Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Ivan Mickailoff: "The man who made wrestling in Toronto": Gary Will's TWH

Frank Tunney is remembered -- and rightly so -- as Toronto's greatest wrestling promoter, but the man who established Toronto as a wrestling city and paved the way for Tunney has been largely forgotten.

There was a lot of skepticism when Ivan Mickailoff announced in 1929 that he would be running weekly shows at Arena Gardens. While top-name pro wrestlers had made occasional stops in Toronto -- and there was even an effort made to stage the Gotch-Hackenschmidt rematch in the city (more about that another time), no one had ever run regularly-scheduled shows with top wrestling stars. "Wrestling has never been a popular sport in the Queen City," wrote the Globe (see separate story on the first show for the clipping).

Mickailoff -- called "Mike" in Toronto -- was a former wrestler who claimed to have been born in Siberia and spoke English with a thick accent. Many of the biographical details I've come across are suspect. He was said to have been an Olympic champion in 1908, which is false. He was also said to have worked as some kind of secret agent in WWI and to have served in the Russian Imperial Guard for nearly four years, attaining the rank of colonel. He was a tall man who ejoyed cigars and reportedly liked playing card games, particularly pinochle and hearts.

His name occasionally comes up in match results from the 1910s. For example, he opened the 1915 wrestling season in Montreal losing to John (Giovanni) Perelli on November 5 ("there was little excitement," said a report in the Toronto Star). Just over a year later, on November 27, 1916, Mickailoff lost in straight falls to Dr. B.F. Roller in Springfield, Mass.

I don't have any details for the years before he launched his Toronto shows -- he later claimed to have promoted wrestling in Miami -- but somewhere along the line he hooked up with Boston promoter Paul Bowser, who was one of the dominant forces behind pro wrestling at the time. He apparently also had some ties initially to Toots Mondt, who wrestled on four of Mickailoff's first five shows. Mondt would later be allied with Mickailoff's opposition in Toronto and would even own a piece of Jack Corcoran's office.

After a slow start, Mickailoff's shows grew from attracting hundreds to drawing thousands, leading to an appearance in October of Bowser's world champion, Gus Sonnenberg.

"Taking loss after loss without a murmur, he built the game up within a short space of time." -- GLOBE, October 31, 1929
"By staging bouts that were highly satisfactory, matchmaker Michailoff gained a large following for wrestling here." -- GLOBE, January 17, 1930

"When Ivan Mickailoff commenced promoting wrestling shows in Toronto the attendance figures were around the 200 mark. He has built the game to the stage where it is now numbered among Toronto's major sports." -- GLOBE, May 30, 1930

"He came to Toronto a year ago last spring, and astounded an amazed public when he announced that he would stage wrestling shows at Arena Gardens. Old-timers smiled. They had seen this venture tried before, and didn't think that Mickailoff would make headway. It did require considerable time to convince Toronto that here was a sport worth while supporting, and there were lean days, but Mickailoff and his associates shouldered their losses, and refused to be dismayed. The money eventually began to roll in, and now others would emulate Mickailoff." -- GLOBE, October 20, 1930

Mickailoff was soon popular enough to be used as a spokesman for Buckingham Cigarettes from Philip Morris & Co. Ltd. (see ad at right). The ad used a photo of what was said to be Mickailoff in his Russian Guard uniform.

After having the city to himself for a year-and-a-half, Mickailoff faced his first competiton when Jack Corcoran and his Queensbury Athletic Club were granted a wrestling license in 1930. They held their first show in November and it was a colossal flop, but Corcoran quickly learned the tricks of the trade and rebounded strongly. After about a year, Corcoran had taken over as the top promoter in town, and that position was cemented when he arranged to be the matchmaker for shows at the new Maple Leaf Gardens, which opened in November 1931.

After competing head-to-head with Corcoran for two years, Mickailoff was put out of business by the Ontario Athletic Commission, which decided not to renew his wrestling promoters license when it lapsed at the end of October 1932. Commission secretary James Fitzgerald told the Star that the decision was made "for the good of the sport." Instead, it granted a license to the Shamrock Athletic Club, which had previously promoted boxing.

Mickailoff immediately made plans to relocate to Winnipeg and booked what was billed as his farewell show for October 26, 1932. It was to feature Bowser's world champion, Henri Deglane defending his title against Bibber McCoy, another of Bowser's boys. The show drew 9,000 fans, but neither of the wrestlers booked in the main event appeared that night.

