News June 2020

Tough year for all of us.
It's been about 17 years for the site. Will be taking a break and working on a new look/medium/project for the mapleleaf content.

Gary Will's excellent Toronto Wrestling History is still live and posted below.

The Canadian Title book is available in the Mid Atlantic Gateway Bookstore  and at Amazon worldwide

Slam! Reviews the book

The Canadian Heavyweight Title: The Complete History 1978-1984

Image presents with design & layout by Dick Bourne of the Mid-Atlantic Gateway The Canadian Heavyweight Title  The Complete History 1978-1984
Available at The Mid-Atlantic Gateway Bookstore  and Amazonworldwide 14.95 U.S. & Canada 126 pages black & white with color cover
Writeup at
Review at Slam! Wrestling
    In 1978 as the Toronto territory was taking off with the young stars of Mid-Atlantic wrestling, promoter Frank Tunney introduced a local championship. The Canadian Heavyweight Title, to be defended by the top star in Maple Leaf Wrestling.

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

Dan O'Mahony headlocks King Clancy before Toronto debut, February 21, 1935: Gary Will's TWH

Future world champion Dan O'Mahony -- billed in the U.S. as Danno O'Mahoney -- made his Maple Leaf Gardens debut on February 21, 1935 to much fanfare. The wrestler was brought to North America by Boston-based promoter Paul Bowser to add some fresh blood to the wrestling scene ... and attract the huge Irish crowds in Beantown. Toronto also had a thriving Irish community, which included promoter Jack Corcoran.

The community also included Toronto Maple Leafs' all-star defenceman King Clancy, who was in the waning years of his hall-of-fame playing career. Clancy gave his support to O'Mahony as a legitimate Irishman, and posed with the wrestler -- billed as 6'2" -- for this picture in the Toronto Star.

In his column the day of O'Mahony's Toronto debut, Star sports editor Lou Marsh described pro wrestling as "sportive entertainment," foreshadowing the term that would be popularized decades later by Vince McMahon and the WWF.

-by Gary Will

Ivan Mickailoff: "The man who made wrestling in Toronto": Gary Will's TWH

Frank Tunney is remembered -- and rightly so -- as Toronto's greatest wrestling promoter, but the man who established Toronto as a wrestling city and paved the way for Tunney has been largely forgotten.

There was a lot of skepticism when Ivan Mickailoff announced in 1929 that he would be running weekly shows at Arena Gardens. While top-name pro wrestlers had made occasional stops in Toronto -- and there was even an effort made to stage the Gotch-Hackenschmidt rematch in the city (more about that another time), no one had ever run regularly-scheduled shows with top wrestling stars. "Wrestling has never been a popular sport in the Queen City," wrote the Globe (see separate story on the first show for the clipping).

Mickailoff -- called "Mike" in Toronto -- was a former wrestler who claimed to have been born in Siberia and spoke English with a thick accent. Many of the biographical details I've come across are suspect. He was said to have been an Olympic cham…

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

-by Gary Will

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

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

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

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

Christie lost the belt to the Masked Marvel on June 9, and Marvel continued to show that the title was no joke with wins over ex-w…

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

PHOTOS: Dory Funk Jr. defends NWA title: 1973

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

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

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

-by Gary Will

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

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

DATENAMEUNMASKED ASUNMASKED BY36/06/18   The UnknownHal RumbergJim McMillen38/09/29Masked MarvelTed CoxMayes McLain41/11/27Masked WolfJohn GrandovichThe Angel43/08/12Red ShadowLeo NumaWild Bill Longson44/01/05The CzarDick LeverBobby Managoff48/01/08The MummyPedro MartinezMasked Marvel49/01/27Mr. XEarl McCreadyMasked Marvel & tag partners49/02/17Masked MarvelLew ReynheerWhipper Billy Watson51/02/22Masked ManagerMayes McLainWhipper Billy Watson51/08/30Masked MarvelLou NewmanThe Zebra51/11/29The ZebraGeorge BollasWhipper Billy Watson52/12/26Masked MarvelFrank ValoisRed Mask53/06/11Red MaskDutch HefnerLou Thesz59/06/04Great BoloAl LovelockWhipper Billy Watson61/05/25Black TerrorLaverne BaxterWhipper Billy Watson64/01/16The DestroyerJoe ChristieJohnny Valentine64/05/06Mighty Herculesnot identifiedJohnny Valentine66…