Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Whipper collecting Masks 1961


 Whipper Watson holds many of Toronto's 'Wrestling Records' including most un-maskings.

The masked villain gimmick goes way back to the earliest history of Maple Leaf and most of the time Whipper would be the one to un-mask the heel and send him packing.

In some cases they would hang around and continue to wrestle under their 'real' name or as a combination of their masked persona such as 'The Zebra Kid George Bollas.'

The clip from 1961 shows Whipper to have already unmasked 5 men and currently working on #6 The Black Terror.

 
Lew Reynheer - Masked Marvel - Whip unmasked him 02/17 1949
Mayes McLain - Masked Manager - yes the next Marvel had a masked manager - 02/22 1951
George Bollas (says Bolos) - The Zebra /Zebra Kid - 11/29 1951
Al Lovelock - Great Bolo - unmasked by Whip on 06/04 1959

Now they also show Lou 'Shoulders' Newman who was another Masked Marvel and
was unmasked 08/30 1951 - but by the also masked Zebra, not Whipper
May be that Whip took his mask elsewhere, Hamilton, Buffalo maybe
I still have to look through hundreds of files to check but don't see Whip unmasking Lou here.

He was successful against the Black Terror unmasking him on 05/25 1961 as Laverne Baxter to make it 6 total.

Whip wasn't finished yet however.
He and partner Bulldog Brower unmasked the Masked Yankees on 07/10 1966
Dandy was Bob Stanlee while Doodle was Moose Evans.
Whip had put up his career - he would retire vs the unmasking of he and Bulldog's arch enemies. Whip and Brower also took the International Tag Titles with that win.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Sweet Daddy Siki memories with Roger Baker

The completed and long awaited Documentary on Sweet Daddy Siki recently aired on the Documentary Channel on June 11th, 2017. 
 
Siki is as deserving as anyone to be the subject of a serious doc looking at his life and a star career that spanned 5 decades.

Of special interest for us Toronto fans is that Siki was a regular here from 1962 through the late 1980's. he debuted here in 1962 and was still wrestling regularly on Dave McKigney's shows as late as 1987 and would appear right into the 1990's here and there.

The Toronto history is huge, he came in at a very pivotal time in our wrestling history. Bruno, Thesz, Buddy Rogers, that whole scene, the unrest in the NWA, the formation of the WWWF. Siki was right in the midst of that and almost from the start was in main events and feuding and teaming with all of the big names here, Whipper, Bulldog, Yukon, Valentine, Hady, and the rest of the stars here.

I was fortunate to be at some of the filming when they shot at MLG photographer Roger Baker's famed wrestling room. A high point of the day was hearing Siki, in his inimitable drawl, tell the origin story of 'Sweet Daddy.' Jet Star was also present. He was an exciting wrestler that mostly worked on McKigney shows around the region in the '80s (and still today!) and he and Roger sat with Siki in the world famous 'wrestling room', an apt spot for the three to film a portion of the doc.

I asked my favorite wrestling expert, super-fan, and major contributor to this site - Roger - for his memories of the 'Irresistible One', both as a fan and as a photographer/writer and insider.

MLWP - As a long time fan do you remember seeing Siki for the first time, what were your thoughts, and had you seen him in action before on TV or in other cities before he settled here

Roger - If I recall the first time that I saw Siki was very soon after he first appeared here in Toronto. I had never seen a black wrestler who had bleached blond hair before, and I must say that he was certainly an originator in that regard. Siki was able to immediately generate attention to his appearance as well as his persona what with his skill with a mike in hand, and his unique hair style.
 
MLWP - I know you took lots of photos of Siki in action, did you ever get to interact with him back then , show him any photos, he seems very reserved in 'real' life, was he always that way - in comparison to his ring persona

Roger - I remember so well the first time that I had a chance to interact with Siki, was with a friend at the time, we were on the QEW. driving to Hamilton to take in a wrestling show at the Hamilton Forum. We were halfway along the highway to our destination, when suddenly we spot S.D. driving right along side of us, we waved and shouted at him, and he waved back. We drove along side each other for perhaps a half mile, and we told him that our main purpose for our trip to the Forum was to see him in action, he had a big grin on his face and waved goodbye as the traffic was building behind us. 


I got to know Siki very well after our first encounter on the highway, we became very good friends I had the opportunity to spend a lot of quality time with Mr. SDS as we traveled together to a few of his mat appearances, and I had the chance to meet his charming wife on two occasions. My wife and myself had them both up to our apt. way back shortly after he arrived on the Toronto scene, the occasion was for an interview, as well as a photo shoot. 

