Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Promoters - Ontario

Old piece, lots of new info to add as there is time. An overview... not a definitive history.. Stops at 1984.
Corcoran & Deacon 1937
Phil Lawson promoted amateur shows in Toronto as did Jack Daniels and his A-C Athletic Club. Others ran cards using 'exhibition' before the 'Pro Wrestling' part in order to get around the licensing and such. The cost for a Wrestling license in the 30's was 500$, a considerable amount at the time.

From the Toronto circuit, John Katan, Joe Maich, Al Dunlop, Pat Milosh, Les Lyman, Red Garner, and others would go on to promote shows locally themselves. Sandor Kovacs ran in Rochester and later Western Canada. U.S. based Toots Mondt and Paul Bowser also had an interest in the early Toronto scene.

Ivan Mickailoff ran the first weekly cards  and Mickailoff stayed in the city up to 1938 bringing in all of the top stars of the day. His first card May 4 1929 drew 500 fans to see the main event of Jack Taylor vs Jack Rogers. He would grow to include Hamilton, Brantford, Oshawa, and other towns on a circuit starting in 1929. Mickalioff also promoted through Canada's West in the 1930's and would also run shows in both Port Arthur and Fort William (Thunder Bay) On.
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Toronto businessman Jack Corcoran and his Queensbury Athletic Club would start with boxing in the 1920's. He would begin promoting wrestling in Toronto in 1930. Corcoran would be awarded the matchmaking duties for shows at the newly built Maple Leaf Gardens in 1931. The Queensbury Club would cover the region with shows from Barrie to Mount Forest down to Hamilton and the Niagara region. Other towns too. He ran Timmins (way up there) for a couple of summers. Corcoran, while mostly forgotten had a pretty good career and he was the one who hired the Tunney brothers.
A piece on Corcoran on the site is being updated.

John Tunney would take over for Corcoran as matchmaker in 1939 for both Toronto and Ottawa. His untimely death in 1940 would push younger brother Frank Tunney into the promoting duties and Frank would make history over the next 5 decades as the King of Toronto wrestling.

Tunney and Toronto would enjoy TV from the onset of the popularity of TV in the 1950's. Starting with CBC and later CFTO and then CHCH would be the home for the TV shows continuing into the early 1980's and the switch to WWF in 1984. Frank went in with Jim Crockett Jr and George Scott in 1978 (officially in 1980) to promote in Toronto for the final years of the NWA years.
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Barrie would see its first pro card in 1935. Playfair Brown, matchmaker for the Shamrock AC in Toronto had ran some mit-mat (Boxing & Wrestling) shows in the early 1930's as was common in those days before pro wrestling became more popular. While billed as Professional Boxing & Wrestling, the wrestling was of the amateur style. The 1935 show promoted by Jack Pearl and his 'Cadillac Wrestling Club' of Toronto ran at Barrie Arena. Drawing 400 fans, the card featured Pearl, Walter Parnell, Johnny Gyroffy, Tom George, Bull Findlay, and the Masked Marvel. Deemed a success they ran again a couple of weeks later.

When Wrestling returned to Barrie in 1936 it was promoted by Ross Richardson. The army base at Camp Borden near Barrie was also the site of mit-mat cards in the early 1940s and featured 'exhibitions' of pro wrestling but unsure of who promoted them. Max Hurley famous athlete and former part time wrestler would also run some shows in partnership with Tunney in Barrie in 1952-1953. The 50's also saw shows by Tunney and associates as well as Kasaboski (he is listed below).
Oshawa 1950 Milosh

Oshawa would present its first pro card in October 1929 at the Oshawa Armouries featuring the stars of Mickailoff's Toronto shows. Stanislaus Zbyszko, Archie Jeanuette, Renato Gardini, Charlie Manogan, Cowboy Rogers, and 'Irish' Ned McCarr would all appear on that first card. In the early 1940's The Oshawa Wrestling Club with Pat Farrell and Jimmy Szikszay would take over would run shows until 1946.

After a riot had taken place on the last card of 1946, a young boxer and wrestler named Pat Milosh would take over and continue promoting until the 1980's and later in tandem with Jack Tunney. Shows would take place at the Oshawa Arena and later at Kingsmen Stadium, Childrens Arena, and Civic Auditorium.

Milosh would also promote shows regularly in Whitby Arena, Bowmanville Arena, Port Perry Arena with occasional trips to Cobourg Arena and Peterborough Arena.

1952 and 1953 saw a full sched of weekly shows over the winter at Peterborough's Brock Arena using the Tunney stars. Was likely Milosh running them as they started and stopped right on time with the Oshawa season (Apr to Sept mostly). The stars were mainly what was big in Toronto but some homegrown talent including Billy Stack, Sandor Kovacs, and Jimmy Szikszay would be favorites around the area.

Milosh would continue to promote locally after the WWF aligned with Jack Tunney in 1984 and was still involved as late as 1992 promoting a WWF event at the Civic.
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Ottawa, like Toronto and other major cities would get the large promotion treatment. The city would have to be considered among the big three wrestling cities in the province, alongside Toronto and Hamilton. Jack Ganson then Montreal promoter also ran shows in the 1930's at the Ottawa Auditorium. Corcoran would run the city in the late 1930's with John and then Frank Tunney taking over in 1940.

Sammy Sobel (sometimes spelled Sobol) would become the promoter of record in the early 1940's, representing the Queensbury Club under Tunney. Many of the stars from Toronto would occupy those shows, Whipper Watson, Pat Flanagan, Fred Atkins et al. Sobel wore many hats under Tunney and is included below for other areas. He also was the ring manager of Vic Christy in the late 1930's.

In 1939 new Montreal promoter Eddie Quinn would take over the city promoting shows at the Auditorium with stars such as Yvon Robert, Ray Eckert, Bobby Manganoff, Larry Moquin, Frank Valois, and all the major stars of the Montreal-Toronto corridor. It appears that Tunney kept a stake in Ottawa and reaped some of the profits from the Quinn shows.

In the mid 1950's as television took hold, the CBC affiliate CBOT would broadcast live from ringside. Alongside the Quebec stars, Tunney's stars would continue to share the stage in Ottawa as the years progressed. Quinn also promoted some shows at Cornwall Arena in 1954-55. Howard Darwin would step in around 1961 to function as the local man for Quinn and just 2 years later Quinn passed away. Darwin continued through the 60's using a mix of Tunney's main stars and the Quebec regulars for shows at both the Coliseum at Lansdowne Park and the Civic Centre.

