Friday, November 17, 2017

Make Believe Gardens !

The fine folks over at the Mid Atlantic Gateway  have been featuring a great diorama with figures representing the best of Mid Atlantic action circa late 70's early 80's.

Well we now have our own featuring a capture of the action at Maple Leaf Gardens circa 1982 !

Thanks to highly underrated -and slightly unknown- star Barry Hatchet ("Kicking ass is my business...and business is good!") for these pics of a bout featuring Barry and Ninja and Ivan Koloff with Sir Oliver Humperdink in a handicap facing Blackjack Mulligan and 'Bad Bad' Leroy Brown
(Barry Hatchet pinned everyone and won btw)

Wouldn't be complete without everyone else from MLW ....we have
Norm Kimber making introductions
Billy Red Lyons waiting to interview Barry,
Frank Tunney directing traffic at the curtain to the ramp
refs Fred Atkins and Terry Yorkston (he of the pompadour)
and me and my buddies leaning on the ramp while the ushers do their best to keep us away - or ignore us completely (most would be entranced by the bouts, great gig for a wrestling fan ! )

Thanks again to Barry for sharing ! click on photos to see larger















Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Chris Colt vs Wildman 1982

Chris Colt was a wild wrestler in his day, both in the big city arenas and the small town rinks. He had debuted at MLG back in 1972 as Christopher Colt and as part of the Hells Angels tag alongside Ron Dupree. He returned for a stretch in 1976 and worked both at the Gardens and on the small town circuit run by Dave 'Wildman' McKigney.

He would return to 'Big Time Wrestling' in the summer of 1982 and appear each year on parts of Dave's seasonal Ontario tours right through 1987.

These pics are from a street-fight in Cornwall in August 1982 and as with most of Colt's bouts for Dave there was lots of blood spilled in a crazy bout.

Was a good season that year, also on the card and serving as 'Lumberjacks' you can see Kurt Von Hess, George 'Animal' Steele, Dom Denucci, Bobo Brazil, and Bruno Sammartino Jr. (David.). The ref is Mark Greer, Wolfman Farkus' son.






Thursday, October 5, 2017

Wayne Bock 1960


There were quite a few ex-Football players that hit it big in Pro Wrestling. Here in Toronto we had regulars Gene Kiniski, Fritz Von Erich, and Angelo Mosca, as well as others like George Wells and Ernie Ladd, and some others that didn't hang around as much.

Gil Mains and Wayne Bock were two that would wrestle while under contract to the Toronto Argonauts of the CFL. Mains in 1955 and Bock in 1960.

This time we will have a look at Wayne Bock, the then 25 year old who stood 6'4 and weighed in at a wrestling ready 257lbs. He came into the city highly touted and with a reputation that preceded him. 

Lou Agase, the Argo's coach who had previously recruited Bock for both Illinois University, the Chicago Cardinals, and now the Argos was a big fan.
'He's an animal' said Agase.'


Toronto Promoter Frank Tunney, as usual,  was quick to see the potential in another gridiron star.
'I recruited Wayne as a wrestler' said Tunney, 'because Gene Kiniski tipped me off. Kiniski said 'he's just about as tough a (deleted) as I am' and this coming from Kiniski is high praise indeed.'

Tunney offered that Bock would wrestle on the Ontario circuit until football practices start and then would give up the bumps and grinds of the ring for the bumps and grinds of the grid.

Bock had previously been under contract to the Ti-Cats back in 1955 but had suddenly left camp and joined the Marines. The then coach of the Ti-Cats had phoned his counterpart in Toronto asking if he had seen his highly touted player who 'had a great camp'.

He played football for the Marines and later signed with the Cardinals and played there briefly  before coming to Toronto.

He already had some experience in the ring having wrestled around the North/Northeast US in 1959 and  early 1960 before arriving in Toronto.

In a Jim Hunt column Bock was asked if he was a villain in the ring. 'I'm not a very nice fellow in the ring or on the football field' he replied.

Coach Agase claimed he had no problem with Bock working the grunt and groan as it would keep him in shape and he was better off wrestling than sitting around gaining weight. Bock was due to report for training on the field as of July 1.

Another pre-bout write up referred to Bock calling himself  'The Beast'
John Yachetti aka 'The Beast' who wrestled here for many years was still 2 years away from his MLG debut at that time.




His first bout was against 'Babyface' Don Jardine (the future 'The Spoiler') and made an instant impression. The recap said the Argo's fans would be happy as was fast for a guy his size and will welcome 'his ugly temper' that he demonstrated in beating Jardine after 11:46 of action.
'The fans don't usually like me very much' added Bock.

His second bout was against Tony Marino with the same result, winning with a top spread after 11 minutes. That would mark the end of his ring tenure.