About 8 yrs ago wrestler Jet Star and myself visited Siki at the Duke of York tavern, he has performed at this venue for years, performing karaoke Saturday afternoons and evenings for his legion of fans who enjoy to listen as well as participate with Siki. The purpose of our visit was to see S.D.S. perform, as well I had assembled a very extensive collection of photos of Siki that I had taken so many years earlier, it was a great pleasure for me to be able to leave those photos with Siki. 

Can remember an opportunity that just presented itself one Saturday afternoon back around 1964-65, I was going to cover an upcoming heavyweight fight at MLG that featured George Chuvalo in a ten round fight with then ranked Ernie 'The Octopus' Terrell. It occurred in a tavern in downtown Toronto, Terrell was doing some sparing upstairs above the tavern, there was a heavy bag, mats, and skipping ropes along with other boxing gear, when I saw this as an opportunity to get two well known boxing and wrestling greats together. I phoned Siki at home and explained who was training at this gym and can you make it over so that we could have an introduction between the two take place. Regi Siki was on the scene in about twenty minutes, and it proved to be a very enjoyable experience for all of us.
 
MLWP - You saw all of the major stars of the 1950's 1960's and beyond, where does Siki fit in when you look back at Toronto history

Roger - S.D.S. was a very unique wrestler in that even though he was at the prime of his mat career, he stood out as an original ring performer with his blond hair, magnificent capes, mike skills, and a very powerfully built body. his shoulder muscles resembled two over sized grapefruits. We both had many other pleasant interactions during the sixties, however space would not allow me to recall them all at this time. 

During his heyday back in the sixties S.D.S. wrestled all of the top wrestlers that were appearing in Toronto's MLG. He faced some very tough wrestlers, to mention a few Yukon Eric, Whipper Watson, Bulldog Brower, Lou Thesz, and Bruno Sammartino. Siki told me during our get together at the Duke Of York, that he once wrestled the mighty Lou Thesz to a ninety minute draw in Texas some time during the late fifties. Siki had it all personality, great mat skills, outstanding physique, and the ability to mix it with the best of them during his era.
 
MLWP - Any bouts that stand out for you , at MLG or in one of the smaller arenas around the area

Roger - The one bout that I saw Siki in that still remains in clear detail in my mind took place in the town of Sutton On. during the summer months. Sutton is very close to Lake Simcoe and cottage country, the scheduled wrestling card was sure to draw a large crowd, being that there were so many people in the area at this time. The main event that promoter Tommy Nelson had on top was a tag team match, it pitted wrestlers Ilio DiPaolo and John Paul Henning VS. Dick BullDog Brower and Sweet Daddy Siki. 


This match was to take place in Sutton Arena, it was a very warm night and it was an older venue without air conditioning. The match started out as expected for about two or three minutes, then all hell broke loose, Brower and Siki got into a private personal beef, I saw Siki nail Brower on the jaw with a very stiff punch, Brower went bonkers and tried to tear Siki apart, the other two wrestlers saw what was unfolding and left the ring altogether. 

Meanwhile Brower was so crazed at this point that he tried to pull down one of the arena's supporting beams to use as a weapon to use against his own partner Siki, when he could not accomplish this, he ran out to the back of the arena, he reappeared a moment later brandishing a large steel wheel barrow over head, his intent was obvious, he wanted to badly hurt and injure his own partner Siki. 

Siki was able to back peddle out of the enraged Brower's range, and Brower who was so intent on maiming Siki started to slow down, no doubt he was tiring, this was triggered by a personal beef between the two. When visiting with Siki at the tavern where he has appeared for years, I mentioned that match to him, wanting to know what was the trigger to set that type of violence up, Siki's only memory of the incident was the wheel barrow.
............
Thanks so much to Roger for sharing his great memories of Siki with us!
Pics taken at 'The Wrestling Room' in 2016 , Siki, Jet Star, and Roger Baker
Bottom pic Roger and Jet visiting Siki 

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Whippers Beverages

If you browse on e-bay from time to time you will find some old 'Whipper's Beverages' bottles, caps , and occasionally other merchandise from the short lived foray by Whipper Watson into the beverage business.

The bottles are highly collectable and can go for hundreds of dollars. They featured a pose of Whipper with his British Empire Title from the mid 1940's on the front while the back of the neck had 'The Champion of Drinks.' The reverse of the bottle featured a wrestling hold illustrated and the name of the hold below it.

