johnson had "several cell phones."
"I don't keep track of which one is the town phone and which one is the personal
phone," Venis said. "I'm not in charge of telephones."
(Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, Nov. 1, 2000)
By Nick Sortal
DAVIE -- After protests by outraged parents, acting Town Administrator Tom Willi reversed himself on Wednesday, reinstating Mark Dornacker, the sports coordinator he fired on Oct. 12.
Dornacker was dismissed for allegedly making a racist remark as well as problems with job performance and carelessness with town property.
It was Willi's fourth termination since being handed the job June 21. He has also fired the town clerk, the assistant town administrator and a deputy fire chief, as well as demoted the fire chief.
But with Dornacker's dismissal, Willi touched a nerve. Parents and youth sports coaches rallied behind the 14-year employee, who directed the town's youth sports programs, which serve more than 2,000 players a year.
Willi said Tuesday that after taking some time off, he had a chance to reflect on his decision. He also said he learned new information that helped him change his mind. "I'm not going to fail to admit I made a mistake or rushed to judgment," he said on Tuesday, before his decision was made public.
Dornacker was unavailable for comment Wednesday. He was fired, in part, because of a remark he denied making. That remark was: "This town has two mayors: one is white and one is black."
The "black mayor" referred to Rocky Johnson, a friend and business partner of Mayor Harry Venis.
Dornacker supervised Johnson, a part-time activities leader, from Sept. 1 until Johnson was suspended Sept. 21 for alleged sexual misconduct.
Johnson is helping Venis with his professional wrestling career. The two are opening up a professional wrestling school in Davie.
Dornacker was one of several employees who questioned Johnson's relationship with Venis. His dismissal came less than two months after he was given additional responsibilities as the pool facilities manager of Pine Island Community Center. The town has since posted a pool facilities manager position, and Dornacker will return only as sports coordinator.
As part of that job, Dornacker handled the payment of sports referees and umpires for youth league games. Under the system in place, Finance Director Chris Wallace made out checks to Dornacker, who then paid the officials in cash.
No payment records were kept.
While Willi publicly criticized the system, it was not listed in Dornacker's firing notice. He was cited for four infractions: violating the town's personnel rules; using offensive conduct or language; showing "incompetency or inefficiency" in his job performance; and, displaying "carelessness or negligence" in using town property.
No specifics were given to support any of the reasons cited and Dornacker's personnel file did not support any of the claims.
At an Oct. 25 town meeting, led by Vice Mayor Richard Weiner, about 60 coaches, athletes and players spoke out on behalf of Dornacker, who had a hearing set for Monday to dispute his dismissal.
Barbara Proctor, who has two boys playing soccer and baseball in Davie, said she was "delighted" Dornacker was reinstated, but upset he was fired in the first place. "It's a shame that politics got in the way and that it took all of this for him to get his job back," she said. "It makes me question whether anyone really cares about what happens to the kids."
Proctor credits Dornacker with helping shape the town's youth sports programs.
"Even five years ago, it was like sandlot ball around here," she said. "Now
Davie has quality sports programs. My husband and I don't always agree with Mark, but we
felt he always had the kids' interest first."
(Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, Nov. 2, 2000)
By John W. Allman
DAVIE -- They called for his job, but Mayor Harry Venis did not speak. They called for an apology, but Venis said nothing. They called the three-term mayor an embarrassment and still Venis sat quiet.
Wednesday night's Town Council meeting was a contrast in sides: one side demanding answers of Venis as to his role in the town's hiring of Rocky Johnson, a friend and business partner.The other side defended Venis.
Johnson 56, a part-time activities leader at Pine Island Community Center, was suspended with pay Sept. 21 after allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced.
Among the allegations being investigated by Davie police are statements that Johnson had sexual relations at the community center; that he groped a female employee; and that he asked a 12-year-old girl to play strip poker.
Johnson, whose son is "The Rock," a popular professional wrestler, has denied
the allegations. His employment with the town ended Sept. 30 when his contract expired.
Venis, who is opening a professional wrestling school in Davie with Johnson, has said little since the allegations surfaced.
He has said he called for a police investigation, yet he also has moved forward with plans to open the wrestling school.
The issue, one resident said Wednesday night, is now being called "Rockygate" by people in the town.
"Rockygate has been an embarrassment," resident Gerry McClinton said, addressing Venis. "If I were you, I would be stepping down."
Doug Notman, a parent whose children were at Pine Island while Johnson worked there, asked Venis why the mayor has not apologized for not talking action more swiftly once he learned of the allegations.
Venis has said he first heard rumors of possible misconduct on Labor Day. Johnson was not suspended until about three weeks later.
Notman brought up Venis' last apology in 1997, when Venis addressed the town after it was revealed the mayor had paid for sex acts at a Dania Beach massage parlor a year earlier.
"Why haven't you apologized to the camp children at Pine Island Community Center and the parents?" Notman asked.
Venis did not respond to the question. He did tell Notman that the town will provide answers to 29 questions Notman submitted Monday regarding Johnson and other town issues.
Several people offered Venis support during the meeting and questioned why the mayor has been singled out in the Johnson investigation.
Venis drove Johnson to his job interview, sat in on the interview and was listed by
Johnson as a reference. Johnson received numerous perks during his less than four months
as a temporary employee, including use of a town-issued cellular phone, use of a town
vehicle and advance warning of disciplinary action before he was suspended.
Acting Town Administrator Tom Willi has said he gave Johnson advance notice of his suspension because Johnson is a friend of Venis.
WAWLI REDUX # 6...
MATMANIA: Special thanks to Ojai, Calif., researcher Mike Smith for another shipment of microfilmed clippings, this time with Wichita, Kans., and San Diego, Calif., as the focus. The former date from 1925, the pivotal year in which Wayne (Big) Munn became the games first "clown" champion, while the Southern California clips hail from the halcyon period of 1933. Theyll appear, now and then, in these reports and we look forward to seeing Mike at the Cauliflower Alley Club reunion in Las Vegas, Feb. 9-11, of next year . . . Bob Ryder atwww.1wrestling.com had this to say in his Nov. 1 column: "Viacom officials were reportedly shocked to learn that the WWF was seriously considering a bid to purchase WCW. Sources tell us that Viacom is prepared to take strong steps to prevent such a deal from happening. Our sources say Viacom executives are concerned about the way the first few weeks of the WWF/Viacom relationship has gone, and do not want to find themselves in a situation where an angry Vince McMahon could use the WCW programs on competing networks as leverage against them. The fear is that McMahon could simply shift emphasis to NITRO and Thunder if Viacom doesn't bow to his wishes in disputes that may arise later in the relationship. The agreement between the WWF and Viacom reportedly contains language that prevents WWF programming from airing on cable networks not owned by Viacom. The belief, among our sources, is that if the WWF intends to continue efforts to acquire WCW, that they would set it up as a wholly owned separate company in hopes of circumventing the language in the WWF/Viacom agreement. Viacom, according to our sources, feels that they would be able to block such a move and that courts would not look favorably on an attempt by the WWF to do an end run around the agreement . . . Despite the Viacom objection, other sources tell us McMahon is intent on continuing to pursue a deal. The driving force is ego, according to a source very close to McMahon . . . If he wants it, he'll find a way to get it, that source told us . . . "
(San Diego Union, Wednesday, May 3, 1933)
Signing of Ed (Strangler) Lewis and Oki Shikina, Japanese heavyweight wrestler, for the next wrestling show at the Coliseum Athletic Club, has stirred up unusual interest, promoters Linn Platner and Tommy Landis report. Requests for reservations already have been received.
Lewis, for years the generally recognized champion of the world, is engaged in a "comeback" campaign, with a finish contest with Jim Browning for the title as his goal.
It is the claim of Lewis that when he first met Browning, and also on the occasion of their second clash, he was handicapped greatly by eye trouble. He also points out that neither of the bouts he lost to the Iowan was a finish affair, but that both were one-fall bouts which gave him no real test.
In view of the fact that the Lewis-Shikina bout is to be a finish battle, two falls out of three, the former champion will have ample opportunity to prove to San Diegos fan flock that he has the stuff he claims he still possesses.
Regarding next weeks show, Platner says that it will be an "all star" occasion in the strictest sense, as every one of the eight athletes will be a man of reputation. There are to be four bouts in all.
In the semi-windup the popular Nick Lutze will oppose Rudy Skarda.
(San Diego Union, Wednesday, May 10, 1933)
By Ted Steinmann
Ed (Strangler) Lewis, veteran of many years on the mat, needed only a little more than 33 minutes last night to win two out of three falls and the match from Oki Shikina, Japanese, at the Coliseum Athletic Club. Lewis won the first and third falls with Shikina surprising to take the second with one of his special joint pressure holds which aided him recently in scoring a string of four victories here.
The veteran, who came into the ring weighing 245 pounds, won the first fall in 17:38, pinning Shikina, who weighed 210, after throwing him heavily to the mat with a series of headlocks. Shikina took the second with what Curley Morgan insisted was a "Japanese arm strangle." The hold did things to the Stranglers elbow and made him go down. Shikina had his legs around Lewis forearm and put pressure on the elbow while using his weight to force the off shoulder to the mat.
Lewis turned the tables on Shikina to gain the deciding fall in 3:13. The Japanese had Lewis on the mat with a jackknife and bar arm hold. After several attempts to get free, Lewis regained his feet and held Shikinas shoulders to the mat while referee Don McDonald tolled the fatal three seconds.
Shikina bothered Lewis considerably with arm holds throughout the match and also seemed to break away with cute little touches to vital spots here and there. But when Lewis finally got to work he won handily.
It remained for Nick Lutze and Rudy Skarda to put up the match of the night. They went a half-hour to a draw in the semi-final and when they left the ring the crowd, one of the largest to greet a mat show in some time, cheered both contestants.
A clean, fast exhibition, the two young heavyweights gave the fans what they wanted. They were at once rematched for a finish engagement next Tuesday night, inaugurating a string of weekly shows at the Coliseum in place of every other week.
Both Skarda and Lutze used reverse arm locks freely in the early part of the match. Skarda also had Lutze on the mat for a long period with a headlock but the Venice heavyweight broke away with a leg split. A toe hold which put Lutzes foot in his lap looked for a time good enough to win for Skarda, but Nick finally broke free. Skarda weighed 210 and Lutze 200.