The Argo's would finish the 1960 season in first place, losing in the Eastern final to the Ottawa Roughriders but Bock was absent, having never played a game in Toronto. For such a highly touted star he only shows to have stats for 4 games for the Cardinals in 1957 (though said to have played over 3 seasons with them), the extent of his pro career.

He was gone by the end of training camp but am unsure if he left or got cut.


There is quite a bit online about him having ties to the criminal underworld around Chicago, an enforcer type and worse.

Wayne Bock passed on in 2016 at the age of 82

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Barry Penhale Column WAYLI

We will feature several of these over the next few months, Barry Lloyd Penhale's fabulous columns covering Toronto, Ontario, and the Canadian scene in the early 1950's.

We have covered Mr Penhale before, there is a page on the Oshawa site at Barry Penhale Talk
as I had the good fortune to speak with him a few years back about his days as a Broadcast Pioneer and Wrestling commentator.

For several years in the WAYLI -Wrestling As You Liked It magazine- Penhale had a Canadian Column where he would share his experiences both as a commentator for the live wrestling broadcasts from the Gondola at MLG alongside Bill Hewitt, as well as his time spent in Northland working with Larry Kasaboski,

He had free access at MLG and Hamilton Forum and other arenas around the area and was frequently behind the scenes with Frank Tunney so has a unique take on the scene at the time. As you can see at the end of this column he also receives regular updates from insiders and promoters across the country.

This one is from mid 1954 capturing early 1954 and a card in Hamilton , thanks to Roger Baker
If you click on the image and 'right click' then select 'view image' you can increase the size 





































another column on Toar Morgan on this blog at
 https://mapleleafwrestling.blogspot.ca/2016/12/toar-morgan.html

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Sept 27 1980 Photo Spotlight

A Photo Spotlight in Ring Magazine. There were a few in Ring late 70's early 80's era but by this time we were hard pressed to find major coverage in the magazines of the era.

In the 'Apter' mags there were lots of photos taken at MLG and used in the generalized stories but you have to look very close in some of them as they would crop out the identifying features.

Obvious signs that would prove it was MLG such as refs Terry Yorkston, Fred Atkins, or John Laing, the huge scoreboard hanging from the roof, or the signage along the end blues with upcoming concerts, or Ice Capades - give it away.

There were quite a few stories or Spotlights on Toronto from the 60's up with some of the big bouts here getting features of their own. Dewey vs Bockwinkel in 1980, Billy Red vs Brisco 1974, the 50th Anniversary in 1981 stand out.

Our own Roger Baker contributed many during the 60's and early 70's. Definitely track those down as they feature a lot of real info as Roger would travel and cover the wrestlers and get to know them, as well as a lot of candid photos (Bulldog Brower enjoying some classical music in his apartment!)  

This one from Ring is of the Sept 27 1980 card

9/27/80 MLG
Greg Valentine W Ric Flair
Tiger Jeet Singh W/DQ Hossein Arab
Angelo Mosca N/C Bobby Duncum
Paul Jones/George Wells W Swede Hanson/Gene Lewis
The Destroyer W Don Kernodle
Frankie Laine W Ron Ritchie





Friday, September 1, 2017

'Wild Bill' Potts ! 1936 and the Amateur scene

So last entry was on Wild Bill Zim the colorful wrestler who worked around Ontario in the 1940's and '50s, this time we find none other than Wild Bill Potts. This is the only time I have seen that nickname for our future 'Whipper Watson.'

Young Bill had been wrestling around the area, starting on trainer Phil Lawson's frequent amateur meets and tournaments in Toronto and across Southern Ontario.  By 1935 Bill would start to move into the pro side of the sport. At that time there appears to be some grey area between the amateur and pro ranks. In addition to the strictly amateur contests some of the pro cards had the amateurs who would 'wrestle' but add some of the 'entertainment' aspects to the show.

We have featured Edwin 'Red' Garner on the site and here on the blog and his long running promotion around the north of Toronto. He was a standout amateur and would feature many of the amateur stars of that era on his shows, usually promoted as lightweights.

Many of the amateurs of the 1920's and 30s would go on to long careers both as wrestlers and referees. Jack Forbes, Cliff Worthy, Bert 'The Little Flower of Uxbridge' Maxwell, Al 'Krusher' Korman, Sam Gotter, Winnett (Pat Flanagan) Watson,  and Ken 'Tiger' Tasker were all notable amateurs on the Toronto scene first.

Some others that would go pro but were too light for the most part to work on the MLG cards would work on the many cards in around Toronto that featured the lightweights or pegged as middleweights. Jim Allen, Ernie Hughson, Harvey Stanfield, and Ted McKinley were some of those that were very successful in the amateur circles. McKinley is the reason I dug up this ad as i am working on a look at his career.