Deglane claimed that Bowser never told him that the show was on a Wednesday and not Thursday as was the custom in Toronto. McCoy was sent on his way to Toronto at a time that guaranteed that he wouldn't be able to make it for the official weigh-in, and he ended up not getting to town until the show had already started.

There was speculation at the time that Bowser -- for whatever reason -- had deliberately sabotaged Mickailoff's final show.

Mickailoff followed through on his plans to go west and in 1933 promoted shows in Winnipeg, Calgary, Regina, and probably other towns. He wasn't very successful. Mickailoff was said to have lived in the Ivan Apartments on River Ave. in Winnipeg where he shared his apartment with wrestlers who would drive in for shows.

Mickailoff was again turned down for a licence by the Ontario Athletic Commission in 1933, but the following year he reappeared in Toronto as the matchmaker for the Metropolitan Racing Association -- the horse racing people -- which decided that its federal charter enabled it to run wrestling shows without a license from the province (a long story, and one that had significant repercussions, that will have to wait for another time).

The MRA quickly found out that pro wrestling was a dirty business. Unable to book the wrestlers they wanted, they made their first show a free event at the Exhibition Coliseum on December 13, 1934. It drew a reported 10,000 people (see ad at right -- featuring a photo of Mickailoff), but it was the only show they ran. The president of the MRA later said that he learned through this experience not to mess around in other people's areas of business.

Mickailoff did make a comeback in 1935 as the matchmaker for the Arena Athletic Club -- one of three groups awarded a license that year, and the only one that didn't operate out of Maple Leaf Gardens. They ran their first show at the Mutual Street Arena on November 22 with names that were well below the standards being delivered at the Gardens.

It was pretty slow going for Mickailoff until May when he booked the Toronto debut of world title claimant Ali Baba, which drew an impressive 5,000 fans. A similar crowd came to see Baba's next match in June, and Mickailoff was suddenly outdrawing Corcoran's Gardens shows. A main event in October between Baba and new world champion Everett Marshall drew 5,100 to the Mutual Street Arena. It was right around that time that Mickailoff learned that his license was again being threatened.

According to figures provided by Corcoran, the gate receipts from pro wrestling through the 1935-36 season were almost half of that from the previous year: $75,374 vs $144,585. The number of shows declined from 42 to 29 (there were actually more than that, but these are the numbers he provided). He blamed that outcome on the existence of three wrestling promoters in the city.

The OAC decided to renew all three licenses in 1936, but Corcoran threatened to appeal the decision to Ontario premier Mitch Hepburn. Hepburn said he had no interest in hearing an appeal, and Corcoran dropped his complaint. Mickailoff told the Star that the wrestling interests controlled in the U.S. were putting on the pressure to try to force him out of business.

He remembered the times years earlier when he had helped Corcoran. "I telephoned Boston for permission to let the men work for Corcoran. Now he doesn't want me to have a license."

The 1936-37 season got off to a very slow start, and in December, Mickailoff and Corcoran both only attracted 1,300 fans for their shows.

Corcoran bounced back to become the clear winner in the promotional battles in 1937, but Mickailoff would occasionally draw some stong gates himself, including a reported 8,000 who turned up to see the Masked Marvel take on Strangler Wagner in March 1938, with 6,500 returning to see Marvel wrestle Lou Plummer in April and 6,000 on hand for Marvel against Ed Don George on May 12 (see ad at right).

But that would turn out to be Mickailoff's last show in Toronto. He received a license to operate in 1938, but decided not to run any more shows and asked for the return of his $5,000 license fee from the OAC.

"I'm sorry to see Mike go," said Corcoran to the Globe. "I like competition. While he and I had our differences some years ago I have found him quite ready to cooperate during the past two years."

He was reported to be moving to Florida, but almost ten years later, there was a report in the Globe that Mickailoff was promoting shows in Providence, Rhode Island.

-by Gary Will

The Panther vs the Lion: A Hand-Drawn Ad, 1933: Gary Will's TWH

This is the only fully hand-drawn ad that was ever used for a wrestling show in Toronto and looks completely unlike anything used before or after. Jack Corcoran's show at Maple Leaf Gardens on January 26, 1933 featured the Utica Panther and the Balkan Lion and the artist put the feline references to full effect.

