Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Dino Bravo 'Suspended' 1979

It's often hard to distinguish what was real and what wasn't back in the day. Even 'official' announcements were mostly just pro wrestling fun, most of them anyways , but not always.

So its summer 1979, Dino Bravo is at the height of his popularity here, proving to be a great Canadian champ and holding it most of the time since it was created for him in late 1978.

He was warring with the likes of Greg Valentine, Ric Flair, and even AWA champ Nick Bockwinkel  as well as defending the title down south as we looked at in a previous blog. He was teaming occasionally with WWF champ Bob Backlund, and the fans were solidly behind him.

Suddenly he disappeared. He was scheduled to face Ken Patera on Aug 19 but never showed. Tunney saved the day by getting Backlund to come in on short notice to offer his title up to Patera instead. The fans were disappointed but not that much. Tunney however may have felt differently. Frank or nephew Jack, by this point likely running the day to day of the office.

It was announced that Bravo had suffered an injury and thus was unable to appear. A couple of weeks later a tidbit said the injury would sideline him for a year and they would need to hold a tournament to decide a new champ.

Dewey Robertson ended up beating Valentine in the tourny final to become the new champ and the show marched on.

Fast forward to April 1980. The AWA was coming into Ottawa Ontario to try a show. Ottawa, once a hotbed of wrestling action had been neglected by both Tunney (who had ran it years before) and the Quebec based promotions who frequented the area in the 1970's.
The AWA is very confused !

Bravo, now wrestling regularly for the AWA and embroiled in a big feud with big Crusher Blackwell was scheduled to be the headline bout for the AWA debut in Ottawa on Apr 13.

A promo on the AWA tv show we got here actually had Gene Okerlund interviewing Blackwell in front of a sign that said 'Maple Leaf Gardens'. Oops. actually Ottawa Civic Auditorium.

Funny thing is Tunney DID have an Apr 13 show at MLG. Wonder what happened there? The AWA card was actually set for Apr 30.

At any rate Bravo appeared in Ottawa to face Blackwell and was told he could not wrestle due to a suspension in Ontario. Blackwell faced Johnny War Eagle instead.

The 'official story' as it was reported in a newspaper was that 'Bravo had originally been suspended by Ontario Athletic Commission Chairman Jim Vipond for being an 'immature and irresponsible person' after no showing for Tunney'.

Vipond was the real deal, he was the guy who made a lot of trouble for Dave 'Wildman' McKigney here and the ruling would appear to have been official.

Was it? appears so

A quote by Tunney in the same article said that he 'had no concerns if he's (Bravo) allowed to wrestle in Ontario again, but he'll never wrestle for me again.' Of course Bravo would return for Tunney in 1982.

The ban was lifted and Bravo showed up in Ottawa for the next card to wrestle Blackwell. The bit at right says about 7,000 expected. They would draw about 5-7'000 over the series of shows spaced out over several months.

That would be it for the AWA in Ottawa....however Tunney must have been keeping a close eye and in 1981 while Mosca was champ he went back in for several shows through 81-82 that did about the same numbers.

At that time Tunney had gone back to a circuit and was running Kingston the day before so Ottawa wasn't a big stretch as compared to the AWA coming in from Minneapolis, or at least Winnipeg.

Bravo returned to Toronto in Jan 1982 to face Frankie Laine and got a huge round of applause from the fans. He returned for the Cadillac Tourny a couple months later and that was it for him during the NWA era.


Monday, December 4, 2017

Most Popular '77-'84

Previously on the MLW Site , reposted here 

Most Popular '77-'84

There is little doubt in a fan poll that the most popular wrestler in Toronto between 1977 - 1984 would be Ric Flair

In polls on the MLWP site he won in categories including Favorite Move- Figure Four.....Best Feud-vs Piper.......Pick A Dream Match Flair- vs Bockwinkel

If we were to look at some stats to support this, would Flair still come out on top?
who's next? who is in third?