Dr. P.A. Mullikan, California light heavyweight champion, won from Tony Marconi, Los Angeles heavyweight, in 15:01 in the second event when the Italian heavy failed to regain the ring in 20 seconds after a drop into the first row seats.
This match was typical of the Mullikan productions with roughness predominating. Marconi had Mullikan crawling for the ropes a good part of the time. Both fell from the ring on the south side. The doctor got back and Marconi was counted out.
Dave Snodgrass surprised to win from Steve Strelich in 13:26 in the opener. Here, too,
Snodgrass got back into the ring after a fall while Strelich was too late. Marconi and
Mullikan used the same laps for a fall as did Snodgrass and Strelich. Snodgrass weighed
187 and Strelich 179.
By Charles Bartlett
A beatific smile rested upon the features of Uncle Joe Foley last night as he dozed in his chair before the great fireplace of the old Stadium manse. What happy thoughts were playing tag in the Foley dreams probably will never be known. They might have been grand pictures of dozens of riot squads warding off the onslaught of feverish thousands eager to gain entrance to an already packed Stadium. Or it might have been the comforting assurance that all of his favorite nephews were grouped together at his feet.
It was a pretty picture, indeed, which the flickering flames found in the shadows before the hearth. The kiddies all were there in the innocence of little whit enighties, ready to be tucked into their trundle beds. They had sipped their hot milk, and now needed only a last story from Uncle Joe to complete a perfect day.
Uncle Joe was not aware of their desires until a neighbors lad, Joey Farrell, came to spend the night with his little chums, playfully pressed a glowing fagot against Uncle Joes No. 1 bunion. The old gentleman finally blinked his eyes, and began to stretch, but found that two of the nevvies, blue-eyed Nate Lewis and mischievous Andy Frain, had cunningly knotted his shoelaces together.
"And now what is it, you rascals?" he said, boxing the ruddy ears of Nate, Joey, and Andy.
"We want a story! We want a story!" the tykes shrieked, pummeling their favorite relative with gusto.
"Yes, and dont give us that old one about the traveling farmer," piped chubby Marty Dougherty, as he boarded Uncle Joes neck. "And none of those Mae West gags, either."
"Well, you brats, once upon a time " began Uncle Joe.
"Boo-o-o-o! Boo-o-o-o!" came the chorus, led by the childish treble of Carl Schultz and Harvey Johnson. "Tie that one outside. Youll be giving us Goldilocks and the three bears next."
"All right, whelps," Uncle Joe continued. "This is a story about a little Greek kid named Christopher Theophilos and I want no cracks about that handle, see? He worked hard, was good to his pa and ma, and went to bed early every night instead of pestering his uncles for stories. Time went on and Christopher grew up to be a great, big strong man and a hell of a wrestler to boot.
"Chris was doing all right for himself until one day out in San Francisco a promoter came down with a broken wrist trying to squeeze Chris name onto a contract. For no reason at all, as far as anybody knows, he changed the young mans name to Jim Londos. And now who can tell me who Jim Londos is?"
"I can, uncle, I can," screamed Joey Farrell. "Dont you remember the time last spring when a guy named Joe Savoldi tossed him right on his shorts? And there was a lot of whistle blowing afterwards, and "
"Drat you, Joey, will you ever learn that little boys should be seen and not heard?" Uncle Joe scolded. "Just for that I wont tell you about a big surprise Im going to have here Wednesday night. Anyway, Jim kept on winning and winning until finally there was nothing more to do but call him the heavyweight champion of the whole world ---"
"How about that time in New York?" put in little Marty.
"Who is talking about New York, you ingrate?" said Uncle Joe. "They dont know anything about wrestling, anyway, and have they a fine big house like this to play in?"
"Hes got you there, Marty," smirked Andy.
"And now if you will button up your little traps I will tell you how Jim nearly got into trouble. He was winning every match going away and, gosh, how the money rolled in! He was reading books without pictures in them and getting culture all over himself. Then came the college wrestlers, a dastardly lot who practiced the black art of the flying tackle. There were Wayne Munn, Gus Sonnenberg, Jim McMillen, and Ed Don George. Jim knew it wasnt cricket, but he practiced jumping over the flying tackle day and night until those collegiate smart alecs used to find themselves out in pew 14, section Q, when they tried any of their football monkeyshines on him. There, on the mantel, is a picture of Jim going through his jumping act."
"Hey, uncle, how about that surprise Wednesday night?" the kiddies demanded.
"Well, if you will promise to say nighty-night now, like good boys, Ill tell you. There has been so much gossip around about that Londos-Savoldi business here last spring that I am going to put a stop to some of these back-fence biddies around here. I am going to have Mr. Londos and Mr. Savoldi and I hope about 15,000 of the neighbors over here to settle the whole thing once and for all. And I want you imps to remember your manners, too. Now, what do you think of that?"
"We think it is just too bad, uncle," shouted Nate as he and his cousins
skipped off to bed, "because Wednesday is the night for the weekly meeting of the
Five Card Stud club. You wouldnt want us to miss that, would you?"
CHICAGO The National Boxing Association does not recognize any champion in the field of wrestling, General John V. Clinnin, president of the organization, said today.
General Clinnins statement was made following information that Jim Londos had been circulating a photostatic copy or a reproduction of a letter written by Stanley Isaacs while acting as head of the N.B.A. in 1930 purporting to indorse Londos as the National Boxing Association heavyweight titleholder.
"The National Boxing Association, in annual convention at Omaha in October, 1930,
eliminated wrestling from its scope of control," Clinnin said.
(San Francisco Examiner, January 31, 1961)
By Prescott Sullivan
The State Athletic Commission has rolled out the red carpet of welcome for a new rassling mob.
With the commissions blessing, the new outfit has settled down in Oaklands KTVU where last Friday night it put on its first televised studio show.
Four or five other televised studio "come on" productions will follow.
Then, when the territory is thought to be properly receptive, the group will move into the Civic Auditorium or Cow Palace for a non-televised, all-paid "master show."
Villainy keynoted the first of the build-up presentations. It appeared that the management was giving away prizes for dirty tricks.
One of the winners was a particularly despicable character. A professional stinker of all-pro stature, one might say. His job was to make televiewers loathe him. This he did in grand style.
To make sure there was no slip-up, he stated his position in a ringside interview after the match. "I hate the Bay area the weather, the people, everything about it," he declared.
Then he stood back and leered into the TV camera. A real artist, this man.
Roy Shire, an ex-grunt and groaner from the Midwest (Detroit-Cleveland), heads up the new group. Closely associated with him is John Horn, formerly of Long Beach.
Regularly established promoters such as Joe "Waffle Ear" Malcewicz in San Francisco and Ad Santel in Oakland resent the intrusion.
They figure the newcomers will glut the market with rassling and ruin the game in this neck of the woods. As old and respected residents, they had hoped the State Athletic Commission would protect them from "invasion."
It would seem that Santel, for one, has a beef coming. For years, Friday night has been his "night" to show in the Oakland Auditorium.
Now, at first asking, the Commission is allowing the new guys to put on "live" TV shows in Oakland in direct competition with Santels Friday night time schedule.
In our book Santel has a right to complain of shabby treatment.
Tax-wise, the new guys are getting in for peanuts.
On regular rassling shows, for which there is a paid admission, the State exacts 5 per cent of the gross.
This tax, of course, cannot be applied to TV studio shows for which there is no paid "gate." Thus, the newcomers are in for free, except for a licensing fee of $25 a show.
This charge, half of which goes to pay the salary of a commission appointed inspector, also is demanded of the regular promoters, in addition to the 5 per cent tax bite.
Over the years, rassling has contributed more to the State in taxes than has boxing. The percentage is down at present, but the rassling tax still amounts to about half of Commission-collected revenue.
Obviously, a Commission policy of permitting non-taxable TV rassling shows to endanger established tax-paying rassling clubs does not figure to increase the States income.
Are the big-hearted Commissioners prepared to make up what their generosity may cost
(San Francisco News-Call Bulletin, February 15, 1961)
By Roger Williams
Theres a wrestling war brewing in San Francisco and Oakland that could prove to be a dilly. Its touched off by the invasion of an outside promoter who is now giving the public live matches for free on television.
No one objects to getting something for nothing. But when it runs into direct competition with an established and going concern that has been in business for 32 years, it hardly seems cricket.
This is the complaint lodged by Ad Santel, well-known East Bay promoter who stages his weekly shows on Friday night at Oakland Auditorium.
Now, on the same night, a newcomer named Roy Shire is airing live shows on Channel 2 from a KTVU studio. Shire received permission to do so from the California State Athletic Commission. Santel cannot understand the commissions action.
Accompanied by his son, Ad Jr., and Joe Malcewicz of San Francisco, Santel protested Shire application for a permit at a hearing conducted by the commission in Sacramento. But Santel failed to score a winning fall.
The commissioners acted on the basis of a ruling by the state attorney general, who declared: "You cannot deny a license on the basis of competition." The Santels do not object to competition, but young Santel says:
"We do not consider it fair competition when Shire gives his show away for free on the same night that were trying to induce fans to pay their way into the Auditorium to see our matches."
At the time Shire received his permit to air TV shows, he also was granted permission to stage an occasional live wrestling card at the Cow Palace or Civic Auditorium in San Francisco.
Joe Malcewicz, better known as Old Waffle Ears, isnt enthused about this but Joe has been in business long enough not to object to fair competition. He figures he has built up sufficient following with his wrestlers not to worry about hit and run performers.
Shire modus operandi follows a pattern he has used effectively in other parts of the country, according to Malcewicz. After four or five TV shows, he stages a live one bidding for public patronage via the box office.
"If these fail to go over, he soon pulls up stakes and starts shopping for another territory to move into," says Joe. "Apparently somebody told him to try San Francisco. Frankly, I dont think hell have much luck here."
Shire will try to make it big in San Francisco by bringing in one of Malcewiczs star performers, Antonino Rocca, to the Cow Palace on Saturday night, March 4. The barefoot boys opposition will be little known Don Jonathan.
And so the wrestling war is unfolding. Theres a chance now that Old Waffle Ears will counter with a match starring Leo (The Lion) Nomellini and Primo Carnera, former worlds heavyweight boxing champion turned wrestler.
