Thursday, April 25, 2019

Masked Men in Toronto - Part 1

1938
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 likely 100's of different masked persona's around the region.
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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 that 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.
            
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. Mayes held the 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 been advertised as a with 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 another masked man '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.

Pat Flanagan vs The Zebra
in Oshawa 1951
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.

Whipper made a career out of collecting masks. In addition to the ones already mentioned he would continue to add to the collection right into the 1960's. We will look at those and others up to the 1980's in Part 2 of our look at masked men in Toronto.
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Thanks to Roger Baker and Gary Will
See also Gary Will's TWH: Unmasked! -- Wrestlers who lost their masks in Toronto

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Our favorite classic wrestling website! Spend some time over there -you will love it !

A recent Toronto related post ....
The Mid-Atlantic Gateway: Blooper from Toronto!

Other Toronto related on The Mid Atlantic Gateway
The Mid-Atlantic Gateway: Toronto

Main Site
The Mid-Atlantic Gateway




Thursday, April 18, 2019

Memories of Toronto with Roger Baker; Remembering the Miller Brothers

We are very fortunate to have Roger Baker contributing his vast knowledge and memories of Toronto wrestling to this site. 
This time, the MIller Brothers and Chis Colt ! 

It would be mid 1972 this reporter was in one of the wrestlers dressing rooms at MLG it was on this occasion that I had the opportunity to meet both Bill and Dan Miller. Bill was sharing the room that he was in with Hans Schmidt, and the wild man of the Pampas Pampero Firpo. 

Miller and I were sharing some recent wrestling coverage in some of the wrestling mags, and he showed me that he had a keen sense of humor. I mentioned that I was doing a story on The Fabulous Kangaroos, and now found myself in a situation where the team had split up. As a result All Costello had just taken on a new partner in Don Kent. I told Miller that all the work that I had put into doing the original story was now dead in the water. Miller gave me a big smile and said that all I had to do was just write half of a new story and that would solve my problem.

Bill Miller with Hans Scmidt and Pampero Firpo
Chris Colt and Danny Miller

Danny and Bill Miller enjoy dinner at Bassels restaurant

I had the opportunity to visit another locker room and met Danny Miller and Chris Colt as well. Danny invited me to join both older brother Bill and himself for something to eat at Bassels restaurant which was just a couple of blocks south from Church  and Carlton.This famous eatery was a mainstay at Yonge and Gerrard for many years, and was very popular with the wrestlers that appeared at MLG.


The Millers boot hapless opponents at MLG. Ref is George Kanelis

Having met Chris Colt payed off with an invite to spend a weekend with both himself and Ron Dupree a month later in Omaha Nebraska where they would be wrestling as two wild biker types. As it later turned out this would prove to be the best wrestling layout that I had ever done.

Regards Roger


Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Gorgeous George is Coming ! 1948

The Gorgeous one wrestled in Toronto quite a few times from his first appearance here in 1948 to his last in 1961, including the famous Retirement (Whipper Watson) vs Hair (George) bout in 1959.

On his first appearance at MLG in 1948 there was quite a bit of anticipation for his bout against Larry Moquin.



In a sidebar in the Sports pages it mentioned Frank Tunney sidekick and Promoter Sammy Sobel saying about George 'He's completely marvelous, in 40 years around wrestling mats I ain't seen anything like him' to which Tunney replied 'Wait until he taps you for 30% of the gross and see if you still consider him marvelous' to which the author adds 'Sammy fainted and was borne away by grinning servitors'

9,000 fans came out to see him beat Moquin and Tunney announced he would 'take a chance' by matching George against his top man Whipper.

A week later he would meet Whipper for the first time. Attendance wasn't listed but this time George was on the losing end. Whipper wins the bout with a backslam off the ropes at just over 11 minutes into the bout.

















