Saturday, February 24, 2018

Lou Marsh

The legendary sportsman Lou Marsh was a mainstay on the Toronto scene as an athlete, referee, and journalist for many years. You could write a book on his exploits and accomplishments but we will look at his close connection to pro wrestling in the city. He was involved from the very early days as both a referee and then covering the sport on a regular basis as a reporter for the Toronto Star.

He was a tell it like it is type and could be critically honest in his views of the sporting world. He demanded utmost participation and effort and his view of pro wrestling was no different. His column in the Star titled 'With Pick And Shovel' (and later as Sports Editor) frequently covered the sport and as a referee he had a unique perspective on the going ons in the squared circle.

During a March 1921 bout between Canadian Champion Jack Forbes and Steve Graf in a bout described as a sensational 20 minute bout full of 'head spinning, bridging, and high and lofty tumbling,' referee Marsh called a sudden halt to the proceedings. He told the two wrestlers that from then on 'a real contest was demanded.' The two accepted 'the hint' and in 3 1/2 minutes Graff pinned Forbes shoulders to the mat. Another fall ensued with Forbes being disqualified for roughhousing tactics. The chairman of the Ontario Athletic Commission was in attendance and was said to be taking further action against the main bout wrestlers 'for faking.'

Marsh was an early supporter of boxing promoter Jack Corcoran and his Queensbury Athletic Club who later got into pro wrestling before passing the office to the Tunney Brothers. Marsh and Corcoran ran in the same circles hunting and fishing together. They had both served as judges for amateur trials held across the county in the 1920's and Marsh frequently served as ref on Corcoran's boxing cards.

In May 1924 Marsh reported on a card held at Arena Gardens with a main of Stanislaus Zybysco vs Canadian heavyweight champion George Walker. Calling it as Toronto's first taste of 'big league wrestling' he described the then 53 year old Zybysco as having a 'stomach with a double chin effect.' and a 'rolly polly Pole with the bullet head,' and that the bout was like an 'acrobatic contest between an eel and a seal lion.' He summed up the prelim bout between Larry Ness (lightweight champ of New York) and Jim Watson (champ of Canada) as 'the bunk'. 'If either one is champion of anything I'm Carry Nation.'

After Ivan Mickailoff brought regular pro wrestling into Toronto, Marsh was a frequent critic of the participants. He could also be impressed so would assume he was 'smartened up' or maybe the style was just that convincing. Upon seeing Gus Sonnenberg defeat Dan Koloff  in Oct 1929 he remarked 'Gotta give the wrestling champion (Sonnenberg) credit, boys. He certainly gave the lads and lassies who packed Andy Taylor's parlors to the roof plenty of action. What a sweet workman he is. Short squatty, with all his weight where he needs it most, he is as quick as a flash and he knows the game, a brainy, smart fellow.'

In 1930 after Corcoran's first pro wrestling card at Massey Hall Marsh weighed in on what he perceived as a double cross against the promoter. He stated that Corcoran was 'butting into the racket of well organized combine' and 'he might be dead lucky that the only thing that gets the ride is his pocketbook.' He implied that main eventer Jack McCarthy  was  'pie-eyed' and that Corcoran would be 'well advised to stick to the boxing end of sports promotion.'

A couple of weeks later on the eve of Corcoran's second card featuring Jon Pesek Marsh opined that the first card which had been plagued by 'razzers' were in fact a 'paid clique' sent to disrupt the card on behalf of others (presumably rival promoter Ivan Mickailoff). He said it was openly charged that the hecklers were paid 25$ to start trouble at Corcoran's debut and that the same parties set up a pair of double crosses on the same show.

Pesek proved to be popular and even impressed Marsh who also suggested that Corcoran and Mickailoff get together and set up a Pesek-Sonnenberg (Sonnenberg appearing on Mickailoff cards) bout to 'pack them in.'

He retired as a referee several years later though he would occasionally come back for one-offs,  some at the Bowmanville Lions Club. Corcoran had more than once offered Marsh as much as $500 to ref a bout in Toronto. it would have made for some publicity as Lou didn't like modern wrestling and the public knew it. Marsh always refused. Just a few weeks before Marsh passed away suddenly in 1936 he had reffed at a Corcoran charity show in Hamilton. Corcoran had asked and Marsh offered to do it only if Jack worked one bout as well, so they did.