If you were given a choice between these two matches which would you prefer?
Were Malcewicz only 20 years younger, I can tell you one I would like to see. This
would be a no-holds barred match between Old Waffle Ears and young Mr. Shire. It would be
a honey. The stakes? Let the loser pull up his tent and get out of town.
MATMANIA: Dave Scherer, of Wrestling Lariat fame and
writing at the www.1wrestling.com site, is busily
updating news of Tod Gordon's Pro Wrestling Fantasy Camp, where fans can come to
Philadelphias ECW Arena for four days and wrestle, manage or referee matches against
legends from the past, and stars of the present. Starters for the May 2001 event now
include, says Scherer, Terry Funk, Sabu, Missy Hyatt, the Road
Warriors, Curt Hennig, The Sandman, Too Cold Scorpio and Tommy Rich.
Scherer adds, "The participants will be trained to wrestle by Rocco Rock
of the Public Enemy and Pit Bull Gary Wolfe, as well as some of the
wrestlers at the camp during the first two days and then will hit the ring in action with
and/or against the above mentioned stars. Singles and tag matches will be available. Most
importantly, the camp will be held in a safe manner for the participants with Gordon and
the wrestlers stressing the safety of the campers . . . The camp will take the first 150
entrants who send in their $500 dollar deposit. First come will be first served. For more
information on how you can be a part of the camp, go to www.prowrestlingfantasycamp.com."
(Wichita Eagle, Thursday, March 19, 1925)
Wrestling fans who happened to drift around to the Y.M.C.A. gym last night about 8 p.m. saw a ten dollar show for nothing. Two professional wrestlers, Dick Daviscourt and Jim Browning, got into an argument which ended up into a rough and tumble wrestling match without a referee and then into a fight, with no gloves.
It all started when Jim Browning went into the gym where Daviscourt was scheduled to work out with a local amateur grappler. "Why dont you work out with me?" said Browning, walking up to Daviscourt.
"Why, youre a professional," Daviscourt said. "Im working out here tonight with a local boy."
"Well, youre a professional, too," Browning came back. "Whats the matter, are you afraid to wrestle me?"
This seemed to add some red flags to Daviscourts rising wrath. "What do you mean going around the country telling everyone Im afraid of you?" snapped back Daviscourt. "Why, youre nothing but a preliminary wrestler."
That started the fireworks. In a minute, Daviscourt and Browning were on the mat, without a referee and everything went. The fans at the "Y" gym crowded around to see the fireworks, eager to see a real wrestling match with nothing barred.
According to spectators it was one well worth seeing. First one and then the other got a punishing hold. Browning held a head scissors on Daviscourt which had Daviscourt panting for breath. Daviscourt jabbed Browning. Once Daviscourt held a mean headlock on Browning. Time and again a man was on the mat with shoulders touching, but it was give-up stuff and neither would quit.
Accounts vary as to how the fistic part started. At any rate the two professionals had wrestled for 30 minutes with no falls when Daviscourt started beating Brownings head on the floor. Daviscourt claimed Browning had kicked him.
Browning got up and made a swipe at Daviscourt. Daviscourt came back and they had a lively mill. Just then some cooler heads intervened, including Lloyd Dyer and other gym officials, and got the men separated. "Come one, well finish it with gloves," was Brownings parting shot. But Daviscourt didnt answer.
Most of the spectators admitted that Browning had had the best of the argument up to the time the match was terminated in a fistfight. They also said that Daviscourt had started the fighting business.
Daviscourt is scheduled to wrestle Ad Santel here Friday night. Browning is to be on the preliminary. According to Brownings side of the story, he has been trying to land a match with Daviscourt here or elsewhere for three years, but Daviscourt has always refused to talk business. Friends of Browning stated yesterday that Browning had threatened to "get" Daviscourt on the mat and show him up.
Daviscourt claimed last night that Browning had started all the trouble. "I went to the Y.M.C.A. to work out. Browning started to get insulting and I guess I lost my temper," said Daviscourt.
"If he thinks he can beat me in a match Im willing to take him on some time. However its pretty poor stuff when a man has to bring his friends and try to pull that stuff on you in a gym, especially when I was all tired out after a workout."
Browning couldnt be reached last night to give his end of the match but two of
his friends stated that Browning was more satisfied than ever that he could beat
Daviscourt, either wrestling or boxing.
(Wichita Eagle, March 21, 1925)
Ad Santel repeated his victory over Dick Daviscourt at the Forum last night, winning two falls out of three in about the fastest and hardest fought match seen here for several moons. Santels victory came after Daviscourt had won the first fall in 41 minutes with a toe hold. Santel then came back and won a sensational victory with a merry-go-round and crotch hold in 58 minutes and took the final and deciding fall in 23 minutes with a split.
By winning Santel fooled a lot of the wise ones who figured. It was Daviscourts turn to win. But Santel was simply too good for the more powerful Daviscourt, who nevertheless wrestled a great match and time and again wriggled out of Santels famous short arm scissors and grapevines. Time and again he had Santel dangerously near to a fall in the second and third falls, when a fall meant a match. Daviscourt tried his headlock repeatedly but never with any success.
The total wrestling time was over two hours and in that time there wasnt a minute of stalling. Nor did there seem to be any circus stuff. Neither wrestler apparaently dared to allow the other to escape a hold. Both got out of some bad ones which were held sometimes for as much as 10 minutes at a stretch. Santel started the match by getting a short arm scissors which he held on Daviscourt for six minutes before Dick could squirm loose.
Then Dick got in his action and the men alternated in a series of holds, mostly toe holds for the next half hour. Daviscourt finally got a punishing toe hold on Santel which forced his lighter opponent to take the three counts.
Santel came back strong in the second fall and was the aggressor most of the way. Daviscourt wrestled a great defensive battle, however, breaking several holds by brute strength. It looked at several different periods as thought Santel were a sure winner but each time Daviscourt managed to roll out when it looked impossible.
The end of the second fall was a hummer and brought the crowd to its feet. Santel had had an arm scissors which was broken. Santel then slammed Daviscourt down, and pinned a crotch hold on him. Holding Daviscourt by the legs, Santel maneuvered his husky opponent until he had him just right, then started whirling him around, Daviscourts head downwards. After three whirls Santel let Daviscourt down with a jar and pounced on him. It was all over in a second. Daviscourt was down and stunned so badly he was an easy victim.
The third fall was Santels. Daviscourt rallied with an arm lock and another time with a hammerlock. But Sqantel rolled out and after 22 minutes of work pinned another peculiar hold on Daviscourt which brought him victory. This was a split, another variation of the crotch. This time Daviscourt had to give up without being pinned to save from being split in two.
Jim Browning won the preliminary in impressive fashionm, toying with Jack Roller for 18 minutes and then winning with a scissors. Browning attempted to challenge Daviscourt between falls of the main event but was shoved back out of the ring by referee Ernie Lynn.
A crowd of about 800 watched the match.
(ED. NOTE: Ringside box seats for the bout were priced at $3.30 and $2.20,
"parquet" seats were $2.20 and $1.65, and balcony seats were $1.65 and $1.10. In
1925 prices a "fine" pair of mens shoes were advertised in downtown
Wichita that month for $15 this was far from a cheap affair. Promoter Tom Law was
in the business for several decades, organizing and presenting shows from coast to coast
and some of his best were in Wichita.)
(Wichita Eagle, Saturday, April 18, 1925)
Dick Daviscourt proved his supremacy over Jim Browning and earned the right to be called Wichita champion by flopping Browning two out of three falls in their wrestling engagement at the Forum Friday night. Daviscourt won the first and thrid falls. He demonstrated a better knowledge of the game, plus greater speed and science most of the way.
Browning started well and reached his peak in the second fall, which he won after hounding Daviscourt all the way. But the rest of the time Daviscourt was simply too cunning for his younger opponent.
Daviscourt won his falls by direct agency of the headlock, assisted by other holds. The first came in 45 minutes with a headlock which was turned into a double arm lock. Browning won his fall with a scissors after wearing Daviscourt down with a series of headlocks. Daviscourt won the last and deciding fall in 12 minutes, when he crashed Browning to the mat after evading a headlock and simply rested his massive bulk on the stunned Browning.
The fans who love the ups and downs of the modern rough and tumble wrestling were well satisfied with the match. There was plenty doing all the time, in and out of the ring. Daviscourt was thrown through the ropes innumerable times. Browning demonstrated flashes of strength but not of endurance. The youngstered showed that some day he will make a great wrestler, but is not yet ready to cope with Daviscourts size, science and lasting powers.
The crowd was about equally divided and there was a big uproar at the end of each fall. Most of the fans seemed to give Daviscourt the edge, but a lot were pulling for Browning, who had entered the ring as the "underdog."
The bout was enlivened by a great number of headlocks, probably the most ever seen here in a match of the same duration. Browning had at least a dozen on Daviscourt in the second fall. In this period, Daviscourt seemed to have lost all his former cunning and was on the defensive all the time. He might have been playing with Browning, but if he was he carried it too far for he lost the fall when Browning caught him with a fine head scissors.
The preliminary went to Henry Steinborn, a "strong man" who made a big impression, beating Clarence Jenkins with ease. Steinborn demonstrated a lot of strong man circus stuff and after tossing Jenkins gave an exhibition. He later challenged Daviscourt to a finish match here. Ernie Lynn refereed the bouts.
(ED. NOTE Henry Steinborn soon became better known as Milo Steinborn, and carved
out a long career as, first, a grappler and as, secondly, an outstanding promoter in
Florida. His son, Dick, became a teen-aged star in 1951 and himself enjoyed a long and
impressive career in the squared circle.)
(Wichita Eagle, Wednesday, April 22, 1925)
Dick Daviscourt and Henry Steinborn will meet on the next wrestling card here April 29, announced Tom Law, local promoter, last night. Stanislaus Zbyszko, worlds champion, wired yesterday that he would be unable to come here for the April 29 show. He will probably come later, however, and may meet the winner of the Steinborn-Daviscourt match.