Which takes us back to "Wild Bill' Potts. The Wild Bill moniker went back many years and quite a few pro wrestlers used it, most notably Bill Longson, whom in 1947 (the then) Whipper Watson would beat for the NWA (Association) World Title. The fellow on the ad I assume is Ted McKinley. His grandson contacted me and we are awaiting to see if a photo of Ted can be found. Bert Maxwell, pre horticulturist days, is at that time 'Mighty' Maxwell and 'Krusher' is still just 'Al.'

The clip from Richmond Hiill is May 25 1936 and below that just a regular Bill Potts in Bowmanville Oct 18 1935. The Bowmanville is a strictly amateur show. .



































Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Wild Bill Zim !

It's always great to hear from family of wrestlers who appeared in Ontario. Recently I heard from the son of Wild Bill Zim, a very interesting and well traveled star of the 30's to 50's.

Mike Zim has done an admirable job putting together a very detailed and lengthy ring results record for his Dad who wrestled in many areas including Ontario. Wild Bill Zim (and a long list of aka's including Zimovitch, Zimm, Zimmo, and many other variations) was a very colorful character, larger than life, as many of the early pro wrestlers were.

Mike has a site up at http://www.wildbillzim.com/   if you click on the 'more' you will see the very detailed ring record created with help from Don Luce, Scott Teal, Kasper Christiansen, Jimmy Wheeler, Scott George, and others, but especially especially, J Michael Kenyon.

Self Caricature on right 

The story of Wild Bill has a strong Ontario connection. He wrestled quite a bit on Larry Kasaboski's 'Northland' circuit and also got to Maple Leaf Gardens several times

He had been scheduled at MLG in 1939 but his first appearance in Toronto would come on Dec 3 1942. Billed from Arizona, Zim was described as the latest in 'Mat Maestro Tunney's importation of oddities in pachyderms to expose on the weekly squirm cards...Zim sports a luxuriant growth of shoulder-long hair and Mr. Tunney hastens to deny that Zim is one of the Seven Sutherland Sisters incognito, He is matched with Jan Gotch.'

*The Seven Sutherland Sisters was a family "act" that toured to great acclaim showing 37 feet of long dark hair.

He faced super-villain Nanjo Singh on Dec 17 1942 and returned again to face both Jack Claybourne and Yvon Robert. His time on the Northern circuit was more plentiful, with several tours and some big bouts.


In addition to the far north spots that Kasaboski ran, they also moved into Barrie for several summers in the 1950's that resulted in a bit of a promotional war with Tunney.

The photo at right is from 1949 Sault Ste Marie Ontario, left to right Jim Barnett,  Tony Martinelli, Wild Bill, Monty Leduc/LaDue, and a 'Masked Marvel' said to be Bobby Nelson

The Northland shows were well attended and according to reports of the time, the fans enjoyed these (and Red Garner's cards) more than Tunney's cards in the area. Wild Bill appeared across the circuit including the shows in Rouyn Noranda, Quebec.

Wild Bill was also an accomplished artist and documented his life travels with interesting caricatures, portraits, and busts, both of fellow wrestlers and others he met along the way. Mike shared some great pictures and artwork, some of which was done at the Sunset Cabins resort which was owned by Herb Parks and later his brother Bill 'Dinty' Parks.


The resort is where the wrestlers would stay while up on their summer tours of the area and is the source of the naming of the 'sunset flip.' It's probable that the lure of the Ontario north was part of the attraction for U.S. based wrestlers such as Zim and others including Dory Funk Sr.

pic at right has Wild Bill holding up Marvel's mask with Larry Kasaboski

A must read on the territory is the book 'The Rassler From Renfrew' by the late Gary Howard.

Track it down, its one of the best books ever written on pro wrestling and really captures the era and the legacy of the Kasaboski's, the Parks brothers, Bill (not Bull) Curry, Frankie Hart, Wild Bill Zim, and the many regulars that traveled the Northern towns for many years.

If you can help Mike with any ring results that aren't already on his record send him a note
thanks to Mike for the use of the photos and all of the items shared with MLW ! 
 http://www.wildbillzim.com/





Thursday, July 6, 2017

Jack Corcoran portrait

A fine portrait of Toronto Wrestling & Boxing Promoter Jack Corcoran found in the City of Toronto Archives.

It is an Alexandra Studio commissioned photograph, the studio run by the legendary Turofsky brothers.

They have 194_ ?  as date. Have seen both 1892 and 1894 as date of birth so guessing mid to later part of the decade, putting him in his early to mid 50's in this pic.

I looked at his life in a longer article on the site at Jack Corcoran: The Queensbury King
Very interesting guy and evidently the inspiration business wise for his protege and successor Frank Tunney. He ran Toronto Wrestling from 1930 -1939 and boxing from about 1922. While he sold out to the Tunney brothers in 1939 he stayed somewhat active around the office for several more years and lived in the city until his death in 1965.

Always seeking info on Jack please comment or contact me if you can add to the story above.




Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Whipper collecting Masks 1961


 Whipper Watson holds many of Toronto's 'Wrestling Records' including most un-maskings.

The masked villain gimmick goes way back to the earliest history of Maple Leaf and most of the time Whipper would be the one to un-mask the heel and send him packing.

In some cases they would hang around and continue to wrestle under their 'real' name or as a combination of their masked persona such as 'The Zebra Kid George Bollas.'

The clip from 1961 shows Whipper to have already unmasked 5 men and currently working on #6 The Black Terror.

 
Lew Reynheer - Masked Marvel - Whip unmasked him 02/17 1949
Mayes McLain - Masked Manager - yes the next Marvel had a masked manager - 02/22 1951
George Bollas (says Bolos) - The Zebra /Zebra Kid - 11/29 1951
Al Lovelock - Great Bolo - unmasked by Whip on 06/04 1959

Now they also show Lou 'Shoulders' Newman who was another Masked Marvel and
was unmasked 08/30 1951 - but by the also masked Zebra, not Whipper
May be that Whip took his mask elsewhere, Hamilton, Buffalo maybe
I still have to look through hundreds of files to check but don't see Whip unmasking Lou here.

He was successful against the Black Terror unmasking him on 05/25 1961 as Laverne Baxter to make it 6 total.

Whip wasn't finished yet however.
He and partner Bulldog Brower unmasked the Masked Yankees on 07/10 1966
Dandy was Bob Stanlee while Doodle was Moose Evans.
Whip had put up his career - he would retire vs the unmasking of he and Bulldog's arch enemies. Whip and Brower also took the International Tag Titles with that win.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Sweet Daddy Siki memories with Roger Baker

The completed and long awaited Documentary on Sweet Daddy Siki recently aired on the Documentary Channel on June 11th, 2017. 
 
Siki is as deserving as anyone to be the subject of a serious doc looking at his life and a star career that spanned 5 decades.

Of special interest for us Toronto fans is that Siki was a regular here from 1962 through the late 1980's. he debuted here in 1962 and was still wrestling regularly on Dave McKigney's shows as late as 1987 and would appear right into the 1990's here and there.

The Toronto history is huge, he came in at a very pivotal time in our wrestling history. Bruno, Thesz, Buddy Rogers, that whole scene, the unrest in the NWA, the formation of the WWWF. Siki was right in the midst of that and almost from the start was in main events and feuding and teaming with all of the big names here, Whipper, Bulldog, Yukon, Valentine, Hady, and the rest of the stars here.

I was fortunate to be at some of the filming when they shot at MLG photographer Roger Baker's famed wrestling room. A high point of the day was hearing Siki, in his inimitable drawl, tell the origin story of 'Sweet Daddy.' Jet Star was also present. He was an exciting wrestler that mostly worked on McKigney shows around the region in the '80s (and still today!) and he and Roger sat with Siki in the world famous 'wrestling room', an apt spot for the three to film a portion of the doc.

I asked my favorite wrestling expert, super-fan, and major contributor to this site - Roger - for his memories of the 'Irresistible One', both as a fan and as a photographer/writer and insider.

MLWP - As a long time fan do you remember seeing Siki for the first time, what were your thoughts, and had you seen him in action before on TV or in other cities before he settled here

Roger - If I recall the first time that I saw Siki was very soon after he first appeared here in Toronto. I had never seen a black wrestler who had bleached blond hair before, and I must say that he was certainly an originator in that regard. Siki was able to immediately generate attention to his appearance as well as his persona what with his skill with a mike in hand, and his unique hair style.
 
MLWP - I know you took lots of photos of Siki in action, did you ever get to interact with him back then , show him any photos, he seems very reserved in 'real' life, was he always that way - in comparison to his ring persona

Roger - I remember so well the first time that I had a chance to interact with Siki, was with a friend at the time, we were on the QEW. driving to Hamilton to take in a wrestling show at the Hamilton Forum. We were halfway along the highway to our destination, when suddenly we spot S.D. driving right along side of us, we waved and shouted at him, and he waved back. We drove along side each other for perhaps a half mile, and we told him that our main purpose for our trip to the Forum was to see him in action, he had a big grin on his face and waved goodbye as the traffic was building behind us. 


I got to know Siki very well after our first encounter on the highway, we became very good friends I had the opportunity to spend a lot of quality time with Mr. SDS as we traveled together to a few of his mat appearances, and I had the chance to meet his charming wife on two occasions. My wife and myself had them both up to our apt. way back shortly after he arrived on the Toronto scene, the occasion was for an interview, as well as a photo shoot. 

About 8 yrs ago wrestler Jet Star and myself visited Siki at the Duke of York tavern, he has performed at this venue for years, performing karaoke Saturday afternoons and evenings for his legion of fans who enjoy to listen as well as participate with Siki. The purpose of our visit was to see S.D.S. perform, as well I had assembled a very extensive collection of photos of Siki that I had taken so many years earlier, it was a great pleasure for me to be able to leave those photos with Siki. 

