Thursday, December 3, 2020 Presents: From Nanjo to The Sheik

Our next in the series looks at the boom of Toronto wrestling. 

With memories from -and featuring the photos of- Roger Baker
Available now Amazon Worldwide 
If you are in Canada and don't have Prime or don't use Amazon
  contact to request a copy
240 pgs  B&W $16.99 +txs cdn free shipping


10 From Nanjo to The Sheik
22 The Sheik
30 Did You Know: Wrestling Office
31 Did You know: Maple Leaf Wrestling name
33 Lou Thesz & The NWA Title
52 NWA Title Bouts in Toronto
56 Sam Muchnick
58 Roger Remembers Waldo Von Erich
60 Home of The Bulldog
70 Tickets & Times
72 Yukon Eric: The Sampson of the North
76 Bruno!
80 Rocca vs Thesz 1962
82 Have No Fear Kiniski is Here
92 Roger Remembers The Ramp
94 Roger Remembers Sweet Daddy Siki
96 The Inner Circle Group Shot
98 Frank Tunney, Jack Corcoran, the Inner Circle
  106 Phil Lawson 
  107 Phil Lisner
  108 Jack Deacon Allen
  108 Jerry Monahan
  108 Pat Flanagan
  112 Tiger Tommy Nelson 
114 Referees
  115 Joe Gollob
  116 Jack Forbes & Cliff Worthy
  116 Bert Maxwell
  117 Tiger Tasker
  122 Bunny Dunlop
  122 John Katan/Krusher Korman/Billy Stack/Terry Yorkston
  123 Fred Atkins
128 Notable Guest Referees in Toronto
132 Lord Athol Layton 
138 Roger Remembers The Fabulous Kangaroos
140 Did You Know: Toronto wrestling families
142 Pedro Martinez and Buffalo
148 TV and Maple Leaf
156 Perlovese
160 Carpentier vs Stasiak Nov 1966
164 Notable Debuts: Killer Kowalski 1949
165 Notable Debuts: Don Jardine 1959
166 Fritz Von Erich
172 Titles in Toronto
174 Bull Curry 
175 Johnny Powers
176 Attendance
188 WWWF/WWF Title in Toronto
190 Johnny Valentine
198 Did You Know: Whipper’s Beverages 
200 Lou Marsh
204 Sunday Night Wrestling in Toronto
205 1942 The Fans Decide The Bouts
206 Masked Wrestlers in Toronto
214 Roger Remembers Don Leo Jonathon
216 Stan Stasiak
218 Wire Fence Bouts
220 Roger Remembers Tex McKenzie
222 Brief History of Wrestling in Oshawa
230 Whipper & Robert: The Canadian Dream Team
232 George Richards Mr. Big and Tall
234 Whipper wins World Title
236 Early Toronto Timeline
239 About the Author

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Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Dave McKigney: 25 Years Later 2013

    Thanks to Greg for putting this back online at the new Slam Wrestling, originally posted 2013

    Some further findings since that ran, one clarification would be about the genesis of the Bearman part. In summer 1957 while Dave was wrestling in Red Garner's CCWA, Terrible Ted the bear would appear alongside handler Paul Brunet. Dave would start appearing with Ted the following summer. A future story (here) may look at some other facets of Dave and his promotion that have come to light since that article ran. Some of the stuff from our old Wildman site will also be back in the New Year. 

   It has been 25 years since 'The Bearman' Dave McKigney died in Newfoundland and Labrador when his van left the road to avoid a moose. But his story is so much richer than just the end, from growing up poor in Toronto, to working the Ontario circuit, to promoting shows across the province. Come with us on a wonderful ride, revisiting the Bearman!   read more at Slam Wrestling   (external link will open in new window)

Friday, November 27, 2020

Toronto Scrapbooks Aug-Oct 1957

As a companion to the new 'From Nanjo to The Sheik' we will be presenting some of the Toronto Scrapbook collection. First up is Aug-Oct 1957 non stop excitement with Whipper & O'Connor teaming up, Yukon Eric, Kiniski, the Kangaroos, Dick Hutton, Fritz, the Miller brothers, the Kalmikoffs, and more. 

Thank you to Roger for compiling, preserving, and sharing these treasures with us. 