Bulldog Cox would later be better known as King Kong Cox. Dick Shikat was a no-show and was replaced by Frank Speers.

Joe Malcewicz W Dan Koloff (2-1)                 31:51
Sammy Stein W Gentleman Jack Washburn    19:06
Frank Speers WDec Herb Freeman                 30:00
Ted Bulldog Cox W George Hagen                 19:38
Earl McCready W Mike Romano                    15:10
Jack Riley W Cy Williams                               11:26

-by Gary Will

Two Leafs wrestle, rival promoters combine for charity: 1932: Gary Will's TWH

A charity show in 1932 saw two teammates oppose each other and two rivals work together.

There were two big-time wrestling promoters in Toronto in 1932. There was Ivan Mickailoff, who brought weekly shows to Toronto in 1929 and promoted shows at Arena Gardens, and Jack Corcoran, who booked cards at Maple Leaf Gardens.

The two promoters came together to benefit the 50,000 Club Unemployment Relief Fund. Each promoter provided two matches -- one preliminary and one featured event -- to a combined show at Maple Leaf Gardens.

Mickailoff's main bout was between Count George Zarynoff and Pat McGill, who had both worked main events for him in the past. Corcoran's featured presentation saw Ray Steele take on Joe Cox, with a strong preliminary featuring Gino Garibaldi and John Katan -- past and future main-eventers, respectively.

Rounding out the card was a match between two notable members of the Toronto Maple Leafs: team captain Clarence "Happy" Day and penalty leader Reginald "Red" Horner -- both future hall-of-famers. It was the only time in Toronto history that members of the Leafs got involved in a wrestling show. When the match was announced, Montreal Maroons defenceman Lionel Conacher -- Canada's greatest all-round athlete -- offered to take on both Day and Horner simultaneously (two weeks later, Conacher made his pro wrestling debut with Mickailoff).

The show, held on Monday April 25, 1932, drew only 4,500 -- about half of what had been hoped (each promoter drew bigger crowds for his next show).

Apparently, Day and Horner were pro wrestling fans and were able to mimic moves popularized by real grapplers. About the match, the Globe reported that "It was expected that this would be a farcical bout, but the athletes crossed the guessers and made it an honest-to-goodness struggle, with nearly all the modern tactics on display."

William Hewitt at the Star (father of broadcasting legend Foster Hewitt) wrote, "This act was a knockout and the fans got a great kick out of it. ... The hockey players showed the fans a lot of new holds and contortions and displayed surprising speed and agility on the mat."

After the match, Leafs owner Conn Smythe said he'd never let his players risk injury like that again.

Ray Steele W Joe Cox                                    24:05
Count George Zarynoff W Pat McGill      26:50
Hap Day D Red Horner                                  10:00
Tony Catalana W Ali Hassan                         12:39
Gino Garibaldi W John Katan                        17:13

-by Gary Will

The First Weekly Show: May 4, 1929 :Gary Will's TWH

Professional wrestling existed in Toronto long before 1929. Frank Gotch, George Hackenschmidt, William Muldoon, Stanislaus Zbyszko, Yousouf the Terrible Turk, and B.F. Roller were among the big-name wrestlers who had previously appeared in the city. Local talent included Bob Harrison and Artie Edmunds.

But it wasn't until 1929 that a promoter was successful in bringing top-ranked professional wrestlers to town on a regular basis. The promoter was Ivan Mickailoff, a former wrestler (his name was spelled many ways, but he used this spelling in his own ads).

Others had tried before Mickailoff and failed. Toronto wasn't known as a wrestling town -- "wrestling has never been a popular sport in the Queen City," said the Globe -- and there was skepticism when he announced his plans to run weekly shows at the Arena Gardens on Mutual Street, home of the Toronto Maple Leafs. But Mickailoff made it work and started Toronto on the path to becoming one of the world's dominant pro wrestling cities.

He ran his first show in front of a small crowd of 500 on Saturday May 4, 1929.

Headlining the show was Canadian champion Jack Taylor, who would wrestle on most of Mickailoff's shows until suffering what was reported to be a broken leg in a match in August.

Also appearing on the first show were former world title claimant Wladek Zbyszko -- the less-heralded younger brother of Stanislaus Zbyszko -- and Henri Deglane, who would claim the world title himself in another couple of years. Taylor, Zbyszko, and Deglane all won their bouts.