Saturday, April 13, 2019

Bulldog Brower: Home of the Bulldog

Dick 'Bulldog' Brower had quite a notable and lengthy career in the squared circle. Though perhaps best known for his time in the WWWF in the 1970's, earlier in his career he was once the star villain in Toronto. His debut at Maple Leaf Gardens in June 1961 came with heavy fanfare. He was said to have been working for Stu Hart in the West and was coming East to wreak havoc.
Toronto Debut 1961

His first appearance at MLG came unannounced on June 15 1961 when he came out to the ring just as a bout between Tony Monous and Sailor Clarke was about to start. Brower attacked Monous then Clarke leaving them both on the mat. When other wrestlers came he left them in a heap too before departing down the ramp to the back. The bout eventually went on with Manous defeating Clarke but Brower had left an impression.

They played it up well. "Fresh from Western Canada and word has just trickled in from the few survivors that the Bulldog should be given a rabies shot before being allowed to enter the ring. He has one obsession. He doesn't like to leave anything upright."

Wrestling Reporter and Photographer Roger Baker who spent quite a bit of time covering Brower for a lengthy article for the magazines of the day recollects

'Bulldog Brower was with out a doubt one of the greatest and most violent of all the 'Heels' that ever appeared in the Toronto region. He first appeared in MLG in the early sixties, and then the carnage began in earnest, in his initial matches he savaged his opponents with such brutality that he was soon the top dog in the feeding chain at MLG.'

Tunney set the Bulldog up to make his actual Wrestling debut on the following card against the very large Man Mountain Campbell. The papers meanwhile described Brower as (also) "large, not tall, just large in every other way. Weighs about 270 pounds with biceps larger around than Yukon Eric's". Campbell was a huge guy billed at 6'5 340lbs but could not stop the Bulldog. In the results the next day it proclaimed 'Bulldog turns Man Mountain into a Molehill" after Brower handily beat Campbell and finished him off with a back-breaker no less.

As the bouts went on Brower variously described as 'one of the most crushing ringsters seen here in a long time" and the 'Yankee Madman' first beat Ilio DiPaolo and then took on favorite Frank 'Farmer Boy' Townshend who didn't fare much better.

The bout vs Townshend lasted but 6 minutes and nine seconds. Sports writer Joe Perlove dryly remarked it an "unprecedented total of 20 minutes and 14 and 4.5 seconds for his three matches at the Gardens. Give or take a tick." When the bout spilled out on the floor and the fans crowded around Brower, he charged and they scattered. Upon (the fans) helping Farmer back into the ring, Perlove adds "What for? Whose side are they on?" while the Bulldog promptly threw him back out again on his head.

After meting out more destruction, including Brower using the stairs from the ramp to hit his opponent, he finished off Townshend quickly. Tony Marino and Hercules Romero then charged out to the ring in order to save the the poor Farmer. Perlove remarked that Bulldog was "leaving as frothing a crowd as has been seen there since Nanjo Singh". Quite high praise indeed.

Bulldog's next bout against Nikita Kalmikoff ended again by submission with the back-breaker and he was then matched against Nikita's 'brother' Ivan. For the first time in Ivan's career the fans were on his side, 4,000 cheering for the Russian villain to beat Brower but it was not to be. Kalmikoff did put up a better fight than any of the previous victims lasting 12 minutes before Brower leaped off the ropes and got the win with a press.

The wins continued, some fair some not, and 'without resorting to a wrestling hold worth a quarter' the Bulldog mowed down opponent after opponent.

Hercules Romero the 306 pounder would fall next as would Tony Marino and then the giant German villain Hans Hermann. Next up was the equally large Gino Marella. The future 'Gorilla Monsoon' would fall as those before him had. Brower would further earn the fans wrath by defeating his 300lb opponent with an illegal move - the banned piledriver. After pinning the prone Marella, Referee Tiger Tasker let the win stand electing not to enrage the now very un-predictable and violent Bulldog.
Yelling at the fans 1961

After another win over fan-favorite Lord Layton, Tunney would match Brower up with the number 1 man in town - Whipper Watson - for a bout on Sept 7 1961. The card also would feature NWA Champ Buddy Rogers defending the belt vs Townshend but the Brower-Whip match-up would get top billing.