Part 1 Part 2

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Nanjo & Sharkey MLG

   Enjoy the winter break with Nanjo Singh on the losing end of special ref Jack Sharkey's cross at MLG. This played out a quite a few times around the region through the 1940s. Look how close the fans are to the huge Gardens ring in those days. By the 50s they were back a bit further, but not much. Of course they built the ramp in '48 to keep Nanjo from getting ripped apart by the MLG faithful. The Toronto fans really took it seriously back then! 

   Our newest in the ' presents' series looks a bit at Nanjo and Sharkey among other slices of Toronto wrestling in From Nanjo to The Sheik: Tales from Toronto

-From Nanjo to The Sheik  p12  
   Some wrestlers could earn the fans wrath just by showing up, Nanjo the Banjo was one of those. In 1940 after putting Ottawa native Leo Giroux to sleep with the Cobra, Singh would have to be escorted to the dressing room of MLG to escape the fury of the fans. It was one of many occasions that Singh would see this played out in Toronto.

  In addition to the Cobra which was said to be his original move, Singh would pray in the corner before a bout and use the villain tactics of eye-gouges, biting, and foreign objects to further enrage the fans. Later area heel Tiger Jeet Singh (no relation) and of course The Sheik (Farhat) would borrow from that act getting mostly the same reaction at the Gardens.

-Lou Thesz and the NWA Title  p34
   A Thesz-Watson bout on Mar 1 1956 ends in controversy when special referee Jack Sharkey disqualifies Thesz for a low blow and declares Watson the new champ. Sam Muchnick, then NWA president and present at MLG declares that there could not be a title change via dq. He was said by writer Joe Perlove (in his usual style) to invoke 'Directive 1337, clause gimmel (a)' of the NWA rules which stated in large black letters that the title cannot change on a dq.’ 

   The 15,000 fans on hand were elated and then deflated as it was left up in the air with the papers declaring Tunney (then VP of the NWA) at risk of being suspended if he flouted the NWA rules and went with Whipper as new champ.


Saturday, November 21, 2020

Crown Jewel and the love of Wrestling

 On my latest visit to see my friend Roger Baker I was able to take him a copy of Dick Bourne's new book Crown Jewel The NWA World Championship 1959-1973. One of my favorite of Roger's photos is featured in the book, a shot of Kiniski (lifting his ring jacket to show the belt) facing off before a title bout with Carpentier in Toronto in '66.

  The book is jammed full with the history of the title, the origins of the belt, and the names that held it. Pat O'Connor, Buddy Rogers, Lou Thesz, Gene Kiniski, Dory Funk, Jr., and Harley Race. This time Dick goes back a bit before the scope of the Mid Atlantic Gateway site -and it is a fascinating read with all of the quality and great photos you expect with all of Dick's books. 

  Of course Toronto was a big part of that title, especially in the earlier years. Thesz was a staple in T.O. while our once British Empire champ Pat O'Connor was for a time, second in popularity only to Whipper. Buddy Rogers had some notable bouts in Toronto including losing the title to Thesz right here in our ring. Gene Kiniski was a top 3 maybe around here, a huge part of the boom of the '50s and returned as champ to defend 18 times in Toronto alone (busy on the circuit too). During those years 1959-1973 we saw about 58 world title defenses if I count right. 

  One of the most interesting chapters is Dick Hutton: Champion without a belt. Hutton, maybe the most forgotten of the early NWA champs. He had a great impact in Toronto, from his arrival in 1956 through his title win (also at MLG) and reign, and his beat the yank $1000 challenge and teaming with Kiniski and others. When he took the title from Thesz in Nov 1957 he wasn't a big hit as champ, either here in Toronto or elsewhere. 

  After O'Connor returned as new champ in Jan 1959 Steve York of the Globe wrote 

'Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. How else can you account for O’Connor replacing Dick Hutton as NWA champion? O’Connor bounces around, has more color and is more expressive than the phlegmatic, stolid Hutton, who does everything deliberately. Besides which Pat is as good a wrestler as Hutton.'

    While Hutton was champ he wore a belt, but not that belt. You can learn all about that in the book. The in depth information is as usual, very well researched, and is presented in a smooth and transitional way that you will be familiar with from all of Dick's books. 

  And that brings me back to Roger. We talked a while back about Hutton, the forgotten champ, the champ without a belt.