Lou Marsh of the Star -- who occasionally worked as a referee for wrestling matches -- found the show to be entertaining, but made sure his readers knew that these bouts were not legitimate contests.

After four shows, the Globe reported that Mickailoff was drawing bigger crowds every week and at the end of the month, it said wrestling was becoming increasingly popular in Toronto.

-by Gary Will

Artie Edmunds -- The Pocket Hercules: Gary Will's TWH

Artie Edmunds was one of the first stars of Toronto wrestling. He was often billed as the Canadian featherweight champion over a career that spanned at least from 1901-1919 and probably longer.

In 1901, Edmunds became the national amateur champion at 115 pounds by winning a tournament sanctioned by the Canadian Amateur Athletic Union (CAAU), held in Toronto at the Mutual Street Arena. The referee for the final was Bob Harrison, who was probably Toronto's most famous wrestler of the 19th century.

Not only did Edmunds repeat at the 1902 tournament in Ottawa, he also made it to the final in the boxing championship before losing. Edmunds would become a professional in both wrestling and boxing, and would be billed as the Canadian featherweight champion in both sports.

 Edmunds regularly wrestled at the Star Theatre in Toronto, a notorious burlesque house that would often book one wrestler for a week to take on all comers. St. Andrew's Hall, the Labor Temple, and the Riverdale Roller Rink were some other Toronto venues that hosted wrestling cards with Edmunds in the main event.

Because of his light weight, Edmunds frequently wrestled in handicap matches where his heavier opponent would have to defeat him two or more times within a set time period. If the opponent was unable to do so, it would be considered a victory for Edmunds.

In 1904, Edmunds was running a boxing and wrestling school on Queen Street West three days a week. Later that year, the Star printed an enthusiastic review of Edmunds's vaudeville act, described as "a combination of physical culture and bag punching."

 A month later, Edmunds was booked to face Major -- a 200-pound wrestling pony. "He may not know anything about strangle holds and full Nelsons, but he has a knack of landing on his feet like a cat," said the Star of Major. "Edmunds is risking a lot in the bout, for the pony has already killed a man." A film was supposed to be made of the match. The pony's owner pulled out at the last minute, and instead Edmunds fought a full-sized thoroughbred, who by all accounts was having his way with Edmunds when the police stepped in to stop the bout following a complaint of animal cruelty.

Before the year ended, Edmunds travelled to New York and spent much of 1905 and 1906 boxing there. By this point he was competing at 125 pounds . The Star said he was "much in demand" at the boxing clubs in New York. He was booked to wrestle Young Roeber -- billed as New York's featherweight champion -- in March 1906. He boxed Jack Britton, who would go on to become world welterweight champion, in New York in February 1908.

 Edmunds returned to Toronto and helped spark what the Star described as a "wave of interest in wrestling sweeping over Ontario." He announced his retirement at the end of 1908, but it didn't last long. He lost a match in March 1909 to Kid Batten at the Star Theatre, but won the rematch a few weeks later. He was also working as a referee at this time, overseeing the match between Yankee Rogers and Hassan Abdullah at the Star.

In 1910, Edmunds went an a tour of Australia and was thinking about going to England and France.

The following year, he worked as the referee for the two highest-profile matches that had ever been held in Toronto to that point: George Hackenschmidt vs Dr. B.F. Roller and Frank Gotch vs Giovanni (John) Perelli.

Edmunds and his younger brothers Fred and Jack -- who were also wrestlers and boxers, although not as successful -- were all reported to have enlisted to fight in WWI late in 1914. Art was discharged from the army because he had lost an eye while boxing in New York. Fred was injured at Vimy Ridge as was said to have had two fingers shot off.

Edmunds continued to be billed as Canadian featherweight champion, and after he lost in straight falls in 1919 against Jack Forbes -- later a prominent referee in Toronto -- Edmunds insisted his title wasn't at stake.

Along with being a wrestler and boxer, Edmunds was also known in the bodybuilding world, such as it was in those days.

Edmunds's wrestling and boxing career had already ended when he was run over by a streetcar at the intersection of Keele and Dundas in 1922. Both of his legs were crushed and one of his feet was nearly amputated.

An Eaton's ad in 1923 said that Edmunds would be at the main Toronto store for six hours to answer questions on gymnasium equipment. Later in the year, he placed an ad of his own in the Star for his services as a health, strength, and "physical perfection" consultant.