Forecasting 10,000 fans for the card it did draw 9.500 only to see Watson end up on the 'VODBB (Victims of Dick Bulldog Brower) chart.' Whipper would get counted out and get a re-match with Brower while Buddy Rogers finished off Townshend on the under-card. .

Their next match-up would see the same finish with Watson counted out after Brower again would use the ramps stairs as a weapon and the Bulldog would remain un-beatable.

In his next match vs the equally villainous Killer Kowalski, Bulldog would continue his use of the ringside furniture by tossing Kowalski out of the ring and using a 4 set of seats to hammer his opponent. Kowalski would put up a good fight but in a leap off the top rope he would twist his ankle and after Bulldog started working it over, the Killer laying prone on the mat, was ruled unable to continue.

The Sept 28 Card put Brower against Gene Kiniski in what was billed as Match Of The Year. The two would end up in a bloody brawl and when ref Tasker was tossed to the floor and a fan kicked him, other wrestlers would come out to stop the melee. The two would keep brawling until replacement referee Sam Gotter called it a night while Kiniski would later need 11 stitches in his head.

Roger Baker remembers this night well.

'First out was Kiniski he bounded along the ramp through the ropes and into the ring, Kiniski was in the north west corner of the ring and was busy signing autographs for a group of fans. suddenly Brower comes flying into the ring brandishing a huge ash stand overhead, he rushed Kiniski from behind and relentlessly battered Gene's head with the ashstand, as a result there was blood, sand, and smoker's butts all falling onto the mat below.'

'Kiniski had to be helped back to the infirmary for diagnosis, about five minutes later he made his way back into the ring to once again do battle with Brower, Kiniski's head was wrapped in a large swath of white gauze, he wanted to battle but Brower would not let up, the gauze did not hold, and Kiniski was bleeding a lot, the referee called the bout a no contest, and these two opponents would go on to a rematch several weeks later at MLG.'

For the re-match vs Kiniski, Tunney would appoint Farmer Townshend to be the special referee for the bout. Townshend would proclaim "Brower will have to play this one straight. I won't stand for him using strange objects such as microphones, stairs, or ash-stands, to batter on Kiniski's head."

Townshend would prove to be right in that Brower left the furniture alone this time out, but it didn't stop the two from having another violent bout that ended with both wrestlers covered in blood and the Bulldog the winner yet again. This time Bulldog got a clean pin after he raised his shoulders off the mat a split second before Kiniski who thought he had won after all.

Brower was proving to be a huge draw at MLG. His unpredictable behavior along with the ease in which he was dispatching a steady parade of the biggest and best of the Wrestling world was endearing him to the fans, if not for his manners, then his steamrolling style.


Brower was also very tuned in to the business side of the sport as Roger Baker elaborates

'Brower was able to promote himself as few other wrestlers of his era could, namely because of his size, power and his ability to turn into a fearsome and dangerous individual momentarily as he saw fit. An example of how he would self promote was in evidence after our steak dinner at his downtown apartment, he must have made five or six long distance phone calls to wrestling promoters around the U.S. as well as Canada and Australia.'

'He took great pleasure in telling these promoters about how well he was doing in Toronto, and about all the great copy that he was receiving as a result of his ability to generate big houses in all the venue's that he headlined, no doubt he was trying to impress myself as well, since I was working on a photo story on him at the time.'

Another big crowd of 7,000 would come to see him take on Yukon Eric, another large customer and a long time area favorite. Brower would continue his winning streak by count out. In their re-match a few weeks later they would draw 10,000 to see the same mis-fortune befall Eric. In between Bulldog continued to beat the biggest and baddest with a win over Stan Stasiak and a wild double count out against the Whip with special ref Gino Marella attempting to keep the peace.

