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 ! ! !

Sunday, April 30, 2017

May 7 1967 Dewey debuts at MLG

May 7 2017 will mark the 50th Anniversary of Dewey Robertson's MLG debut.
He had trained in Hamilton but was touted as latest protege of Whipper Watson's due to become the next big star in Toronto.

That first bout at the Gardens saw him teamed with Sweet Daddy Siki to defeat Fred Atkins and The Beast (Yachetti). A week later he flew solo against Dutch Momberg in the opener earning a draw.

He lingered in the openers or near the middle of the cards until his first high profile bout in 1970. He was matched against The Sheik on the under-card of a Dory Funk Jr vs Gene Kiniski NWA Title bout but the stardom predicted didn't pan out as predicted by Watson a few years prior.

He would find a niche as a tag team wrestler in the early 1970's teamed with a variety of opponents before donning a mask as The Crusader. He would get a main event vs The Sheik in 1974 to be unmasked as Dewey and after a re-match as Crusader Dewey Robertson he would team with veteran Billy Red Lyons. They would go on to form The Crusaders both masked and unmasked for the next few years.

His Canadian Title run in 1979-1980 would bring him back to the top in Toronto and he would prove to be both popular and successful with great bouts against AWA champ Nick Bockwinkel, NWA champ Harley Race, and the regular contenders for our title including Greg Valentine, Hossein The Arab/Iron Sheik, and Jimmy Snuka.

His last MLG bout was in Aug 1981 teamed with Tony Parisi against Chris Markoff and Nikolai Volkoff, and a bout in Hamilton in September vs Lord Alfred Hayes was it for Dewey here during the NWA days

Of course he went on to a second career as The Missing Link. In fact on his Wikipedia page it lists him as ...
"The Missing Link (Wrestler)....Byron James John "Dewey" Robertson (February 28, 1939 - August 16, 2007) was a professional wrestler, known best by his ring name The Missing Link."

Not for this fan , he will always will be Dewey Robertson Canadian Champ!

I compiled a career record for Dewey some years back and presented it to him , he signed a copy of it for me and it remains one of my favorite pieces in the collection.

It's also coming up on 10 years since Dewey passed on. RIP champ.

67/05/07 MLG
NWA TITLE: Gene Kiniski WCOR Mighty Igor
BRITISH EMPIRE TITLE: Whipper Billy Watson W Johnny Rougeau
Sweet Daddy Siki/Dewey Robertson W Fred Atkins/The Beast (2-1)
Seaman Art Thomas D Hans Schmidt
Mohan Singh D Ivan Kalmikoff

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Bob Gregory and The Princess come to Toronto 1938

In Jan 1938 wrestler Bob Gregory arrived at New York with his new bride Valerie Brooke the former Princess Baba, said to  heading for their 'Hollywood honeymoon' with a plan to launch a film career for Gregory.

The whole story has similarities to the 'wrestling world' even if Gregory had not been a wrestler.

Gregory, an English light-heavyweight had married the daughter of Sir Charles Vyner Brooke, the white Rajah of Sarawak- of Borneo. The trip also marked the introduction of Gregory to his brides mother the Rani of Sarawak who claimed to be pleased of the nuptials although Gregory's manager said that it took 2 hours to persuade her to meet her new son-in-law.

Although her mother had previously expressed displeasure she now denied any problem on her part by proclaiming 'There was no opposition on my part, or my husbands to this marriage. Bob is so good looking he looks more like a boxer than one of these gorilla wrestlers. He should have taken up boxing.' 

The year previous when they had been married the Star covered it and quoted the princess's father as saying they wouldn't like him 'even if he was a good wrestler.'

Upon departure in New York, when the bride was asked about the then 26 year old Gregorys' wrestling career continuing, she replied with a quick 'No.'

On Feb 14 they arrived in Montreal via Boston and Gregory would wrestle Les Ryan in the semi-final of a card which had a main of Danno O'Mahoney vs Yvon Robert. Mrs Gregory was to present the championship belt to the winner (Robert) of the big bout.