 In 1928, Edmunds tried to get a boxing license but was turned down by the Ontario Athletic Commission because of his age. He was reportedly 46 at the time, although there are some inconsistencies in his reported age and he may have shaved a couple of years off at some point. At the time, the Globe called him "one of the greatest small athletes ever developed in this country."

He was working as an instructor at a camp in Bowmanville in 1935 -- and known as Prof. Arthur Edmunds -- when he drowned off Symons Beach.

-by Gary Will

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Fabulous Kangaroos Wall Poster

A great wall poster featuring the Fabulous Kangaroo's Al Costello and Roy Heffernanan demonstrating wrestling holds. They first appeared in Toronto in 1957 and had a good run through 1958 with a feud against the Kalmikoff's Ivan and Karol. On the Jan 30 1958 card the pair would serve as special referee's for a NWA Title bout between champ Dick Hutton and challenger Whipper Watson.

Costello would return in 1967 with new partner Roy St. Clair and again in 1969 with Ray Kent, later aka Don Kent. Costello and Kent would be seen here quite a bit thought 1972 before Costello retired. Kent stayed around first as Kangaroo Kent and then became Bulldog Don Kent up to the late 1970's and showed up on George Cannon and Dave McKigney cards into the early 1980's

Sunday, October 7, 2018

The Fabulous Kangaroos ! : Classic Photo

We kick off Fabulous Kangaroos! week with a fantastic Roger Baker photo of Al Costello and Roy St Clair with Jack Tunney in 1967 and a note from Roger about the Kangaroo's. Enjoy!

''Often imitated never duplicated'' this was the claim that Fabulous Kangaroo spokesman  Al Costello would make over and over, during the many years that the globally famous team  would thrill wrestling fans.

This wrestling reporter met The Kangaroos in the late sixties, when they appeared in Toronto's Maple Leaf Gardens, At this time the team consisted of the veteran Al Costello, and his most recent partner Roy St. Clair.

I mentioned that the magazines would be looking for coverage of the return of the team, and that I would be pleased to do a featured story and photo layout regarding their reappearance to the ring as a featured team.

Al Costello very graciously got permission for me to have the run of ''Cobo Hall'' as they would be wrestling Detroit, at The Hall the following Saturday night. They won their match, and afterwards they took me to a Lebanese restaurant that served wonderful food, Wrestler Waldo Von Eric also had dinner with us, as he had also wrestled earlier that evening. 

Several weeks later I met up with The Kangaroos in Buffalo's War Memorial Auditorium. Al Costello greeted me and explained that he had a new partner now, his name was Bulldog Don Kent, and he told me that Kent was a very skillful, and a tough competitor.
Taking it out on Chief White Owl

As well I was very anxious to meet Argentina Rocca, he was appearing at the Aud at the beginning of a wrestling comeback. Al told me to wait a few minutes, he was going to speak to Rocca about my wanting to photograph as well as speak with him. The end result was a win win for me. I got back to updating the newest Kangaroo team and as well managed to get a wonderful photo layout of the one and only Antonio Argentino Rocca.

Would like to relate one other restaurant experience. This was in Toronto on downtown Yonge St. a ten minute walk uptown from MLG a few months earlier. Wrestler Tony Marino took me to a walk up restaurant, he told me that he had eaten there many times before, and that the food was excellent. Tony and myself had a very nice meal at this spot, and he told me that he always ate there when he wrestled in Toronto.

After their match at The Gardens, The Kangaroos, the team was still Roy St. Clair and Al Costello invited me to dinner at a landmark restaurant also on Yonge St. I suggested the one that Marino and I had dinner at recently, both wrestlers agreed. It was a fair walk to this eatery, the owner was closing up so I urged him to prepare us a meal. He told us every thing was shut off and the food was cold, I said we don't want to go anywhere else and the resultant food was terrible. I felt terrible having let these two tired and hungry wrestlers down.

I apologized over and over, Al Costello looked at me and smiled, in his exact words he replied, 'nothing to be concerned about matey, it's just one meal out of thousands.'

Andrew, above is a short piece on the Kangaroos, just want to mention that Al Costello was the nicest man that ever befriended me in all the time that I covered the sport.


Thursday, October 4, 2018

The Sheik's unbeaten streak: 1969-1974: Gary Will's TWH

When the Sheik returned to Toronto in 1969 after a four-year absence, he quickly established himself as a main event performer (after one undercard appearance) and began a hot period for Toronto wrestling of a kind it had never seen before and wouldn't see again until the rise of Hulkamania. 

