Saturday, February 15, 2020

Featured External Link: 1982 Tournament Coda: What if Toronto?

Next up in our Featured External Link is a section of a great series by Dick Bourne of the Mid-Atlantic Gateway on the 1982 World tag tournament.

We didn't have one here in Toronto- but what if we did?

1982 Tournament Coda: What if Toronto? 
By Dick Bourne 
 The Mid Atlantic Gateway

It was a lot of fun looking at who we could have seen if they held a round of the tourny here. At the same time they were running it in the U.S.  we did have a tournament here - a Cadillac Tournament. We are not sure why they never ran it here. When you get to the end of the article you will see Johnny Weaver on MLW TV talking about having a tag tourny in Toronto in the near future.

Again, you are probably familiar with the Gateway, in my opinion the best of all the wrestling sites. Dick and David Chappell have done a great job- and Toronto fans will love all of the info presented from the time that we were working with the M-A office.

-AC

Bellow 2 of the featured teams at MLG right around the time of the tourneys in early 1982





Thursday, February 13, 2020

Featured External Link: 1961 NWA Convention in Toronto

Next up is a look at the NWA convention that was held in Toronto Aug 24-27 1961.

National Wrestling Alliance Convention - 1961
Legacy of Wrestling
by Tim Hornbaker

The NWA conventions in particular fascinate me, especially Frank Tunney's place in them. This year, with the meetings held in his town, Frank would be leaving as President to be replaced by Fred Kohler.

You are likely familiar with the Legacy site but if not, spend a few days or months! kicking around there. Tim Hornbaker not only writes very thorough books but the site is extensive with great info.

Tunney held a card on the Thursday night, the first day of the convention. Stu Hart was scheduled to make by then a rare wrestling appearance (last MLG 1955) but didn't appear and never returned. You can see in Tim's notation from the article
*As of September 28, 1961, Stu Hart was not listed on the membership roster of the NWA. Haft, Quinn, Light, and Luttrall paid their dues right before the 1961 convention in Toronto. Hart may not have paid his dues, and was considered not an active member

-AC

There were a few things in the Toronto papers. From the Globe that weekend, and below that the lineup with the sub for Stu.





Tuesday, February 11, 2020

The Canadian Heavyweight Title: The Complete History 1978-1984

Mapleleafwrestling.com presents with design & layout by Dick Bourne of the Mid-Atlantic Gateway
The Canadian Heavyweight Title  The Complete History 1978-1984
Available at The Mid-Atlantic Gateway Bookstore  and Amazon 
14.95 U.S. & Canada 126 pages black & white with color cover
Writeup at http://www.midatlanticgateway.com/2019/10/canadian-title-book.html?spref=bl

Review at Slam! Wrestling
A trip down memory lane, The Canadian Heavyweight Title: The Complete History 1978-1984, published in co-operation with the Mid-Atlantic Gateway website, is a remarkable, compelling, and long-overdue tale about a championship belt that shared the stage with some of the most respected titles in professional wrestling history...

    In 1978 as the Toronto territory was taking off with the young stars of Mid-Atlantic wrestling, promoter Frank Tunney introduced a local championship. The Canadian Heavyweight Title, to be defended by the top star in Maple Leaf Wrestling.

      During those years ‘the Mid-Atlantic era’, the area was one of the most exciting and important territories in the wrestling world.  

    In this book we take a look back at the emergence of the Canadian Title in Toronto. The champions and challengers. Dino Bravo, Greg Valentine, Dewey Robertson, Hossein the Arab, Angelo Mosca Sr. & Jr. Big John Studd, and more. 

    Join us as we revisit the big cards, the tournaments, the title belt, and other memorable slices of Maple Leaf Wrestling from 1978-1984.


Check out all the fine books at http://www.midatlanticgateway.com/p/book-store.html



Featured External Link: The Legacy of Joe Malcewicz


Wondering how to re-invent the site a bit, everybody on Facebook and other platforms. Podcasts are in - reading is (mostly) out. I still like to read so in the meantime will feature some external links that are connected to Toronto and Ontario wrestling and compile them on the left menu.

First one is an excellent piece on Joe Malcewicz at Slam! Wrestling.