Starting around 1972 Grand Prix out of Montreal would take over the Civic Centre and on occasion Lansdowne Park for outdoor shows in the summer. Led by Paul Vachon the shows would include Vachon, Jos Leduc, Don Leo Jonathon, Dino Bravo, Reggie Parks and all the stars of the very popular Grand Prix circuit. This promotion had TV obviously but I am unsure if they were taping in Ottawa at the time. Grand Prix reportedly gave Tunney 5% to run Ottawa at that time and would occasionally run shows in the northern towns along the border with Quebec, Haileybury and Temiskaming included.

In 1980 AWA head Verne Gagne would try his hand in Ottawa after a two-year, not very profitable pseudo-partnership with Tunney in Toronto. Shows were at Ottawa Civic using Tunney's ex Canadian Champ Dino Bravo in front, as well as Gagne, Crusher Blackwell, Adrian Adonis & Jesse Ventura, Mad Dog Vachon, Lord Alfred Hayes, Steve Olsonoski, and Quebec stars Gino Brito and Pierre Lefebvre. Gagne had earlier promoted at least one show in Kenora, ON in 1973 featuring his AWA stars including a young Ric Flair. Fort William/Thunder Bay was also visited by the AWA over the years. The shows on Ottawa listed Ray Boucher as promoter and drew ok (first show 2500 2nd 5000) but not well enough to continue.

International Wrestling out of Quebec ran by Gino Brito and Frank Valois staged some shows in Ottawa in 1981 and drew fairly well averaging 3500 fans for several cards with the International stars Dino Bravo, Mad Dog Vachon, Pierre Lefebvre, and others.

Mike Vachon, son of Mad Dog ran shows also in Ottawa, Brockville, Kingston, and Belleville in April/May 1981 using many of the same stars from Quebec so hard to tell which shows were his.

Perhaps seeing the potential in the nations capital, Frank Tunney would also promote a series of shows at the Civic in 1981-1982 using the same stars at MLG at the time.

Just across the river in Hull Quebec, wrestling in the 1940's at Decosse Stadium and at Hull arena featured Quebec stars under Eddie Quinn. Quinn would also extend further into Ontario as far over as Cornwall and Kingston on occasion.

Dave McKigney would start promoting his own shows in 1965 up to 1987 in Ontario. To say he was an innovator would be a huge understatement. The way he ran shows and procured talent, sometimes world class talent - is an anomaly in the wrestling business. Without TV, without a big budget, and often without the support of the powers that be, he managed to create a whole subsystem of wrestling, beyond what could be called an indy fed.

Running under various names including 'Big Bear' and 'Big Time' Wrestling McKigney would cover a lot of miles across the province. He would also run shows in Toronto and area encroaching on Tunney turf on occasion. In 1971 he ran Varsity Arena the same night as a Tunney MLG card which drew about 5,000 compared to McKigney's 'less than a thousand'.

Lakeshore Arena, Scarborough Arena, The Concert Hall, Brampton Memorial Arena, Ted Reeve Arena, and Varsity Arena would all see Big Bear shows. In the early days he ran with the blessing of Tunney using the MLG guys and running shows sometimes alongside Whipper Watson in the nearby towns. If you look at a map of Southern Ontario you will be hard pressed to find a town that never saw one of Dave's shows. In the later mid 1970's and early 1980's he would go further out from the Southern hubs into Renfrew, Huntsville, Pembroke and Vanier Arena, as well as tours of the Maritimes.
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Toronto 1961 Marmon

Gus Marmon promoted some shows in Toronto in 1961. As the 'Olympic Wrestling Club' it appears he went in with Red Garner, by then working under a mask as Great Kudo. Garner had started using the Olympic name for his Thornhill Market shows in 1960. Some of the stars appearing on the 1961 shows at the Lansdowne Theatre included Kudo, Aledo Orlando, Tony Manousas, Killer Joe Conroy, Wildcat Osborne, Billy Foster, the Brothers Jennings (incl Wilf),

Marmon would also put on some shows at the Cobourg Arena in 1960 with some of the above plus Cowboy Carlson, Ali Pahsa and Danny Shane. There is also mention of a TV show on Channel 11 in Kingston in June 1960 featuring the above stars. As well in the Richmond Hill paper it mentions Red is a 'director' of the Olympic Club and the TV show will run on Kingston CKWS late at night and that they hope to run on CHCH 11 in Hamilton! I am unsure if the Kingston shows ran, if so it would be quite rare as TV exposure would remain elusive to the small town promoter.

Toar Morgan, a former wrestling star would promote in Lindsay in the early 1950's. He would also serve as the manager of Lindsay Arena for a time. Barry Lloyd Penhale, who was close to Morgan told me about the shows but have been unable to find ads as of yet.

Dewey Robertson would open gyms in Hamilton and Burlington in the mid 1970's and run cards out of them. Am unsure if he ran anywhere else but he was frequently on cards run by pals Parisi and McKigney so may have had some involvement.

The main name in the North was Larry Kasaboski starting in 1945 out of North Bay and extending out to Renfrew, Pembroke and area. Running under 'Northland Wrestling' the circuit grew to include a weekly circuit including Sudbury Inco Club, Sault Ste Marie McMekeean Centre, North Bay Ferris Community Centre, Timmins MacIntyre Arena, and Noranda (Quebec) Rec Centre.

Other towns that saw regular shows include Smith Falls, Wawa, Sundridge, Bracebridge, and Huntsville, Elliott Lake, Blind River, and Bancroft among others. On occasion Kasaboski would try his hand closer to Toronto in Orillia, Lakefield, Perth, and Brockville. In 1954 he ran Barrie Arena and Alliston Arena and later went head to head with Tunney.

In the past Kasaboski had maintained a relationship with Tunney and would often feature 'stars straight from Maple Leaf Gardens' at shows and on his TV tapings. In 1954 at the NWA Convention Frank Tunney complained about Kasaboski going into his towns and under-bidding him to promoters.

Still his shows in Barrie in the mid to late 1950s were well received by fans and often outdrew Tunney shows in the area. Kasaboski enjoyed success through the 1960's but crowds were waning in the 1970's. The TV show based out of North Bay and Sudbury on CKSO and hosted by Barry Lloyd Penhale is said to be the first Studio Wrestling TV show in Canada. It was shown here in Toronto as of 1954, a year after CBLT went with Wrestling from MLG.