One indication of popularity is getting on the cover of the Toronto Program for each card

Most times on the Program cover
Out of 66 (available) covers 1977-1984 -includes shared covers

Ric Flair - 14
Angelo Mosca - 7
Roddy Piper - 7
Jimmy Valiant - 6
Jay Youngblood - 4
Jimmy Snuka - 4
Sgt Slaughter - 3
Greg Valentine - 3
Andre The Giant - 3
Ricky Steamboat - 3
Harley Race - 3
Hossein The Arab - 2
Blackjack Mulligan - 2
Sir Oliver Humperdink - 2
Austin Idol - 2
Bob Backlund - 2
Ivan Koloff - 2
1 Time each
Kimala...Dick Slater...Buzz Sawyer...
Mike Rotundo...Jos Leduc...Kabuki...
One Man Gang...Don KernodleAngelo Mosca Jr...Ron Bass...John Studd...
Dusty Rhodes...Wahoo McDaniel...Buddy Rose...Leroy Brown...Ray Stevens

If we were to look at Main Events during this same time frame, the champs of the day would all rank high but Flair cedes top spot to the Canadian Champ through some of the years - Angelo Mosca

Main Events at MLG

Angelo Mosca - 32
Ric Flair - 21
Bob Backlund - 19
Greg Valentine - 14
Harley Race - 12
Ricky Steamboat - 11
Jimmy Snuka - 10
Roddy Piper - 10
John Studd - 10
Hossein The Arab - 7
Nick Bockwinkel - 6
Sgt Slaughter - 6
Ray Stevens -5
Ivan Koloff - 4
Jay Youngblood - 4
Andre The Giant - 4
Blackjack Mulligan - 3

Scientifically speaking for main events you would have to consider factors such as Mosca being a local guy while Flair was defending his NWA belt around the world for many of these years, or that Backlund & Race would rank high as they came in as World Champs and be at the top of the cards but.... if we were to just add those 2 tallies together

to decide the Most Popular - or successful of the 1977-1984 era.....

Total - Program Covers & Main Events

Angelo Mosca - 39

Ric Flair - 35
Bob Backlund - 21
Greg Valentine - 17
Roddy Piper - 17
Harley Race - 15
Jimmy Snuka - 14
Sgt Slaughter - 9
Hossein The Arab - 9
Andre The Giant - 7

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Siki Doc thoughts


A while back we spoke with MLG photographer Roger Baker about the then upcoming documentary on Sweet Daddy Siki. The doc was shown in Canada on the Doc Channel some months back.
MLW Blog - Roger talks Siki

I enjoyed it, It was well done overall. There were relatively few factual errors and was better researched than most anything else I have ever seen on Pro Wrestling, which usually gets the gloss over approach.

It was interesting to hear Siki tell his own story, of his life beyond pro wrestling and the battles he faced. In that context it made for a very enlightening piece, quite emotional coming from his own voice.

At one point Siki tells of being underpaid by Frank Tunney in relation to other stars.
That's that first time I ever heard or read that about Tunney who has long had a reputation of being one of the more honest and well paying promoters.

From numbers I have seen he paid his main event stars huge money for the day, at least back in the 50's and 60's.

Siki was a star in the 60's but also worked a lot here in the 1970's. In the 60's while he had a short time on top he was more like a level B star, occasional mains but mostly in the top 3-4 bouts of the 6-7 bout cards. In the 1970's he was lower on the cards as he got older and worked back to enhancement type level.

It wasn't clear what era he was referring to, or who he was comparing to, guys like Brower, Whip, Tiger Jeet, Sheik etc would have all been above him on pay scale while others like Jim Hady, Ilio DiPaulo, Billy Red etc would have been closer in stature.

I'm not sure if Tunney paid as to the level of the bout on the card as other promoters did, from what I have seen he split a portion of the gate with the main eventers and then semi was just below. The others on the card may have been graded as they often did in other promotions.

At any rate an interesting comment, would be good to have that expanded to further our knowledge of the inner workings of the promotion.

Another cool moment for me was when they showed a photo of Oshawa promoter Pat Milosh presenting Siki with a tournament trophy after Siki had won Oshawa's 2nd annual Wrestling Tournament in August 1966

Photo is at right, excuse quality I took a photo of the tv , if anyone has this photo please send me !

Whats interesting is that after Siki had won his 3rd bout of the evening -first Mr X(?) then The Beast (Yachetti)- against Hans Schmidt to claim the tourny win, the evil Schmidt promptly smashed the trophy in the middle of the ring as Siki was being presented by Milosh.

They did that a lot in those days, both the Calvert and George Richards trophys were destroyed at MLG, and it happened all over the wrestling world. Good for the trophy shops, not so good for the sponsors or winners.

