Friday, January 24, 2020

Brief History of Wrestling in Oshawa

Originally posted at 
Some links here to Gary's stuff and over at Slam!
 The Oshawa wrestling scene closely mirrors that of  Toronto and goes back to the start of regular cards in Ontario.

The first pro show in Oshawa was held Oct 17 1929 at the Armories under the auspices of Promoter Ivan Mickailoff. It was  Mickailoff who had recently started his weekly shows at Arena Gardens in Toronto.

The Armories would see shows through the 1930's and by the mid 1940's cards were promoted locally under the banner of the Oshawa Wrestling Club. Local wrestlers Jimmy Szikszay and Ted McKinley were part of the group and had some fringe help from boxer/wrestler Pat Milosh and Pat Farrell

They were all wrestling on the cards through the1947 season, with the last card listing Szikszay and McKinley as promoters taking place after a riot filled night on June 12.

The following card on Aug 11 1947 listed Pat Milosh as promoter and drew 1,000 people to the Oshawa Arena to see Ben Sharpe take on John Katan in the main event. Milosh had convinced the local authorities that he could run a safe riot-free event and he did. Szikszay in particular would remain involved and occasionally appear on Pat's shows or backstage over the years.

It would mark the beginning of a long association for the hometown promoter. He stopped wrestling on the cards to devote fully to the promotion and forged a close bond with Frank Tunney.

Over the years when the local venues were not available, Milosh would branch out to Whitby and Bowmanville primarily as well as Port Perry, Cobourg, and occasional others.

Generally the season would last from late April/early May to Sept interrupted by hockey season. The first show of the year would often have a special guest (Mayors, Aldermen, Radio guys) to open the  much anticipated Wrestling seasons.

To kick off Milosh's first full year as promoter in 1948 several strong line-ups were presented. The second card of the year featured the first appearance of Lou Thesz, soon to win the National Wrestling Association World Title from Bill Longson. Wild Bill himself was in Oshawa in July '48 to defend against the now local Earl McCready.

Other regulars in the early years included Toronto favorite Whipper Watson, Polish giant Wladslaw Talun, and future area promoters Red Garner and John Katan.

In addition to locals Szikszay and for a time Sandor Kovacs, the area was well represented by Bowmanville/Oshawa based Billy Stack. Stack would appear regularly on cards from 1947 to 1963. In later years Stack was one of the main referees at MLG often alongside Joe Gollub for tag bouts. He was also an area rep for Whipper's Beverages (Watson's soft drink company) in the early 1950's.

The main names in Toronto would occupy the cards for the balance of the 1940's into the 1950's with cards generally taking place on the Tuesday evening before the Thursday MLG cards.

Attendance figures were only reported sporadically but seem fairly consistent at 1000-1500, not bad numbers for weekly cards.

Though Milosh had got off to a clean and safe star, there were frequent riots during or after the shows. Often the crowd would attack one of the heels or a referee after an unpopular decision.  After a 1952 riot there would be a heel ref run involving Gollob with a second referee being added to counter the heel loving ways of the fans most hated ref.

The attendance would spike in 1953, first with the appearance of Canadian Tag Title claimants Lou Plummer and Dick Raines in May and then with the appearance of Gorgeous George in June.

George did not make an MLG appearance on this visit so the bout in Oshawa would draw 2750 fans to see him draw with Pat Flanagan. Later that month British Empire champ Whipper Watson would begin a feud with the Great Togo that would draw in crowds of 2500 + over a 3 bout series.

The third bout of the feud on July 14 1953 drew 3527. the largest crowd in Oshawa to date. When they revisited the feud a month later  they would pack 3000 fans in the Arena to again see the popular Watson do away with Togo.

On the day of a scheduled Wrestling Card, Sept 15 1953, the Oshawa Arena would burn to the ground and Milosh would start the 1954 season at the Bowmanville arena

After four cards at Bowmanville Arena Milosh moved to the outdoors Kingsmen Stadium in 1954.

Billed as the 'Return of Wrestling to Oshawa'. Boxing great Joe Louis would guest referee a tag bout between Pat Flanagan and Tex McKenzie vs Al Mills and The Mighty Ursus drawing 2000 fans in June 1954.

Milosh would also run cards indoors at Childrens Arena which sits directly North of the Stadium, between 1960-1964. Both are within the same block that once held the Oshawa Arena.