Steinborn is the strong man who claims the worlds weight lifting title. He will
give an exhibition of this skill at Island Park today, preceding the Wichita-Des Moines
(Western League baseball) game. Chief Wano, Wichita infielder, will drive his
five-passenger car over Steinborns chest. The wrestler will give other feats of
(Wichita Eagle, Thursday, April 30, 1925)
Dick Daviscourt won from Milo Steinborn, the "Strong Man" wrestler, in straight falls at the Forum Wednesday night, taking the first in 49 minutes with a double wristlock and the second in 19 minutes with a headlock. Daviscourts science proved superior over Steinborns strength. The match was featured by a lot of lively exchanges, however.
Earl Clemmings of Wichita, a protégé of Ad Santel, won the semi-final, beating Link Decker of Enid in 23 minutes with a scissors in a fast match.
The main event would have been a hummer if Steinborn had known just a little more about wrestling. The weightlifting champion was as strong as an ox, fast as a lightweight on his feet and tossed Daviscourt around with abandon. But he didnt know what to do with a hold when he got it.
The "Flying Dutchman" stayed with Daviscourt more than an hour because of his great defensive ability and pure strength. Time and again he threw Daviscourt across the ring and out of the ropes and broke a toe hold by simply kicking out his massive leg. His only good hold was a headlock and that wasnt good enough to seriously worry Dick.
Daviscourt tried the strong man stuff himself once when he picked up Steinborn and threw him heavily to the mat. Steinborn showed the fans some new stunts in bridging when he raised his head and body under Daviscourts massive weight.
Ed Mosely won a one-fall preliminary from Gearing of Hutchinson in 13 minutes. Ernie
Lynn refereed the bouts.
(Wichita Eagle, Friday, May 29, 1925)
Dick Daviscourt headlocked his way to victory over Jim Browning in a one-fall match at the Forum last night, winning in 57 minutes. Daviscourt placed five consecutive headlocks before he was able to pin Browning, and the Wichita boy left the ring in a dazed condition, unable to return for the second fall.
Despite the fact that only one fall took place, the few fans that witnessed the match agreed it was the fastest card of the season. There was not a dull minute during the entire battle, 51 headlocks being attempted. Daviscourt placed 31 of these on Browning before he succeeded in securing one that won the match, while Browning worried Daviscourt more than a little with his 20 headlocks.
Outside of the numerous headlocks, there were few holds tried. The two exchanged head scissors twice during the match. Both wrestlers displayed the wrist lock and body scissors, but neither was in danger while these holds were being tried.
The beginning of the match was as sensational as the ending. After the two had taken position in the center of the mat, Daviscourt attempted to place on of his famous holds around Brownings neck, but the local boy, being familiar with Dicks tactics, darted outward as Daviscourt leaped toward him, and the California man went head first over the ropes into the crowd.
There were three other times during the match that it looked as if Daviscourt would headlock to victory before 57 minutes passed. After 10 minutes of grappling, Daviscourt got three headlocks in a row, but Browning rolled out of the final one and got two less dangerous headlocks on Daviscourt. When the two had gone 22 minutes, Daviscourt succeeded in getting three more around Jims neck, but this time Browning threw him across the ring.
It was not until the two had toiled 50 minutes that Daviscourt got another series of ringers and the fourth one dazed Browning. Again Browning displayed great gameness and secured a double wrist lock on Daviscourt.
At the end of 55 minutes, Daviscourt tried four more headlocks. The first one brought Jim to the mat with a crash. The second and third followed quickly. The fans knew that Browning was dazed. As he went down the final time, he fell on his shoulder. After referee Ernie Lynn had tapped Daviscourt on the shoulder as victor, it was more than three minutes before Browning was able to leave the ring.
In the preliminary, Link Decker of Enid beat Leo Chase of Winfield, in 14 minutes, with a headlock. Ed Mosely, ex-Kansas State Normal grappler, beat Karl Kness, local wrestler, with a reverse body hold in 12 minutes.(ED. NOTE -- Less than eight years later, in February 1933, Browning flopped Ed "Strangler" Lewis in Madison Square Garden to gain control of the National Wrestling Association-sanctioned world heavyweight wrestling championship, a bauble he held until relinquishing it to the legendary Jim Londos in 1934; conversely, after that same span, Daviscourt's star had ebbed below the horizon line and he was working under a mask back in the Pacific Northwest, the region of the country in which he was raised.)
WAWLI REDUX # 8...
MATMANIA: Not long ago, the noted wrestling historian Tom Burke
(you may know him better as keeper of "The Shrine" in his home in Springfield,
Mass.) returned, breathless, from South Bend, Ind., where he had viewed the enormous
"Jack Pfefer Wrestling Collection" at least that part of
it which Jim Melby and George Schire don't own.
(Incidentally, Mr. Melby has been curiously mum at least in regard to this
direction about what materials he purchased from the Pfefer heirs. But, from
firsthand experience, we know as Burke does now, too that the portion
donated to the University of Notre Dame by Eddie M. Einhorn, is
breathtaking. In the words of archivist George Rugg (a fine fellow):
"It comprises over 100 cubic feet of materials accumulated by Pfefer over a 45-year
promotional career in professional wrestling, 1924-1969. Types of materials especially
well represented include business and financial records, personal correspondence,
photographs, posters and broadsides, newspaper and magazine clippings, and wrestling
periodicals and programs. Pfefer himself referred to these items, with characteristic
hyperbole, as his Museum Collection -- though he was less a collector in the
accepted sense then the seemingly exhaustive preserver of all the records and other
documentation -- personal papers, printed accounts, and images -- relating to his
business, and indeed to professional wrestling as a whole. The resulting materials provide
both an extensive printed account of professional wrestling from the 1920s through the
1960s, and an inside look at how the wrestling business was conducted over the same
period. Of particular interest are Pfefer's financial records of thousands of bookings and
promotions, and his extensive personal correspondence. Also significant is an accumulation
of many thousands of photographic prints, mainly publicity portraits, representing most
wrestlers of note from the late nineteenth through the mid twentieth centuries." For
an extensive catalogue listing of the materials, click on to http://www.nd.edu/~joycecol/Wrestling/pfefer.html
and, as soon as possible if you are sincere in your devotion to pro wrestling scholarship,
make plans to visit Mr. Rugg and the collection in South Bend . . .
(Wichita Eagle, Saturday, April 18, 1925)
CHICAGO, April 17 The $60,000 purse for a Decoration Day match for the heavyweight wrestling championship at Michigan City had almost vanished tonight because of the surprising defeat of the title holder, Wayne (Big) Munn, by Stanislaus Zbyszko in Philadelphia Wednesday night.
Ed (Strangler) Lewis, the former champion, had signed up for the return match with Munn, who threw him out of the ring in kansas City, and Munn was holding off while he was trying to land a $100,000 European tour contract.
Efforts to sign up the new champion Zbyszko with Lewis, in place of Munn, have met with little success so far, and this has revived talk in wrestling circles of "the wrestling trust" war between the eastern and western groups.
The apparent ease with which the 55-year-old Zbyszko slammed Munn to the floor twice in less than 15 minutes has mystified wrestling circles, because Munn, a few weeks ago, had defeated Zbyszko, "Toots" Mondt, Mike Romano and others among the topnotchers.
As a drawing card for the Decoration Day match, Munn, the young collegian of immense size, was regarded as a great attraction until Zbyszko took his title away in 15 minutes.
While the negotiations for the Michigan City match were under way in Chicago last week, Munns manager, Gabe Kaufman, was tendered an agreement providing that neither Lewis nor Munn should wrestle anyone else prior to Decoration Day. Kaufman refused to sign. Munn, out of condition because of tonsilitis, continued east on a wrestling tour and lost his prize.
Floyd Fitzsimmons of Michigan City, who offered the $60,000 purse, said he had no reply
from Zbyszko to his offer to take Munns place in the Decoration Day match. Half of
the amount is on deposit in a Chicago bank. Lewis and Zbyszko have met six times and five
times Lewis won (sic). Once Zbyszko took the title but lost it back again a year later to
Lewis, who surrendered it to Munn.
NEW CHAMP MAY MEET DAVISCOURT IN WICHITA RING
(Wichita Eagle, Tuesday, April 21, 1925)
Stanislaus Zbyszko, the "Old Man" of the wrestling game and heavyweight champion of the world, will wrestle in Wichita this season, states Tom Law. He has been dickering with the champion since Zbyszko dethroned Wayne Munn at Philadelphia last week and Zbyszko has agreed to come here on April 29 to wrestle on the next show. He will wrestle either Dick Daviscourt or Milo Steinborn, the weight lifting champion, who made such a big hit last week at the Forum. (ED. NOTE Zibby did not appear in Wichita that season, perhaps fearful that Daviscourt long an associate of Strangler Lewis would doublecross him and steal away the belt before the Pole could deliver it to the hands of Lewis premier rival, Joe Stecher).
That Zbyszko has definitely broken with the trust can be seen by his willingness to wrestle here. Incidently, Law, local promoter, will have the last laught at the Sandow-Bauman trust. This trust, which controls Lewis, Pesek, Munn, Mondt, McGill and others, has refused Law matches this year and consequently there have been times when the local promoter felt out in the cold.
Law is hoping to arrange a great match here later, between Santel and Zbyszko, or possibly Stecher and Zbyszko (ED. NOTE He settled for Stecher and Santel, the former winning easily in straight falls).
That Zbyszko slipped one over on Sandow can be told from the Philadelphia reports, concerning some happenings which as yet havent been reported here. Perry Lewis, writing in the Philadelphia Inquirier in respect to the match, says:
"It is fa fact that after the first fall, Zbyszko remained in the ring and refused to leave. It is also a fact that several alleged representatives of Munn did climb in the ring and try to buzz the elderly Pole, who simply shook his head and declined to move. Among the other thousand and one rumors was one that, realizing after the first fall that Munn didn't have a chance to retain his title, his representatives tried to persuade the veteran to consent to a postponement.
"Whether this rumor was true or whether it was false the face remains that Zbyszko declined flatly to leave that ring, but with compressed lips shook his head and glared at the floor.
"Then, still surrounded by the police, he was hurried to a taxicab and slipped to his hotel. It was all very mysterious, and apparently uncalled for until one remembers that there was a rumor all over the place that the new champion had double-crossed the old, and that the victims of the play were out for revenge.