The legacy of Joe Malcewicz 
Before the Viper, Ol' Waffle Ears ruled San Francisco 
by Steven Johnson

With one of the greatest nicknames  Malcewicz wrestled in Toronto, across Ontario, and all of Canada in the 1930's. The info on that 1933 Toronto ad pictured is at Gary's TWH with the 'Utica Panther.'         

Lots of buried treasure on Slam! from both Steven and Greg.

-AC

Ad below Apr 4 1933 Toronto



Thursday, February 6, 2020

Referees 1957


Ontario MPP Arthur Child took offence to pro wrestling in 1957 and claimed that wrestling referees resemble "some third rate cook in a greasy spoon restaurant" and "are slapped and pushed around like comedians in a two reel slapstick comedy."

That story is at Slam! Wrestling: 1957 The year the Ontario government questioned pro wrestling's validity

At that time the refs wore white shirts and pants so for a response the refs dressed up a bit for a photo.

There are a lot of years represented in this photo.
For more on these and the other refs see Referees in Maple Leaf (currently under edit)

Sam Gotter: Amateur wrestling standout from the 1930's and '40's and ref from the early '50's into the early 1960's.

Bert Maxwell: Main ref from the mid to late 1940's into the early 1960's. Former amateur wrestler known as the 'West Hill Terror' and later earned the nickname 'The Little Flower of Uxbridge' for his horticulture hobby. He was a day 1 employee of MLG, his picture appeared alongside other day oners in a program celebrating 25 years of service in 1956.

Joe Gollob: Former boxer became one of the longer serving referee's at MLG working bouts from the early 1950's to the late '60s. Had a couple of heel ref runs around the circuit. Roger Baker's favorite ref!

Al 'Bunny' Dunlop: Former star and strongman would first don the officials attire in the early 1940's while still wrestling. He would remain a fixture as a ref on the scene right up to 1972.

Cliff Worthy: Another former amateur standout. Refereed wrestling as early as 1934 and continued up until the mid 1960's. He also refereed boxing in the early 1930's in and around Toronto.

Thanks to Roger Baker
-AC


Toronto World Title 1938: Title Histories


TORONTO: WORLD TITLE
38/02Yvon Robert
   Billed as champion on arrival
38/03/03      Vic ChristieToronto, ON
   Awarded title when Robert cannot continue after breaking his collarbone in the first fall
38/06/09Masked Marvel (Ted Cox)Toronto, ON
38/09/29Mayes McLainToronto, ON
38/11/10King Kong Cox [2]Toronto, ON
39/01ABANDONED
   Cox is billed as world title claimant, 39/05


Originally presented at Gary Will's TWH

see also Toronto's own world title 1938: Gary Will's TWH


Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Canadian Title Book - Slam! Review

Thanks to Marshall Ward for the review of the Canadian Title book on Slam!

"A trip down memory lane, The Canadian Heavyweight Title: The Complete History 1978-1984, published in co-operation with the Mid-Atlantic Gateway website, is a remarkable, compelling, and long-overdue tale about a championship belt that shared the stage with some of the most respected titles in professional wrestling history."
-Marshall Ward. Slam! Wrestling
Read the whole review at Slam! Wrestling Review

As a fan who wrote it for fans it's great to hear it! And a shout out to Dick Bourne for all of his help -and for making it look so good.

The book is now available alongside the entire line of fine books
in the Mid-Atlantic Bookstore.

mapleleafwrestling.com presents with design & layout by Dick Bourne of the Mid-Atlantic Gateway
The Canadian Heavyweight Title  The Complete History 1978-1984
Available at The Mid-Atlantic Gateway Bookstore  and Amazon
14.95 U.S. & Canada 126 pages black & white with color cover
Writeup at http://www.midatlanticgateway.com/2019/10/canadian-title-book.html?spref=bl

    In 1978 as the Toronto territory was taking off with the young stars of Mid-Atlantic wrestling, promoter Frank Tunney introduced a local championship. it was called The Canadian Heavyweight Title, to be defended by the top stars in Maple Leaf Wrestling.