In addition to his self promoting skills Brower also took the sport - and himself - very seriously as Roger Baker adds

'On another occasion during a wild exchange with Yukon Eric at The Hamilton Forum Brower sustained a nasty and painful head laceration, Brower related that he was so miserable as a result the ensuing headache that when he got back home that night that he put his fist through the drywall in a couple of rooms in his apt. He claimed that it was not just the pain he was in, but the fact that his arch rival Yukon Eric had got the best of him that night.'

Roger mentions he could also earn the wrath of the other wrestlers due to his all-out style.

'Brower called me at home one night to let me know, that the night before in Kitchener On. he smashed an ash stand over wrestler Paul Demarco's head and caused Demarco to lose a lot of blood, he told me that the other wrestlers that were on the card did not want to even talk to him afterwards.'

The bouts would go on and Bulldog would form a team with Taro Sakuro to take on Whipper and Yukon Eric. Their bout ended with Brower un-intentionally belting his partner and causing their loss. After the bout the two villains would get in an argument and set up for a bout against each other on the following card.

Again a hated heel that was used to hearing the boos would become the favorite vs Brower. Sakuro playing the good guy for a change would fare no better than the previous victims though, losing via count-out after but four minutes of action.

The Bulldog would finally see a loss, somewhat, when he was disqualified against Bill 'Brute' Soloweyko on the first card on 1962. Another loss later in the month vs the 'Wrestling Rabbi' Raphael Halpern and Brower was starting to show some vulnerability -finally.

As Roger Baker remembers, the Soloweyko bout was a turning point for both the 'Brute' and the Bulldog.

'Several months went by with Brower beating all who were matched against him, that is until the night at the Gardens when Bill 'The Brute Soloweyko' was in the house, this reporter was standing directly behind The Brute in the alleyway that the wrestlers walk from the dressing rooms on up to the ramp, and then into the ring.'

'Brower had just beaten down another opponent and was ranting around in the ring, meanwhile Soloweyko was staring intently at Brower who was biting the ring ropes, and doing his trademark head snap, Soloweyko at this point rushed into the ring and nailed Brower with as hard an elbow as I've ever seen a wrestler throw, Brower went down and out, he lay stretched out on the canvas for a good five minutes, before he was able to leave the ring. The appearance by The Brute gained him a main event against Brower in the next headliner at MLG. as well this catapulted Brower into dozens of main events to follow.'
On the same side as Siki 1962

In February Brower would defeat Tom 'Emperor' Jones with the winner getting a shot at NWA champ Buddy Rogers. The following week the Bulldog would receive his first World Title bout against Rogers and appeared to win the belt after pinning Rogers. Brower would put on the belt and celebrate his win much to the dismay of the crowd.

Rogers meanwhile protested that his feet were in fact on the ropes during the pin. Referee Joe Gollub would hear nothing of it until Jim Hady came out and showed Gollub exactly what had transpired. Brower was halfway down the ramp with the belt when Gollub ordered the bout re-started and thus would quickly count him out depriving him of his new found title status.

It was a good enough showing that he received a re-match a week later. With Jersey Joe Walcott as special referee Rogers would manage the win via dq and hold onto his title yet again. After a grudge about with Hady, Brower would get yet another shot at Rogers with Walcott as ref but again fail in his bid to become NWA champ when Rogers won by dq again after 9 minutes.

The following week, with yet another shot at Rogers on the line, Brower took on 'Gentleman' Jim Hady with Lord Layton appointed as special referee. The 'Gentleman' was no match for the Bulldog however and Brower would earn an unprecedented 3rd shot over four cards at the World champ. The Bulldogs temper would again earn him the defeat at the hands of the 'Nature Boy'.