"Munn declined to receive visitors or make a statement after the disaster which
had overtaken him. Closeted with his wife in his dressing room, he denied himself to
visitors, word being sent out that he had fainted after reaching his dressing room."
Subj: [oldfallguys] WAWLI No. 783: Dick Lane Date: 9/14/00 9:09:18 AM Pacific Daylight Time From: WReaLano@aol.com To: firstname.lastname@example.org
I just read some nice thoughts on Dick Lane who was both a Hollywood legend
as well as a wrestling one. I had the pleasure of working with and driving him to/from KCOP studios after the wrestling broadcasts left channel 5 in Los Angeles. I'm sure everyone is aware Dick for many years was the play by play voice of pro graps, TBird Bill Griffiths Roller Games and Demolition Derby.
He was a Southern Cal institution -- but also was in over 60 movies and did many TV appearances (the first ring announcer in One and Only, the bad carny in Leave It To Beaver when Beaver runs away from home, etc.). He was the ultimate professional, and most people mention him in the same breath with Gordon Solie as being the best-ever.
I have several shoot interviews with him after Lebell lost KCOP altogether in 1975 after the unpopular decision to replace Dick with Gene Lebell who to that point was just doing the interviews for both Saturday KCOP and the Wednesday live tapings (broadcast and syndicated on Spanish Int'l Network which had Miguel Alonzo and Luis Magana do the actual commentary...later Jeff Walton did many of the interviews with most of the American boys at Channel 34 KMEX). KCOP was lost after Greg Valentine somehow plugged house shows when KCOP-TV 13 had disallowed it. The months of KCOP Championship TV wrestling without Dick Lane were sad indeed.
His call-desk had great 8 X 10 photos of Blassie, Tolos, Austin, Mascaras, Destroyer and others behind him and were comforting to all, as was his voice.
And Dick had been calling the action for so many years he allegedly originated many of the popular names for holds like abdominal stretch, spinning toehold, scissors, and backbreaker in the early 50s. He cared about the business, always protected and preserved it unlike other celebrity announcers Steve Allen and Dennis James. His L.A. cohort Bill Welch, who passed away last spring did some announcing in L.A. with Dick but was immediately brought up by Roy Shire to S.F. after Shire's aggressive takeover of that territory from Joe Malcewicz, who hadn't realized the power of TV, of which Shire was a master.
Dick had a super relationship with the twins and later Cal Eaton and of course Jules (Strongbow) and Charlie Moto. Neophyte Mike Lebell, though, grated on many and Dick was always quick to point out that Tolos, Blassie and others weren't properly paid for their important roles publicly and behind the scenes for wrestling's first-ever closed-circuit showings of events that began prior to the big '71 Coliseum record-setting showdown between Tolos and Blassie.
Lebell did many of them including the big '72 show with Funk Brothers "dropping the straps" to Baba and Sakaguchi...DIck Lane of course got these over like a million bucks and was instrumental in the record crowds and gates. When Lebell tried to involve some of the top EMLL lucha names (for various reasons; noting the crowds were ever-changing in SoCal) beginning with Gordman, Mascaras; later Ray Mendoza, Raul Mata . . . Dick took the time, as did Jimmy Lennon, to correctly learn to pronounce their names and give out tidbits of Spanish and lucha culture. He really helped the latter two luchadors get over and Mendoza, like Mascaras, was a god in L.A., thanks greatly to Dick Lane.
Mil Mascaras said it best at a recent wrestling show 9/9/00 after an Anaheim Angels
baseball game reminding us that "Dick Lane was the greatest announcer in the
wrestling business. He was very good to all of us... I miss him very much."
(Dow Jones, September 27, 2000)
STAMFORD, Conn. -- World Wrestling Federation Entertainment Inc. said fiscal year 2001 revenue from core businesses should be about 3% below its prior estimates, while earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, or Ebidta, will be 8% to 10% lower than projections.
In the fiscal year ended April 30, World Wrestling Federation (WWFE) has revenue of $379.3 million and Ebitda of $85.7 million, and the company planned both to increase by 15% in fiscal 2001. That didn't include possible increases for both from a new television contract.
The lowered fiscal 2001 outlooks are due to lower revenue streams from licensing and commercial advertising, which will be slightly offset by higher revenue in the company's pay-per-view business. World Wrestling Federation also noted overhead costs are running above expectations.
The lower revenue will mainly affect the fiscal third quarter, which begins Nov. 1. There will be a slight impact in the current quarter, which ends Oct. 31. The fourth quarter is in line with prior estimates.
The mean estimates of analysts surveyed by First Call/Thomson Financial was for second-quarter earnings of 20 cents a share and third-quarter earnings of 22 cents a share.
Chief Executive Linda McMahon blamed the revenue shortfall on World Wrestling Federation not effectively managing its licensing program, which is being restructured. The program was hurt by older toy products not selling as well as expected and a drop in estimated revenue from World Wrestling Federation's team sponsorship in the National Hot Rod Association series.
As for pay-per-view sales, the company said it is on track to exceed the 6.8 million orders received in fiscal 2000.
In addition, the company said estimates for its new football league, the XFL, are tracking in line with prior estimates. In June, the company said it targeted revenue of $80 million to $85 million in the league's first season, which begins in February. At the time, the company projected a net cash outlay of $35 million to $38 million, half of which would be paid by General Electric Co.'s (GE) NBC unit, which co-owns the league.
World Wrestling Federation moved its cable programming to Viacom Inc.'s (VIA) TNN and
MTV networks this week following the expiration of World Wrestling Federation's contract
with USA Networks Inc.'s USA cable channel. The move resulted in TNN posting its
highest-ever ratings during Monday night's telecast of World Wrestling Federation's
"Raw Is War," cable's most-watched weekly program.
WAWLI REDUX # 9...
MATMANIA: To quote Greg Oliver & Co. -- We've got great news for SLAM! Wrestling fans. The one and only Rowdy Roddy Piper will be joining us for a live chat on Tuesday, November 21 at 7 p.m. ET. Plan your life accordingly to be able to chat with 'Hot Rod' himself about his career in wrestling and movies, and his thoughts on the political process.http://www.canoe.ca/SlamWrestling/home.html . . . Leo Nomellini, who played a lot of football and was famous for that, also wrestled professionally the other six months of each year and once won a disputed decision from Lou Thesz for the world wrestling championship. The latter got short shrift, though as did, indeed, Leo himself when it came time for the obituary writers to do their work a month ago.)
(St. Paul Pioneer Press, October 19, 2000)
Leo ``the Lion'' Nomellini, a two-way Hall of Fame player who starred for the University of Minnesota and the National Football League's San Francisco 49ers, has died from complications from a stroke. He was 76.
Nomellini died Tuesday at Stanford Hospital, three weeks after entering the California
By Pat Sullivan
Leo "The Lion'' Nomellini, a star tackle for the 49ers from 1950-63 and member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, died yesterday from complications following a stroke, family members said last night.
Nomellini, 76, died at Stanford Hospital, where had had been for the past three weeks.
"It's just a shock. We all thought he was coming back,'' said former 49ers offensive tackle Bob St. Clair, who had visited his longtime friend last week.
Nomellini, a two-time All- American at the University of Minnesota, was the 49ers' first-ever NFL draft choice (1st round, 11th overall) in 1950. He stood 6-feet-3 and weighed 260 pounds, and his play quickly became popular with the Kezar Stadium crowds. He was known for both his strength and quickness.
Nomellini was a two-way (offense and defense) player for part of his pro career. He was named All-NFL six times, four times on defense and twice on offense.
He had overcome heart problems and a hip surgery in recent years, friends said.
Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1969 with former 49ers fullback Joe Perry, the gregarious Nomellini also performed as a pro wrestler, an occupation he took up in the offseason.
He once wrestled Lou Thesz for a world championship at then-Civic Auditorium. "It was something else. I was in his corner,'' St. Clair recalled. "Thesz won because he was the only one left standing.''
After his football career, Nomellini worked for more than 30 years at an East Bay title insurance company. He also was an active member of the NFL Alumni Association. He enjoyed golf and swimming.
Former 49ers quarterback Y.A. Tittle, a Nomellini teammate from 1951-1960, said, ``Let's just put it this way: Leo was one of the kindest, gentlest, biggest tough men you'd ever want to meet. He was big and strong, a weightlifter.
"More than that though, he was just a great human being. He never had any bad things to say about anyone. He wasn't a gossiper. . . . He was a guy you could poke fun at, and he'd poke fun at you. He's a friend I hate to see go.
"He was a loyal 49er. Every (home) game, he was at the (49er alumni) barbecue. I just can't say enough good things about him.''
St. Clair had a particularly close friendship with Nomellini. "We were close, very close,'' St. Clair said. "You know, he was born in Lucca, Italy, and raised by his grandmother in Chicago. Every time we'd go to play the Bears, we'd go over to the house and they'd stuff us with good Italian food. We'd end up on the living room floor, we were so stuffed.''
Former offensive end and placekicker Gordy Soltau, who played with Nomellini both at the University of Minnesota and with the 49ers, said, "He was a great teammate and one of the best linemen we ever had. He loved to play, and he loved people.''
Former 49ers broadcaster Bob Fouts said Nomellini was "really a down-to-earth guy, good-hearted. I think you could call him a gentle giant.''
Fouts told a story of a night he and Nomellini were speaking to a father-and-son group on the Peninsula. A boy asked Nomellini which was tougher, pro football or pro wrestling. Nomellini said pro wrestling. The boy asked why. Nomellini said, "Because in pro wrestling, you have to drive to Modesto, drive to Stockton.''
Nomellini is survived by his daughter, Lane Nomellini; his son, Drew; a sister, Leona
Carlson of Chicago; four grandchildren -- Ashley and Tyler Molinaro and Dane and Kai
Nomellini -- and several nieces and nephews.
(San Francisco Examiner, October 18, 2000)
By Dwight Chapin
Leo "The Lion" Nomellini, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame and one of the strongest links to the 49ers' past, died Tuesday at Stanford Hospital, where he had been confined the last three weeks after a stroke.
Mr. Nomellini, 76, was the 49ers' first National Football League draft choice in 1950, out of the University of Minnesota.