In late April 1936 Marsh was having a bite at a cafeteria and suffered a cerebral hemorrhage. Initially they thought he would recover but on Mar 4   suffered a fatal stroke. Upon his death Corcoran related several anecdotes including crediting him with saving him when their canoe turned over on a fishing trip. He was said to have saved close to a dozen people from drowning over the years.

Marsh was so influential and respected the Star devoted all of its cover and most of its first 4 pages to him when he died.

They named an award after him to be awarded to Canada's top athlete each year starting the year of his death. No pro wrestler has ever won it  but in 1953 Doug Hepburn won it for weightlifting. He had a brief tenure as a pro wrestler here in Toronto in 1955, we looked at him on the main site at Doug Hepburn: Worlds Strongest man


Monday, February 19, 2018

Whipper, Tunney, & McCready 1941

A notable date in MLW history featuring Whipper Watson vs Earl McCready for the undisputed Canadian Heavyweight Championship on June 12 1941

This was the beginnings of the British Empire Title which became the main title here for close to 30 years. McCready had come in to Toronto as holder of both the B-E Title and the Canadian Championship and had faced Whipper the week before this bout.




In the mid 40's McCready owned a farm on 2nd Concession in Whitchurch Township (Vandorf) near what is now Aurora. He would be gone for 6 months at a time traveling around the world and was known for a time as 'The Whitchurch Farmer. In a 1944 Stoufville paper it proclaimed Frank Tunney as the second most well known local name in pro wrestling - next to McCready.

In June of 1941 rookie promoter Tunney introduced the new title belt 'emblematic of the dominion wrestling championship' in order to give more credence to Canadian wrestlers. McCready was still billed across the nation as champ and Tunney deemed local star Whipper Watson to be a claimant so the two were set to meet at MLG.

The initial meeting was inconclusive but in the re-match McCready pinned Watson in the 5th round of another 8 round bout to become undisputed champ. Both were said to be competing for the chance at the World title so it helped to establish Watson as a worthy challenger. The new British Empire title would then become the centrepiece for the next decade and provide a platform for Whipper to eventually attain the World Title.

McCready would lost the title to Nanjo Singh who then lost it to Whipper for his first run in Apr 1942, McCready would regain it from new champ John Katan late in the year and by 1943 Whipper would regain it and hold it on and off (mainly on) before it was retired in 1967.

McCready and Watson would also find time to team up as a formidable tag in 1942 in a bout billed as the 'first time four men in the ring at the same time.' Our era's Texas tornado bout. The two would beat John Katan and Al 'Bunny' Dunlop in a wild bout.

McCready would continue to appear often through the 1940's while still maintaining a busy schedule throughout the wrestling world and would wrestle his last area appearances here in 1954 before finishing his career out West.

*note in the photo above with all three, McCready who was billed at 5'11 looks to tower over Whipper (billed 5'10) (and Tunney -5'9?) , there is an entry on the web that claims Watson was 5'7 but photos show him to be about 5'10. Another photo shows them to be about an inch apart, must be the angle of this one.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Gene Kiniski at Make Believe Gardens

Another fine figure from our friend Barry Hatchet in our continuing look at the heels and heroes of Make Believe Gardens.

Kiniski has been the subject of several features both on the main site and here on the blog. He was an integral part of the wrestling scene here spanning some 4 decades from his debut in 1956 to his last appearance here in 1982.

He caused a lot of mayhem in and out of the ring for all of those years and he never met a mic he didn't like. One of the most important and notable of the many stars that spent a considerable time in our area. Thanks to Barry again, great job !

Make Believe Gardens
More from Make Believe Gardens



Saturday, February 10, 2018

Whipper & Politics 1965


Whipper Watson won a lot of battles over his lifetime. For a big star he lost more than his share of bouts in the ring, but usually won the battle.

In 1965 at the age of 48 Whipper would try his hand at politics to run on his home turf for the '65 Federal Election.

At the time Whipper was  25 years into his pro wrestling career and while getting up in age - and with limited mobility - he was still a huge star on the weekly cards at  Maple Leaf Gardens.