The Bulldog would then get a new partner in crime on March 1962 when Sweet Daddy Siki would interfere to help Brower win his bout against Rafael Halpern. The new team of Brower and Siki would challenge the International Tag Champs Whipper Watson and Billy Red Lyons and beat them in their first bout in April. Despite two referees to watch the action Bulldog and Siki would shadily beat the favorites and become the new champs.

The two would continue to wrestle solo and as a team, holding the belts until Sept 1962 when they were defeated by the team of Whipper and new sensation Bruno Sammartino. Bruno, fresh off bouts vs NWA champ Rogers would then try his hand with the Bulldog in a singles match and come out victorious when Brower was disqualified.

In late 1962 Brower would continue to cause trouble even when not wrestling when he came out after a bout between Bruno and Johnny Valentine. Bruno had just pinned Valentine to win the U.S. Title when Brower came out to tell the ref Bunny Dunlop that Valentines feet were on the ropes. Dunlop declared the title held up pending a decision from the NWA. Valentine and Brower would challenge Tag champs Whipper and Bruno a couple of weeks later. NWA rep Bobby Bruns announce before the bout that Sammartino is the rightful U.S champ after all. The champs go on to defeat the villains but Valentine gets his revenge beating Bruno to take the belt back on the Dec 14 show.
Saving Siki from Yukon Eric 1962

In addition to the trouble he was causing in the ring, the Bulldog was an imposing force out of the ring as well.
While Roger Baker was traveling with the Bulldog he would experience this firsthand !

'Brower and myself drove to Guelph Ont. He was wrestling a seasoned veteran in the main event by the name of John Paul Henning. Brower won the match after repeatedly fouling his opponent. Afterwards on the way back, we stopped at a diner to pick up some cold soda, Brower put some coins in a vending machine to pay for the pop, however the machine would not vend out the beverages, Brower then started to yank the machine in a fit of anger and several other patrons at the diner became quite uneasy with all the commotion that Brower was creating, they all looked to me as if to say 'what gives with your buddy?'

'Brower would not let go, he went into the diner and demanded that the girl behind the counter get him the beverages, she did and he gave her a hundred dollar to pay for the pop, when she told him that she did not have change for that large a bill, at this point Brower went on another rant and scared the frightened girl almost to the point of tears. T his reporter was very happy when at long last I got back home that long ago evening.'

'Brower would relate to, how years earlier back home in Wilmington Delaware, of many of the fights that he had with different dockworkers on the weekends. He explained to me how after spending a couple of hours lifting weights at a gym, he would then go out and imbibe himself with a few cold ones, then he was ready to go out looking for trouble, and to pick fights. This often resulted in him having to call his dad to come bail him out, he told me that his dad knew that when the phone would ring after ten on a Friday it would be his son who needed to be released for getting into another fight."

Roger Baker remembers another 'incident of unbridled violence' that took place in Sutton Ontario
On the ramp 1963

'One summers evening at the local arena, the turnout was very high as the area had a lot of visitors on the summer weekends. Brower and his partner Sweet Daddy Siki were to wrestle Ilio Dipaolo and John Paul Henning. The match was barely on for a minute, when suddenly Siki for whatever reason threw an uppercut into Brower's jaw, all hell broke loose, Dipaolo and Henning got out of the ring, Siki and Brower battled all over the arena, Brower went nuts and ran outside of the arena, a moment later he reappeared brandishing a huge wheel barrow overhead, he was screaming and his eyes were bulging, he flung that object at Siki, who backpedaled to avoid getting hit. When that didn't work for Brower he tried to dislodge a supporting beam from the arena floor. After about ten minutes of this madness one lone cop and other wrestlers were able to get Brower back to the dressing room, but not before Brower cut his own mouth by raking his teeth over protective wire near the dressing rooms.'

In what was to become a familiar scenario Brower would alternately feud with Siki and then team with him, a role he played out with most of his partners during his Toronto years.