Mr. Nomellini was born in Lucca, Italy on June 19, 1924. He moved to Chicago with his family when he was two. Because of military service, he didn't make his professional football debut until he was 26, but he made up for the late start by playing until he was 39 -- all with the 49ers.
A two-way tackle much of his career, he was named All-NFL six times, four on defense and two on offense.
Big and quick at 6-foot-3 and nearly 265 pounds, he cleared the way for 49er running backs Hugh McElhenny, Joe Perry and John Henry Johnson on offense. But it was on defense where he earned his most lasting reputation.
In 1969, Mr. Nomellini was named as a defensive tackle on the official All-Time NFL Team.
That same year, he and Perry became the first 49ers to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
"That overwhelmes me," he said of the honor. "The Hall of Fame is living proof of what opportunity, sportsmanship and America can really mean."
During his entire pro career, which spanned 1950-63, he didn't miss a game, and when he retired, his 174 consecutive games were a league record.
Mr. Nomellini further showed his durability by performing as a professional wrestler during the off season. He once wrestled Lou Thesz for a world championship (and lost) at the Civic Auditorium.
"It was an interesting occupation," he said, after retiring from wrestling in 1962, "but I got tired of the bumps and traveling all over hell."
Mr. Nomellini later became a Bay Area wrestling promoter, bringing top names like Andre the Giant in to headline cards.
In 1981, asked how he would try to wrestle Andre the Giant, who weighed 460 pounds, Mr. Nomellini said, "Very carefully."
After leaving the sports world, Mr. Nomellini spent more than 30 years with an East Bay title insurance firm. He continued to support the 49ers avidly, was very active in NFL Alumni Association activities, and gave freely of his time to charities.
If he was in a room, there was little doubt he was there, because of his friendly and outgoing nature. In the last few years, he had battled heart problems, and also had hip surgery.
Still, former 49er teammates were surprised by his death.
Hall of Famer Bob St. Clair, who was Mr. Nomellini's road roommate when both played for the Niners and remained a close friend, said he had visited Mr. Nomellini last week at Stanford Hospital and thought he was improving after his stroke.
"We go back such a long way," St. Clair said Wednesday. "Leo was just a very, very genuine person. Fun loving. He enjoyed life so much, and was a great family man. He epitomized what a great football player really was.
"I considered him a gentle giant. But when you got him on a football field, all hell would break loose."
Another ex-49er teammate and fellow Hall of Famer, Y.A. Tittle, said, "I thought so highly of him. He was a very good friend - a nice, kind person. He never had a bad thing to say about anyone. I just can't say enough good things about him."
Mr. Nomellini is survived by daughter, Lane Nomellini, and a son, Drew; a sister, Leona
Carlson of Chicago; four grandchildren and several nieces and nephews. Another son, Kim,
died in a boating accident in 1974.
(San Francisco Examiner, October 19, 2000)
By Dwight Chapin
There was one thing that always made Leo Nomellini proud.
He would hold out his right hand and it was hard to say which was more impressive -- his ring finger or the whopping hunk of gold and gemstone that adorned it.
"Size 171/2 ," he'd say, "second largest of anyone in the Pro Football Hall of Fame."
Then he'd tell you that the largest belonged to Bronko Nagurski, his idol when he was growing up back in Minnesota.
"He's a size 19," Nomellini would say. "They've made a duplicate of his ring and it's on display at the hall in Canton, Ohio."
Then Nomellini would pause, and say, slyly, "Bronko drinks a lot of beer, so his hands swell up all the time."
And then Nomellini would tip his massive head back and laugh, so loudly the room would shake.
Leo "The Lion" Nomellini, the 49ers' Hall of Fame tackle who died Tuesday at 76 from complications of a stroke three weeks ago, was a presence. He had a personality to match his 6-foot-3, 260-pound-plus frame. When he showed up anywhere, it was impossible not to know he was there.
That certainly was true on the football field, where, after becoming the 49ers' first NFL draft choice in 1950, he terrorized opponents for the next 14 seasons, until he was 39 years old.
He was equally adept on offense and defense - frequently playing both ways in the same game in his first six seasons, and making All-Pro on defense four times and on offense twice.
Former 49ers coach and current Carolina Panther field boss George Seifert recalls while working as an usher at Kezar Stadium seeing Nomellini, a man he viewed larger than life.
"I can't say that I knew Leo that well on a personal basis, I knew him well as a player," Seifert said. "And I often remember being on the field walking beside him. As a kid you kind of size guys up. . . . (He was) just a happy kind of go-lucky guy who kind of brought a smile to your face, really."
Nomellini once remembered, "A coach would come up to me and say, 'Leo, so-and-so is hurt. Would you fill in for him?' I always said OK, because it was rah-rah-rah in those days. No money, but rah-rah-rah. You had to be hungry. You couldn't afford to take time off."
Despite his nickname, Nomellini was not always a player who played as if he were seeking raw meat.
"But he played best when he was mad," longtime teammate and fellow Hall of Fame tackle Bob St. Clair recalled Wednesday. "So we used to go up to him before games and tell him that several members of the opposition were making derogatory remarks about
him and his family. We were making it up, of course, but by game-time, he was boiling."
St. Clair got his first up-close look at Nomellini in 1953, when he reported to the 49ers' training camp.
"They put me in at offensive tackle and I was looking right across the line of scrimmage at Leo, who was already an All-Pro, and I said, 'Oh, my God!' I basically just ducked my head and charged at him like a bull on every play. (Coach) Buck Shaw came over after the scrimmage and said, 'Congratulations, you're our starting offensive right tackle,' and Leo put his arm around me and said, 'I'm so glad I can finally get off offense and just play defense for a little while. "
But the Lion never rested much.
He had been a college wrestler at the University of Minnesota, and in the 49ers' offseasons, he wrestled professionally, making a lot of money for local promoter Joe "Waffle Ears" Malcewicz.
He once took on champion Lou Thesz for the U.S. heavyweight title in a match that drew a $72,000 gate, the largest in Bay Area wrestling history.
After he retired from sports and began a three-decade stint with New Century Title Company of Alameda, Nomellini spent several years as a wrestling promoter. In that role, he often was asked for comparisons between the supposed phoniness of wrestling and the trench warfare of pro football.
"Everybody has his own tastes, likes and dislikes," he said once. "But I know wrestlers really take their lumps and earn their money, because I was one of them."
Through all his athletic activity, Nomellini was surprisingly durable. When he retired from the NFL, he had played a then-record 174 straight games. His most serious football injury was a broken finger. And his wrestling wear and tear included only a hyperextended knee and a loosened front tooth.
"He was always so upbeat and so friendly and such a 49er, he was terrific," 49ers coach Steve Mariucci said. "We were all saddened to hear the news. He was a great person who happened to play football. We're going to miss him. I loved being around him. He was one of the great 49ers."
In his later years, Nomellini battled heart problems, but he was frequently seen at functions around the Bay Area, usually involving NFL Alumni and charity activities or one of the four "shrines" of which he was a member: the Pro and College Football Halls of Fame, the Italian-American Sports Hall of Fame and the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame.
"He loved people, loved having fun," St. Clair said. "He just enjoyed life so much. I'm going to miss him dearly."
The same sentiments were echoed by other former teammates and associates, such as 49ers
quarterback Y.A. Tittle, who called him "a nice, kind, good-hearted person and a very good friend," and ex-49er general manager Lou Spadia, who said, "He was the kindest, strongest man in the world. To me, he reflected the image of Buck Shaw. They were both gentlemen, and gentle men."
Funeral services for Nomellini are pending.
(San Francisco Examiner, October 20, 2000)
Compiled by Dwight Chapin
The men who knew Leo "The Lion" Nomellini best -- his former 49ers teammates and club executives from the 1950s and early 1960s -- still speak in awe of his Paul Bunyan-like strength.
After the death this week of Nomellini, who is considered by most as the 49ers' best lineman ever, fellow 49ers Hall of Famer Joe Perry said, "He was as strong as three bulls. He'd slap you on the back and knock you 20 feet."
Former 49ers general manager Lou Spadia recalled an incident that happened in 1955:
"Red Strader, who was our head coach then, brought in a friend from Southern Illinois University - a PhD named Jay Bender - who had invented a muscle-measuring machine that a lot of NFL teams ended up using.
"He flew the machine out here in a big crate, had it trucked to our training camp at St. Mary's and set it up there. It was impressive. It had a bunch of 2-by-4s, wires, pulleys, weights and scales. Dr. Bender asked who was the strongest man on the team. We said Leo Nomellini. Bender had Leo lie down on his stomach, with a strap around one of his legs so they could measure the big muscle right above his ankle.
"Then Bender said, 'When I say so, Leo, pull up on the strap as hard as you can.'
"Well, Leo did as he was asked, the 2-by-4s started flying, the wires broke, the
scales fell off and the doctor's eyes popped out. I remember having to duck pieces of
flying wood. Leo just exploded the machine, blew it apart. Bender had to start all over
again, with 6-by-6s instead of 2-by-4s, and thicker wires. He made a big mistake in
telling Leo to pull as hard as he could.''
(Globe & Mail, Thursday, Nov. 16, 2000)
By Stephen Brunt
More news from the wonderful world of convergence, which gets curiouser and curiouser by the moment.
Those of us now preparing for life at The Globe and Mail and CTV and TSN and Sympatico and Your Name Here have growing personal experience in the field. Still, it is not every day that one has the opportunity to sit back and try to figure out what it might mean to merge the world of Canadian sports television with the world of professional wrestling.
As Carl DeMarco, head man for the World Wrestling Federation in Canada, explained it at a press conference in Toronto yesterday, "You have to have a piece of the pipe."
That's the information pipe -- in this case, The Score, a.k.a. Headline Sports -- now 10 per cent owned by the folks who bring the planet what once was known as 'rasslin, an exhibition of skill and science, and what is now (to quote WWF CEO Linda McMahon, who appeared via the miracle of television) "an action-adventure soap opera."
What's it all mean? Like all of the great mergers of the moment, hard to tell, really, and near impossible to look five years down the road, when we will surely have all entered into some kind of science fiction reality that, unfortunately, will bear no resemblance to The Jetsons.
In the short term, though, there will be some pretty obvious fallout in the world of Canadian sports broadcasting, and in the world of Canadian football, since WWF also now means XFL, which is where things get kind of interesting.