Huntsville saw some cards in 1931 put on by Muskoka native Conrad LaLone featuring LaLone, Alex Koski, Ali Hassan, Chief War Eagle, and Jack Thomas.

Around 1973 Quebec based Grand Prix extended outward for shows at the Renfrew Arena featuring Andre The Giant and other stars. They drew 1,000 fans for a show in Aug 1973.

In 1975 Renfrew Community Center hosted a few shows featuring Quebec stalwart Edouard Carpentier and other stars of the Quebec circuit under the banner 'Super Stars Of The Mat'.

Dave McKigney would also move north starting in the summer of 1973 with shows at the Renfrew Armouries as part of his summer tour. His first show in June 1973 used his regular stars including McKigney (as The Beast), Angelo Mosca, Bulldog Brower, and the midget stars Kasaboski continued with shows on his own and co-promoted with Grand Prix at the Arena through 1975.
Find the book 'The Rassler From Renfrew' by Gary Howard, it's an extensive look at Kasaboski and the North.
Grimsby 1960 Wentworth

Hamilton, just down the road from Toronto would enjoy a rich history alongside its larger neighbor. Some shows in the 1920's at the Barton St Arena and Grand Opera House were put on by Toronto based Mickailoff.

In the 1930's shows at the Municipal Pool began, put on by George Hills. Hills may have been involved as early as 1929 as he was a regular on Mickailoff shows in Toronto. Wrestlers, used were mostly from the Detroit and Toledo offices including Jimmy 'Redd' Simms (later promoter), Martin 'Blimp' Levy, Rudy Epps, and Johnny Tipa, along with the Toronto guys.

Late in the decade Toronto based Corcoran saw the potential for Hamilton and started at the Municipal Pool as well as the Hamilton Ballpark using the Toronto stars. The city would prove to be an important stop for the major stars coming into Toronto for big bouts. Lou Thesz, Joe Savoldi, John Katan, Danno Mahoney, as well as local boy Johnny Silvy were regulars over the early years. As with Ottawa and Niagara Falls, Sammy Sobel would run the shows for the office in the early 1940's.

John Katan the 'strongman from Palermo' would branch out around 1947 to promote shows in Hamilton at the Municipal Pool and The Forum. He would work closely with the Toronto office presenting the stars of Toronto and the action mirrored the cards from MLG. Running under 'Hamilton Sporting Club' Katan would continue up till 1958.

Jack Wentworth operated the 'Queenston Wrestling Club' out of Hamilton. In addition to training many wrestlers and running shows at his gym in Hamilton he promoted some shows at the Simcoe Arena in the late 1950's and later at Grimsby Arena. Local guys like Martin Hutzler, Dick Caron, Ron Logue, Skull Nurenburg and Lloyd Morris would appear in the late 50's for Wentworth.

During the Mid-Atlantic era 1978-1984 Tunney ran the Forum, Convention Centre and Germania Club.
Acton  1949 Maich

Brantford operated similar to the other towns as a circuit town run by Mickailoff and later Tunney By 1950 Brantford was seeing shows by former Olympic and pro star, and stock car enthusiast Joe Maich and his brother Don Maich, as Maich Sports Enterprises. Don had been a fixture on the Toronto amateur boxing scene in the early 1930's. Again they would mostly use the Tunney stars and ran shows at the Arctic Arena, Delhi Arena, Cockshutt Park, and the Brantford Armouries.

In the 1950's the circuit grew to include the Simcoe Armories, Preston Arena in Cambridge, Georgetown Arena, and Welland Arena. Jimmy 'Red' Simms also ran Welland arena in the early 1950s and later in Hamilton and other towns in the region.

In 1960-1961 there were shows in Brantford at the College Theater with Bull Johnson, Red Mask, Terry Yorkston, Mickey & Robby McDonald, Ernie Moore, and Pat Murphy appearing. Johnson would occasionally run shows around Hamilton and area right up to the early 1980's. In the late 1970's Bull and his son Danny 'Bullwhip' Johnson would hold shows at the Shamrock Club in Hamilton with Terry Yorkston, Bob Marcus, and lady wrestler Jean Baxter.

In the late 1970's Tunney would begin taping TV shows at the Brantford Civic Arena for show on channel 11 CHCH out of Hamilton and seen across the region.
N Falls 1975 Parisi

Niagara Falls had Sammy Sobel at the helm as part of Corcoran's Queensbury Club in the late 1930's. As with the other circuit towns at the time, the stars appearing in Toronto would occupy the cards.

Sobel would take over the area in the 1950's when it appears Tunney went more to a 'let them run it' type setup. Toronto would supply the stars and let the local promoters run the shows with money getting kicked back to the Toronto office. It would prove to be a huge boost as the smaller towns would continue to see the TV stars and get big bouts including World Title matches. When Sobel died in 1957 it said he had promoted wrestling for 30 years, the last 20 in Niagara Falls.

In the 1970's Tony Parisi would promote at the Memorial Arena using a mix of the Tunney stars and the crossover from McKigneys shows, likely in tandem with Tunney. Parisi would also feature shows at the Skylon Tower, Oakes Park, and The Optimist Club using the same crews, again many of them Tunney stars. He also ran Welland on a at least a couple of occasions. Parisi would arrange shows during the annual CNE Exhibition as well as the CHIN Picnic in Toronto using mostly local stars or old friends including the Love Brothers, Dom Denucci, The Executioner (Don Lewin), and Dewey Robertson. There were also shows at the Ontario Place Forum in the early 1970's that may have been Parisi's.

Around 1980 when Tunney would go back to a circuit type setup he would put on shows at the Memorial Arena as well as do TV tapings there through 1982, in tandem with Parisi.

Al 'Bunny' Dunlop a star of the pre war years and for many ears after his wrestling days a referee at MLG, also promoted some shows in Toronto in 1947 under the banner Atlas Athletic Club. He would put on several shows at Oakwood Stadium featuring Dunlop, Joe Maich, Billy Stack, Ted McKinley, Jack Sipthorpe, Walter Allen, Bob Larsen, Joe Kayorie, Sandor Kovacs, and Frank Hewitt. Maich, who was to promote Brantford and area was also involved in the promotion side for these shows.
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Stoufville 1954 Garner

Edwin 'Red' Garner, the 'Pride of Langstaff' would start promoting cards regularly around 1948 based around his home in Richmond Hill. In addition to the Richmond Hill Arena, Garner would put on regular shows at the Newmarket Arena, Weston Arena in Toronto, as well as Scarborough Arena.