Then as with Siki before, for no other reason than they were both the most hated heels in the city, Brower would take on Valentine for his U.S. belt. The tag partners would slug it out in a manner usually reserved for hated enemies before both being disqualified. A month later they would be back teaming again no worse for wear and would go on to defeat Whipper and Bruno to claim the Tag Titles on Feb 28 1963. They would continue to run roughshod over all competition and Brower would again get a shot at the World Title. This time vs Lou Thesz.

As Roger Baker relates

'As tough a man as Brower was, this reporter once saw The Bulldog in a match that he was not so confident as he always was in his other encounters.

'He was facing none other then Lou Thesz in the main event at MLG. Both men were facing one another, and the referee was giving them instructions prior to the start of the match, being right at the edge of the ring apron I was able to see and hear all that was happening in the ring. Brower was trembling, and Thesz asked him what was wrong, Brower replied that he was very nervous as well as fearful to be in the ring with him, Thesz told him to relax and that they should have a good match.'

Brower would not change his style for the respected NWA champ. In fact he was at his memorable best in choking, dragging, and otherwise pummeling the reigning world champ. Thesz countered with his repertoire of head scissors, headlocks, and elbow smashes until Brower finally flipped and tried to strangle the champ. As was now par for the course referee Tiger Tasker would have enough and disqualify the Bulldog.

In July 1963 Brower and Valentine would lose the belts to Art Thomas and JP Henning though Valentine would continue to hold the U.S. Title even beating both Thomas and Henning in single bouts on successive cards in August. .

The Bulldog meanwhile would find a new partner in Dr. Jerry Graham and with the good Dr they would defeat Thomas and Henning to take the tag belts in mid October.

Brower would then earn another shot at Thesz losing via count-out before he and Graham would lose the tag belts to Jim Hady and his partner, the newly loved in Toronto (after a feud with The Beast) - Johnny Valentine.

1964 would see Brower facing old nemesis - and new WWWF champ - Bruno Sammartino in a losing cause, before going on to face former partners Siki and Valentine in an extended program. Continuing his path of destruction (but not seeing as many wins) through the city battling Whipper and with Bruno coming in to defend the title keeps Brower busy through the year and into the next.

In May 1966 after a five year run as one of the most hated wrestlers to ever appear in Toronto, fans were shocked to see the Bulldog switch sides and become a hero after helping Whipper in a match with Masked Yankee 2. After Masked Yankee 1 interfered and Whipper was awarded the win, both masked villains would attack Watson. From the back Brower would run in and to the amazement of both the Whip and the fans, would chase the Yankees away.

The two would team up to take on the Masked duo (now International Tag champs) only to lose by dq with the papers proclaiming: "Playing the good guy is too much for the Bulldog". The feud with The Yankees would continue with fence matches leading into a big stipulation bout. Along with the belts at stake Whipper would put up his career against the Yankees unmasking should they lose. The good guys got the win and the titles, and the Yankees un-masked as Bob Stanlee and Mosse Evans. It wouldn't end there though, Stanlee and Evans now wrestling as the 'Unmasked Yankees' would enter into another fence match. This time if they lost they would be forced to leave the area. Brower and Whip prevailed again driving the former masked team into the great beyond.

Brower and Whip would go on to lose the belts to Fred Atkins and new protege Tiger Jeet Singh but would continue to team until late 1966 when Brower would once again go back to dis-pleasing the fans. But not for long and he would be back teaming with Whipper again, this time in a handicap bout with the two taking on a challenge to the loud talking World champ Gene Kiniski.

The last years of the 1960's would see Brower continue to dominate the local scene, taking on heroes and villains alike while continuing to team on and off with Watson. In all they would hold the tag belts for a total of 2 reigns. The Bulldog would enter into extended feuds with The Assassin and then Ivan Koloff along with his manager Tony Angelo.
vs Ivan Koloff 1968 

In 1969 The Sheik had started his stranglehold on the local scene and Brower would get a shot in front of 10,000 strong only to become #3 in the Sheik's long un-beaten streak. More tags continued with Watson until 1971. Brower was Whippers partner for his last bout on Nov 28 1971. Two days later Watson would get hit by a car and his career was over.