Can remember an opportunity that just presented itself one Saturday afternoon back around 1964-65, I was going to cover an upcoming heavyweight fight at MLG that featured George Chuvalo in a ten round fight with then ranked Ernie 'The Octopus' Terrell. It occurred in a tavern in downtown Toronto, Terrell was doing some sparing upstairs above the tavern, there was a heavy bag, mats, and skipping ropes along with other boxing gear, when I saw this as an opportunity to get two well known boxing and wrestling greats together. I phoned Siki at home and explained who was training at this gym and can you make it over so that we could have an introduction between the two take place. Regi Siki was on the scene in about twenty minutes, and it proved to be a very enjoyable experience for all of us.
 
MLWP - You saw all of the major stars of the 1950's 1960's and beyond, where does Siki fit in when you look back at Toronto history

Roger - S.D.S. was a very unique wrestler in that even though he was at the prime of his mat career, he stood out as an original ring performer with his blond hair, magnificent capes, mike skills, and a very powerfully built body. his shoulder muscles resembled two over sized grapefruits. We both had many other pleasant interactions during the sixties, however space would not allow me to recall them all at this time. 

During his heyday back in the sixties S.D.S. wrestled all of the top wrestlers that were appearing in Toronto's MLG. He faced some very tough wrestlers, to mention a few Yukon Eric, Whipper Watson, Bulldog Brower, Lou Thesz, and Bruno Sammartino. Siki told me during our get together at the Duke Of York, that he once wrestled the mighty Lou Thesz to a ninety minute draw in Texas some time during the late fifties. Siki had it all personality, great mat skills, outstanding physique, and the ability to mix it with the best of them during his era.
 
MLWP - Any bouts that stand out for you , at MLG or in one of the smaller arenas around the area

Roger - The one bout that I saw Siki in that still remains in clear detail in my mind took place in the town of Sutton On. during the summer months. Sutton is very close to Lake Simcoe and cottage country, the scheduled wrestling card was sure to draw a large crowd, being that there were so many people in the area at this time. The main event that promoter Tommy Nelson had on top was a tag team match, it pitted wrestlers Ilio DiPaolo and John Paul Henning VS. Dick BullDog Brower and Sweet Daddy Siki. 


This match was to take place in Sutton Arena, it was a very warm night and it was an older venue without air conditioning. The match started out as expected for about two or three minutes, then all hell broke loose, Brower and Siki got into a private personal beef, I saw Siki nail Brower on the jaw with a very stiff punch, Brower went bonkers and tried to tear Siki apart, the other two wrestlers saw what was unfolding and left the ring altogether. 

Meanwhile Brower was so crazed at this point that he tried to pull down one of the arena's supporting beams to use as a weapon to use against his own partner Siki, when he could not accomplish this, he ran out to the back of the arena, he reappeared a moment later brandishing a large steel wheel barrow over head, his intent was obvious, he wanted to badly hurt and injure his own partner Siki. 

Siki was able to back peddle out of the enraged Brower's range, and Brower who was so intent on maiming Siki started to slow down, no doubt he was tiring, this was triggered by a personal beef between the two. When visiting with Siki at the tavern where he has appeared for years, I mentioned that match to him, wanting to know what was the trigger to set that type of violence up, Siki's only memory of the incident was the wheel barrow.
............
Thanks so much to Roger for sharing his great memories of Siki with us!
Pics taken at 'The Wrestling Room' in 2016 , Siki, Jet Star, and Roger Baker
Bottom pic Roger and Jet visiting Siki 

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Whippers Beverages

If you browse on e-bay from time to time you will find some old 'Whipper's Beverages' bottles, caps , and occasionally other merchandise from the short lived foray by Whipper Watson into the beverage business.

The bottles are highly collectable and can go for hundreds of dollars. They featured a pose of Whipper with his British Empire Title from the mid 1940's on the front while the back of the neck had 'The Champion of Drinks.' The reverse of the bottle featured a wrestling hold illustrated and the name of the hold below it.

I'm not sure how many different versions there were but have noted about 10 different holds pictured on the bottles I've seen. Leg Trip, Crotch Lift and Slam etc

Whipper got in to the beverage business in early 1948. It was set up through Dominion Beverages, and he went in with his brother George who worked for the RCMP at the time and for many years after. They were evidently very busy as of July 1948 as Whipper was out looking for new digs as they had too much inventory for their current location.

An item at the time also mentioned another venture with George, a cabinet making operation said to worth 20k, while the Beverages company with 3 trucks said to be worth 40k. 

