Friday, July 20, 2018

John Studd 1982: Classic Photo

John Studd does his best to color the Gardens red in this shot from Jan 1982. He has just lost the Canadian Title back to Angelo Mosca. This was the second cage bout of the night, the first had Johnny Weaver trouncing Lord Alfred Hayes.

Friday, July 13, 2018

'Gentleman' Jim Hady 1961: Classic Photo

Another Classic Photo Friday and another great Roger Baker photo from MLG 1961.

'Gentleman' Jim Hady spent a lot of time in Toronto and area between 1961-1964 wrestling on nearly every weekly show at Maple Leaf Gardens. While mostly mid-card on the big shows he would main event at the many towns on the circuit. He would battle and also team with Johnny Valentine and the two would hold the International Tag Titles.

Jim is talking to one of the regular 'second's' for the wrestlers. Not sure of his name. Phil Lisner is another of Frank's long time employees who was a second, we may look at the use of second's in that era in a future post. You can see announcer Jerry Hiff and ref Pat Flanagan in the background.

Thanks to Roger Baker

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Norm Kimber: Announcer Extraordinaire

For fans of the M-A era and into the last years of the NWA days here, memories of Norm Kimber would rate high when recalling wrestling in the city. He was the 'voice' at MLG, usually very serious and business-like but often looking to be holding back a smile while surrounded by the craziness of the ring.

Always well dressed in a suit, tux, or occasionally a sports coat with sweater underneath, he brought an air of sophistication to the proceedings. He introduced the wrestlers and promoted the next big show at MLG while also manning the ring bell at the little table beside the ring.

By the time we knew him as Norm Kimber the ring announcer, he had already put in many years in the office. First as a 'man-friday' type and then taking over the publicity chores before taking over the ringside duties, apparently 38 years in total.

He was in the office at the height of the 1950's revival of pro wrestling. Possibly as early as 1948 when Norm was just 17-18 years old. He had been working as a copy/messenger boy at the Toronto Star when writer Joe Perlove introduced him to Frank Tunney.

He later said 'It was wonderful for me, because I had been a sports fan all my life.' Of Frank he said he was the 'easiest going guy you ever wanted to meet, respected by everyone in sports. He always had a cigar in his mouth, and even when he quit smoking I think he kept a rubber one there.'

At that time the office was busy with boxing people, reporters, and the wrestlers that were part of the inner circle that worked with Tunney through those years. Along with publicity man Frank Ayerst and Kimber there were 'Deacon' Allen, Phil Lisner, Tommy Nelson, and the various scribes who frequented the office as well as Frank's nephew John (Jack) who came in soon after.

He took over the ring announcing duties in 1973 replacing long-time announcer Jerry Hiff. He would stay in that capacity through 1986 until he left for Angelo Mosca's short lived NWA promotion based out of Hamilton. Occasionally he would be replaced by Jack Tunney but for the most part he didn't miss many cards through that 13 year period

He looks to have been the office liaison in the later days with the papers as far as the ads and results for the shows went . From the 1930's through the 1950's the wrestling coverage in the papers was plentiful. That tailed off in the 1960's after Frank Ayerst moved on and Tunney's office was considerably smaller than in those early days.

By the time of our era you were hard pressed to find more than the ad and results placed around the by-then twice monthly shows. There were some features in the papers but written by their reporters. Some listings in the dying days of the promotion said 'by Norm Kimber' but otherwise there wasn't much in the publicity side by the early 1980's.

If you went to Tunney's office, by then across from the Gardens, it was down to Frank and Jack mostly. Kimber and others who worked for Tunney seemed to be somewhat 'game night' types only.

In 1986 he was fired by Jack Tunney. As per Norm 'There was no warning, no remuneration, no holiday pay, no nothing.' He assisted Mosca on the promotion side too though it's not clear how involved he was with 'Pro Wrestling Canada.'

Not as much known about Norm as should be, if you can add to the story of Norm Kimber please contact me.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Montreal 1981: Classic Clippings

More Montreal clippings, this time 1981. There are some duplicates, slightly different ads for the same cards. Again, dates in pen were when they were pulled from the paper.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

1981 TV Wrestling Day

We were lucky to get a lot of TV wrestling in those days. In Toronto you could spend most of a Saturday pinned to the couch.  A lot of clicking on that old converter box that had the 3 levels and brown buttons, all wired to your TV. On this day there's 4 straight hours of different stuff and one more later in the day.

They moved them around all the time, the only constant mostly was the Maple Leaf show on CHCH 11 usually at 1pm but this is a good snap of what was on at the time.