He was still the British Empire champ though working in tag teams most of the time. His bouts generally stayed under 15 minutes and he was travelling less, preferring to stay close to the farm he owned on the South shores of Lake Simcoe.

Frank Tunney had planned a 'Silver Aniversary' contest for Whip in October but then Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson announced a federal election for Nov 8 1965 and Whipper decided to turn from the wrestling ring to the political ring.

For the Sept 9 1965 card he was matched against Professor Hiro (managed by Whip's long time adversary Fred Atkins) and it was called a 'farewell - for present at least.'

Whipper was not new to the political forum, at least in concept. He was frequently appearing at events around Toronto covering both the business and charity worlds and was constantly hob-knobbing with Mayors, Commissioners, Sports Figures, Actors, and other stars of their respective fields.

He had ran several business, and had a hand in promoting wrestling and parts of the office both here and in the U.S. He had also been at the forefront of several battles with both the city and the Sports Commission over Pro Wrestling. More on that in another column.

Whip was known as 'The Pride of East York' so it was a natural to try to win his home riding known as York East. He would have to overcome Steve Otto, a Lawyer who had held the seat since 1962. Otto, for the Liberals was billed at 162lbs vs Whipper for the Conservatives at 245. They would face a challenge from NDP incumbent William Smith (no weight given),

Otto had fallen out of favor in his own party, expecting to have to pay all his own expenses and saying 'I don't think the Liberal party  would cry at all if I lost.'

Whipper, meanwhile had the whole of the Conservative party rooting hard for him, providing him with all of the assistance and encouragement it could muster. Prior to Otto taking the seat in 1962 the Conservatives had held the riding for the previous 37 years with the same guy -Robert McGregor 1935-1962.

Whipper didn't claim to know all the answers. He readily admitted that when it comes to economics and other political platforms he would be 'just kidding you' to claim to know the solutions but would find the experts who did. He would confine his campaign to a portfolio of physical fitness, programs for all Canadians and sponsorship of Canadian athletes, and scholarships at universities.

He promised to end his wrestling career to grapple full time with the problems of government if elected.

During his campaign which was centered in a large hall in East york and staffed with many volunteers, he would came back to the wrestling ring on Oct 3 to team with Johnny Powers against Hiro and Gene Kiniski before taking a break.

On Nov 8  when the numbers were counted Whipper lost, but not by much. Otto had 18,840 votes against Whipper's 15,312. Smith got 13,045 and outsider Bea Beacock with 194 making Whippers share about 32% of the vote, not bad for a first showing.

In the Federal spectrum Pearson remained Prime Minister, John Diefenbaker placed second, and Tommy Douglas with the NDP placed third. Douglas, whose daughter actor Shirley Douglas married actor Donald Sutherland, is the grandfather of Keifer Sutherland, Interestingly Keifer later resided in East York.

That would be the end of Whipper's political aspirations and a couple of weeks later he would be back at MLG revitalized to defend his title against Kiniski, the 3 fall bout going to almost an hour.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Barry Penhale Column WAYLI 1953 Year in Review

Another of Barry Penhale's fine Canadian Column, this time a review of 1953.








































thanks to Roger Baker

Friday, January 26, 2018

Moscamania !

When Jack Tunney aligned with the WWF in 1984 it was the end of NWA at Maple Leaf Gardens.  Jack's uncle Frank had been aligned with the NWA since its very beginnings, hosting the NWA Title and champ at the time Lou Thesz in 1949.

Through the next 35 years or so Frank was an NWA member but also worked with the AWA for a time and frequently had the WWWF/WWF champs in dating back to Bruno in 1964.

By 1986 the WWF was firmly entrenched here as part of its massive national expansion, not just in Toronto but all around Southern Ontario.

Enter Angelo Mosca who had been working with the NWA.

He announced the return of the NWA for a show to be held at Copps Coliseum in Hamilton. It was a risky venture but Mosca was the man to do it. With a long history in Hamilton as a Hall of Fame CFL great Mosca announced the show to be dubbed 'Moscamania.'