'Dick Hutton was a powerhouse of a man, he was built like a tank, weighed around 260lbs. This Oklahoma bred mat man was all business in the ring and he could stay on his feet much to the consternation of many of his opponents. Hutton could also lay a sledgehammer elbow smash to an opponent that would knock the recipient senseless!' 

  It's always a pleasure to sit and talk with Roger. I can spend hours and hours reading newspaper clips but to talk to a fan that was there, you can really feel the excitement of that era, and brings it alive. The biggest compliment I could pay The Crown Jewel is that it does a great job of that; it really conveys the time and the atmosphere around the NWA and pro wrestling in general. 

  We loved the book! I am on my 3rd go round it's so much fun. You can really tell Dick loves what he does, just spend a few minutes at the Gateway and it's wholly evident. In a fine spotlight on the book  Dick Bourne’s new wrestling book is a ‘Crown Jewel’  I thought the author himself summed it up perfectly.

'Our website is all about the positive, about reliving and sharing good memories,” says Bourne. 'We don’t get into any of the backstage drama. We like to try and present the history of the territory just as it was presented to us back then on television and in the arenas. It’s like back in the days when people passed along folk tales from generation to generation; we want to pass along these great stories told decades ago so that new generations of wrestling fans will know them, too, and those great names will never be forgotten.'

We feel the same way 

  Pick up this great book though the Gateway Bookstore   👍👍


Thursday, November 5, 2020

2020 Winter Break update

Heck of a year.... 
As we head into our 18th winter break at the Maple Leaf office 
Recent updates include...
Open Air Wrestling in Toronto 
..Outdoor cards over the years 
..Hulkamania takes over the CNE
Toronto Collectables: What's it worth?
..Dig out your stuff! 
Niagara Falls Posters 
..Some classics from 1953-54
Slaughter and that US title July 1982 
..The 'other' US title at MLG
Whip and Togo set Oshawa on fire 1953
..Literally & figuratively!

A couple of upcoming projects...

From Nanjo to The Sheik 
Tales from Toronto Wrestling 
240 pages Black & White with many rare photos
Lou Thesz and the NWA Title, Bruno Sammartino, The Referees, Yukon Eric
Gene Kiniski, Masked Wrestlers, Fritz Von Erich, Bulldog Brower
Jack Corcoran, Frank Tunney & the Office, The Titles
Attendance, TV, Did you know? and more
Dec 2020

 Toronto Wrestling: The Podcast
We have put together a team of creative and knowledgeable Toronto fans to present a 
wrestling magazine type show with conversation, facts, tidbits, and other assorted stuff. 
Due 2021 Stay tuned and take care of yourself! 

The first in the presents series is 

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Don Leo at Maple Leaf Stadium 1959


  A riot breaks out at Maple Leaf Stadium in August 1959 after Gene Kiniski interferes in a Don Leo-Whipper bout. The fans throw their chairs and Don Leo grabs a rope stand as he and Kiniski try to escape. Ref Joe Gollob is hit by a chair (again) and suffers a nasty head wound that requires stitches. 

Just another day in the maple leaf wars. 

Note the Stadium usher in tux in those years, a few years later they wore a similar outfit with hat as the MLG ushers. 

We looked at outdoor events including the Stadium cards recently at Open Air Wrestling in Toronto

Burns photo collection 

Monday, November 2, 2020

Ed White aka 'Handsome Johnny Davis'

Excerpted from a longer piece on the old site
   Back around 2002 when I first started posting some of my collection I spoke with Ed White. He wrestled up here under his own name as well as around Detroit and other areas as Handsome Johnny Davis. Note same name as Ed 'Sailor' White but different guy. Ed was a very gracious and humble guy and spoke with me a bit about his time wrestling up here in the mid '70s. 

  Ed wrestled from '74 -'79 after learning the ropes at Lou Klein's Detroit gym, breaking in with his pal and sometimes tag partner Denny Alberts.  Anyways he shared a couple of items with me and later sent them up. A handwritten (looks to be Dave's hand) lineup sheet from a Wildman card and a receipt from a Tunney TV taping. 