During those years ‘the Mid-Atlantic era’, the area was one of the most exciting and important territories in the wrestling world. We take a look back at the emergence of the Canadian Title in Toronto. The champions and challengers. Dino Bravo, Greg Valentine, Dewey Robertson, Hossein the Arab, Angelo Mosca Sr. & Jr. Big John Studd, and more.

Join us as we revisit the big cards, the tournaments, the title belt, and other memorable slices of Maple Leaf Wrestling from 1978-1984.


Now Available!


Thursday, January 30, 2020

George Richards: Mr Big & Tall



George Richards is an interesting name from the past. Famous for his Big and Tall clothing shops which catered to athletes and big men, including many of the Toronto wrestlers including Whipper Watson, Pat Flanagan, and Athol Layton;..

Before opening his chain of stores Richards was a pro wrestler here in the 1930's-40's. Born in 1914 he had taken up wrestling to help support his family after his father died. When Maple Leaf Gardens opened in Nov 1931 the teenage Richards was selling programs at the arena he would later wrestle in.

He went pro in the early 1930's and in addition to the local scene he traveled a bit working around New York and Ohio (as Benny Stein) alongside fellow Toronto stalwart Jerry Monahan.

Here he was mostly a prelim type guy wrestling on the openers. One listing in NJ has him (if he is Benny Stein) wrestling Gino Garibaldi.

In 1936 he tried his hand at boxing and entered into the Jack Dempsey 'White Hope' tournament under the tutelage of Ed Kellar who had competed in the 1930 British Empire games in Hamilton.
1962

During World War II he enlisted in the Air Force and helped to train troops on the ships going from Halifax to London. On the return trip he'd be in charge of German prisoners of war coming to Canada.

After the war he opened his first store and noticed he was seeing a lot of his athletic colleagues so started catering to men taller than 6'1 (sized 38-60) and to stout men 200-450lbs (sizes 42-66), It was in an instant hit for football players and of course the wrestlers who were now able to get quality suits in their sizes.

Athol Layton who was 6'6 265 wore a size 52 tall and appreciated the bright colors, shirts in pink, lilac, and chartreuse. He was one of the snappiest dressers among any athlete both on TV as a commentator and at the many charity functions he appeared at. .

It wasn't exclusive to athletes, some of the city's more famous 'stout' men were customers including former police chief Harold Adamson (6.2 210lbs) and Sam Shopsowitz of Shopsys -the hot dog king (5'10 270lbs). Shopsowitz once said about Richards suits 'The fact that I'm fat doesn't mean that I don't like to follow fashion trends. I object to elephant pants but I like patch pockets on my suits'  indeed!
1968
In 1954 after the Toronto Tag Trophy (sponsored by Calvert Distillery and dubbed the Calvert trophy) was destroyed by the Mills Brothers,  Richards donated a new trophy to be awarded to the Tag champs - the George Richards Trophy which was awarded through the 1960's.

His brother Alfie would train with the wrestlers and may have appeared on Les Lyman's local indy cards in the late '50's early '60s as Blackjack Richards. See Roger's note below.

By 1980 under the banner George Richards Kingsize Clothes  the clothing empire had grown to 16 locations around the country and while George still remained active, his son Michael was running the day to day operations. The Grafton-Fraser company who had bought 50% share in 1977 purchased the balance of the company in 1981

George was still leading exercise classes for seniors into his mid 80's and at 87 (2002) was still working out 4 times a week. Was unable to find a date of death, if anyone can help please contact me.

The name lives on as George Richards Big and Tall and I still frequent the one near me today.
1957 with Whipper and Pat 

... enjoyed it (George Richards post) as old memories of the days when I worked out at the Bloor St. YMHA. came back. Alfie Richards, who was George's younger brother was in the weight room on a regular basis. He was a big guy, and was friends with Les Lyman (promoter/wrestler), who also occasionally worked out at The YMHA.. I remember the time when Alfie invited myself and a friend that I worked out with to be seconds at a wrestling show that he had a hand in. Insofar as Alfie Richards being an active wrestler, no don't believe he ever was, I'm thinking that he worked in men's fine clothing sales, as did his older brother George.
-Roger 

-some info from the book - I Know that Name!: The People Behind Canada's Best-known Brand Names from ...By Mark Kearney, Randy Ray
-images from papers, collection

-AC

1972 clients

Mosca Jr, Sr, and Moscamania

Angelo Mosca Jr. gets a lot of heat online, most second-hand or based on the few YouTube bouts out there, not exactly reflective of his entire ring tenure.