At the time Mosca 50 years old, now mostly retired from the ring, was busy doing TV ads, and several different business ventures around town. A few days after the show in Hamilton he was in Toronto doing a TV commercial for Lite beer , said he made 25k in what was his 14th or 15th commercial since he had done the Schick 'Tell it to my face' campaign some years before.

A little bit after the card he was a guest star on the popular 'Night Heat' TV show, in June of that year was elected to the CFL Hall Of Fame, and in Nov 1986 was present when Whipper Watson received an award from the Canadian Children's Foundation, holding up the girl presenting the award, echoing Whipper each year at the Easter Seal 's Dinners. Mosca as usual, was  staying front and centre in the media of the day.

A month prior to the show he had met with CFL commissioner Doug Mitchell to discuss becoming a goodwill ambassador. The reporters later said  that the CFL missed the boat by not using him as he was a born promoter and 'mouthpiece' type in everything he did.

Mosca teamed with former teammate Len Chandler to promote the show with corporate sponsor Amstel Brewery on Feb 2 1986. It was a huge success with over 12,000 fans and a gate of $140,000. A dollar from each ticket went to the Spinal Cord Society and the fans were treated to a great show.

The main event brought Toronto favourite Ric Flair back for the first time since May 1984 to defend his NWA Title against Dusty Rhodes. At that time Flair was a hated heel while Rhodes was fan favourite in the NWA world but the fans here were having none of it. Flair even back in the early 1980's was a favourite here while a heel most other places. Even as a full out heel here in 78-79 the fans were behind him most of the time.

During the Flair-Rhodes bout the fans started cheering Flair so they reversed roles with Rhodes second Baby Doll helping Rhodes by interfering in the bout. Flair took the win to a huge ovation and the card which also featured the Road Warriors, Jimmy Valiant (always hugely popular here), Abdullah The Butcher, Sgt Slaughter and a host of local guys including Mosca's son Angelo Jr. was declared a huge success.

Longtime MLG ring announcer Norm Kimber, recently let go by the Toronto office did the introductions for the night.

At the time Mosca declared he was seeking to become the exclusive promoter at Copps, similar to how the Tunney's had exclusive use of MLG but it was not to happen.

He also owned the syndicated TV rights for the TV show Pro Wrestling Canada which was produced by Milt Avruskin. They showed NWA bouts which were sometimes up to a year old and did voice-overs on the bouts. PWC which ran from May 1986 to Oct 1986 was on the CTV Kitchener affiliate channel 13 locally but that channel wasn't available to most in Toronto.

Mosca later told a reporter that he couldn't get the show on in Toronto and that's what killed it.
Doug Bassett, head of the CTV told him 'it wasn't family oriented television.' At that time they had WWF Championship , International Wrestling from Montreal, and the Maple Leaf WWF show all on the other channels in Toronto. While the WWF was tame the International show was a harder style, a throwback to the 70's style - that Toronto was used to - see 'The Sheik.

The show later appeared for a time on TSN and I'm sure I saw it on CFTO channel 9 in Toronto but it may have been after the show ran it course.

In a Milt Dunnell column he reported "He (Mosca) is president and promoter of Pro Wrestling Canada, with shows on 10 TV stations in the east and two in the west. He stages live shows in Kitchener, Ottawa and Toronto (Varsity Arena), when he is not busy lifting trucks in Chevy commercials.'

He never promoted any show at Varsity Arena nor Ottawa as far as I know. Outside of the Hamilton shows and the one in Kitchener (more on those below) the only other one of record was in Peterborough on Feb 17 with Tully Blanchard vs Barry Windham as the main.

Mosca would present another show in Kitchener on Nov 23rd to feature a main of Nikita Koloff vs Wahoo McDaniel as Moscamania II. This one was a reverse of the first one, several no shows and most of the cast filled out with locals. Only 1.500 showed up but it was not to deter Mosca from staging another Hamilton show in Feb 1987.

Unfortunately he ran it on the same night as big WWF show at MLG featuring Roddy Piper vs Adrian Adonis in a 'retirement bout.' Mosca had Flair vs Nikita Koloff but only drew 3,000 compared to the 17,000 at a packed MLG. On Mosca's show Blanchard battled Rhodes and they reversed roles as well as the fans were booing Dusty again.

