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

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Lord Layton, Tiger Jeet & Fred Atkins 1967-68

Will be working on a longer length piece on Athol Layton for the main site. Unless you were a fan in the 1950's you would likely know Layton as a TV commentator, both here and in Detroit and Cleveland.  He was still wrestling into the mid 1970's but not as a full time star and past his prime as a star here decades prior.

When he fist hit Toronto he was quite a presence, tall and strong - and hated! - and he would go on to become one of the biggest stars of the '50's and later one of Tunney's inner circle alongside former stars Whipper, Flanagan, and Fred Atkins.

Here is a great Roger Baker shot of Layton interviewing Atkins and his young charge Tiger Jeet Singh circa 1967-68 for our TV show out of Hamilton.

Fred trained Tiger Jeet and teamed with him quite a bit before he went on to become the long time ref at MLG. Layton left in the mid 70's and went on to work for Bacardi here but still maintained ties with Tunney and wrestling.

Roger told me he gave a copy of this photo to Tiger Jeet some years ago and that he was very moved by the photo in remembering his mentor Atkins. Roger was seated above the ring for this shot as the interviews were taking place out of view of the studio audience. Thank you Roger !

Watch the main site for the Layton feature, we looked at Fred Atkins previously at
 Fred Atkins : Ferocious Fred

click on photo to enlarge

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Apr 25 1982 NWA & AWA Titles

One of the big cards of the M-A era featuring both the NWA and AWA Titles on the line.

This was the the only time both titles were defended on the same card. Back in 1979 it was scheduled (NWA Harley Race vs Ricky Steamboat, AWA Bockwinkel vs Dino Bravo) but Race didn't make it in.

The AWA and WWWF title had shared the card several times in the late '70s and it was always a big night when any of the major feds Champs came in.

It made for a must see card with over 11,000 in attendance and it wouldn't disappoint.

Ric Flair would return to defend his NWA title against former
Champ goes alone
champ Race in the third of their six bouts here. As always with these two it was a tough battle with action in and around the ring and on the ramp.

Flair was still a huge fan favourite here with the crowd solidly behind every strut and whoooo!

The champ would be covered in blood as usual and both grapplers would be disqualified after about 20 minutes for ignoring the ref (a young Bill Alphonso).

The fight went on until Johnny Weaver and Ron Ritchie came out to hold Flair back from chasing Race down the ramp.

There are photos from that bout on the main site at MLWP : Ric Flair vs Harley Race 1982

AWA champ Bockwinkel (sans Heenan) would keep Mosca down on the canvas at the start with his vast array of holds. Once Mosca got mobile he would gain the advantage using his usual brawling style and batter the AWA Title holder from turnbuckle to turnbuckle.

Just when it looked like Mosca may be adding to his title belt collection Mosca's arch enemy John Studd charged the ring and interfered on behalf of Bockwinkel and the two battered Mosca before Mosca turned the tables and chased them from the ring..

The ref would award the match to Mosca but no title.
Thats 2!
They would book a return the following card
with Bockwinkel and Studd facing Mosca and Jake Roberts.

In another good bout Jay Youngblood beat The Ninja in an Indian Strap match, Youngblood dragging Ninja to all 4 corners and earning a spot of revenge for a 'green misting' in a previous bout.

The fans called out 1, 2, 3, ........took a while to get the 4th but Youngblood finally hit that 4th turnbuckle and the Gardens erupted/
Norm hated that boom-box!

Don Kernodle and Ivan Koloff beat Jimmy Valiant and Porkchop Cash while Studd beat Ron Richie, Johnny Weaver pinned Pvt Nelson, and ....

Tony Parisi and Ray Stevens went to an excellent scientific draw in one of the best openers ever. Stevens had recently turned good guy and he and Parisi showed all of their years of experience with holds after counter holds. The bout ended in a draw and the fans loudly cheered the two veterans. Great way to open a big card!

Click on photos to enlarge

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Frank Ayerst

Frank Ayerst is an interesting name from Toronto's wrestling history. He was the epitome of the writer types that Tunney kept close to the office and eventually went to work for Tunney as his publicist.

Ayerst had been the secretary for MLG's Marlboro's Athletic Organization when it was formed in 1937 and worked closely with Maple Leafs owner Conn Smythe. For a couple of years at the onset of the 1940's he had also worked at MLG tracking goals and assists during Leafs games.

Through the '40's in his role as a sports writer for the Star, he would report the occasional wrestling results before joining the office in 1947. At the turn of the 1950's he would variously be referred to as Tunneys 'poll-taker', and the 'voice of Wrestling HQ' and would stay with Frank for 17 years.

After long time ring announcer Bill Smith passed on in 1950 Ayerst would take over from 1950-1955. Later in the decade his weekly columns with bits about the  upcoming cards (mostly for the purpose of advertising the card) including snippets from the wrestlers and other info were a regular entry on the sports pages.

He would also contribute to the wrestling programs. In the early to mid 1960's programs one of the pages was 'Grappling Gossip' written by Frank but sometimes credited to 'Matt Wise'. Would include 'real' info about the wrestlers and tidbits such as their hobbies or interests, family life, or recent trips and bouts elsewhere.

I asked MLG Photog and writer Roger Baker for his recollections of Frank

"Yes I do remember Frank Ayerst from a period if correct in the early 1960's, saw him in the back of Tunney's office occasionally when I would be picking up my own working pass."

"About all that I can remember of him was his immaculate personal grooming, all ways wore a dark well made suit of clothes, he looked very sharp in the ring when he was announcing the matches, and the columns that he wrote for the Toronto news papers were well done, and often left readers with interesting pieces of information on the wrestler's that he did his column on."

He looks to have left the office around 1964 and later worked for the Provincial Department of Tourism.

He passed away in Dec 1984. If you can add info on Frank please comment or contact me

Couple of original columns from the scrapbooks 1956, and below 1959. click to enlarge
Thanks to Roger Baker