Sheik didn't lose a match in Toronto from 1969 to 1974. He lost a tag match in March 1974, but the real end of his undefeated streak came at the hands of Andre the Giant on August 11, 1974.

By my count, Sheik's record through his streak going into that match was 100-0-27. That's 127 singles matches without a loss. That includes 14 matches against Lord Athol Layton and 10 against Bobo Brazil.

69/02/09         WBill Palmer1-0-0
69/02/23WCNC         Mighty Igor2-0-0
69/03/16WBulldog Brower3-0-0
69/03/30WMighty Igor [2]4-0-0
69/04/13WDQWhipper Billy Watson5-0-0
69/05/18WDQWhipper Billy Watson [2]6-0-0
69/06/01WMighty Igor [3]7-0-0
69/06/29WGene Kiniski8-0-0
69/07/13WDQBruno Sammartino9-0-0
69/07/27WDQGene Kiniski [2]10-0-0
69/08/10WDominic Denucci11-0-0
69/08/24WLou Thesz12-0-0
69/09/07WLou Thesz [2]13-0-0
69/09/21WEdouard Carpentier14-0-0
69/10/05WCORDominic Denucci [2]15-0-0
69/10/19WDQBulldog Brower [2]16-0-0
69/11/02WCNCLord Athol Layton17-0-0
69/11/17WBulldog Brower [3]18-0-0
69/11/30WGiant Saka (Seiji Sakaguchi)19-0-0
69/12/14WBobo Brazil20-0-0
69/12/28WBobo Brazil [2]21-0-0
70/01/18WDQDewey Robertson22-0-0
70/02/08DDQLord Athol Layton [2]22-0-1
70/02/22WLord Athol Layton [3]23-0-1
70/03/08WCORWhipper Billy Watson [3]24-0-1
70/04/05WCORFlying Fred Curry25-0-1
70/04/12WDQWild Bull Curry 26-0-1
70/04/26WDQHaystack Calhoun27-0-1
70/05/10WHaystack Calhoun [2]28-0-1
70/05/24WFlying Fred Curry [2]29-0-1
70/06/14DDQLord Athol Layton [4]29-0-2
70/06/21WCORLord Athol Layton [5]30-0-2
70/07/12WHaystack Calhoun [3]31-0-2
70/07/26WDQBobo Brazil [3]32-0-2
70/08/16WCORBobo Brazil [4]33-0-2
70/08/30WMighty Igor [4]34-0-2
70/09/13WMighty Igor [5]35-0-2
70/09/20WDQFlying Fred Curry [3]36-0-2
70/10/04WCORBobo Brazil [5]37-0-2
70/10/18WDQWhipper Billy Watson [4]38-0-2
70/11/01WDQWhipper Billy Watson [5]39-0-2
70/11/15WCORWhipper Billy Watson [6]40-0-2
70/12/06DCORLord Athol Layton [6]40-0-3
70/12/13WHaystack Calhoun [4]41-0-3
70/12/27WLord Athol Layton [7]42-0-3
71/01/10DCORTex McKenzie42-0-4
71/01/17WTex McKenzie [2]43-0-4
71/02/21WDQTiger Jeet Singh44-0-4
71/03/14DNCTiger Jeet Singh [2]44-0-5
71/03/21WTiger Jeet Singh [3]45-0-5
71/04/04WHaystack Calhoun [5]46-0-5
71/04/18WDQTex McKenzie [3]47-0-5
71/05/02DDQLord Athol Layton [8]47-0-6
71/05/09WLord Athol Layton [9]48-0-6
71/06/06DCORDory Funk Jr.48-0-7
71/06/20WAngelo Mosca49-0-7
71/07/11WMasked Assassin (Guy Mitchell)50-0-7
71/07/25WDQBobo Brazil [6]51-0-7
71/08/15WCORBobo Brazil [7]52-0-7