Granted he was no Lou Thesz but he wasn't the worst wrestler ever. The bout vs Ivan Koloff in which Jr. won the Mid-Atlantic Title is particularly hard to watch (a nice dropkick one of the few highlights) but is hardly indicative of his entire wrestling career.

He grew up the son of one of the most famous CFL players in Canadian history. Sr. a hard nosed guy once known as the 'meanest man in Football' both on and off the field.

Jr. followed in his fathers footsteps playing football through his teen years. In June 1981 Jr.was trying out as a defensive guard at the BC Lions  camp. He was cut, effectively ending his pro football aspirations. He went on to earn a degree from Concordia University and went into working in the sport and fitness field.

His parents separated when he was 4 years old but had seen a lot of his father while growing up and remained close. By the time he was old enough to be aware of Sr's name his father's playing days were over.

Years later while planning a charity fundraiser (Still Mosca 2015) paying tribute to Sr. and raising funds for Alzheimer research Jr. would admit that he was learning more about his father talking to old friends and teammates in preparation for the event. Jr was helping Sr. film some of his memories including reflecting on friends passed on.

He would begin training in 1983 alongside Sr. and others for 6 months. Sr, was especially happy about Jr. coming into the profession and was immensely proud of his namesake.

Saving Pop from a beatdown at MLG 1984 
He debuted that year at the age of 24 against veteran Ox Baker. Sr. was 46 at the time and winding down his wrestling career.

Jr. admitted that the constant travel was the hardest part. They would work out in the gym together, travel to their bouts, then fly back to Charlotte, NC where they were both living at the time, Jr. on his own and Sr. with his then 'very understanding wife' Gwen.

Greg Oliver wrote an excellent piece on Mosca back in 2008 which included some insight on Jr. and his wrestling career.

'My son's a good guy but he was never cut out for the business. He liked the money. I used to get him up early in the morning to go to the gym and stuff. He'd say, 'Dad, do we have to do this?' I'd say 'The good looking hooker makes the money.'  That's the way I took the business. We were whores. I was a big guy. I had a fair physique on me, and I took care of myself. My son, I don't know if he really wanted to pay that price."
* from
http://slam.canoe.com/Slam/Wrestling/2008/09/05/6675791.html
and original of the photo above at https://www.torontopubliclibrary.ca/detail.jsp?Entt=RDMDC-TSPA_0069630F&R=DC-TSPA_0069630F

Despite the lack of interest Jr. received a big push from the start. He debuted at MLG as a late addition in Apr 1984 in the Canadian Title Tournament. It was to decide a new champion after Angelo Sr. was forced to vacate the title due to injury. Jr. beat Terry Kay and then faced Kabuki in the quarter final. He would win the bout in just 38 seconds (always a couple really short bouts in those tourneys to fit all the matches)  but Kabuki would spray his green mist and Jr. would be out for the remainder, which Koloff eventually won.

Two weeks later he would get the main event teamed with Sr. against Koloff and Kabuki. They would appear together on the cover of the Stranglehold program and get the win. Prior to the bout Jr. told a reporter ' the best thing about wrestling is working with this guy right here,' thumping his father on the thigh. 'I just hope I can pass on a few things to him' replied Sr. The bout ends when Jr' finally tags into to save his Dad from a beat down and pins Kabuki. The villains throw him out of the ring and go to work on Sr with Koloff's chain. Jr. regains the ring and grabs the chain and chases the bad guys away to a huge roar from the crowd. The success would continue through the Carolina's with Jr. seeing success on the Southern circuit as well.
MLG 1984

The two would appear on the same cards leading into a June card at MLG which saw Jr. get the win over Koloff and collect the belt his father had previously worn. Only Sr. was present at the next card and Jr.'s championship glory was to be short lived as it was announced a few days later that Jack Tunney had gone with the WWF and the title was retired (forgotten) with nary a defense.