Their next stop was Toronto for the Feb 17 MLG card with the main to be champ Robert vs Vic Christie with Gregory as special referee for the bout. Robert, who was the World Champ (Montreal) would win the bout and be awarded (again) a new championship belt by the young Mrs Gregory. This title became a Toronto World Title for a short time.

The day after the Toronto bout in the Star, Gregory wrote up his own take of the bout calling it the 'fastest bout I've ever seen.' The bout which had no time limit actually went 1 hr 15 min before Robert used a rolling short-arm scissor to force Christie to submit. 

Joe Perlove wrote the long form results recap and said Robert was presented with a $7,500 belt by the beautiful Princess. Perlove, in his usual manner said he was rather disappointed with Gregory. Not for his refereeing, but with all the stories of his athletic prowess he fully expected Gregory to separate the wrestlers by 'flinging them into the blue seats using only the thumb and index finger of each hand.'

Apart from all of this Gregory had another tie to the Toronto mat scene. He had appeared in a few movies in the UK and one of those the1937 film 'The Rat' also had one of Gregory's wrestling traveling partners. Our own Whipper Watson, who was doubling for star Anton Walbrook. Watson, of course was wrestling in the UK at the time where he would meet and marry his wife Eileen and bring her back to Canada with him. Our own 'Prince and Princess.'

Gregory would continue to wrestle a bit around the U.S at least up to about 1946 but would never set foot again in a Canadian ring as far as I can see. His pal Whipper would continue to ply his trade in the UK set to return to Toronto rings in 1940.Gregory had also teamed in England with Northland Wrestling stalwart Herb Parks.

They would continue to appear in the local press with one photo of the two lounging at at a California pool said to be planning to buy an island for Gregory to become Rajah. 'What with?' asked the mother of the princess. 

In July 1938 an item had the brides father formally declaring his three daughters were no longer Princesses. Another daughter married a Jazz musician. No wrestler but still...

If you google Gregory and his princess there are some very informative (and entertaining) articles on the two and her family.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Ontario Place shows 1972

In 1972 Frank Tunney ran a series of shows at the Ontario Place Forum between May and October.
There were 7 shows set for Thursday evenings over the course of the summer with the last coming a few days before Ontario Place was to close for the year.

Three of the first set in May and June filled out the 3,000 seat Forum with another 1,000 or so on the grass slopes surrounding the structure. The first show of the second set, held on Sept 6 drew 1,200 due to rain being forecast. It did rain keeping the spectators that did show up under the roof and off the grass.

Other shows were held Sept 14, 28, and Oct 5. Tunney was said to get expenses from Ontario Place, his bonus being the calling of attention to his Sunday night spectaculars at MLG.

Sept 6 results
Lord Layton defeated Joe 'Killer' Christie
The Love Brothers beat Nick DeCarlo & Tarzan Zorra
Tony Parisi over NIkita Kalmikoff
Lee Henning drew The Beast
Jeannie Baxter drew with Vivienne Lynn

I saw quite a few concerts at the old Forum starting about 1977 but never caught a wrestling show there. Thought they held more shows over the years but have yet to locate any.

The 1972 ones are the only ones I have found as of yet. The Forum opened in May 1971 but unsure if they held wrestling that first season..

Jun 29 below, below that is  May 25 both versions, the others are just small ads, no listings

Friday, April 7, 2017

Paul DeMarco

Paul DeMarco had a long and successful career though much of it was away from his hometown of Hamilton. He did spend some time in the Toronto mat wars from 1964-1966 and again in 1970 and 1973.

According to the story, as a child growing up in Hamilton he was stricken with Polio. Long hours of therapy, swimming, and other sports brought him back to health.  He is quoted as saying he went to his first card at the Hamilton Forum and there was a bad guy wrestling as 'The Little Flower Of Italy' and it made him so mad he tried to intervene and got ejected. It turned him off Pro Wrestling but he went on to compete as an amateur for 3 years.

(The Little Flower of Italy would have been Benito Gardini who wrestled in the early 1950's. In the Toronto area we had our own 'Little Flower', the 'Little Flower of Uxbridge' Bert Maxwell. The not so little Maxwell got his name as he was a horticulturist, as MLW expert Roger Baker once told me.)