They were, in the meantime, keeping their overflow at a farm, likely Whipper's spread up in Kewsick, and Whipper was talking with area storekeepers who were eager for him to make personal appearances to promote the drinks.

They didn't list ingredients back then but it's likely there was a ton of sugar in these, kind of against the healthy living that Whipper promoted throughout his life. They had Cream Soda, Root Beer, Orange, Lime, and others.

Whipper was very busy on all fronts as he was making real money by this time headlining the weekly cards in Toronto. He would also buy into a Kitchen run by his (other) brother Larry which ran out of a plant where they prepared the orders.

Whipper enlisted some friends as Distributors, fellow wrestler Billy Stack handled his home area of Bowmanville in 1950.

By 1951 it was done
Notice to creditors
Trustee under the Bulk Sales Act to recieve purchase monies from the sale of the plant and equipment of Whippers Beverages Ltd 435 Dawes Rd Toronto which have been sold to Seven-Up Ontario and Dominion Dry Ginger Ale Company for ditribution among the creditors of Whippers Beverages Limited. 


If you have any info to add please reply below or email me tks

Below are some pics, including a Turofsky pic of Whipper promoting his drinks beside Maple Leaf Gardens



















Friday, May 26, 2017

Ali vs Inoki 1976 CC at MLG

There were several closed-circuit cards shown at MLG over the years, and at various other places around Toronto. The 1976 Ali-Inoki 'War of the Worlds' is one of the only ones that involved wrestling, at least in the TV-in-every-house era.

The bout was highly promoted all over North America and Japan while Toronto fans could catch it at the Gardens.

A couple of weeks prior at MLG they had shown the Foreman -Frazier bout from Vegas.
Attendance at MLG was listed at 4,000 to see Foreman win by knockout in the fifth round,
Promoters in Toronto were All Canada Sports Promotions and Concerts West, All Canada was Irv Ungerman, long time boxing promoter.

Ungerman would also present the Ali-Inoki telecast, this time alongside Frank Tunney Sports.
Tunney held exclusive rights to hold wrestling at MLG which may have been the extent of his involvement (cut of the $) having long since removed himself from the boxing wars in Toronto.

The card set to start at 830pm would include some bouts from New York's Shea Stadium show which had Bruno vs Hansen, Scicluna vs Putski, Gonzales vs Sullivan, White Wolf and Strongbow vs The Executioners, the mixed Andre vs Chuck Wepner for 10 rounds, then the Ali-Inoki from Tokyo sched for 15. Tickets at MLG were priced from $8-15 , bit cheaper than the Foreman-Frazier which were priced at $10-20.

For comparison Tunney's regular wrestling shows at this time were $2.50- 7

Prior to the show in a Jim Proudfoot Star column, Gene Kiniski had predicted 'if it's on the level, Ali hasn't got a chance.' Kiniski,. a pretty smart guy, predicted that Inoki 'has got to go to the canvas, that's where any wrestler would go - for the legs- if Inoki stays on his feet, you'll know he's going to get himself knocked out.' Not only smart but still incredibly humble Kiniski added 'I've wrestled Inoki a few times and...he's nothing special.'

As we all know that's how the bout played out, generally viewed as a rather big disappointment after all of the hype.

The next day on the front page of the Star was a pic of Ali in full face of surprise looking down at Inoki on his back. The caption, all in caps screamed THEY GOT $!0 MILLION FOR THIS!

About 8,000 turned up at MLG to watch it. Ungerman declared it 'a disgrace and I'm embarrassed.'
MLG was one of 18 locations across the country to show it.
'Never again. We blew a tube at our Hamilton location and had to refund admissions to about 1,000 people. They were lucky' added Ungerman.

The wrestling fans weren't quite so upset, the whole card wasn't too bad and the Andre- Wepner bout laid some of the framework for the Rocky movies.

The 'real' sports world was slow to accept the combo of Boxing and 'rasslin. Writer Jim Kerhaghan in the Star added that the Andre-Wepner bout was 'highly suspect' and after Andre got Chuck in a headlock  'that those who were watching closely noticed that Andre had his hand on Wepner's head and bonked his own knuckles.'

Welcome to 'pro wrestling' Jim.









Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Wilf Jennings

Continuing our look at some of the lesser known stars in Ontario we look at Wilf 'Wolf' Jennings.

Jennings is a somewhat forgotten star of the 1950's and up. He showed up on Red Garner's local Ontario circuit around 1955 and wrestled into the early 1960's on the smaller circuits.

He was often tagged with a 'brother', variously  billed as Wilf and Al , Wilf and Don, and mostly as Wilf and Frank. Frank was Frank Griffiths, the two were called the 'Sudbury Hard Rocks' described as 'as tough a pair as have ever come to these parts.'

I don't know anything abut Frank, he was mentioned in Wilf's obituary but I can't locate any other info on him or if he wrestled beyond Garner's circuit.