Brower would form new teams with Dewey Robertson and others, while continuing to wrestle solo including shots at The Sheik and becoming another statistic in 'The Streak' but his time in the spotlight was at an end. Through the mid 1970's he would turn up on the Wildman's circuit back as a hated heel taking on Luis Martinez and Carlos Belafonte (Colon) in the small towns around Toronto.

He would still show up at MLG through 1974 before facing The Sheik for his final appearance in Toronto on Sept 22 1974

All photos by -and thanks! -to Roger Baker

Promoters in Ontario 1920's-1980's

Whipper with Pat Milosh (Milosh family),Frank Tunney, Dave McKigney (Roger Baker), Red Garner (Garner family)
The pro wrestling landscape in Ontario during the 1900's is a convoluted and often mysterious puzzle to put together. Most cards weren't too forthcoming in listing the promoter and many promoters worked in the same arenas and often used the same wrestlers in their never-ending battles for the fans hard earned money. Many of the wrestler/promoters would also hide the fact they were the promoter of the card they were working on, using Arena managers or such to further confuse it.

Noting that the climate in the northern half of the province is very unforgiving for winter travel, most of the popular northern spots would see only summer shows. The areas around Toronto, and especially through the Southwest part of the province however were ripe for year round shows, a virtual parade through the small towns and plentiful arenas, ballparks, and armories across Ontario.

We will try to untangle the web and identify the various Promoters that put on shows in Ontario from the early 1900's up to the early 1980's.

Where possible we will include wrestlers, venues, and any other info we can glean from the news of the day. Many of those listed here including Pat Milosh, Dave McKigney, Frank Tunney, Jack Corcoran, Tommy Nelson, and Red Garner have longer articles posted elsewhere on this site.

There is a lot of overlap especially when it comes to both Frank Tunney and Dave McKigney. Both would promote in most every town (Frank closer to GTA but including London, Galt, N, Falls etc) while McKigney would go anywhere and everywhere peaking in the mid 1970's. McKigney's tours were more one-offs where he would hit the major cities a number of times (and the smaller ones less) over the course of his summer tours, generally April to October.

Much of the time, during Dave's run, other promoters were running the same towns on a regular or interim basis. Due to the summer circus like nature of Dave's shows, most promoters, while initially upset would let it go and took it with a grain of salt. At different points Dave would also have the blessing of Tunney, using his major stars on his shows and appearing himself on MLG cards and at TV tapings.

Tunney himself would control most of the towns around Toronto for most of his long tenure as Toronto promoter using trusted associates or former wrestling stars to run the shows. With the TV show and the ads proclaiming 'the stars of Maple Leaf Gardens' it was not hard to fill up the smaller arenas.

Pat Milosh who promoted Oshawa for 40 years would run the shows, set up the arenas, take care of the advertising and everything to do with the show and kick back a percentage to Tunney. We would assume that's how many of the larger towns were run, the ones with set promoters as listed below.

On others Tunney would send one of his associates to run the show and bring the gate back. The major ones are also listed below. While Pat Flanagan is not listed below as a Promoter he was an integral part of the circuit towns setting up Tunney's stars with the smaller promoters. He likely also helped run shows as others did when needed and certainly deserves mention.