I'm not sure how many different versions there were but have noted about 10 different holds pictured on the bottles I've seen. Leg Trip, Crotch Lift and Slam etc

Whipper got in to the beverage business in early 1948. It was set up through Dominion Beverages, and he went in with his brother George who worked for the RCMP at the time and for many years after. They were evidently very busy as of July 1948 as Whipper was out looking for new digs as they had too much inventory for their current location.

They were, in the meantime, keeping their overflow at a farm, likely Whipper's spread up in Kewsick, and Whipper was talking with area storekeepers who were eager for him to make personal appearances to promote the drinks.

They didn't list ingredients back then but it's likely there was a ton of sugar in these, kind of against the healthy living that Whipper promoted throughout his life. They had Cream Soda, Root Beer, Orange, Lime, and others.

Whipper was very busy on all fronts as he was making real money by this time headlining the weekly cards in Toronto. He would also buy into a Kitchen run by his brother Larry which ran out of a plant where they prepared the orders.

Whipper enlisted some friends as Distributors, fellow wrestler Billy Stack handled his home area of Bowmanville in 1950.

By 1951 it was done
Notice to creditors
Trustee under the Bulk Sales Act to recieve purchase monies from the sale of the plant and equipment of Whippers Beverages Ltd 435 Dawes Rd Toronto which have been sold to Seven-Up Ontario and Dominion Dry Ginger Ale Company for ditribution among the creditors of Whippers Beverages Limited. 


If you have any info to add please reply below or email me tks

Below are some pics, including a Turofsky pic of Whipper promoting his drinks beside Maple Leaf Gardens



















Friday, May 26, 2017

Ali vs Inoki 1976 CC at MLG

There were several closed-circuit cards shown at MLG over the years, and at various other places around Toronto. The 1976 Ali-Inoki 'War of the Worlds' is one of the only ones that involved wrestling, at least in the TV-in-every-house era.

The bout was highly promoted all over North America and Japan while Toronto fans could catch it at the Gardens.

A couple of weeks prior at MLG they had shown the Foreman -Frazier bout from Vegas.
Attendance at MLG was listed at 4,000 to see Foreman win by knockout in the fifth round,
Promoters in Toronto were All Canada Sports Promotions and Concerts West, All Canada was Irv Ungerman, long time boxing promoter.

Ungerman would also present the Ali-Inoki telecast, this time alongside Frank Tunney Sports.
Tunney held exclusive rights to hold wrestling at MLG which may have been the extent of his involvement (cut of the $) having long since removed himself from the boxing wars in Toronto.

The card set to start at 830pm would include some bouts from New York's Shea Stadium show which had Bruno vs Hansen, Scicluna vs Putski, Gonzales vs Sullivan, White Wolf and Strongbow vs The Executioners, the mixed Andre vs Chuck Wepner for 10 rounds, then the Ali-Inoki from Tokyo sched for 15. Tickets at MLG were priced from $8-15 , bit cheaper than the Foreman-Frazier which were priced at $10-20.

For comparison Tunney's regular wrestling shows at this time were $2.50- 7

Prior to the show in a Jim Proudfoot Star column, Gene Kiniski had predicted 'if it's on the level, Ali hasn't got a chance.' Kiniski,. a pretty smart guy, predicted that Inoki 'has got to go to the canvas, that's where any wrestler would go - for the legs- if Inoki stays on his feet, you'll know he's going to get himself knocked out.' Not only smart but still incredibly humble Kiniski added 'I've wrestled Inoki a few times and...he's nothing special.'

As we all know that's how the bout played out, generally viewed as a rather big disappointment after all of the hype.

The next day on the front page of the Star was a pic of Ali in full face of surprise looking down at Inoki on his back. The caption, all in caps screamed THEY GOT $!0 MILLION FOR THIS!

About 8,000 turned up at MLG to watch it. Ungerman declared it 'a disgrace and I'm embarrassed.'
MLG was one of 18 locations across the country to show it.
'Never again. We blew a tube at our Hamilton location and had to refund admissions to about 1,000 people. They were lucky' added Ungerman.

The wrestling fans weren't quite so upset, the whole card wasn't too bad and the Andre- Wepner bout laid some of the framework for the Rocky movies.

The 'real' sports world was slow to accept the combo of Boxing and 'rasslin. Writer Jim Kerhaghan in the Star added that the Andre-Wepner bout was 'highly suspect' and after Andre got Chuck in a headlock  'that those who were watching closely noticed that Andre had his hand on Wepner's head and bonked his own knuckles.'

Welcome to 'pro wrestling' Jim.