The photo though looks like it was taken backstage, How did they know Siki was going to win (lol)

If you get the chance to see the doc you won't be disappointed. In the showing I saw the background music was mixed too loud, hopefully they fix that for future airings, still a very good look at a decent guy who overcame a lot to become one of the most recognised names and faces in the history of pro wrestling, here and elsewhere.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Travels with the Canadian Title

From 1978 to 1984 we had the Toronto based 'Canadian Heavyweight Title' to be defended at MLG and around the area. The title was introduced after the departure of The Sheik and his 'U.S. Title' that had been the main championship here since 1974. Prior to that we had the other U.S. Title held by Johnny Valentine, Tiger Jeet Singh and others. That one ran from 1962 to 1972.

Yes a 'US Title was the number one spot in Toronto CANADA for all those years, that's pro wrestling.

To be fair we also had a British Empire championship (Canada was once part of the British Empire) that
was the big one in the 1940's and 1950's. Whipper Watson mostly held that one and continued to be billed as champ until about 1967 although it kind of fizzled out long before that.

Enter the Canadian Title in Oct 1978. Technically pro wrestling wise it traced its lineage back to 1922 and the days of George Walker and later Jack Taylor. We will look at Walker and Taylor in a future blog entry. Earl McCready also held it in the 1930's and again in 1941, if anyone was a 'real Canadian champ' it was him.

Our eras Canadian title would go back and forth between the faces (longer runs) and the heels (shorter runs) and would even travel a bit when in the hands of Dewey Robertson, Dino Bravo, and Angelo Mosca.

The first champ Dino Bravo would appear down in the Carolinas and Virginia where the Mid-Atlantic stars plied their trade and would end up appearing more there - than here.

MLG was only run about twice a month at that time and the local circuit had yet to come back to a fuller schedule so Bravo appeared in the South about 60 times compared to about 10 times here.

He wasn't always defending the title down South but did appear with the belt both on TV and in the arenas as well as a handful of title defences against the likes of Toronto enemy's Greg Valentine and Ric Flair. Bravo would remain a good guy in both areas while holding the title.

Dewey Robertson would also take the belt to the Carolinas where he would wrestle as a 'kinda bad guy', same style but more agressive and at times affiliated with Buddy Rogers who was back in the game first as a wrestler then as a manager.

Dewey would appear with the belt and also defend it in the South all the while staying the epitome of a good guy Canadian up here. He would appear in the South over 40 times while champ compared to 11 times here.

Angelo Mosca would put the most mileage on the Canadian Title during his reigns. While champ he would travel throughout the WWF territory from Hamburg TV Tapings through Philadelphia, Boston,  New York City, and the other stops on the Northeast circuit.

Mosca was still a vicious heel in WWF (he had turned here in the late 70's) challenging champ Bob Backlund, attacking Pat Patterson with a water pitcher (great angle!), and steamrolling over every other good guy in the area, all while being cheered here.

Tunney had also gone back to a fairly busy circuit around Toronto and Mosca was working the arenas around MLG on a regular schedule as well.

He didn't defend the title in WWF but did show up with it occasionally, By the time of his last reign he was now frequenting Florida, again as a heel and he would defend the belt in the Sunshine State.

He also would team in Florida with his Toronto arch-enemy John Studd to the surprise of many fans here (once the photos hit the Apter mags). All in all Mosca would appear well over 100 times elsewhere with about 35 appearances here while champ

see also
MLWP - The Canadian Title Belt

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Billy Stack vs Fred Atkins Oshawa 1950


Action shot from the Oshawa Arena summer 1950. These two had a couple of bouts while Atkins was the newest and toughest heel and Stack was the local hero.

Atkins, fresh from Australia was tearing up the Toronto scene, already putting fear in the hearts of wrestlers across the region. Stack, an affable type who ran a farm here in the Oshawa area was a tall fast scientific type,who could get down and brawl if he had to.

Atkins was a workhorse in Oshawa appearing in over 100 bouts with 45 main events between 1949 and 1968, second only to Pat Flanagan. Stack had close to the same run appearing from at least 1946* to 1963. *lot of microfilm missing from 1940s

Of course both men went on to be long time referees at Maple Leaf Gardens and around the area. Stack first through the 1950's and 60's and Atkins in the 1970's and early 1980's.

We have looked at both on the main site as well as the Oshawa site, links below
click on photo to enlarge


















MLWP Fred Atkins - Ferocious Fred

Oshawa Wrestling History - lots on Billy Stack


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