  He worked a couple of Wildman Dave McKigney tours in '75 and on one of those trips he drove Andre The Giant around in his (Ed's) Dad's car, a big old Caddy. He remembered Dave fondly. 'Great guy, paid good, made one of my biggest mistakes not going to work for him full time when he asked me. I was fed up and wanted out, if I had gone with him I may have lasted a few years longer and had some fun.'

  McKigney had trouble with the boxing/wrestling commission and Jack Tunney in particular later on, but in those days had an easier time of it all. 'I always thought of Dave as the Canadian Lou Klein. He had the blessings of the Tunney's or they wouldn’t have used him on the MLG shows.'

  The small towns made for interesting match-ups like Ed teaming with McKigney (Wildman) against the mammoth Haystacks Calhoun in one of those handicap matches that seemed to be on every card. On the trips through Ontario, the familiar names pop up, Chris Tolos, Dewey Robertson, Red Lyons, Sweet Daddy Siki, and local favorite heel Waldo Von Erich, 'He was funny and real nice to me. Taught me a few things about the biz too.'  How about the Bear? 'Never wrestled it but got in the ring with it one time just playing before a show.'  Ontario was the home away from home for The Sheik in those days when he would appear throughout the circuit. 'Scary at first, but I got along great with him, even though his payoffs sucked.'

  Ed also made it to MLG a couple of times (under his real name interestingly), vs Waldo and then Mark Lewin in September 1975. 'I loved going to MLG, wish I could have worked there more, big building, clean, great crowds, big ring and I loved the ramp.'  And what about Frank Tunney? 'Nice guy, used to pick up his Export A butts for him at the border.'  A TV Taping for Tunney at the Hamilton Studios would also be part of the tour, and Ed would pick up a cool 50 bucks for an afternoon of taking bumps. As a mid carder/prelim type he would see his share of losses, and when asked about his biggest win, replied, 'Win? Not many of them so I should remember, but I don’t.'

   Some of those losses would come from heroes like Bobo Brazil.'Worked with him a lot and every one was a dream' while one would come from legendary tough guy and long time Toronto stalwart Johnny Valentine. 'He beat the hell out of me, wasn’t long after this that he had his plane crash so I never worked with him again.  He came back to do some booking for Sheik from a wheelchair. and I got to know him a little during that time. Got along good with him and he got a good laugh when I reminded him about the ass kicking he gave me. I wasn’t the only rookie to get this from him.'
   If you look around on Youtube there is a clip of Ed on Match Game from 1978, he won 6800$.
Host Gene Rayburn in his most annoying style asked Ed about wrestling.
Gene: is it real?
Ed: as real as this show



Sunday, November 1, 2020

1952 Canadian Open Tag Titles: Tournament

Poster from Day 2 

  Amid the boom of the 1950s Frank Tunney would introduce the first tag titles in Toronto. The Canadian Open Tag Titles. The winners were to be decided in a four card tournament at MLG in Aug 1952. The top seeds were the teams of Whipper & Pat Flanagan, Lord Layton & Fred Atkins, and Yukon Eric & Johnny Barend.

  Whipper & Flanagan would win the tourny on Day 4 defeating Lord Layton & Hans Hermann (who had replaced an injured Fred Atkins). Whipper and Flanagan would hold the titles until December that year losing to Lou Plummer & Dick Raines. Whipper would go on to be a 11 time co-holder through the run of the titles which were retired in 1961. The International Tag Titles would replace them from 1961-1977, Whipper in on 9 of those reigns too with partners including Bruno, Johnny Valentine, and Mark Lewin.

  The winners received the Calvert Trophy (no tag belts back then) which lasted until demolished by the Mills brothers and replaced by the (former wrestler and clothier to the athletes) George Richards Trophy in 1954.