For several years in the mid '50's he ran the Thornhill Farmers Market every Tuesday. Red, running under the 'Canadian Wrestling Alliance' (a 'Roy McMahon would sometimes be listed as matchmaker) would branch out to Stoufville Arena, Aurora Arena, Port Perry Arena, Keswick Arena, Cobourg Arena, Georgetown Arena, and Peterborough, Lindsay, and others occasionally.

Some of the stars over the years on Red's shows included Ed 'Gori' Mangotich, Stoney Brooks, Joe Greenfield, Harold Van Dyke, Ivan Klimenko, Jack Flicker, Tom Sullivan. Al Wallace, Wildcat Osborne, Billy Foster, and future stars Mike Scicluna (later Baron), Ron Doner, Wally Seiber (later Waldo Von Erich) and Gene Dubois (McKigney)

In the late 1950's son in law Joe Greenfield was listed as Matchmaker and Promoter as well.
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Bob Lane promoted in Georgetown in 1951. He may have been working with Joe Maich, On those shows were Maich, Farmer Bill Jones, Chief War Eagle, Wild Bill Cody, The Great Fozo, and Masked Marvel.

Gus Marker was a retired NHLer who promoted some shows in Kingston in the early 1950's at the Kingston Centre as an associate under Tunney. The cards were mostly Tunney stars with some local talent. They had a TV show that Marker did the announcing on for a short time.

Earl "Sully" Sullivan, owner of Sullys Gym in Toronto and noted trainer was said to have promoted some shows as well but unable to pinpoint any.

Frankie Laine promoted some shows around the London area including Centennial Hall in London in 1981. These shows were the same guys normally on McKigney's cards including McKigney himself, Candi Divine, Sheik, George Steel and Whipper Jr., and padded out by Joe Cagle and Mike Vachon. Laine also put on shows in the summer of 1984 including one at the London Fairgrounds featuring Tim Gerrard, Sheik Ali, and others

Tommy Nelson was another of Tunney's inner circle of former wrestlers who would promote shows in the nearby towns. Using Tunney's stars he would put on shows at the Barrie Arena and other spots including Collingwood in the 1950's. Later regular shows at Stoufville Arena, Aurora Arena, Sutton Arena, and Bradford arena in the early 1960's. He was also noted as promoter on a 1958 Scarboro card using Tunney stars for a charity night show. Interesting note is that he was said to take over for Roy McMahon as matchmaker for Red Garner's CCWA in 1955. Nelson also ran Galt (Cambridge) and Kitchener until Johnny Powers bought he and Tunney out around 1965. Powers would later take over in Cleveland and ran opposition to the Crocketts in North Carolina in the later 1970's.
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Toronto 1954 Lyman

Les Lyman would promote shows around the Toronto area in the early 1950's. Regular shows at East York Arena commenced in 1953-54 as Lyman a long time wrestler, was getting up in years. Worked similar to Red Garner, using many of the same stars and looked to have some degree of a working relationship with Red while both were putting on shows at the same arenas. East York would be the most common stop along with Scarboro Arena.

Tunney himself would also book shows at East York and on occasion Scarboro when MLG was unavailable. It's likely Lyman had Tunney's blessing as Les would sometimes work the MLG shows himself. Some of the stars on Lyman shows included Lyman, Jack Sibthorpe, Blackjack Richards, Kenny Evans, Paul Penchoff, Joe & Sandy Scott , Al Kendall, George & Bob McKeague, Ivan Klimenko, Ronnie Kopac, Killer Joe Conroy,and Wilf Jennings.

Roger Baker attended one of Lyman's shows at Scarboro Arena in the early 1950's and remembers Lyman working out at the YMHA gym at Bloor and Spadina and wrestling on the mats there.
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Sam Yanaky promoted in Georgetown, Milton, and area in the 1950's and 1960's, sometimes with Bob Burke. He was known as the villain Nanjo Singh's manager in Toronto and was close with Pat Flanagan. One item says he is Pat's father but I haven't found that to be accurate. He owned a restaurant called 'The Corner Cupboard' and used the Tunney stars in Georgetown in the late 1950's and early 1960's at Georgetown Park. The Milton Arena opened in 1950 and started running wrestling in July 1950 with a first card main event of Whipper vs Sky Hi Lee.

Red Garner would promote shows every 2 weeks on his summer tour of 1955 at the Georgetown Arena using his regular crew including hometown boy Lacrosse star Billy Foster.

Sports writer Ross Pearon was listed as promoter for some shows at the Milton Arena in 1960 using mostly Tunney's guys.

The Love Brothers Hartford (Wes Hutchings) and Reggie (John Evans) promoted some shows in the early 1970's at Grimsby Arena, Oakville Arena, and Hamilton area. Its hard to decipher their scope as it overlaps with both McKigney and Whipper Jr. as they all used the same guys for the most part and ran the same spots.
Windsor 1960 Robertson/Doyle/Barnett

Both Blake Robertson and Bill Thornton ran Windsor in the late 1940's just as Tunney stopped running the city. Tunney had run Wigle Park as well as the Arena through 1947. Robertson ran out of the Market Building, using Bert Rubi, Eddie Lee, Johnny Gates, Pierre LaSalle, and others.

Thornton, a former star and promoting in Windsor since the late 1930's ran out of the Arena using Stocky Kneilson, Whitey Wahlberg, Red Lyons (not BRL) , Rene LaBelle, The Great Mephisto, Frankie Hart, and Tommy Martindale. Thornton also promoted some cards using Tunneys stars with Tunney as co-promoter. Thornton also promoted other cities or was listed as matchmaker, Toledo for one.

Around 1960 Jim Barnett and Johnny Doyle along with Robertson would run shows at Windsor Arena and Cleary Arena featuring the Detroit stars, Dick The Bruiser, Wilbur Snyder, Mitsu Arakawa, Bobo Brazil etc. At the same time there were smaller shows at the Teutonia Club with Luis Martinzex, Divie Duncan, and others, not sure who promoted those. Robertson also appears to have run shows in some of the towns near Windsor including Leamington and Essex and would promote shows on his own up until the mid 1960's.

In the 1970's Windsor was mostly served by the Detroit side, The Sheik as well as Dick The Bruiser ran shows alongside, and sometimes in co-operation with McKigney.