The wrestling part is straightforward. "We are the kings of content," DeMarco claimed, and on one level he's right -- in terms of providing off-network programming for 18- to 34-year-old males, no one draws an audience approaching that pulled in by the WWF's prime-time showcases, Monday Night Raw and Smack Down.
For the moment, TSN holds the rights to the former, and profits greatly from it. The latter will turn up on Headline Sports starting tonight, the network's second major acquisition (after major-league baseball) since being granted a licence to show live play-by-play.
Still, wrestling is wrestling, a product distinct from conventional, unscripted sport, with its own specific, dedicated following.
But in February, there will be the first real attempt to cross over, to pull that wrestling demographic in for Saturday night and Sunday night football games. And now that there's a Canadian television partner involved, the XFL's presence here will be magnified, a turn of events with which the Canadian Football League will have to contend.
It's not direct competition -- the seasons don't coincide, and for the moment, the XFL won't have teams playing in Canada. Still, it's going to be tough not to draw comparisons between two sub-NFL leagues, one of which exists in the quaint, old-fashioned world where tickets sold and bums in the bleachers are of primary importance, and one which is a television product, pure and simple, produced by folks who are masters of the medium.
No one has so far offered a detailed vision of what the XFL is going to look like, beyond the black and red ball, the hyper-aggressive team nicknames (Demons, Maniax, Rage, etc.), and the fact that everyone on the field and on the sidelines will be miked at all times. Because there will be money on the line for the players based on wins and losses, the hope is, DeMarco says, that there will be some interesting human interaction to go with whatever happens on the field, a kind of gridiron Survivor. "It will be reality TV in sports," he said.
Part of that reality, of course, is that not-all-that-entertaining football people such as Cal Murphy (now of the XFL) will be doing some of the talking, which might not be quite as intriguing as waiting to see who gets thrown off the island, but we'll see.
What's certain is that production values will be high, and promotion will be intense. In the States, NBC -- the XFL's main television outlet -- will be pushing hard. Here, the WWF's new partner will be beating the drum nearly full-time, targeting those same young folks who never miss their wrestling fix.
Of course, that's exactly the same group the CFL would love to attract, since it represents both the future audience and the generation that was largely lost to the National Football League.
It could be that any new focus on football is positive for everyone involved in the sport, that the CFL will benefit from whatever profile the XFL achieves in Canada.
More likely is that there will be such a world of difference between the products, that the new viewers will still be compelled to make a choice, between that which is old and familiar and grounded in tradition, and that which is new and different and outrageous and off-putting to their parents.
In other words, Sinatra versus Eminem. Funny how some days you feel older than others.
(Associated Press, November 17, 2000)
By Raul Llamas
NUEVO LAREDO, Mexico -- It was good against evil, mano-a-mano: a wrestling priest looking to win money for God's work against an opponent with glam-rock makeup and a devil of a name -- Damian 666.
And it wasn't just professional wrestling showmanship, either. The priest -- Fray Tormenta, or Brother Storm, a real Roman Catholic cleric -- has spent much of the last quarter-century in the ring raising money for charity.
"The blows are hard," said Fray Tormenta, whose wrestling costume includes a clerical collar. "Even though I'm a priest, I've suffered a broken nose, a couple of broken ribs, an ankle and an arm."
Fray Tormenta, whose real name is Father Sergio Gutierrez, uses proceeds from his scripted fights to help fund the 200-bed home for underprivileged boys he opened 15 years ago in Tulancingo, south of Nuevo Laredo in Mexico's Hidalgo state. On this day he was passing his unlikely tradition on to a younger man.
"I don't want to be a full-time wrestler, but this was an opportunity that popped up to raise some funds," said the wrestler-in-training, Father Manuel Raul Ortega, 28.
Professional wrestling has been popular in low-income neighborhoods in Mexico since the 1950s. As in the United States, it mixes largely staged throws and body slams with occasional outbursts of real violence.
Gutierrez and Ortega are apparently the only pro-wrestling priests in Mexico, where many fans see the sport as a kind of morality play: good takes on evil.
In front of a crowd of nearly 10,000 in this border city, the less-battered Ortega got into the ring this week for his first match, wearing the karate black belt he earned before entering the priesthood. He looked threatening, but when the opening bell rang it was turn-the-other-cheek time: The bishop of his diocese prohibits his priests from engaging in any kind of violence.
So Ortega stood there as Damian, with the number 666 on his forehead and flames painted around his eyes, mocked his courage and his creed: "You ain't got the guts! I am God!"
The crowd was booing the antichrist, but they wanted some action. They got some when Gutierrez stepped into the ring; He's from a diocese where headlocks are not so unholy.
But Fray Tormenta was still recovering from a recent operation to remove his gall bladder and was not at his stormiest, so another wrestler took on Damian -- and lost.
Still, evil did not triumph. Damian donated his half of the ticket receipts, estimated at $5,000, to help Ortega build his parish church, a modest single-story building in a poor Nuevo Laredo neighborhood.
BULLETIN -- SABU WINS NWA WORLD TITLE BELT
Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2000Last night in Tampa, Florida, hardcore superstar Sabu defeated 'Colorado' Mike Rapada to win the NWA World title.
WAWLI REDUX # 10...MATMANIA: Some may think we send you off to SLAM! Wrestling too often, but there is no other site on the Web today that can match up to the yeoman work done by Greg Oliver and his mates. Now up at http://www.canoe.ca/SlamWrestlingChats/nov10_kiniski-can.html is a November 10th, on-line interview with former National Wrestling Alliance world heavyweight king Gene Kiniski, with the fans providing the questions. The entire Q & A is at that URL but here are a few interesting observations from the man who dethroned Lou Thesz in 1966 and later handed the belt over to Dory Funk Jr. in 1969: Speaking of his many, many bouts in Torontos Maple Leaf Gardens, Giant Gene recalled: "One of my greatest matches was against Whipper Billy Watson. The fans tried to decapitate me. I had to protect myself. They ignited newspapers, trying to suffocate me. All in an effort to destroy this great body." . . . Any wrestler today who reminds him of himself? "No, I was a very, very distinct individual. Very articulate, and my style was completely foreign to what is happening now. I was exceptionally strong and my endurance was unbelievable. And I've had a very extensive amateur wrestling background. Often imitated, but never duplicated." . . . His toughest matches? "My toughest matches were against Lou Thesz, Whipper Billy Watson and Don Leo Jonathan." . . . And what are sons Kelly and Nick up to these days? "Nick wrestled pro for years. Kelly did also. But the type of wrestling they were doing was completely foreign to what's on today. Nick owns two bars in Point Roberts, Washington. One is called Kiniski's Reef and the other Breakers. Kelly didn't want to teach school, or coach and is now working for Warehouser of Canada, a big lumber company in B.C."
(Associated Press, March 3, 1919)
DES MOINES, Ia. Friends of Earl Caddock, worlds wrestling champion, are inclined to accept with reservation the announcement just received from France that he has decided to quit wrestling and turn farmer exclusively.
This information was contained in a special bulletin from the overseas edition of the Camp Dodger, the publication of the 88th Division, to which Caddock was attached as sergeant. It came from Grandercourt, France, and was as follows:
"Caddock is on his way home, but he will wrestle no more. Before he left the division, he told his friends that when he was released from the army he was going to retire permanently from the struggles of the mat and turn farmer.
"It is to be a Wyoming ranch and its all on account of friend wife. For Caddock frankly admitted that his wife objected to the wrestling game. He said he had cleaned up $80,000 in the last year and ws ready to retire anyway. He added that he would ignore all the many offers of matche he had received.
"Caddock left the 88th division at Lagney to attend an officers training school, but the armistice was signed before he could complete his course. His name was brought to the fore at the announcement of the coming Olympic Games at Paris next spring and the 88th wired to find out whether he was coming back. They received a telegram that he was on his way home."
Every previous report had been that Caddock was anxious to defend
his title and would meet all logical opponents. It has been known here, however, that Mrs.
Caddock has never favored his continuance in the wrestling game.
(Associated Press, January 21, 1930)
By Charles W. Dunkley
CHICAGO Heavyweight wrestling in Illinois was placed under ban indefinitely today.
The Illinois State Athletic Commission gave the sport a stunning blow after failing to interest wrestlers of all factions to enter an elimination tournament proposed by the commission to decide the championship.
The commission decided to enforce the suspension of wrestling in the heavyweight division until such time as all championship contenders, or their representatives, appear before the commissioners and agree to satisfactory conditions for an elimination tournament.
Gen. John V. Clinnin, chairman of the commission, told of the efforts made by the commission to clear up the difficulties in the heavyweight class by announcing an elimination tournaemnt, with january 15 as the last day on which entries would be received.
"Certain wrestlers entered with qualifications, others entered unqualifiedly and there were so many stipulations presented we decided to suspend all heavyweight wrestling and cancel the tournament," Gen. Clinnin said. "We also ordered all forfeits refunded."
Gen. Clinnin said Jim Londos, Ray Steele, and Hans Steinke, the ponderous German heavyweight, had refused to enter the tournament unless Gus Sonnenberg, the champion, competed as a contestant rather than as a titleholder to meet the survivor. This trio insisted Sonnenbergs name be tossed into a hat along with all other challengers and that he be forced to wrestle the opponent drawn for him.
Sonnenberg, in his agreement to meet the survivor of the tournament, stipulated he would not meet all challengers, but that he would engage the winner in a title match.
The wrestlers who placed forfeits of $2500 cash and agreed to wrestle with no qualifications were Ed (Strangler) Lewis, Marin Plestina, Stanley Stasiak and Joe Malcewicz.
John Pesek, one of the acknowledged championship contenders, made only a gesture to enter, withdrawing before the closing date of the entries, Gen Clinnin said.
The commissions action was not taken without protest.
Wrestlers and promoters were represented by attorneys who asked the commission to defer
action for thirty days. The commissioners refused.
(Los Angeles Times, Friday, January 24, 1930)
Everett Marshall, the blond young collegian who is making wrestling history in Los Angeles, advanced another step toward the heavyweight mat title by defeating Stanley Stasiak, the Polish man-mountain, in two straight falls last night at the Olympic Auditorium.
Marshall won the match in less than half an hour, taking the first fall in 21m. and 22s., while the second fall was over in 5m. and 15s.