71/08/29DDQBig John Quinn52-0-8
71/09/05WBig John Quinn [2]53-0-8
71/09/12WDQMighty Igor [6]54-0-8
71/09/26DCORTiger Jeet Singh [4]54-0-9
71/10/17DCORTiger Jeet Singh [5]54-0-10
71/10/31WTiger Jeet Singh [6]55-0-10
71/11/14WDQLuis Martinez56-0-10
71/11/28WLuis Martinez [2]57-0-10
71/12/12WLuis Martinez [3]58-0-10
71/12/26DCORLord Athol Layton [10]58-0-11
72/01/02WLord Athol Layton [11]59-0-11
72/01/09WBulldog Brower [3]60-0-11
72/02/06DCORCarlos Rocha60-0-12
72/02/20WCarlos Rocha [2]61-0-12
72/03/05WDQCarlos Rocha [3]62-0-12
72/03/19WCORPampero Firpo63-0-12
72/04/02WCORPampero Firpo [2]64-0-12
72/04/16DCORCarlos Rocha [4]64-0-13
72/04/30WCarlos Rocha [5]65-0-13
72/05/14WPampero Firpo [3]66-0-13
72/06/11DDQLord Athol Layton [12]66-0-14
72/06/25WLord Athol Layton [13]67-0-14
72/07/09WBen Justice68-0-14
72/07/23WCORThe Beast69-0-14
72/08/13WDQTony Parisi70-0-14
72/08/27WMagnificent Zulu71-0-14
72/09/10WDQTony Parisi [2]72-0-14
72/10/01WDQMagnificent Zulu [2]73-0-14
72/10/15WMagnificent Zulu [3]74-0-14
72/10/29WDQSweet Daddy Siki75-0-14
72/11/19DDQPampero Firpo [4]75-0-15
72/12/03WPampero Firpo [5]76-0-15
72/12/17DDQJohnny Valentine76-0-16
72/12/28DDQTiger Jeet Singh [7]76-0-17
73/01/14DCORTiger Jeet Singh [8]76-0-18
73/02/04WTiger Jeet Singh [9]77-0-18
73/02/11WCNCTony Marino78-0-18
73/03/04DDQChief Jay Strongbow78-0-19
73/03/18DDQChief Jay Strongbow [2]78-0-20
73/04/01WCNCChief Jay Strongbow [3]79-0-20
73/04/08WLord Athol Layton [14]80-0-20
73/04/29WChief Jay Strongbow [4]81-0-20
73/05/13DBobo Brazil [8]81-0-21
73/05/27DDQBobo Brazil [9]81-0-22
73/06/10WBobo Brazil [10]82-0-22
73/06/24WEric the Animal83-0-22
73/07/08WCORPampero Firpo [6]84-0-22
73/07/22WDQJohnny Valentine [2]85-0-22
73/08/12DCORJohnny Powers85-0-23
73/09/23WTony Marino [2]86-0-23
73/10/14WJohnny Powers [2]87-0-23
73/10/28WJohnny Powers [3]88-0-23
73/11/11WDQBearcat Wright 89-0-23
73/11/25DCORDominic Denucci [3]89-0-24
73/12/02WDominic Denucci [4]90-0-24
73/12/16WBilly Red Lyons91-0-24
73/12/30DCORAndre the Giant91-0-25
74/02/10DDQAndre the Giant [2]91-0-26
74/02/17WAndre the Giant [3]92-0-26
74/03/03WDQChief Jay Strongbow [5]93-0-26
74/03/31WCORChief Jay Strongbow [6]94-0-26
74/04/07WCORThe Crusader (Dewey Robertson) [2]      95-0-26
74/04/21WCrusader Robertson [3]96-0-26
74/05/12WDQEdouard Carpentier [2]97-0-26
74/05/26WCOREdouard Carpentier [3]98-0-26
74/06/09DDQErnie Ladd98-0-27
74/06/23WErnie Ladd [2]99-0-27
74/07/21WEdouard Carpentier [4]100-0-27
74/08/11LDQAndre the Giant [4]100-1-27