London could be considered the #4 behind Toronto, Ottawa, and Hamilton. In the 1920's and '30s' shows ran at Winter Gardens The 1950's and '60's saw shows at the Arena and the Gardens featuring the MLG stars mirroring the Toronto scene at the time.

Through the 1970's and early 1980's McKigney ran shows at Centennial Hall, the Arena, and the Fairgrounds, the early '80s facing competition from the Tunney's who ran the London Gardens on the same day or close to Dave's shows.

For a couple of years 1973 and '74 McKigney worked with the WWA out of Michigan and featured Bobby Heenan, Baron Von Raschke, Jimmy Valiant Cowboy Bob Ellis and others alongside McKigney's regulars in London, Windsor, and other towns along the Western side of Southern Ontario.

After a busy 1960's Tunney would leave the area on a regular basis not to return until 1979. He would add London, along with Kitchener, Hamilton, and Niagara Falls as regular stops the day after the usual Sunday MLG card. In 1980 -81 we would see a 5 day circuit appear, with stops at the above cities in addition to one offs in Oshawa, Kingston, Guelph, Peterborough and other stops.
Cannon 1977

George Cannon brought the upstart 'Universal Wrestling' to Ontario in 1975 Featuring Tony Marino, Ben Justice, Super Hawk, Sailor White, Lionel Robert, and Richard Charland he ran a show at the Riverside Arena in Windsor. The same group would also invade Toronto that summer aided by Kurt Von Hess, Karl Von Schotz, and Killer Tim Brooks for shows at both Mimico Arena and Scarboro Arena Gardens.

Cannon took a serious run at Tunney in 1976 with a show at the Colisuem at Exhibition Stadium using Bull Curry, Luis Martinez, Eric The Red, Tony Parisi, Fred Curry, The Love Brothers, the McGuire Twins, Frenchy Martin, and others. Tunney responded by moving up a show at MLG to go head to head. Tunney won fairly easily despite Cannon using Lou Thesz, a staple of Tunney's cards (and the NWA) in the 1950's. Sandwiched around that show were shows at Cobourg Arena and Ohsweken Memorial Center using mostly the same crew.

Cannon was also unique among 'indy' promoters in that he had TV at several times in the 1970's and early 1980's. His 'Superstars Of Wrestling' running on the Global network in Ontario was quite popular and reached across the province. Tapings would take place at the Global studio in Don Mills and at the University of Windsor. He also had a show on CITY TV Toronto and ran under several names including 'Contact Sports' and 'Can-Am Promotions'. He would promote shows in Windsor at the Elmwood Casino and Windsor Arena and branch out as far as Quebec and Newfoundland. Cannon would use a mix of Ontario, Detroit, and Quebec stars including those who were usually found on Tunney shows including The Destroyer (Beyer), Bravo, Nick DeCarlo, and others.

In 1981 Cannon would put on some shows in Detroit and around Michigan/Ohio said to be with the help of Tunney and Gino Brito. The cards did feature some of the then Mid Atlantic/Tunney guys including Sweet Ebony Diamond, Greg Valentine, and Swede Hansen in addition to those named above. Other local Ontario guys included Ricky Johnson and John Bonello as well as regular Cannon mainstays Sailor White and Luis Martinez. How much involvement Tunney had with Cannon is not clear, it was likely more of a 'let them go' type thing as the fall of Detroit under The Sheik opened up the area for others to try cards.

Whipper (Phil) Watson Jr. likely assisted by father Whipper Watson ran some shows in 1971 in Huntsville using MLG stars Whipper , Jr, Dewey Robertson, Haystack Calhoun, and Red Pollard. Whipper Jr would continue to promote some shows over the next few years with shows at the Aylmer Arena, Ajax Arena, Uxbridge Arena, Brampton Arena, Brooklin Arena, and Markham Arena using Jr, the Love Brothers, the McGuires, Executioner, Nick DeCarlo, Big Bad Coleman, Cheif White Eagle, and others. Some shows are hard to figure out as there is some overlap with McKigney shows.

Whipper Sr. also ran shows as one of Tunney's most trusted pals, again it's hard to tell if he was just wrestling or also promoting on the cards around Keswick, Newmarket, Brampton, etc in the 1960's. Sr. also worked alongside McKigney in the late '60's and I was told that McKigney tried to get Whip to work with him against Tunney but Sr. would not go against Frank. Sr. did have a part of Hamilton in the late '60's as well as some of the outlying towns at least through 1970.

Lars Anderson and his World Wrestling League ran a show in Terrace Bay in 1982 (and maybe also in 1979 or 1980), probably in Thunder Bay also featuring Anderson, Timmy Rich, Junkyard Dog (not that one), and other Pfefer like names.

Fort William, now part of Thunder Bay had regular shows in the 1950's. The later part of the decade at least and into the late 1960's was Laddie Simkanin in charge. Some of the Toronto guys would appear alongside Al Kashay, Verne Gagne, and others. As noted previously Mickailoff was running Fort William and Port Arthur in the early 1930's.

__________________ To be continued.....ongoing

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

The Canadian Heavyweight Title: The Complete History 1978-1984 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

    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

Saturday, November 23, 2019

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

 -by Gary Will

Toronto promoter Jack Corcoran created his own world title in 1938. Montreal-based world champion Yvon Robert came to town in February and defeated local star Vic Christie at Maple Leaf Gardens.

After the match, Robert was presented a new championship belt by Princess Baba, daughter of the White Rajah of Sarawak (Malaysia), who was something of a celebrity at the time (she was married to wrestler Bob Gregory, who was the special referee for the match).

In his first defence of the belt -- against Christie on March 3 (see ad above) -- Robert was said to have suffered a broken collarbone in the first fall and was unable to continue. That made Christie the world champion ... in Toronto.

 Corcoran did a good job of giving the belt some credibility by giving Christie victories over former world champions Dan O'Mahony (twice) and Ed Don George.

Christie lost the belt to the Masked Marvel on June 9, and Marvel continued to show that the title was no joke with wins over ex-world champs Robert, George, and O'Mahony. In Montreal, Robert reportedly defeated Marvel on September 14, but that was never acknowledged in Toronto.

Marvel dropped the title to Mayes McLain on September 29 and was unmasked as Ted Cox. Cox would come back to regain the belt on November 10, but Corcoran's enthusiasm for his world title seems to have faded significantly by this point.

A defence of the title in December wasn't even billed as the main event. That slot went to a match between Robert and O'Mahony.