The youngster gained both falls over his 240-pound rival with his celebrated airplane spin.
On several occasions, Stasiak tried to put headlocks and arm clamps on Marshall, but the speedy Everett was too fast and tough for Stanley.
After the match, Stasiak congratulated Marshall, presenting him to the crowd as the coming world champion.
The house was packed to the rafters, over 10,000 mat fans coming to see the new favorite, Marshall, in action.
In a battle of headlocks, Ed (Strangler) Lewis, former champion and now rumored to be one of Glendales biggest citizens, ruined Big Dick Daviscourt in the first section of the main event by taking two out of three falls from the San Diego phantom.
Daviscourt, who weighed in at 220, copped the first fall in 24m. and 39s. with a reverse headlock and an armlock. However, the 230-pound Strangler came back to take the next two, the first in 15m. and 6s., and the second in 9m. and 30s. Lewis used headlocks and rabbit punches to win both falls.
The action was rough throughout, with Daviscourts best bet being a charge with head lowered that had Lewis baffled for a time.
The opening event between Ad Hermann and Steve Strelich, the
Terrible Swede, went the limit of fifteen minutes to a draw.
(Associated Press, January 17, 1947)
BOSTON Steve Casey, one of the nations top-ranking pro wrestlers, was under treatmentn today at Boston City Hospital for severe back strain and paralysis of the lower right leg, which, his physician said, may end his competitive career.
Casey was stricken while driving to the Boston Arena where he was scheduled to meet Frank Sexton last night.
Dr. Frank B. Sullivan said it would require an operation to remove a piece of cartilage which is probably resting against the spinal cord.
The physician described the condition as the recurrence of an old
injury which he suffered while in the Army five years ago.
(Editor's Note: The following is a statement ECW's Stephen R. Stern issued at ECWWrestling.com regarding the end of their relationship with TNN as of early this week.)
After more than a year of, in our opinion, the cannibalization of the ECW product, TNN/CBS has refused to meaningfully address the concerns of ECW. Instead, TNN/CBS has authorized several statements concerning their former relationship with ECW.
The statements we have heard present only a small portion of what really occurred during a relationship of more than a year between the parties. The statement does not address the malfeasant, negligent and improper conduct of TNN/CBS during the relationship; nor does it address the manner in which TNN/CBS has breached their agreement with ECW and the damage they have caused ECW from a revenue perspective and a reputation viewpoint.
TNN/CBS's disregard for ECW was evident almost from the inception of the relationship which disregard has been borne out of their subsequent courting of the WWF and throwing over ECW. The recent discussions with TNN/CBS, which required numerous requests before a meeting was finally scheduled, involved much more than simply extending ECW's programming until the end of the year. The discussions involved repayment of monies to ECW, the payment of significant monies to ECW for the damage caused to ECW by TNN/CBS' noncompliance and breach of contract, etc.
It is unfortunate that TNN/CBS has decided to publicize the situation as ECW had hoped to resolve the matter amicably, behind closed doors, and as professionals. TNN/CBS has continued a course of conduct that is damaging to ECW, and indicative of the cavalier attitude they have exhibited for the past fourteen months. When the dust settles, the aggrieved party will succeed.
Stephen R. Stern is lead legal counsel for Extreme Championship Wrestling.
ECW will continue to keep our loyal fans abreast of this situation
as it develops, and appreciates their continued support.
WWF EXPANDS TELEVISION COVERAGE IN JAPAN
(Friday, October 13, 2000)
STAMFORD, Conn. -- World Wrestling Federation Entertainment, Inc. today announced a multimillion dollar television distribution agreement in Japan.
JSKY SPORTS in Japan has acquired 1,130 hours of WWFE programming over a two-year period. The deal includes all WWFE flagship programming titles, including SmackDown! and Raw is War, as well as monthly specials which will include events such as WrestleMania, Royal Rumble, and SummerSlam. The agreement with JSKY SPORTS allows for WWFE programming to be broadcast across Japan's AXN network, FOX (satellite) and JSKY SPORTS 1, 2, and 3 channels.
The distribution agreement in Japan follows WWFE's recent appointment of Total Sports Asia Ltd as the company's exclusive Asian TV rights representative. Headquartered in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Total Sports Asia is briefed to assist in significantly expanding WWFE's existing distribution deals in the region.
Andrew Whitaker, Senior Vice President, International Television,
WWFE, said: "This is a landmark deal for our company. Asia holds tremendous potential
for WWFE and this agreement in Japan is a realization of this potential. We look forward
to further expansion opportunities throughout Asia for our programming.''
NWA NAMES BOARD OF DIRECTORS
(Thursday, October 19, 2000)(Editor's Note: The following is a press release just issued from NWA president Howard Brody regarding the new NWA board. The NWA is an alliance of indy promoters across the U.S. and the world who recognize a travelling "World Champion." This version of the NWA has legal roots with the NWA that included regional promotions across most of the country throughout the mid- and late-1900s.) Charlotte, N.C. -- A North Carolina limited liability corporation, dba, the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA), announced today the official appointment of its Board of Directors for the next 12 months. The appointment comes in conjunction with the 52nd Annual NWA Convention and Meeting which was held last weekend in Nashville, Tennessee.
WHAT IF McMAHON OWNED EVERYTHING?
(Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, October 22, 2000)
By Rennie Detore
Vince McMahon has always been considered the "god of
professional wrestling." So, wouldn't it be fitting if McMahon owned and controlled
the entire business? As silly as it sounds, McMahon may get his wish sooner than later.
It was reported last week that Time Warner executives have agreed to sell WCW to McMahon, although nothing has officially been announced. Apparently, no one was thrilled with the idea of Eric Bischoff returning to run WCW, which is on pace to lose over $80 million this year.
Skeptics feel that the WWF's attempt at buying WCW is simply a way for McMahon to drive up the price for Bischoff and Mandalay Sports, so there is still a possibility of Bischoff returning as head of WCW if McMahon backs out at the last minute.
If McMahon buys WCW, he would likely turn the company's day-to-day operations over to Jim Ross, or his son, Shane McMahon. The WWF would most likely retain the writers, with the exception of Vince Russo, who - regardless of what happens to WCW - is taking a hiatus from wrestling due to Post Concussion Syndrome.
The thought of the WWF controlling WCW sounds intriguing, but one has to question the logic behind the move. Why would McMahon risk buying a company that is a proven loser? McMahon has enough to worry about with his new Xtreme Football League set to debut in February. The added headache of trying to make WCW a success is something that McMahon, and the rest of his employees, could do without.
Plus, why would McMahon want to eliminate his competition? It was that same competition from WCW, more specifically the inception of "Nitro" in 1995, that forced McMahon to work harder and re-invent his promotion. Competition is what made the WWF the No. 1 wrestling company in the world.
The only competition left would be ECW, which won't be taken seriously until they secure some more top talent and another national television clearance.
Without a solid competitor, the WWF will be more likely to put its product into neutral. One can make a case that they have already begun to go through the motions with a lot of its storylines. Owning WCW would only make that problem worse.
From a business standpoint, the deal is questionable. But from a fans' perspective, it will no doubt make for great television. Because reports have already stated that McMahon would run WCW as its own separate company - which includes leaving the television shows on TBS and TNT - wrestling fans get a chance to see their favorite "dream matches" between WWF and WCW stars.
Who wouldn't want to see Goldberg as WCW champion face The Rock or Steve Austin as the WWF champion? Imagine how fun a feud between Lance Storm, Kurt Angle and William Regal would be. The facial expressions alone among the three would be worth it.
With Wrestlemania XVII not far away, a WWF vs. WCW card probably sounds pretty good to McMahon. Realistically, the WWF should wait and build WCW up to the level of the WWF before it considers any kind of joint pay-per-view.
If anyone besides McMahon were going to be head of pro wrestling, the industry would no doubt suffer. WCW may have finally found the owner and leader they have always needed. Can McMahon give WCW the same "Midas Touch" that he gave his own company five years ago?
If anyone could make this merger work, it would be McMahon.
YOKUZUNA DEATH 'DETAILS' FROM THE SUN
(Wednesday, October 25, The Sun)
By Andy Russell
A forty-two stone wrestler found dead in his hotel room may have died from the shock of seeing a SPIDER.
Pals say man mountain Yokozuna -- known as Mr Sumo -- was terrified of spiders and may have had a heart attack after spotting one in his room.
Yokozuna, 34, who was on a wrestling tour of Britain, was found dead in a posh Liverpool hotel on Monday.
Tour promoter Brian Dixon said the wrestler even had a clause about creepy-crawlies written into his contract.
He added: "It stipulated that he had to have his dressing rooms and hotel rooms swept 30 minutes before he entered them to make sure there were no spiders.
"He was not frightened of anything he faced in the ring but I gather he had a lifelong phobia about spiders.
"It wasn't just big spiders like tarantulas -- he was even scared of small money spiders.
"It caused a bit of a surprise because people do not expect a 42st wrestler to be scared of creepy-crawlies."
Yokozuna, a married dad of two from Las Vegas, is thought to have died from a heart attack or stroke.
Police said there were no suspicious circumstances.
Mr Dixon added: "He was a gentle giant.
"People in England really warmed to him -- he was a very charismatic sort of character."
Hawaiian-born Yokozuna -- real name Rodney Anoai -- was on a 12-date American Wrestlemania tour which has brought the grappling craze to Britain.
The tour is set to continue as a mark of respect to Yokozuna. A ten-bell salute will be rung before each bout in tribute.
The London Evening Standard reports today that it took six men to remove Yokozuna's body from his Moat House Hotel room where he died yesterday. Also to add on this story, Police were called to the Moat House Hotel but ruled out foul play. As for him having to do with any thing with the World Wrestling Federation, no he was not under any contract but was under very good terms. Yokozuna was in England headlining a tour by a group, which were calling themselves WrestleMania 2000. He also just recently confessed to a phobia of spiders. There are still many details that are not cleared and I will have more on it as soon as possible.
There are no further notes on what caused his death, but many
sources are saying it was from some sort of a heart failure. Nothing is confirmed yet, but
more will be released within the next few weeks and hopefully someone will get to the
bottom of this. Once again all pro wrestling fans hearts go out to Yokozuna's family &
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