52/08/07 MLG Att: 6500 Canadian Open Tag Title Tournament - Day 1
Fred Atkins/Lord Layton W Ray Villmer/Warren Bockwinkel
Yukon Eric/Johnny Barend W Dan O'Connor/Jim 'Bull' Wright
Masked Marvel W George Scott
Sonny Kurgis vs Tiger tasker

52/08/14 MLG Att; 6000 Canadian Open Tag Title Tournament - Day 2
Whipper Watson/Pat Flanagan W Roberto Pico/'Wee' Willie Davis
Hans Hermann/Lee Henning W Bobo Brazil/Sandor Kovacs
Masked Marvel vs Sonny Kurgis
Warren Bockwinkel vs Abe Zvonkin

52/08/21 MLG Att; 6500 Canadian Open Tag Title Tournament - Day 3
Whipper Watson/Pat Flanagan W Hans Hermann/Lee Henning
Fred Atkins/Lord Layton W Yukon Eric/Johnny Barend
Masked Marvel W Warren Bockwinkel
George Scott D Tiger Tasker

52/08/28 MLG Canadian Open Tag Title Tournament - Day 4
Whipper Watson/Pat Flanagan W Hans Hermann/Lord Layton to capture the Canadian Open Tag Titles
Presented the Calvert Trophy emblematic of the championship
*Hermann subs for Fred Atkins, said to have separated his shoulder earlier in the week
Masked Marvel W Sandor Kovaks
Ray Villmer D Jim 'Bull' Wright
Johnny Barend W Dan O'Connor
Tiger Tasker D Dave Simms


Photo and nostalgia collection

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Angelo Mosca in Toronto


  Angelo Mosca was already a well known star by the time he first appeared at MLG in 1969. He was in the middle of his second go around with the Hamilton Tiger Cats and near the end of his Hall of Fame career in the Canadian Football League.

  He had started wrestling in Ottawa in 1960 on a part time basis while earning his reputation as 'Mean and Nasty' on -and off- the football field. He had been in some trouble while at University of Wyoming  in 1958. They cancelled his athletic scholarship for 'scholastic deficiency and disciplinary reasons.' He had also been sent away from Notre Dame for similar infractions. Just around the start of his wrestling career he was in Montreal playing for the Ottawa Shaffers in the Eastern Canada Senior Basketball playoffs (alongside some other CFL'ers earning extra money), Mosca slugged the referee and was promptly suspended. He had taken a 'kicking and kneeing' penalty earlier in the game and took it out on the ref with a right to the jaw. The coaches hauled Mosca off and convinced the ref not to call the game. Once he had visited the dressing room and returned he ordered Mosca to the showers. Mosca then hit him with a left to the jaw. His own teammates dragged him to the dressing room and he left the arena while the ref threatened to charge Mosca with assault. That was the end of the playoffs for Mosca who would stick to causing trouble on the field and in the ring.  

  When he finally made his Toronto wrestling debut years later it was the Sheik era in the city. Mosca would get his chance vs Sheik in June 1971, his first main event at the Gardens.

Angelo Mosca, evidently so unnerved at hearing Torontonians actually cheering for him, erred on a flying tackle, wrapped himself around a ring-post and ultimately, lost his wrestling assignment against he Sheik last night. In the autumn, Mosca is a 270 pound lineman with Hamilton Tiger-Cats and seems to rate the most verbal abuse when the Toronto Argonauts are hosting other Canadian Football League teams at CNE Stadium. He forgot however that a Maple Leaf Garden's wrestling crowd would throw roses to Adolph Hitler had he ever faced The Sheik. 
Allan Ryan Globe and Mail June 21 1971

 Mosca gave The Sheik trouble but still notched another mark on Sheik's unbeaten streak, then at 49 wins 0 losses and 7 double dq/double countouts. That would be his last appearance at MLG for a time but he remained an regular around Ontario. He spent a few tours with Wildman Dave McKigney as well as the crossover WWA (Indianapolis/Michigan) cards held around the southwestern portion of the province. He would have a tough main event feud with Stomper Archie Gouldie over the Wildman's North American Heavyweight title in summer 1971. At the end of that summer Mosca got into an altercation with a man after leaving a restaurant in downtown Hamilton. The other guy filed charges for assault after he was left with a 'bump on the head and torn clothes after a scuffle' with big Ange. The following year he would retire from the field and turn to wrestling full-time. 

  In late 1975 he would return to MLG, this time as a full out heel playing up his football reputation. In Dec 1976 he faced Andre the Giant in the semi final bout under a rare Sheik title loss (to Thunderbolt Patterson). 