 Cox's last defense was a draw against Steve Crusher Casey on December 15.  At the time, Casey was recognized as world champion in Boston.

After that, Cox left the area for several months and the title wasn't mentioned. When he returned in May, he was called a world title claimant, but was never again recognized as champion.

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

Wrestlers in Halls of Fame

If anyone can contribute to this please do, just starting
Will list wrestlers, promoters, others who tried wrestling etc. notable in Ontario

Ontario natives or regulars, Name of HOF, link

Canada's Sports HOF

Pro Football HOF

Brantford Area Sports Hall

BILLY BOWMAN aka Major Tom Thumb
Brantford Area Sports Hall

Brantford Area Sports Hall

Ontario Sports HOF

Clarington Sports HOF

Ontario Sports HOF
Hamilton Sports HOF

Canada's Sports HOF
Hockey HOF

Canada's Sports HOF

North Bay Sports HOF

North Bay Sports HOF

North Bay Sports HOF

Niagara Falls Virtual Sports Wall Of Fame


Friday, November 1, 2019

PHOTOS: Dory Funk Jr. defends NWA title: 1973; Gary Will's TWH

PHOTOS: Dory Funk Jr. defends NWA title: 1973

On February 11, 1973, Dory Funk Jr. successfully defended the NWA world heavyweight title at Maple Leaf Gardens against challenger Johnny Valentine.

A good portion of the match consisted of Valentine holding Funk in a front face-lock, but February 11 would turn out not to be Valentine's day, as Funk would come back to win the match in 28:12. Reported attendance was 14,000. The referee is Tiger Tasker.

You can see in the photos how the crowd lights would go out during the matches, leaving only the lights above the ring. You can also see the famous Gardens ramp in the background.

-by Gary Will

Mid-Atlantic Gateway: New Book on the Canadian Heavyweight Title Parallels the "Mid-Atlantic Era" in Toronto

Mid-Atlantic Gateway: New Book on the Canadian Heavyweight Title Parallels the "Mid-Atlantic Era" in Toronto:

by Dick Bourne-  Mid-Atlantic Gateway

In late 1978 or early 1979, I started noticing in some of the newsstand wrestling magazines that the top stars in the Mid-Atlantic wrestling area were regularly headlining in Toronto. At the same time, the Canadian Heavyweight champion, with his Canadian Heavyweight title belt, started showing up on our weekly Mid-Atlantic television programs and on our local cards..........continued at the Gateway

Toronto fans will love all the books in Dick Bourne's own series . The U.S. and Mid-Atlantic Title books in particular are great companions to the Toronto scene at the time and are so well done as are the Big Gold and Ten Pounds of Gold books! 

The Canadian Heavyweight Title: The Complete History 1978-1984 is available in the Mid Atlantic Gatweay Bookstore and at Amazon 

Masked Men in Toronto

Masked wrestlers have been around since the beginning of pro wrestling and Toronto had it's fair share of them (plus a couple of masked managers) over the years.

Sometimes the fans knew or had a good idea who was under the mask. In Toronto more often than not the fans would find out after they had lost their masks in the ring at Maple Leaf Gardens.

We will take a general look at some of the masked wrestlers who were unmasked - and some that weren't - and the men who unmasked them over the 50 years.

Not a definitive listing as there were many different masked persona's around the region.

See also Gary Will's TWH: Unmasked! -- Wrestlers who lost their masks in Toronto

One of the first of note to be unmasked was 'The Unknown' in 1936. Billed as a 'masked mystery man of the sport' he would lose his mask to reveal Jim McMillen. Hal Rumberg unmasked McMillen who was a noted ex footballer who had played for the Bears before a successful wrestling career.

The 'Masked Marvel' is probably one of the earliest and plentiful masked gimmicks. We had a few at different times both at Maple Leaf Gardens and the many towns on the circuits around Ontario.

Whipper trying to unmask Marvel 1949
Jack Dempsey looks on 
First on the scene in 1932 a Masked Marvel was said to be a different person than the one who had been unmasked in New York as Mike Romano. Promoter Jack Corcoran claimed ours was a 24 year old youngster who did not want to reveal his identity until 'he makes good.'

He never did (reveal his identity) but it was said to be Al Getzewich/Al Getz who was unmasked later that year in Ottawa by Ed 'Strangler' Lewis. Getzewich was born in 1907 making him around 24 years old in 1932 and wrestled around the area under his own name in the early 1940's.

A later article claims Jerry Monahan was the Marvel at that time. Monahan was part of the group when Frank and John Tunney took over in 1939.
Another Marvel in 1938 was our World Champion (Toronto version) for a time. He lost the title and was unmasked to uncover Ted Cox. Also known as 'King Kong' Cox he would wrestle as the Masked Marvel in other areas and lose the mask several times in other cities.

Cox was unmasked here by Mayes McClain. Mayes was another ex footballer who turned to wrestling and had a long and successful career across North America. He had held our World title for a couple of months before losing it back to Cox, who may be the only man to hold a World Title both masked and unmasked.

At the time of Marvel/Cox in 1938 promoter Jack Corcoran entered a dog in the Toronto Star's 'Dog Derby. 'The Masked Marvel II' with a photo in the paper of a masked dog and his 'Masked Manager' presumed to be Corcoran with his ever present pipe in his mouth. The dog had his own pipe.

Cox had his own 'Masked Manager' as well. In a rematch with McClain after losing the title the manager was to unmask if Cox had lost to McClain. The Masked Manager routine would resurface later.

In 1949 our British Empire champion Whipper Watson would meet another Marvel in a series and eventually unmask him to reveal Lew Reynheer. The bout had a clause that Whipper would retire if he lost. Former World champ Strangler Lewis was the special referee for the unmasking bout. Jack Dempsey had refereed an earlier bout which is pictured here.

When Whipper unmasked Lew, he was said to be the 'original' Masked Marvel, obviously not the first Marvel to appear here and he would not be the last.

By 1951 another Marvel was on the scene (sometimes billed as 'The Mask/Mask') and he also had a 'Masked Manager.'

They would have an all masked series with 'The Zebra.'

The Masked Manager would lose his mask to Watson who beat him in Feb 1951 to reveal non other than -Mayes McClain. It went full circle since the 1930's with McClain now being the unmasked. McClain would hang around for a bit as the 'Unmasked Manager.'