Later DeMarco was at a gym and observed several pro guys in the ring wrestling and challenged them to a 'real match.' He said one fellow obliged him and beat him up so bad he could hardly move for 3 days and he earned a respect for the professionals. That guy turned out to be Ron Logue who broke him into the pro game.

In a Slam! Wrestling story on Logue, he had this to say about DeMarco

"He was a natural. He had the gift of gab and the girls loved him. He was a real smooth character," Logue said of the future star.

When Paul's chance came to go to Detroit, he didn't have any wrestling boots, so he borrowed Ron's; "I never did get the boots back, because you know what the bugger did? He put his initials on the boots, white leather on top of black leather. P.D.," laughed Logue.

Read the rest of that article on Logue at Slam! - Ron Logue

I recently received a note regarding a short lived gimmick that Demarco took part in.
Back in 1966 as part of an ad campaign for the Workers Compensation Board (now WSIB) DeMarco, as 'Hatman' the 'Construction Safety Symbol', had a bout against Tiger Jeet Singh.

'Hatman' won the bout and a re-match was scheduled for the next weeks card but Demarco didn't appear. He didn't return to Toronto for four years in fact.

The character was created by Vickers and Benson agency, if anyone has any other info or photos of DeMarco as Hatman please drop me a line.

Roger Baker, former MLW photographer, and our never-ending source of wrestling knowledge, took some candid photos of Demarco in 1965 (pics below) for a mag story looking at  DeMarco's life and beginnings as a wrestler and gets the last word.

'He was working for Tunney back then and was a baby face, very good wrestler, and he kept himself in top shape by training at The Y.M.C.A. in Hamilton. He excelled in a lot of sports, and would hit the weight's, as well he played handball, and could jog on a gym track for miles.'

below Roger Baker's pics .. Hatman vs Singh May 15 1966, .rematch against Singh in Oshawa 1973, Demarco especially suffered the typical pro wrestling skewering of his name on many ads and writeups!

Big Hans Schmidt getting the better of DeMarco

Thanks as always to Roger Baker
and also to Ryan O'Connor for the info on Hatman -

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Canadian Wrestling Newspaper 1972-1973

I have two editions of this professional well put together newspaper type pub,

It was published out of Thornhill and had photos and reports from both Tunney and Wildman shows and one report from the CHIN picnic show summer 1973. They had a bit of advertising including the high profile Molson Breweries so had some connections.

I don't recognize any of the names, one of the stories is by 'Eddie Haskell' so  thought maybe Rudy of the CWR had something to do with it as the photos and content are similar to what they were covering but he said he didn't so ...

Unsure how many issues they put out but the Fall 73 issue has an ad for the first issue. That's the other one I have Fall 72 so may just be the two. If you you have any others or any info please drop me a line.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Verne Gagne in Ontario

Verne Gagne didn't wrestle much in Toronto but holds a place in our wrestling history both locally and across Ontario.

In his prime he was one of the most respected of the 'real' wrestlers, held in high regard alongside peer Lou Thesz. While Thesz came to Toronto regularly Verne made considerably less appearances at MLG.

Verne had appeared up in Fort William Ontario (later Thunder Bay) as well as in Ottawa  through 1958 but first came to MLG in October 1958 to face Karl Kulaski and returned 2 cards later to face Al Alberto.

In a write up a week prior to his first appearance it had him set to meet Gene Kiniski which would have been a big bout had it happened.

In the results recap for the second bout vs Alberto Verne was described as 'Balding Verne Gagne.' Ouch. It also said he had the whole hearted approval of the multitude (of fans) before making Alberto submit to his claw hold (arm scissors type finisher).

His next appearance in Toronto would be almost 20 years later in November 1977.

In the meantime he had started the AWA and stayed mostly around Minnesota although they (AWA) did make a few stops in Kenora and Thunder Bay in Northern Ontario due to the proximity to AWA territory.

Frank Tunney stopped using The Sheik in summer 1977 and switched to using the top tier guys of the AWA to fill out the cards here. Verne returned to Toronto on the second card to feature the AWA stars to face El Santos (local masked heel, likely MacTavish or Yorkston).

He would appear four more times through 1978 when Tunney switched to the Mid-Atlantic stars.