The Kinsmen is still there, a really nice old time baseball field, and would have been a great place to take in the matches. It did rain though -a lot!

The season would be centered around the Canadian Tag Titles which figured prominently in five of the cards. Whipper and Togo would also be a return hit in August 1954 drawing 1500 fans.

The NWA World Title would make its first appearance in 1956 on 2 consecutive cards with local champ Whipper Watson battling British Empire champ Pat O'Connor.

The attendance record from 1953 would be broken on Aug 14 1956 with a main of Hardboiled Haggerty vs Yukon Eric drawing 4,600 to the Stadium.

Wilbur Snyder, billed as U.S. champ (Omaha version) would open the 1958 season with a bout vs Toronto star Gene Kiniski. The new World champ Dick Hutton would also  come in for a bout with Yukon Eric in August with the season closing out with a brothers tag feud between Joe and Guy Brunetti and the Kalmikoffs.

Gorgeous George would return in 1961 to open the season on two consecutive cards taking on Tony Marino then Farmer Boy Frank Townsend. In Aug Tuffy Truesdale would appear both with his Wrestling Bear and Wrestling Alligator. MLG regulars Billy Red Lyons, Cyclone and Hurricane Smith, Don Jardine (The Spoiler), Stan Stasiak, and a young Gino Marella (Gorilla Monsoon) would all occupy the Oshawa cards during the 1961 season.

Bruno Sammartino, making a name for himself around Ontario would appear on several cards in the 1962 season in singles as well as tags teaming with Tony Marino. The cards would see a change in venue in 1964 to the newly built Oshawa Civic Auditorium and continue until the '80's for all cards presented by Milosh.

In 1965 Milosh would present the first of three Annual Tournament of Champions with an eventual winner of Andy Robin over Professor Hiro. Robin would be presented with a trophy after winning but was the only winner of the three tourny's to actually receive the trophy in one piece.

Johnny Powers would make his debut in Oshawa in June 1966 in the main event vs Karl Gotch and return to occupy the top of the cards for much of the season.

That years Tournament of Champions would see winner Sweet Daddy Siki attacked by sore loser Hans Schmidt who would then smash the trophy to bits,.

Gene Kiniski and his NWA Title would open the 1967 season with two consecutive main events vs Johnny Valentine. Kiniski would return in July to take on Tiger Jeet Singh who was working his way up the cards as a protege and tag partner of Fred Atkins.

In Aug 1967 Milosh presented the third annual Tournament of Champions. In the final Bulldog Brower and The Assassin (Guy Mitchell presumably) battled to a draw so another bout was announced for the next card to decide the winner. That bout also ended inconclusively so a third bout was set under Texas Death Match rules with no disqualifications. Brower would emerge victorious to finally claim the trophy. In the last show of the season Brower would team up with Whipper to take on their respective arch-enemy's Tiger Jeet Singh and The Assassin.

The first two cards of the 1968 season featured handicap bouts with the Assassin taking on two men. The first vs Whipper and Brower, the second vs Whipper and Dewey Robertson. 1968 would be the last complete season of the 1960's. 1969 saw only two cards. The July 15 1969 show featured a Judo exhibition between lady wrestlers Lucille Dupre and Linda Klein. Ladies Wrestling was still not allowed in Ontario at this point so billed as an exhibition under Judo rules.

With the 1960's drawing to a close, the wrestling scene in Oshawa would see the seasons get shorter with less cards in the coming years. As 1969 ended the fans in Oshawa would have to wait until 1971 for wrestling to return.

Wrestling would return in June 1971 for the first time in nearly 2 years with a main event of Whipper and Haystack Calhoun vs The Love Brothers drawing 3,000 fans.

Only four shows were reported in 1971 and five in 1972.

In May 1972 Dave McKigney ran a card at the Whitby arena featuring Angelo Mosca and Eric The Red. They would return to Whitby in June  with Vic Rossitanni as Canadian champion.

Milosh was wary of McKigney at first but attended one of the shows and felt that it wasn't a big threat to his cards. The Toronto office had changed however and a litany of issues (Tunney not running as big of a circuit a big one) would turn the city into a occasional spot with Milosh later going to work in Auto sales.