In the meantime Jr. stayed active on the Mid-Atlantic circuit (and may have involved our now defunct Canadian heavyweight Title - more on that another time) and would return to Toronto in Dec 1984. The cards were still being filled out with our regulars and many that appeared in the NWA days.

He would also appear on WWF TV briefly while Sr. worked as a short lived announcer for the Hamilton/Brantford TV tapings. Sr. would announce he was leaving the announcers table to manage Jr and Jesse Ventura would notably replace him . One more appearance here for WWF in Feb 1985 and that was it for Jr in the WWF.

Sr. & Moscamania

By then Sr was already planning to bring the NWA back to Ontario. In Feb 1986 he would run a show at Copps Coliseum in Hamilton. It was a risky venture but he was the guy to do it. 

Hulkamania had taken over Toronto but there was still those fans from the NWA days. We even got the professional syndicated ratings (Meltzer's manybe?) and some good coverage with a weekly column in the paper. Sr. with a long history in Hamilton as a Ticat  announced the show to be dubbed 'Moscamania.' 

Jr.would appear too, and also figured prominently on the Poster for the event, depicted just below Jimmy Valiant and Dusty Rhodes. The card did well drawing 12,000 fans with a gate of $140,000 to see a main of NWA champ Ric Flair vs Dusty Rhodes. Jr. teamed with Vic Rossitani against the Kelly Twins. 

At the time Mosca 50 years old, now mostly retired from the ring, was busy doing TV ads, and had several different business ventures around town. A few days after the show in Hamilton he was in Toronto doing a TV commercial for Lite beer and said he made 25k in what was his 14th or 15th commercial since he had done the Schick 'Tell it to my face' campaign some years before.

He was a guest star on the popular 'Night Heat' TV show, and in June of that year was elected to the CFL Hall Of Fame. In Nov 1986 Sr. was alongside Whipper Watson when Whip received an award from the Canadian Children's Foundation. 

The inimitable Earl McRae who had often covered Sr. named an article  'Mean Angelo Mosca means to keep raking in big bucks on TV.'  The Toronto Globe & Mail even ran a 2 pager titled 'Mosca Mania: The face that roared in football and wrestling masks the crafty brain that employs his charisma to turn Angelo's meant streak into an asset in advertising.'

A month prior to the first Moscamania card, he had met with CFL commissioner Doug Mitchell to discuss becoming a goodwill ambassador. The reporters later said  that the CFL missed the boat by not using him as he was a born promoter and 'mouthpiece.'

Sr. teamed with former teammate Len Chandler to promote the show with corporate sponsor Amstel Brewery on Feb 2 1986. It was a huge success with over 12,000 fans and a gate of $140,000. A dollar from each ticket went to the Spinal Cord Society and the fans were treated to a great show.

The main event brought Toronto favorite Ric Flair back for the first time since May 1984 to defend his NWA Title against Dusty Rhodes. At that time Flair was a NWA heel while Rhodes was fan favorite but the fans would have none of it. 

Flair had been long beloved here and during the Flair-Rhodes bout started cheering Flair. They reversed roles with Rhodes 'second' Baby Doll Roberts interfering. Flair took the win to a huge ovation and the card which also featured the Road Warriors, Jimmy Valiant (always hugely popular here), Abdullah The Butcher, Sgt. Slaughter and a host of local guys including Mosca Jr. was declared a huge success.

Longtime MLG ring announcer Norm Kimber, recently let go by the Toronto office, did the introductions for the night.

At the time Mosca had declared that he was seeking to become the exclusive promoter at Copps, similar to how the Tunney's had exclusive use of MLG.

He also owned the syndicated TV rights for the TV show Pro Wrestling Canada which was produced by Milt Avruskin. They showed NWA bouts which were sometimes up to a year old and did voice-overs on the bouts. PWC ran from May 1986 to Oct 1986 was on the CTV Kitchener affiliate channel 13 locally but that channel wasn't available to all in the Toronto area.

Mosca later told a reporter that he couldn't get the show on in Toronto and that's what killed it. Doug Bassett, head of the CTV told him 'it wasn't family oriented television.' 