Toronto March 21 1981
  • 12pm Global 6 + 22 - AWA Wrestling from Winnipeg
  • 1pm   CHCH 11 Maple Leaf Wrestling (NWA) from Brantford mostly but also Guelph, Hamilton, etc.
  • 2pm   CITY 79 George Cannon's Superstars (Independant) from Windsor, Toronto
  •           CKVR 3 Al Tomko's All Star Wrestling (NWA) from Vancouver
  •           13 was a CTV affiliate outside of Toronto, not sure what they were showing, didn't get it
  • 4pm   WIVB 4 Mid Atlantic Championship Wrestling (NWA) - best of the day ! !
Not shown is
  • 12am WUTV 29 (Buffalo station) on Saturday night with WWF Wrestling. 
The show hosted by Vince. Had to stay up for that one but it was good too and many of the regulars of that time were appearing in Toronto. Mosca (as a heel), Andre, Valentine, Hulk Hogan with Freddie Blassie, of course Backlund etc. etc. Rabbit ears on the bedroom tv for that one.

The 2pm double lineup on this day would end up with Cannon but Tomko's All-Star was fun in it's own way. Lots of fans around here still talk about All Star TV and much of the time you could watch the whole hour (if you desired) when in it's own time slot.

Cannon had also been on Global for some years, we will look at Cannon and Superstars in another post. CITY 79 later showed International from Montreal. All Star from Vancouver also moved around a bit. Some other stations that were available in other parts of Ontario also had shows.

The next card at MLG was Sunday March 29

Canadian Title: Angelo Mosca W/COR Jimmy Snuka
Andre the Giant W Hulk Hogan
Texas Death Match: Sweet Ebony Diamond W Bobby Duncum
Swede Hanson/Hossein Arab W George Wells/Johnny Weaver
Tony Parisi W Mr. Fuji
Frankie Laine Draw The Destroyer

Will feature other years in future posts, we had the NWF, Detroit, Grand Prix, Stampede, and others at various times. Even when the WWF came in there was still many hours of TV wrestling on every weekend.

We previously took a quick look at the busy TV in the early days at Early TV Wrestling in Ontario

Friday, July 6, 2018

Billy Stack: Classic Photo

It's Classic Photo Friday with Billy Stack circa 1948-49. We looked at Stack in a feature for Slam Wrestling a while back at Billy Stack: The Pride of Bowmanville (external link opens in new window). Very interesting guy and good wrestler in and around Oshawa/Bowmanville from the mid 1940's to the mid 1960's.

He also wrestled at MLG and on the Tunney circuit and later became a long time referee at MLG and shows up in some of Roger Baker's photos we feature here.

As a result of the Slam story Billy was recognized and inducted into the Clarington Sports Hall of Fame in 2016.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

30 Years ago Dave RIP

30 years ago today July 4 1988 we lost Dave McKigney, Pat Kelly, and Adrian Adonis in an accident on the East coast. Dave was a hard working, well respected guy who supplied a lot of small towns with great entertainment for many years. RIP Dave

Photo is from Cornwall, ON 1982. None of the participants in this chain-lumberjack match shot are still with us. George Steele, Kurt Von Hess, Chris Colt, Bobo Brazil, Wolfman Farkus (arm).

Five years ago I wrote a piece for Slam Wrestling for which Greg Oliver added a ton of stuff as well as some Roger Baker photos, and it came out a very expansive piece on the legacy of Dave here in Ontario.

Can read that at "The Bearman" Dave McKigney: 25 years later

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Wahoo and Kiniski MLG 1982

Love this pic of Wahoo McDaniel and Gene Kiniski in front of the 'wall' at MLG in June 1982.
These two went way back together to Wahoo's early days as a wrestler. Gene started first but they had both turned pro after football careers.

At this time in Toronto Gene was a bad guy while Wahoo was a fan favorite. Wahoo took on Sgt Slaughter (U.S. champ , Slaughter's title not on line) while big Gene took on Angelo Mosca in a Texas Death Match for Mosca's Canadian Title. Wahoo won, Kiniski didn't.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Updates and Summer Break

Great way to start a semi-vacation visiting with Roger and Gloria Baker and spending time in the wrestling room and looking through boxes of nostalgia. Just a small fraction of Roger's massive collection of photos and nostalgia on display.

Such a treat to hear stories from Toronto Wrestling and Boxing from the 1950's on. Roger has great stories about Whipper, Frank, Chris Colt, Siki, and many of our major stars. His adventures with Bulldog Brower alone would fill a book.

When we get back in couple of weeks we will have some new stuff coming up

  • A look at a fabulous 'Fabulous Kangaroos' press kit type with an awesome poster of wrestling moves
  • A look at Frank Tunney's later days
  • Classic Photo's including 'Gentleman' Jim Hady, Bobo Brazil, John Studd, and more 
  • Some new 'From The Scrapbook' with clippings from the 1950's, more Montreal, and much more !