Regular cards would start up again in Oshawa in 1973 with an appearance by local (Ajax) Shillelagh O’Sullivan, hot off a run at MLG. Tiger Jeet Singh would also appear as US champ as recognized in Toronto alongside the other Tunney regulars.. In July 1973 Whipper Watson Jr would promote a show at the Ajax Arena featuring himself as Canadian champ, The Love Brothers, Chief War Eagle, and lady wrestlers Jean Baxter and Sandra Birchnall. Jr. and The Loves would run some smaller spots including the Brooklin and Port Perry Arenas here as well as around the Golden Horseshoe. Whipper Sr was helping his son and they would keep the ring in a barn up at Whipper's farm in Keswick to train.

McKigney would return to Whitby at the Iroquois Arena in June 1974 with a main of N.A champ Archie 'The Stomper' Gouldie vs Angelo Mosca while in a short Oshawa season a June card saw a handicap bout of Andre The Giant vs The Love Brothers.

The 1975 season opened with a tag bout between two sets of twins. The McGuires (Billy/Benny) and The Kellys (Pat/Mike). McKigney would continue to promote in Whitby with that summer' s North American Title showdown between Tony Parisi and Stan Stasiak.

Both 1976 and 1977 saw only three cards in Oshawa. In August 1977 a McKigney style ad (same as his posters) appeared in the paper for an upcoming show at the Civic with Edouard Carpentier vs The Sheik. It appeared that McKigney had booked the Civic out from under Milosh but on the day of the card there was a pic of Milosh and Frank Tunney above a note reminding fans to attend.

Toronto was seeing its wrestling landscape change dramatically at the end of summer 1977 with the departure of The Sheik, into the association with Verne Gagne and the AWA. This would result in the absence of wrestling in Oshawa during 1978 as only the upper card stars of the AWA (Verne and Greg Gagne, Nick Bockwinkel, Jim Brunzell, Stevens and Patterson, etc.) would appear in Toronto then immediately return to the AWA cities.

After another two year absence in Oshawa, wrestling would return in July 1979 with the stars of the (now aligned with Toronto) Mid-Atlantic area . A strong card on July 16 1979 with WWF champ Bob Backlund and Canadian champ Dino Bravo teaming up against Greg Valentine and Ken Patera would bring the fans back. Still, there would only be one more card that summer and nothing again in 1980.

In a newspaper interview in 1982 Pat Milosh complained that it was getting harder to get the talent in to Oshawa. As with the AWA most of the M-A stars would only appear on the Sunday MLG card and then depart back to the Carolina's. At this point Kitchener, Hamilton, Niagara Falls, and others were all back on the circuit and while some of the M-A stars would hang back, Oshawa would be left out.

The 1981 season would see four cards presented, all strong lineups with the M-A stars including a popular tag of Ric Flair and new Canadian champ Angelo Mosca  vs Fuji and Ivan Koloff.

McKigney would come through again too, in Whitby, on his now regular summer tour.

Again through 1982-83 the cards were few and far between with only three over the two year period. August 9th 1983 would see the 35th Anniversary show for Milosh amid a somewhat local media celebration but the days of packed houses and stacked cards in Oshawa were coming to an end.

The last NWA show would occur on Aug 8 1983 with a main of Johnny Weaver and Mike Rotundo vs One Man Gang and Don Kernodle. By the time the next regular wrestling season would normally start up - May 1984 - the Toronto office was already on it's way to aligning with the ever expanding World Wrestling Federation. The Toronto office would switch officially in July 1984 with the first WWF card taking place at MLG on July 22. With all the changes locally Oshawa would be left out completely that first summer and the next, with wrestling remaining absent until Nov 5 1985.

The first card presented in Oshawa in more than 2 years would see the fans return in a big way.

The WWF machine was now in full swing, hot off the success of Wrestlemania and with a new generation of fans on board. Milosh would handle the local end on Jack Tunney's behalf after Frank had died in May 1983. They would pack 5,000 into the Civic but Milosh, along with other area promoters, wouldn't enjoy the same relationships they had held with Frank.

The papers noted that the Civic had not seen so many customers in more than three years since the Oshawa Generals had ousted the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds for a berth in the Memorial Cup.

While Pat Milosh was quoted as saying 'We couldn't have asked for a better ending, If the fans left with smiles on their faces we were pleased.' - in reference to the final of the Killer Bees with an exciting win over Mike Sharpe and Tiger Chung Lee - the two had subbed for the British Bulldogs to the fans dismay.