There were rumours of bad payouts (heard years later) and that was the end of Mosca's promotional tenure.


Sunday, January 21, 2018

Some Ontario Posters


























I used to have a bunch of these but gave most away to other fans. These are all Wildman shows except the pink one for MLW in St Catherines 1981.

The one above for Port Elgin is from summer 1977. That one is hanging in our office. It's a good conversation starter. Even non wrestling fans recognise Andre, and if they are an old time wrestling fan it certainly opens up the conversation and often leads to an extended reflection on how much fun it all was back then. Good for business sometimes, and my favourite poster of them all. They used that pic of Andre in many areas, their take on King Kong in front of the NYC skyline. That summer Andre toured Ontario working on both McKigney (Wildman) and Tunney shows.

On the old MLWP site we had about a hundred posters from all through the 1970's. There are a few others on this blog including some MLG just do a search on the right

These are all mostly early '80's (couple mid) except the Napanee which is '76 and the Picton is '77




































Saturday, January 20, 2018

Angelo Mosca Jr

Angelo Mosca Jr. gets a lot of heat online, a lot of it based on the few youtube bouts out there, not exactly reflective of his entire ring tenure. Granted he was no Lou Thesz but he wasn't anywhere near the worst wrestler either. The bout vs Ivan Koloff in which Jr. won the Mid-Atlantic Title is particularly hard to watch (a nice dropkick one of the few highlights) but is hardly indicative of his entire wrestling career.

He grew up the son of one of the most famous CFL players in Canadian history who earned his nicknames the hard way. 'Mean & Nasty' was a carry over from his Football days when he was known as the 'meanest man in Football', on and off the field Sr. was a true life 'heel.'

Jr. followed in his fathers footsteps playing football through his teen years. In June 1981 Jr, as a defensive guard was cut at the BC Lions training camp, effectively ending his pro ball dreams. He went on to earn a degree from Concordia University and went into working in the sport and fitness field.

He and his father were close though his parents separated when he was 4 years old but he had seen a lot of his father while growing up. By the time he was old enough to be aware of Sr's name his father's playing days were over. Sr's 'Tell it to my face' campaign for Schick razors earned Jr. some razzing from his fellow schoolmates.
Saving Pop from a beatdown at MLG 1984 

Years later while planning a charity fundraiser (Still Mosca) paying tribute to Sr. and raising funds for Alzheimer research Jr. would admit that he was learning more about his father talking to old friends and teammates in preparation for the event. Jr was helping Sr. film some of his memories including reflecting on friends passed on. 'I'm learning more about him from some of the other people I've been contacting, even when we travelled together and I was wrestling with him you didn't talk about stuff like that. It's just you're on the road. I'm a very quiet introspective guy. We just travelled.'
*credit Greg Oliver http://slam.canoe.com/Slam/Wrestling/2015/06/24/22469776.html  

He would begin training in 1983 alongside Sr. and others for 6 months. Sr, was especially happy about Jr. coming into the profession and was immensely proud of his namesake.

He debuted in wrestling in 1984 at the age of 24 against veteran Ox Baker. Sr. was 47 at the time and winding down his wrestling career.

They would travel together, Jr. admitting that the constant travel was the hardest part. They would work out in the gym together, travel to their bouts then fly back to Charlotte, NC where they were both living at the time, Jr. on his own and Sr. with his then 'very understanding wife' Gwen.

Sr., reflecting on his son's career in 2008 said 'My son's a good guy but he was never cut out for the business. He liked the money. I used to get him up early in the morning to go to the gym and stuff. He'd say, 'Dad, do we have to do this?' I'd say 'The good looking hooker makes the money.'  That's the way I took the business. We were whores. I was a big guy. I had a fair physique on me, and I took care of myself. My son, I don't know if he really wanted to pay that price."
* credit Greg Oliver http://slam.canoe.com/Slam/Wrestling/2008/09/05/6675791.html

Despite the lack of interest Jr. received a big push from the start. He debuted at MLG as a late addition in Apr 1984 in the Canadian Title Tournament to decide a new champion after Angelo Sr. was forced to vacate the title due to injury. He beat Terry Kay and then faced Kabuki in the quarter final. He would win the bout in just 38 seconds (always a couple really short bouts in those tourneys to fit all the matches)  but Kabuki would spray his green mist and Jr. would be out for the remainder, which Koloff eventually won.