The information is culled from thousands of ads, results, news items, posters and other nostalgia and documentation in the MLW collection. A big help was Vern May (aka Vance Nevada) and his compilations of results- that lists the promoter where available

This is intended as an overview... not a definitive history...for now am stopping at 1983.... If you can contribute, offer corrections or additions please contact me
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Promoters in Ontario 1920's to 1983

In the early part of the century before 'Pro' wrestling got a foothold in Ontario, Amateur contests and 'exhibitions' were the norm. Toronto was bustling with Wrestling, Boxing, and combined 'Mit-Mat' shows during this time. Wrestling would prove popular in the small towns too, across the farthest reaches of the province young men would battle within the framework of weight divisions and lengthy rule-books. As a result many noted amateurs would move on to the pro side when the 'grunt and groan' gained popularity in the 1920's and beyond.

Phil Lawson notably promoted amateur shows 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 (about 6k in current value). As well many pro's would go on to promote cards themselves, both during and after their wrestling careers. From the Toronto area, John Katan, Joe Maich, Al Dunlop, Pat Milosh, Les Lyman, Red Garner, and others would go on to promote shows themselves within Ontario. Sandor Kovacs in Rochester and later Western Canada. U.S. based Toots Mondt and Paul Bowser also had an interest in the early Toronto scene.

We will start in the 1920's in Toronto, the site of some big bouts in previous years but still yet to see regular cards. The city, however was busy with both amateur and 'pro' shows at the various arenas and halls. Arena Gardens featuring shows by Ivan Mickailoff became a weekly event 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.

Toronto 1930 Corcoran
Starting with Boxing in the 1920's Toronto Promoter Jack Corcoran and his Queensbury Athletic Club would begin promoting Wrestling in Toronto in 1930. After a slow start Corcoran would surpass Mickailoff and gain the matchmaking duties for shows at the newly built Maple Leaf Gardens in 1931. The Queensbury Club would reach out into the region with shows as far over as Mt Forest down to Hamilton and the Niagara region. Corcoran, while mostly forgotten among wrestling fans of the latter decades in spite of a stellar career, would further earn his revered spot in wrestling history for hiring on the Tunney brothers.

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. Other Toronto area promotions will be covered elsewhere in the article. 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 it's 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).
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Oshawa 1950 Milosh

Oshawa would present the first pro card in October 1929 at the Oshawa Armouries. While it doesn't mention the promoter by name, it does feature the then 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 would take over. Pat Farrell and Jimmy Szikszay were part of the club and 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, 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 1947 Tunney

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.
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Renfrew 1983 McKigney

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. McKigney 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.
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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.
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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.
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Huntsville 1950 Kasaboski

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.
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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 featuring the stars he was using at the time.

Later in the 1930's shows at the Municipal Pool started, put on by George Hills. Hills may have been involved already in the late 20's as he was a regular on Mickailoff shows both here and in Toronto. Wrestlers, mostly from the Detroit and Toledo offices included Jimmy 'Redd' Simms, Martin 'Blimp' Levy, Rudy Epps, and Johnny Tipa filled out shows 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 in the early 1940's.

John Katan the 'strongman from Palermo' as he was billed during his successful wrestling career would branch out around 1947 to promote shows in Hamilton at the Municipal Pool and The Forum. As with some of the others in Tunney's inner circle, 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
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Acton  1949 Maich

Brantford in the 1920's and 1930's operated similar to other towns as a circuit type town run by Mickailoff and later Tunney By 1950 Brantford was run by former Olympic star, pro, and stock car enthusiast Joe Maich and his brother Don Maich under the banner 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.

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. The Cities and towns along the Lake were served not only by Toronto TV, but also got the Buffalo Wrestling shows during the '50's and '60s's These may have been run by Johnson who would occasionally run shows around Hamilton and area right up to the early 1980's. In the late 1970's Bull and son Danny 'Bullwhip' Johnson would hold shows at the Shamrock Club in Hamilton with others including Terry Yorkston, Bob Marcus, and 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.
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N Falls 1975 Parisi

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

Sobol 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.
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Al 'Bunny' Dunlop 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.
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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.
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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.
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London 1984 Laine

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
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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Uxbridge 1973 Watson Jr 
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.
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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 but not sure who was 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