At that time they had WWF Championship , International Wrestling from Montreal, and the Maple Leaf WWF shows on TV in Toronto. While the WWF was tame, the International show was a harder style, a throwback to the 70's style with bloody bouts and great brawls.

If Mosca had been able to last, the Montreal based stars would likely have appeared here. Bravo, Abdullah, etc.but he had to run Toronto. MLG was still exclusive so it was limited outside of summer months.

Milt Dunnell wrote in his column "He (Mosca) is president and promoter of Pro Wrestling Canada, with shows on 10 TV stations in the east and two in the west. He stages live shows in Kitchener, Ottawa and Toronto (Varsity Arena), when he is not busy lifting trucks in Chevy commercials.'

He never promoted any shows at Varsity Arena or Ottawa as far as I know. Outside of the Hamilton shows and the one in Kitchener (more on those below) the only other one of record was in Peterborough on Feb 17 with Tully Blanchard vs Barry Windham as the main.

The TV how later appeared for a time on TSN and as well as CTV and is a good show to seek out. Mosca not the greatest announcer (whole other article) but Avruskin one of the best. 

Sr. would present another card in Kitchener on Nov 23rd 1986 with a main of Nikita Koloff vs Wahoo McDaniel as Moscamania II. This one was a reverse of the first one, several no shows and most of the cast filled out with locals. Only 1.500 showed up, 
most of whom went to see the Road Warriors. Hawk never showed and was replaced by manager Paul Ellering. Jr. took on Siki and it was back to the circuit for both Jr. and Siki. Despite the setback it was not to deter Mosca from staging another Hamilton show in Feb 1987.

Unfortunately he ran it on the same night as big WWF show at MLG featuring Roddy Piper vs Adrian Adonis in a 'retirement bout and Savage/Steamboat. Mosca in turn had  Flair vs Nikita Koloff but only drew 3,000 compared to the 17,000 at a packed MLG. On Mosca's show Blanchard battled Rhodes and they reversed roles too with the fans booing Dusty. 

A fan told me he had 'stickered' the MLG bathrooms prior with notice of the upcoming Hamilton card but it didn't seem to help much.There were rumors of bad payouts on shows (heard years later) and that was the end of Mosca's promotional tenure.

Both father and son would be featured on the popular CTV show Lifetime which ran the same night as a big WWF show at MLG. Sr. would continue to show up in  TV commercials, appear on shows like Night Heat, and was part of several business ventures capitalizing on his name.

Jr. and McKigney circuit

Finally posing with the Cdn Title
photo Griff Henderson
The two would even see some action together on Dave McKigney's Big Time circuit in and around Toronto. They would team up to take on Sweet Daddy Siki and Killer Karl Krupp in a small show at the St Lawrence Market in Toronto in March 1986. A short distance but a long way from the bright lights at Maple Leaf Gardens.

Jr. would stay on for some of the summer shows and return for Moscamania II in Kitchener in November.

The general consensus for those who saw him on the smaller circuit was that he was much improved, smoother in the ring and better adjusted to the pro style.

In the final Hamilton card for Sr. in Feb 1987 Jr. took on Shaska/Pistol Pez Whatley in the opener and soon thereafter wrapped up his ring career.

In recent years both Jr. & Sr. appeared at some meet and greets and Jr was very receptive and engaging with fans.

Moscamania memorabilia came from Eric Peddle
Jr. 2015 shot from Griff
Other stuff collection

-AC

Erin, ON 1986

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Carlos Rocha RIP


Received word that Carlos Rocha has passed on at the age of 93. He and The Sheik had a series here in 1972 that drew three straight sellouts at MLG. 54,000 fans over 3 cards. He also worked the circuit around Toronto and returned again in 1975 for a stint that included a NWA title shot vs Terry Funk.

He debuted at MLG in 1971 and appeared up to 1977 on his second run. Also had some big bouts in Ottawa, and throughout Quebec.

One of my favorite Roger Baker photos above from 1972 with 18,000 packed into MLG, Rocha awaits as Gerry Hiff waits to make intros.

-AC