Angelo Mosca weighed 285 pounds when he played defensive tackle for Ottawa and Hamilton. Now, as a pro wrestler, he goes 310. He's on the Boxing Day card at Maple Leaf Gardens Sunday evening up against Andre the Giant. 'I'd done a bit of wrestling when I was playing but I got very serious about it after we won the 1972 Grey Cup in Hamilton, and I retired from football.' says Mosca, who maintains a home in Mississauga, even while travelling all over the continent. 'It's certainly better financially. I'm getting up close to six figures a year.' Naturally Mosca in a villain, as he was in football. 'There's no dough in being a good guy.' he argues.
Jim Proudfoot Toronto Star 24 Dec 1976

  When Frank Tunney turned to use the AWA stars in Fall 1977 the stage was set for the now 'King Kong' Mosca to return and this time he would stay. In the AWA he was a heel with the fans chanting 'Ping Pong' in deference to his new nickname. For his first card back Mosca would arrive at MLG with AWA champ Nick Bockwinkel and Bobby Heenan and the night was memorable for another reason. There was no ramp. For the first time since 1948 the memorable ramp to the ring was absent. They ran rope where the ramp would be usually with a regular steps up to the ring. It was never revealed why the ramp was out but as far as we know it never happened again. 

Now that he is the heavyweight wrestling champion of Georgia, Angelo would welcome the kind of disaffection which in football, was so completely undeserved. He worked Maple Leaf Gardens , on Frank Tunney's Sunday night show, and he confesses to having developed villainous impulses since he left the refining influences of the Tiger-Cats. 'Even in the Yamaha snowmobile commercials, you get the impression I'm a pretty tough character,' Mosca boasts. 'I am. Well let me tell you I haven't been uunder $65,000 a year since I left football. Best money I ever made in football was $23,000. That was in my last three seasons with the Ti-Cats.' The heavyweight champion is in heavy demand.
Milt Dunnell Toronto Star July 28 1978

  He would work his way up the cards facing the top stars of the AWA & WWWF including Chief Peter Maivia and AWA British Empire champion Billy Robinson. For a May 1978 card Mosca was acknowledged as the Empire champ having beat Robinson in an AWA proper bout. That title different from the Empire title Whipper had held here back in the boom days. In July 1978 he would make his first appearance as a fan favorite facing champ Bockwinkel in the co-main alongside a Backlund vs Superstar Graham  WWWF Title bout. Almost two months later he would get a re-match with Bockwinkel, this time they were the main event over a title bout between Backlund and Gorilla Monsoon.


  On his next return the Mid Atlantic era here had begun. By early 1980 he was firmly seated to become the main local star on the scene. Previous local stars Dino Bravo and then Dewey Robertson had both finished their main event runs, Bravo had left in 1979 while Dewey was soon to go. With the launch of the new Canadian Heavyweight Title in Dec 1978 we now had a local title that Mosca would go on to hold through 5 reigns.

Angelo Mosca said with mock solemnity at a lunchtime tete-a-tete yesterday. 'When I'm wrestling in the southern states, they bill me as King Kong Mosca. Up here in Canada, the promoters don't bill me as a villain. They are aware of the real me-gruff, rough, but lovable. What does the future hold? If you look after yourself, you can last for a long time in wrestling.' he says. 'But I'd like to become a wrestling promoter somewhere down the line. And I'd like to get back into doing television commercials.' 
Jim Coleman Toronto Sun July 23 1980

  Around the time Mosca first won the Canadian title he was also a vicious heel in the WWF, appearing there regularly while holding the strap (he would be photographed backstage with the belt but as far as we know never defended the title there). There would be no mention of Toronto while on WWF TV, but the magazines would have stories on him where they had observed the personality change depending on the location he wrestled. Mosca would reply with, 'I wrestle the same way everywhere. The fans can decide to cheer or boo.' He did and they would. He was back in the WWF gunning for Backlund’s crown and prone to some serious fits of violence. He would be managed there by Lou Albano and appear both on the WWF TV tapings and at the big shows around the Northeast.

  This was a bit of a conundrum for the Maple Leaf fans as we got the WWF TV show here at midnight Saturdays on WUTV Buffalo. When he almost killed Pat Patterson with the water pitcher it left many of us scratching our heads. 

  While Canadian champ Mosca would challenge NWA champ Harley Race and the NWA Title. This card was moved to a rare 1:30pm afternoon start as the Maple Leafs were in a playoff series with the New York Islanders (we lost!). Both Mosca and Race were counted out after a tough brawl with very few wrestling holds.