The weight range on the Garner cards was from 150-250lbs. Wilf looks to have be on the lighter end of that scale but wiry and tough looking, a middleweight type, as many of Red's wrestlers were. He had some tatoo's so assume he may have been in the navy or army near the end of WW11 or later.

On the CCWA circuit the Jennings Brothers would hold the Ontario Open Tag Championship represented by the 'Labatt Trophy' when they beat the team of  the 'Hamilton Hoods' Alex Jensen and Jack Diamond in Thornhill on Jun 10 1958. An additional sum of $100 was awarded to the brothers who had wrestled - and won - in 4 consecutive cards as part of a tournament to crown the next champs.

Wilf also wrestled solo and was sometimes billed as 'Wolf' Jennings,  said to be 'the #1 enemy of the fans.' Not sure if he wrestled after mid 1960's, he doesn't show up in the results of the province.

He would stay close to Dave McKigney who was also wrestling on Garner's shows at that time as Jacques DuBois. Wilf would later show up as the regular ref on Dave's circuit in the 1970's.

He also worked as a ref for Frank Tunney and had been working as a photographer for Tunney at the time of his sudden death at the age of 50 on March 24 1976. His obit listed him as a former Toronto Star employee.

Below the clips is a photo of Wilf reffing around 1973. Photo is by Rudy Iseli who used to publish the excellent Canadian Wrestling Revue, he has many other photos of Wilf and tons of other stuff from his time as a fan and photog at his awesome Big Bear Wrestling blog - linked at right

There is a history of the CCWA on the MLW site , if you know more about Wilf or Frank please comment or contact me








































Friday, May 12, 2017

Ed White aka 'Handsome Johnny Davis'

This is excerpted from a longer piece on the old site
When I first started posting some of my collection back around 2002 I spoke with Ed White, he wrestled up here under his own name as well as around Detroit and other areas as Handsome Johnny Davis'. Note same name as Ed 'Sailor' White but different guy.

Ed/Johnny also wrestled as a masked 'Spoiler' and worked from about 1974 -1979 after learning from Lou Klein who broke many into the business including Ed's pal and sometimes tag partner Denny Alberts.

Anyways he mailed me a couple of items to use, a handwritten lineup sheet from a Wildman show and a receipt from a TV taping he had done for Tunney. Very gracious and a very nice and humble guy.

Ed worked a couple of Wildman tours in '75 and on one of those he drove Andre The Giant around in his (Ed's) Dad's car. He remembered the Wildman Dave McKigney fondly, “Great guy, paid good, made one of my biggest mistakes not going to work for him full time when he asked me, I was fed up and wanted out, if I had gone with him I may have lasted a few years longer and had some fun.”

McKigney had trouble with the boxing/wrestling commission later on but in those days seemed to have an easier time of it all and according to Davis, “I always thought of Dave as the Canadian Lou Klein. He must have had the blessings of the Tunneys or they wouldn’t have used him on the MLG shows”.

The small towns made for interesting match-ups like Davis teaming with McKigney (The Wildman) against the mammoth Haystacks Calhoun in one of those handicap matches that seemed to be on every card. On the trips through Ontario, the familiar names pop up, Chris Tolos, Dewey Robertson, Red Lyons, Sweet Daddy Siki, and local favorite heel Waldo Von Erich, “He was funny and real nice to me. Taught me a few things about the biz too.”

One of the great attractions of the circuit was Dave's Wrestling Bear. “Never wrestled it” said Davis “Got in the ring with it one time just playing before a show.”

Ontario was the home away from home for The Sheik in those days and he would appear on many cards throughout the circuit. “Scary at first,” Davis says of the feared Arab wildman, “but I got along great with him, even though his payoffs sucked.”

He also made it to MLG a couple of times, vs Mark Lewin in Sept 1975 and again vs Waldo Von Erich. “I loved going to MLG” said Davis, “wish I could have worked there more, big building, clean, great crowds, big ring and I loved the ramp”. And what about Frank Tunney? “Nice guy, used to pick up his Export A butts for him at the border” adds Davis.

A TV Taping for the Tunneys' at the Hamilton Studios would also be part of the tour, and Davis would pick up a cool 50 bucks for an afternoon of taking bumps. As a mid carder Davis would see his share of losses, and when asked about his biggest win, replied, “Win? Not many of them so I should remember, but I don’t”.

Some of those losses would come from heroes like Bobo Brazil,” worked with him a lot and every one was a dream,” while one would come from legendary tough guy and long time Toronto stalwart Johnny Valentine. “ He beat the hell out of me,” remembers Davis, “Wasn’t long after this that he had his plane crash so I never worked with him again."

"He came back to do some booking for Sheik from a wheelchair. I got to know him a little during that time. Got along good and he got a good laugh when I reminded him about the ass kicking he gave me. I wasn’t the only rookie to get this from him.”