Two weeks later he would get the main event teamed with Sr. against Koloff and Kabuki. They would appear together on the cover of the Stranglehold program and get the win. Prior to the bout Jr. told a reporter ' the best thing about wrestling is working with this guy right here,' thumping his father on the thigh. 'I just hope I can pass on a few things to him' replied Sr. The bout ends when Jr' finally tags into to save his Dad from a beat down and pins Kabuki. The villains throw him out of the ring and go to work on Sr with Koloff's chain. Jr. regains the ring and grabs the chain and chases the bad guys away to a huge roar from the crowd. The success would continue through the Carolina's with Jr. seeing success on the Southern circuit as well.
1986 

The two would appear on the same cards leading into a June card at MLG which saw Jr. get the win over Koloff and collect the belt his father had previously worn. Only Sr. was present at the next card and Jr's championship glory was be short lived as it was announced a few days later that Jack Tunney went with the WWF and the title was retired (forgotten) with nary a defence.

Jr would show up in Dec 1984 with Toronto now under the WWF banner and appear on TV briefly with Sr. as a short lived announcer for the Hamilton/Brantford TV tapings. One more appearance in Feb 1985 and that was it for Jr.

In 1986 Mosca Sr would attempt to jump start the return of the NWA in Ontario with a big show in Hamilton dubbed 'Moscamania.' Jr. figured prominently on the Poster for the event, depicted just below Jimmy Valiant and Dusty Rhodes. The card did well drawing 12,000 fans with a gate of $140,000 to see a main of NWA champ Ric Flair vs Dusty Rhodes. Jr. teamed with Vic Rossitani against the Kelly Twins. Sr. attempted to create a schedule across the smaller towns and despite a syndicated TV deal but it failed to materialise as promised.

Both father and son would be featured on the popular CTV show Lifetime which ran the same night as a big WWF show at MLG. Sr,  in contrast to Jr was still enjoying the spotlight and would show up in many TV commercials, appear on shows like Night Heat, and was part of several business ventures capitalising on his name.
Finally posing with the Cdn Title
photo courtesy Barry Hatchet

The two would see some action on Dave McKigney's Big Time circuit teaming up to take on Sweet Daddy Siki and Killer Karl Krupp in a small show at the St Lawrence Market in Toronto in March 1986. A short distance but a long way from the bright lights at Maple Leaf Gardens.

Junior would stay on for some of the summer shows and return for MoscaMania II in Kitchener in November. That show was a disappointment drawing just 1,500, most of whom went to see the Road Warriors though Hawk never showed and was replaced by manager Paul Ellering. Jr took on Siki and it was back to the circuit.

The general consensus for those who saw him on the smaller circuit was that he was much improved, smoother in the ring and better adjusted to the pro style.

In Feb 1987 Sr. again ran Hamilton with an NWA show. Jr took on Shaska (aka Pistol Pez) Whatley in the opener and shortly thereafter wrapped up his ring career.

Jr would later work in the Hamilton penal system, mostly with young offenders. and in the recent years would appear with his Dad at a couple of wrestling meet and greets.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Frank Tunney & the Inner Circle 1969























A fascinating photo by Roger Baker featuring the main cogs in the MLW wheel for most of it's history

The occasion was Frank Tunney's 30th aniversary as a promoter (1939-1969) and a gathering in the Hot Stove Lounge at MLG.

Frank is surrounded by his 'inner circle' his trusted group of wrestlers, writers, announcers, promoters, and friends. The total tenure for the men pictured (aside from Diamond) would be somewhere around 340 years of MLW history in this photo.