  His new-found popularity as the star of Toronto wrestling would attract some mainstream coverage which had been minimal in the recent past. All three Toronto dailies, the Globe, the Star, and the Sun would feature full page articles on the wrestling revival, with more coverage than had been seen in many years. Big Ange was the star of several features both in and around Toronto and in other towns on the circuit. On the May 20 1981 episode of the Global Network’s That’s Life, one of the stories was a 'visit with Angelo Mosca.’ On one afternoon in London for a card, he appeared on CFPL radio’s Sports Call and people were calling in for 2 1/2 hours to talk to him. The Toronto Star also ran a full page feature looking at his wrestling and football careers with a photo from a recent MLG bout vs Ivan Koloff.

'I built this image,' says Mosca, his face a bloody mask after his bout with arch-rival Ivan Koloff, 'of a guywho loved to be hated and now it's different. All of a sudden, it changes. People Like me, really like me. That's the way it goes in this game. One night you're the good guy, the next you're the villain. It gets confusing. 
Kevin Boland Toronto Star June 18 1981

 The big 50th Anniversary card in Nov 1981 was packed with over 16,000 for a double world title night Flair vs Race and Mosca vs Bockwinkel. The AWA champ was making his first appearance since 1979 and had a good tough bout with Mosca. Big Ange would batter the champ and looked to be on the verge of winning when John Studd charged the ring and attacked Mosca. He and Bockwinkel laid a beating on Mosca until he was able to fight back and chase them from the ring. Official decision was a dq win for Mosca.

   A memorable title win came in Jan 1982. After a bloody Johnny Weaver-Alfred Hayes cage bout they left the cage up for a Canadian Title bout Studd vs Mosca. The two would face down on the ramp as Mosca waited for Studd to climb the stairs. Mosca would attack and the bout was on. It ended with Studd pinning Mosca. It appeared that ways anyways. Ref Terry Yorkston, inside the cage as was the case here, would get hit and in a daze (Yorkston played the semi-buffoon type well) awarded the victory to Mosca. The fans went wild when Mosca grabbed the belt to celebrate but the celebration didn't last long with Studd viciously attacking the new champ. Weaver (bandaged up from his bloody cage bout) along with John Bonello would return to the cage to help Mosca but both would take a beating from Studd before helping Mosca get the upper hand. A bloodied Studd emerged from the cage and took a lot of abuse from the fans on his way down the ramp. Mosca, bloody and beaten emerged from the cage as the new champ to begin his fourth reign with the title. . 

  In April 1982 the feud between Canadian champ Mosca and Studd continues with Studd announcing he was bringing a mystery opponent to 'permanently maim the champ.' Studd had hyped it for the two weeks previous to the show. Fans were talking and many names were being brought up as to who could be the mystery opponent set to meet Mosca on the Apr 4 1982 card. One of those names was Andre the Giant. Andre was still a few years away from his first heel turn in North America but at the time it seemed like a good idea. When the time came it wasn't such a big name. When Norm Kimber announced Tarzan Tyler, the crowd was disappointed to say the least. Tyler was a ways past his prime by this point and mostly unknown to the younger fans. He had appeared here sporadically from 1964-1978 and was a fine wrestler in his prime but... Special ref Sonny Fargo had been assigned to officiate and the bout was generally a letdown since it had been so highly touted. Mosca didn't have much trouble defending his title.

A feud with Gene Kiniski in June 1982 was better than expected. Kiniski, who went way back here (debut 1956) was still as ornery as he was back in 1966. Stomping and snarling he was a good opponent for Mosca in a short run. Kiniski had held versions of the Canadian title across Canada in his earlier days and they played up the mutual football backgrounds a bit. 

At the big Night of Champions card in July 1983 Mosca faced One Man Gang in front of anywhere from 16-22,000 fans at the old Exhibition Stadium. At the follow up two weeks later in front of 10-14,000 Mosca lost the title to Sgt. Saughter.

  In early 1984 Mosca beat Sgt. Slaughter to regain the Canadian title and would promptly disappear. He was said to be upset with the low drawing cards in Toronto as the NWA days came to a close. He took the belt and went to Florida for an extended trip often managed by JJ Dillon. As per usual he would be a vicious heel -and defend the title a few times- while the fans up here were left scratching their heads, again. 