-by Gary Will

Monday, October 1, 2018

More articles from Gary Will's TWH added

Take time over the next few days to catch up on more from Gary Will's Toronto Wrestling History all posted in full below. We will continue to post 3-4-5 at a time to catch up.

All of the articles, results, and title histories will be found within a few weeks on the main page at
Gary Will's Toronto Wrestling History     which is tabbed above on the menu bar. Enjoy !

If you missed it we also had a look at Whipper vs Togo in Oshawa 1953

Coming up we will do a 'Fabulous Kangaroos Week!' with some great photos from Roger Baker and some cool Kangaroos nostalgia.

Al "Bunny" Dunlop: wrestler, referee, promoter: Gary Will's TWH

  Al "Bunny" Dunlop was a fixture on the Toronto wrestling scene for 40 years, working as a wrestler and referee. And, for a few months in 1947, Dunlop promoted his own shows under the banner of the Atlas Athletic Club.

The first appearance I've found for Dunlop as a pro wrestler in Toronto is a 1932 match organized by Jack Corcoran at Oakwood Stadium (near Oakwood and St. Clair) as part of a YMCA fundraiser. Fifteen years later, Oakwood Stadium would become an important venue for Dunlop.

He wouldn't make it to Maple Leaf Gardens until 1934, losing to Bert Rubi in the first match on the first card presented by Maple Leaf Gardens (not the first show at MLG, but the first one that was promoted by Maple Leaf Gardens itself and not by Corcoran).

Dunlop was invariably described as fat but strong. In a 1943 profile, it was said that he had been a weightlifter before becoming a wrestler. During the day, he was a truck driver for the York Township parks department -- a job he held for many years.

 He was strictly a prelim wrestler for Corcoran, and then for Frank Tunney, until 1942 when Dunlop wrestled Whipper Billy Watson in two semi-final bouts and was featured in Toronto's first ever team match -- partnered with John Katan to take on Watson and Earl McCready.

Dunlop was also in a high profile match against Joe Kayorie (who would go on to be better known as Joe "Killer" Christie), who made his Maple Leaf Gardens debut billed as a boxer with an open challenge to all wrestlers. Dunlop accepted the challenge and defeated Kayorie in under four minutes. Along with Watson and McCready, wrestlers who defeated Dunlop in Toronto included Frank Sexton and Danno O'Mahony. Dunlop and Pat Flanagan, who would also go on to become a referee, wrestled each other many times on the undercard at the Gardens.

In 1943, Dunlop got his first singles main event in Toronto, wrestling Watson (see ad at right). For the most part, however, he was still wrestling in prelims. His final regular appearance as a wrestler at Maple Leaf Gardens was in 1946.

The following year, Dunlop became a promoter, in partnership with long-time friend Dave Johnston, identified as an ex-garage operator. Dunlop and Johnston created the Atlas Athletic Club and ran shows under that banner at Oakwood Stadium.

Dunlop was originally told by Ontario Athletic Commissioner Syl Apps -- the Leaf hall-of-famer -- that he couldn't have a wrestling license, but when he argued that Oakwood Stadium was just outside the boundary of the city of Toronto in York Township, Apps relented.

The Atlas Athletic Club ran shows through the summer of 1947, featuring Kayorie, Joe Maich, Frank Hewitt, Sandor Kovacs, Bill Stack, and Dunlop himself. They were not a financial success. According to Dunlop, for one show in September that attracted 800 fans paying a $700 gate, $155 was spent on advertising and tickets, $140 went to the federal government, $105 was paid to the stadium, $85 went for police and other contract services, $60 was paid to the Diamond Athletic Club for use of the ring, $55 was spent to rent chairs, and $14 went to the Ontario Athletic Commission, leaving $86 to split between eight wrestlers and a referee. Dunlop said he lost $600 on his first four show -- that would be over $6,000 in today's dollars.

Dunlop went back to work for Tunney as a referee in April 1948. An incident involving Dunlop which is retold to this day occurred at some point in the last half of the 1950s. He was working as a referee on a show that included former amateur standout (3-time NCAA heavyweight champion) and future pro world champion Dick Hutton. Backstage, someone played a rib on Hutton -- possibly giving him a hot foot. Incensed, Hutton stormed off to get revenge on the prankster and confronted Dunlop. According to the stories, Hutton tried a leg takedown on Dunlop, who had the size and strength to fight it off, grab Hutton in a front headlock, and choke him out. It significantly damaged Hutton's reputation as a shooter.

 Dunlop stepped out of retirement to don the tights for two Gardens main events against Watson in 1958 and 1959. In both cases, Watson was seeking revenge for decisions Dunlop had made in previous bouts as a referee. Dunlop's final appearance as a wrestler was in 1960, taking on Terrible Ted the Bear, over whom Dunlop had scored a count-out victory in 1959.

Dunlop continued to work as a referee into the 1970s. He was the official who disqualified Tiger Jeet Singh in his February 1971 main event against the Sheik which was the first Maple Leaf Gardens wrestling show to sell over 18,000 tickets. Dunlop retired later that year.

-by Gary Will