Frank Tunney was covered on the main site at Frank Tunney : The Early Days

There are 3 generations of Ring Announcers, Frank Ayerst (past), Jerry Hiff (present), Norm Kimber (future) spanning from 1950 to 1986

Frank Ayerst was also Frank's publicist for many years
He was featured in a previous blog post MLW Blog: Frank Ayerst

Jerr Hiff was ring announcer from 1955 -1973

Norm Kimber joined the office as an assistant around 1953  and was ring announcer from 1973 - 1986 in addition to doing publicity chores

Whipper Watson worked for Frank from 1940 to 1971 but continued to be associated right into the 1980's. He worked as a promoter also for Frank running the outside towns during his career. There is a ton of Whipper around all 3 MLW sites.

Behind Frank Tunney is 'Tiger' Tommy Nelson, former wrestler turned promoter who ran some of the outlying towns for Frank. He had accompanied Whipper (and Tiger Tasker below) to England in 1936 and wrestled all over Europe before returning.
He was featured on the main site at 'Tiger' Tom Nelson

Behind Nelson is wrestler Paul Diamond who was starring at MLG at the time

"Lord' Athol Layton wrestled for Frank from 1950 to 1977, referreed for many of those years, and hosted the Toronto ( and others) TV Wrestling show for most of the 1960's and '70's.
We looked at him on the main site at Lord Athol Layton

Pat Flanagan (the original Watson - Winnet) wrestled and refereed for Frank from 1941 to 1976. He also worked as a liason between the Toronto office and the outlying towns, helping to book the wrestlers and other duties.
We looked at him on the main site at Pat Flanagan ; The Irish Tornado

Fred Atkins, like Flanagan and Layton wrestled, then referred, from 1948 to 1983. He also trained many wrestlers and worked as a manager in the 1960's while still wrestling, his charges including Tiger Jeet Singh, Giant Baba, and Professor Hiro.
He was featured on the main site at Fred Atkins : Ferocious Fred

'Tiger' Ken Tasker again a former wrestler turned ref who worked for Frank from the early 1940's to the late 1970's. he was famously along for the ride to England in 1936 with Whipper and Nelson and was one of the main refs for most of his tenure in that capacity.
We looked at Tiger in a previous blog post MLW Blog: Tiger Tasker

The gentleman at the far right bottom is ref Cliff Worthy. He was a long time wrestling and boxing referee from the 1930's to the '60's and had been a regular on the amateur scene here, at one time a 'Canadian Champ.'

It's cut off but the portrait above them overlooking the party is ...Frank Tunney
A portrait of Whipper is on the other side of the wall just out ouf view
The Hot Stove was paying tribute to them as Tunney once had his office where they built the Lounge

Below is after Whipper had some fun with Frank.
Thanks to Roger Baker for the use of these incredible photos, click to enlarge




Monday, January 15, 2018

Bull Curry 1968

One of the more memorable characters of pro wrestling the incomparable Bull Curry at MLG in 1968. Roger Baker sent me these photos while Bull was appearing here regularly that year mostly teaming with Tiger Jeet Singh.

By the time I started watching Bull was retired but his image persevered and he continued to show up in the mags and in popular culture. His Toronto tenure was short 1968-1973 and when his high flying son Fred came along around 1970 Bull wrestled on the good side of the fence for a while. He even took on The Sheik at the Gardens with Fred making the save after Sheik carved him up during a short bout.

He did wrestle around Ontario a bit dating back to the late 1930's but I don't see him in Toronto though he may have come in in those early days. He did frequent Windsor (I have a OAC licence issued to him in 1937) as the Detroit promotions were active on our side of the border dating back to the beginnings of pro wrestling.

In his first bout in '68 teamed with Dutch Momberg against Whipper Watson and Bulldog Brower he was described as a 'newcomer to the local scene'. Indeed he was (apparently) but at 10 days past his 55th birthday.

In that bout he left no doubt to his legend when he hit Whipper with he chair announcer Jerry Hiff normally sat in and then attempted to strangle Whip with the cord the ring hammer (for the bell) was attached to. He was finally disqualified when he attacked ref Joe Gollob. OAC commissioner Merv McKenzie, present at the festivities fined Curry 200$ for his actions (not for trying to kill Whipper, that's allowed, but for hitting the ref, that's not allowed).

His last bout in Toronto was in July 1973 against another long timer Ivan Kalmikoff.
Thanks to Roger Baker for the great photos , click to enlarge, that's Al'Bunny' Dunlop in the 2nd photo