Thesz stares down Hefner after unmasking him
Ref 'Bunny' Dunlop looks on  
Soon it was Marvel's turn and it would be the masked Zebra that would claim the mask revealing 'Shoulders' Lou Newman. 'Shoulders' also worked as a masked Mr X elsewhere in his career.

The Zebra, sometimes billed as 'Zebra Kid'  would get his due when he faced Whipper in a feud that would see Whipper collect another mask. Boxing champ Jack Dempsey served as a special referee and would help Watson forcibly remove the mask after a double count-out at MLG.

Under that one was George Bollas who would hang around a bit as 'George Bollas' or sometimes 'the unmasked Zebra.'

Bollas was famous all over the wrestling world both here and overseas as the Zebra/Zebra Kid. In late 1951 after being unmasked he attempted to re-don the mask for a bout in Niagara Falls but was ordered by promoter Sam Sobel to remove it before wrestling.

In those years there were a bunch of other masked wrestlers, some who got unmasked, among them Red Shadow (Leo Numa), Masked Wolf (John Grandovich), The Czar (Dick Lever), The Mummy (Pedro Martinez), and the simple Mr X (none other than Earl McCready). Both the Mummy and Mr X were actually unmasked by the masked Marvel/Lew Reynheer.

Yet another Masked Marvel came along in 1952 and was unmasked to reveal Frank Valois. The man who unmasked him? Another masked wrestler named Red Mask.                 

By 1953 there were several Red Mask's active both on the major MLG circuit and on the smaller independent shows in and around Toronto.

The MLG one got a shot at NWA champ Lou Thesz who unmasked him to reveal Dutch Hefner. There was even a Red Mask on the small auto racing circuit here taking advantage of the Red Mask angles on the various shows at the time.

Others active on the circuit from the 1930's to the 1950's included Purple Mask (said to be 'Wild' Bill Longson), The Red Demon (unmasked in Oshawa in 1947 as 'Red' O'Malley), another Unknown (unmasked in Oshawa in 1950 as Hamiltonian Abe Zvonkin), Red Devil, The Hooded Mask, more Masked Marvels, and several Mr X's .

In 1955 a Mr X was wrestling in Red Garner's Richmond Hill/Thornhill (just North of Toronto) based CCWA.

One bout offered the fans a chance to predict who was under the mask (if he lost) to win $10 and a season pass to the wrestling events held at the Thornhill Market that year. He kept it but lost it in a later bout to reveal Harry Szaley.

The Great Bolo was another that saw action in many areas. We had one in 1959 unmasked by Whipper Watson to reveal Al Lovelock.

The most well known of the 'Bolo's' Lovelock would work the  gimmick all over the territories during his career. There were other Bolo's around the region too in that era.

Pat Flanagan vs The Zebra
in Oshawa 1951
Whipper Watson closed out the 1950's by unmasking the Great Bolo in 1959 to reveal Al Lovelock under the mask. In 1961 he would add to his collection unmasking the Black Terror with Laverne Baxter underneath.

Baxter had wrestled here briefly in the early 1950's as Vern Baxter and had arrived on the scene as Black Terror in March 1961.

In 1962 there was The Great Kudo with veteran Red Garner under the mask. He ran his own promotion (CCWA) for many years in the smaller towns mostly North of Toronto.

As Kudo he had a feud with Bruno Sammartino. When Bruno returned with the WWWF Title Kudo was his first title defense here in 1964. Kudo was handled by Sam Sullivan and Garner would run the gimmick on his circuit shows around the area.

In June 1966 a new masked man appeared on the scene, the first of the Destroyers. In Jan 1964 he was finally unmasked by Johnny Valentine to reveal Joe Christie. Christie had worked around the territories both as the Destroyer and as a Masked Marvel. He appeared in Toronto prior as Christie and again after he was unmasked.

Valentine would collect another mask in May 1964 from the Mighty Hercules. The bout with special ref Bobby Bruns ended when Valentine had Hercules caught up in the ropes and ripped his mask off before a brainbuster and pin.

Hercules said that because he wasn't pinned first as per the terms of the contract he was under no obligation to identify himself. Fans were calling him Bobby Graham while Bruns said he would have guessed it was Hans Schnabel but then remarked 'But no, Schnabel would be about my (Bruns) age,'

Of the many unmaskings at MLG this was the only one not officially named but was likely Graham who plied his trade all over the wrestling world under several different names including Mighty Hercules.

Kudo 1962
Whipper was back at it in 1966, this time with his former rival, now tag partner Bulldog Brower. They were feuding with a masked team the Masked Yankees and the bout was a Survivor match with no countouts or dq's and falls count anywhere. Added stipulation was that if Whip and Brower lost Whipper would retire. If the Yankees lost they would unmask.

The good guys prevailed and unmasked after Whip had pinned one of the Yankees and he didn't get back up after the one minute count afforded between falls. The card was held at the outdoor Maple Leaf Stadium with the ring over home plate where they said 'the baseball catchers regularly unmask.'

Bob Stanlee and Moose Evans were under the masks. Stanlee had been here as Big Bob Stanlee and was a wrestling brother to Mr America Steve Stanlee who was a popular star here in the 1950's and early 1960's.

Moose Evans had never wrestled here before coming in as a Yankee. The two teams would have a re-match and the team now dubbed 'Unmasked Yankees' was to leave the area if they lost. They did and disappeared from the scene.

1966 saw the Caped Crusader hit the area sometimes accompanied by Wonder Boy. This was the Batman gimmick taking advantage of the success of the TV show. They dressed as Batman and Robin but were billed as Caped Crusader and Wonder Boy to get around the legalities.

Tony Marino was the Crusader and used the same gimmick in the US as Battman, two t's. Assume he was also the 'Masked Crusader' just after the pair departed. John Foti was the Wonder Boy. He had wrestled here as far back as 1956 while Marino debuted here in 1960.

The Assassin appeared on the scene in 1967. He was later joined by another for a short time, billed as  'Assassins' I and II or the Masked Assassins.

Masked Yankees
The Assassin was a mainstay on the scene for the next several years. In 1971 he met The Sheik in the middle of Sheik's five year unbeaten streak and was unmasked.

Under the mask was Guy Mitchell, a graduate of the Hamilton scene and Spittles and Wentworth's gyms. Mitchell was an 'Assassin' prior in the WWA and would later be known as 'Gentleman' Jerry Valiant.