For a time Verne tried promoting in Ottawa in 1980 using Dino Bravo on top not long after Dino had been Tunney's top man here. They didn't draw very well but must have made enough of an impression that Tunney returned to Ottawa not long after.

pic below clip has Verne on the MLG ramp after being attacked by Super Destroyer  in Aug 1978 with son Greg and Jim Brunzell coming to his rescue.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Wrestling Schools

A few ads of the local wrestling 'schools' from the 70's.

Whipper Jr was the most active , he also ran shows around Ontario, if you search the blog there are some items. He had a few trainees that were active, Mario Ferriera from our era and later Bloody Bill Skullion 2 of the more notable. Pic below the ad is Jr' in the ring demonstrating some moves.

Dewey Robertson also had a 'school' in Burlington. Tim Gerrard described wrestling on a mat on the ground, no ring, and learning 'how to sell.' Tim trained along with Rick Bolton, Big John Orlick, and others.

Back in the early days of MLW in the 1950's they kept the ring in the MLG basement and Whipper Sr, Fred Atkins , Pat Flanagan, and others would teach the new guys the ropes.  Atkins of course was a notable teacher and fitness trainer back in the day.

If you have an ad for Dewey's 'school' please send it over !

this one isn't local but was Johnny Powers

this one is from 1956, just up the street from MLG , not sure who 'Mr Ontario' was

Friday, March 3, 2017

Titles in Toronto 1922 - 1984

Pro Wrestling is a game of titles, most every wrestler in the classic era held a title of some sort somewhere sometime. Below is a list of Title's that were defended in Toronto

Many wrestlers used old or fictitious title claims for billing purposes. Fred Atkins in his early days here was Australian champ, Carlos Rocha was the Portuguese champ, Emile Dupree billed as Maritimes champ and many, many more. For the purpose of this list I just listed those titles that were defended and officially recognized.

First batch is Toronto's own , second the rest , I included Dave McKigney's North American Title and Tag Titles as they were a presence in and around Toronto for many years.

If I missed any let me know

Canadian Title : 1922-1941
World Title (Toronto) : 1938-1939
British Empire Title (Toronto) : 1941-1967
U.S. Title (Toronto) : 1962-1973
Canadian Open Tag Team Titles (Toronto) : 1952-1961
International Tag Titles (Toronto) : 1961-1977
North American Title (Toronto) 1973
U.S. Title (Toronto) : 1974-1977
Canadian Heavyweight Title (Toronto) : 1978-1984
Canadian TV Title (Toronto) : 1982-1984
North American Title (Toronto) : 1982-1984

World Title : 1929- 1947
NWA (Alliance) World Title : 1949-1984
WWWF/WWF Title : 1964-1982
NWA Junior Heavyweight Ttitle : 1972
North American Title (Big Bear) : 1974-1983
AWA (Minn. Gagne) World Title : 1977-1982
AWA Tag Titles : 1977-1979
U.S. Title (Mid Atlantic) : 1978-1983
Womens World Title :1971-1983
British Empire Heavyweight Title (AWA) : 1978
NWA Tag Titles : 1979-1983
NWA/MID ATLANTIC TV Title : 1979-1983
International Tag Titles (Japan Tour) : 1980
Mid Atlantic Heavyweight Title : 1981-1983
Mid Atlantic Tag Titles :1981-1982
North American Tag Titles (Big Bear) 1983
Intercontinental Title (WWF) : 1983

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

1939 Tournament

With attendance waning and troubles from all sides promoter Jack Corcoran put on a series of Tournaments  in early 1939 to try to kick-start things in Toronto.

This was the first Tournament on Jan 19 with 'Jumping' Joe Savoldi the eventual winner in front of 5,000 (another report had 5,500+).

The following week saw another one with Vic Christie winning in front of 6,000.

Yet another one on Feb 9 saw Savoldi win again in front of 4,500, this time he won $1,000 and a shot at World champ Jim Londos on Feb 16, then a re-match a week later.

Despite his efforts, attendance stayed around those numbers and a few short months later Corcoran would pass the reins to John and younger brother Frank: The Tunneys

For more on Jack Corcoran see MLWP: Jack Corcoran - The Queensbury King