Below are the items, he mentioned that 50$ payout (well 42$ after tax) was every penny earned the hard way ! If you look around on youtube there is a clip of Ed on Match Game from 1978, he won 6800$. Host Gene Rayburn in his most annoying style asked Ed about wrestling. One question was ' is it was real?', Ed responded by saying "as real as this show." touche !






Monday, May 8, 2017

Tiger Tasker

Kenneth 'Tiger' Tasker was a long time Maple Leaf presence both as a wrestler and then a referee.
as well as one of the inner circle that stayed around Tunney for many years.

We have looked at 'Tiger' before in doing some of the longer pieces on the site but there isn't much about him in the recorded history of the area.

Of course he was one of the troupe along with Whipper Watson and Tommy Nelson that famously went to England in 1936. While in the U.K he wrestled Whipper in a movie starring George Fornby, likely 1937's boxing themed Keep Fit.

Not sure exactly when he had acquired the 'Tiger' name. Along with many others of the era UK travel mate Tommy Nelson also used 'Tiger' as in 'Tiger Tommy', while Tasker was billed as both as 'Tiger' and as 'Alaskan Tasker' on those tours.

As far as the origin of the name I asked MLW photog and super-fan Roger Baker for his memory of Tasker.

"I saw Tiger wrestling a number of times at the MLG back in the mid fifties. He wrestled as a heel, with a mug like he had there was no other choice. He would work the 2nd or 3rd match on the card, and Tiger the rascal that he, was would lose to no one's surprise. Tasker got the handle of ''Tiger'' as a result of his habit of raking his finger nails on his opponents back and shoulders, the only other wrestler that appeared in the Gardens that did that nasty maneuver was ''Leering Lee Henning''

There's not much to find on his pre-pro wrestling days. An item in 1933 has a 'Private Tasker' taking part in the wrestling portion of a mit-mat (boxing and wrestling) show at the University Ave Armories, it was more than likely the then 20-21 year old Ken Tasker.

As far as that first U.K trip, supposedly he and Whipper and pals were spotted by a promoter at the amateur shows being held at Consols Stadium in the summers of 1935 and 1936 but only Potts (Watson) is mentioned out of the group in reports of those shows.

He wasn't a full time guy in the early days and may have had a day job. He had wrestled in Ontario but only returned to wrestle in Toronto around 1948 and would appear sporadically until becoming more of a regular in the 1950's. He would wrestle right up to 1960 before going full time as one of the regular MLG refs.

He was the third man in the ring for the historic Lou Thesz- Buddy Rogers title bout in 1963 and was involved in many of the big bouts right up to the mid 1970's

Roger Baker reflects on Tiger as a referee

"Tasker was the number one referee during the sixties, and early seventies . he was very capable to handle the toughest bouts, as a result he would officiate almost all of the main events, the wrestlers respected him, he was allways even handed in the ring."

In 1975 there was note about a thoroughbred horse 'named Tiger Tasker for the well-known wrestling referee' collecting it's first victory in a Detroit race. Not sure if he was involved but many of the Toronto wrestling fraternity were heavy into the horse racing game so there may have been a connection past the name.

In 1977 there was a small mention of him in a story about a jockey at Woodbine winning the lotto.
Tasker was mentioned as working security at the track in Toronto.

The last bouts he seemed to appear in were the end of the Sheik era and the onset of the AWA partnership in late 1977-1978

Roger relates a couple of personal notes regarding Tasker

"I can remember an occasion when my wife and myself were invited to a very pleasant get together at the late Dave Mckigney's house many years back, Tiger was there with his wife, as were three or four other wrestlers, Tiger at the time was also handling some of the officiating for The Bearmans  wresting shows.

Tiger had the look of an older ex fighter, he was built close to the ground, like a fire plug, he sported a smashed nose, facial scares, and two tin ears.


I last saw Tasker and his wife back around 1991, I was out doing some grocery shopping at a supermarket in Scarborough. I happened to look up and there was Tasker with his wife. I shouted out 'Tiger!' not having seen him for perhaps twenty years and we had a wonderful chat. At this point in his life he was far removed from being a wrestling referee , but he remembered me from all the times that I shot pictures of him at MLG, as well as some of the many other towns that we both had a purpose to be at."


Tasker told me that he still kept in touch with the Toronto wrestling office via his long relationship with Jack Tunney, by now the WWF had taken over Toronto, "

Kenneth A Tasker passed away on in September 30 1991 at the Providence Villa in Scarborough. It was just over a year after old pal Whipper had died.

As always thanks to Roger Baker ! and if you can add to the story of Tiger Tasker please comment or contact me

Pic below believe is circa late 1930's
below that is a another of Roger's incredible photos from 1964 featuring Tiger between WWWF champ Bruno and our own Waldo Von Erich. What a pic ! ! !