The feud he had with Sheik was a heel-heel and after the unmasking Mitchell would stay on as 'The Stomper' or Guy 'The Stomper' Mitchell. After a prolonged absence he came back as Valiant in the WWF days.

The Assassin gimmick returned in the early 1980's on Dave McKigney's circuit with various wrestlers under the mask. Tunney regulars Brian 'Silent' Macnee and Tim Gerrard were two of them.

The Executioner was a regular in the early 1970's. He was never unmasked but was likely mostly Ernie Moore under the mask. Another Hamilton area star, he saw success in the Buffalo/Cleveland based NWF in the early 1970's. As 'Ernie Moore' he wrestled mostly on the smaller circuit cards around Southern Ontario.

Later on during the Sheik streak 'The Crusader' showed up for his try and after losing was unmasked as Dewey Robertson.

Dewey was another homegrown star who at one time was primed by Whipper to be the next big star. He had wrestled here regularly since 1967 before becoming The Crusader in 1974. Once unmasked he would sometimes go by 'Crusader' Robertson and soon teamed with Billy Red Lyons as 'The Crusaders.'

The Crusaders would dominate the tag scene for a time with a long feud with the Love Brothers. The fans knew who they were and they were often billed with their regular names and wrestled unmasked as well.

Another frequent tag rival the Kelly Twins, Pat and Mike would later don masks on McKigney's circuit in 82-83 as 'The Destroyers.'

Around the same time we saw the masked El Santos I and El Santos II on Geroge Cannon's Superstars as well as at MLG.. They wore checkerboard white and black masks and outfits and were mostly played by Terry Yorkston and Duncan McTavish.

They occasionally used the El Santos gimmick on McKigney's circuit in the early 80's as well.

When Tunney was using the AWA stars in 1977-78 we had the Super Destroyers I and II both as a team and solo.

Under the masks were Don Jardine and a pre-Sgt Bob Slaughter. Jardine had wrestled here early in his career as Don 'Babyface' Jardine, another of Whipper Watson's prospects. He had later become The Spoiler but never used that masked persona here.

Slaughter was Super Destroyer II and they were accompanied by manager Lord Alfred Hayes. They had a good creepy look going, kind of like the villain in the Scream movies.
Assassin vs Brower 1968

One of the best wrestlers of the Mid Atlantic era was the Masked Superstar. He was a regular here from 1980 - 1983 as Superstar and had appeared here previously as part of the Mongol's team (not masked). He returned in the WWF days as part of Demolition (makeup no masks) and appeared in the Frank Tunney Tag Tournament they held in 1987.

For a time in 1980 he was joined by Masked Superstar II. He would lose his mask to Blackjack Mulligan revealing John Studd. Studd had wrestled as the masked Executioner in the WWWF but not here. He would stay on to feud with Blackjack over the next several years and would hold our Canadian Title in 1981

When Dick Beyer returned in 1979 after a long absence (last wrestled here in 1961) as The Destroyer, he added 'Original, Sensational, Intelligent..' to the name. Not to be confused with the previous versions. He was here regularly through the M-A era.

Crusader Robertson
Near the end of the NWA days we had the Assassins. They had been huge stars in the U.S. with original members Jody Hamilton and Tom Renesto. By this time Hamilton had been teaming with various others after Renesto had retired.

In a hair vs mask bout Jimmy Valiant won over an Assassin and he was unmasked as Ray 'Hercules' Hernandez. Around the same time there was the 'Grapplers' Len Denton and Tony Anthony. They would be the last in the NWA days

Thanks to Roger Baker and Gary Will
See also Gary Will's TWH: Unmasked! -- Wrestlers who lost their masks in Toronto

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Unmasked! -- Wrestlers who lost their masks in Toronto : Gary Will's TWH

Masked wrestlers in Toronto date back to the first appearance of the area's first Masked Marvel in 1932. More than 20 wrestlers lost their masks in the ring in Toronto:

36/06/18   The UnknownHal RumbergJim McMillen
38/09/29Masked MarvelTed CoxMayes McLain
41/11/27Masked WolfJohn GrandovichThe Angel
43/08/12Red ShadowLeo NumaWild Bill Longson
44/01/05The CzarDick LeverBobby Managoff
48/01/08The MummyPedro MartinezMasked Marvel
49/01/27Mr. XEarl McCreadyMasked Marvel & tag partners
49/02/17Masked MarvelLew ReynheerWhipper Billy Watson
51/02/22Masked ManagerMayes McLainWhipper Billy Watson
51/08/30Masked MarvelLou NewmanThe Zebra
51/11/29The ZebraGeorge BollasWhipper Billy Watson
52/12/26Masked MarvelFrank ValoisRed Mask
53/06/11Red MaskDutch HefnerLou Thesz
59/06/04Great BoloAl LovelockWhipper Billy Watson
61/05/25Black TerrorLaverne BaxterWhipper Billy Watson
64/01/16The DestroyerJoe ChristieJohnny Valentine
64/05/06Mighty Herculesnot identifiedJohnny Valentine
66/07/10Masked Yankee DandyBob StanleeWhipper Watson/Bulldog Brower
66/07/10Masked Yankee Doodle   Moose EvansWhipper Watson/Bulldog Brower
71/07/11Masked AssassinGuy MitchellThe Sheik
74/04/07The CrusaderDewey Robertson   The Sheik
80/05/25Masked Superstar #2John StuddBlackjack Mulligan
84/04/15AssassinRay HernandezJimmy Valiant

Four Masked Marvels were unmasked in Toronto, but the first one -- the one from 1932 -- never was. It was said to be Al Getzewich, who was unmasked later that year in Ottawa by Strangler Lewis.

The later versions of the Masked Marvel were sometimes called The Mask, as in the ad at right. That's for the August 30, 1951 show where Zebra unmasked The Mask and revealed him to be Vancouver's Lou Newman.

The Mighty Hercules from 1964 was said to be Bobby Graham in the papers, but he was the only one who was not formally identified after having his mask removed.

-by Gary Will 

Canadian Ratings WAYLI 1953

Interesting combined Canadian rankings by Barry Lloyd Penhale from a Jan 1954 issue of Wrestling As You Like It mag. Much of it is centered around the Toronto scene and Kasaboski's Northland Wrestling for the Junior heavyweights.

Bob Gregory and The Princess come to Toronto 1938

Originally posted June 2017

In Jan 1938 wrestler Bob Gregory arrived at New York with his new bride Valerie Brooke the former Princess Baba, said to be 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 the 1937 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.