'We (Sr&Jr) spend 1 1/2 or 2 hours in the gym together working out and in some mat training. Then we drive or fly to the town where we have our matches, then back home to Charlotte. We don't live together. Junior's not married yet, but I have a very understanding wife,' explains Sr. 'The best thing about wrestling is working with this guy right here,' says Junior, thumping his father on his hammy thigh.' 
Alison Gordon Toronto Star May 20 1984

  His son Angelo Jr. would debut here in 1984 after Sr. had been stripped of the title for not appearing. 'Injury' was the wrestling reason and they would hold a tournament for the vacant title in which Jr. would compete. Junior was a good athlete cut from the same cloth. He had attended a Ti-Cat camp for high school players in 1977 (at 17) but in June 1981 he had been cut trying out as a defensive guard at the BC Lions camp, effectively ending his pro football aspirations. He went on to earn a degree from Concordia University before trying out pro wrestling. After Jack Tunney had switched exclusively to WWF in July 1984 Sr. stayed on for a bit and also announced while Jr. got his brief run with the WWF here. When done both father and son would appear on the Wildman's Big Bear circuit in and around Toronto. 


  By 1985 Sr. was planning to bring the NWA back to Ontario. In Feb 1986 he would run a show at Copps Coliseum in Hamilton. While Hulkamania  may had taken over Toronto, there was still a lot of fans from the NWA days. Sr., with a long history in Hamilton, announced the show to be dubbed 'Mosca Mania.' Jr. would also appear in an opener. 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. Mosca Jr. teamed with Vic Rossitani against the Kelly Twins. 

  At the time Mosca was 50 years old, mostly retired from the ring, and doing TV ads and running 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 Razor 'Tell it to my face' campaign some years before.

It's not only amazing that Angelo Mosca is making a fortune doing TV commercials, but he's making them, period. Don't get me wrong: Mosca's good at them -he has charisma and style- but as the former villainous Mr. Mean of the Hamilton Tiger Cats and, more recently, the villainous King Kong of pro wrestling, Mosca's always held that butts were made for kicking, not kissing.'
Earl McRae Starweek June 15 1985

 Angelo Sr. 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 he was alongside Whipper Watson when Whipper received an award from the Canadian Children's Foundation. Mosca accompanied Whip as he carried a child on his shoulders, as he had done at the many Easter Seals dinners.  

Did you know.....The CFL Hall of Fame induction class of 1987 included another wrestler. 
Dick Huffman, a star with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and the Calgary Stampeders, had wrestled at MLG and around the area in 1956. Maple Leafs - Ti-Cats owner Harold Ballard also in that class.

  A month prior to the first Mosca Mania card, he had met with CFL commissioner Doug Mitchell to discuss becoming a goodwill ambassador. The reports 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 heel while Rhodes was a fan favorite but the fans would have none of it. Flair had long been beloved here and during the Flair-Rhodes bout the fans 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 was declared a huge success. Longtime MLG ring announcer Norm Kimber, recently let go by the Toronto office, did the introductions for the night.

Every now and then the wrestling world has a brainstorm which produces a card that leaves audiences shouting for more. A classic example was yesterday's Mosca Mania, which attracted some 12,000 fans to the Copps Coliseum here. No One left the building disappointed. 
Sam Scrivo Toronto Sun Feb 3 1986

  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 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 had told him 'it wasn't family oriented television.' At that time they had WWF, 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 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 would have had to run Toronto. MLG was still exclusive so it was limited venues outside of summer months.

'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.' 
Milt Dunnell Toronto Star Nov 30 1986

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

  The TV show later appeared 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 Mosca Mania 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 then he sold his interest in it and that was the end of Mosca's promotional tenure.

  Both Moscas 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, and various ventures capitalizing on his name. Remember the Peach pages?; a business directory he started with a partner in 1989. In recent years he has revisited his old Canadian title belt at tribute and fan events in the area, sometimes accompanied by Junior. 


Photos, etc collection
Mosca Mania items from Eric Peddle collection
Pics from 1978 out of 'Alias King Kong Mosca' Canadian magazine
The Sheik Streak by Gary Will is at The Sheik's unbeaten streak: 1969-1974: Gary Will's TWH