The next several years would see just a handful of shows with the last involving Milosh in Jan 1992. That one featured a reprise of Flair vs Piper, The Legion of Doom, and Bret Hart vs Jacques Rougeau Jr.

In recent years several promotions have put on shows around Oshawa. The Polish Hall a popular spot and a fun show, but a long way from the heyday of wrestling in the city.


Thursday, January 23, 2020

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

The Canadian Heavyweight Title: The Complete History 1978-1984 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 Amazon 
14.95 U.S. & Canada 126 pages black & white with color cover
Writeup at

    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 revisit the big cards, the tournaments, the title belt, and other memorable slices of Maple Leaf Wrestling from 1978-1984.

Check out all the fine books at

Friday, January 10, 2020

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.'


Canadian Middleweight Title belt 1930's

A beautiful Canadian title belt recently offered on ebay. Held by Jack Brentano in the 1930's. Not much info on him past some bouts listed -and the info below the pics.

From the auction:
You are bidding on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to own a piece of Professional Wrestling history. The Canadian Middleweight Championship belt held by Jack Brentano (also billed as Jack Brantano, Bull Brentana, John "Canada" Brentano, "Strangler" Brentano, The Red Flash (masked), Monsieur Jaques, Jacques La Roque and, no doubt, several more!)

This beautiful belt and metal buckle from the 1930s (at the latest) weighs 12oz and the main buckle face measures approximately 13.5 x 11.5cm.

Two metal Canadian maple leaf emblems are pinned either side.

The belt comes with an amazing book of provenance - a circa 35-page scrapbook full of newspaper cuttings, bills, telegrams, personal insights and more. Towns/cities wrestled in across North America include Vancouver, Edmonton, Tacoma, Bellingham, Seattle, Provo, Salt Lake City, Kelso, Long View, Great Falls, Helena, Fort Peck, El Paso, Grant's Pass, Eugene and Sheridan. 

Brentano appears to have held three belts at one time: (amateur) Welterweight champion of the Pacific Coast, Canadian Middleweight (this one) and the Montana State Middleweight title. He was born in St. Paul, Oregon in 1900 and died in 1945. One newspaper piece suggests that Brentano had been Canadian champion since 1928, won at Hastings Park, Vancouver.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Memories of Toronto with Roger Baker: The Fabulous Midgets!

The Fabulous Midgets were a huge hit across the circuit in Ontario starting in the late 1940's. By the boom of the 1950's they were headlining cards in the smaller towns and drawing huge crowds wherever they appeared.

Some including Tom Thumb, Little Beaver, and Sky Low Low would entertain fans all over the province for several decades. Little Beaver had debuted in the area in 1953 and was still wrestling on the M-A era shows in 1983.

This time on Memories of Toronto with Roger Baker: The Fabulous Midgets!

Thanks to Roger for this and all of his other contributions to the history of wrestling in Ontario. Anything with a Roger Baker tag (photos, commentary, etc) can be found at Roger Baker

Cowboy Bradley & Little Beaver Oshawa 1971
   'Back in the early 1950's this future wrestling photographer became aware of the zany little men, and women that have since entertained several generations of enthusiastic wrestling fans, as well as many folks that just have to see the hilarious moves and stunts that they so skillfully come up with.

An example of some very funny stunts could go as follows. Little Beaver is standing in front of one of his opponents in the MLG ring, Beaver suddenly points for his opponent the impish Fuzzy Cupid to look up to were he is pointing, Fuzzy does just that. Fuzzy as a reward for his distraction gets a stomp on his toes from Beaver. 

All the while Fuzzy's partner Sky Low Low who is on the other side of the ring holding a tag rope places his hand to his head in reaction to seeing Fuzzy Cupid fall for Beaver's ruse. The fans would erupt in laughter.

Flash forward to the mid sixties having just covered a Thursday night wrestling show at MLG in which the mighty midgets had appeared in a tag team match. It was a warm night and I was thirsty. There was a popular tavern not far from MLG and I soon found myself enjoying a cold one. 

Soon thereafter Sky Low Low and Fuzzy Cupid came into the room, I introduced myself to the wrestlers and we had a great time telling wrestling stories. Sky Low Low was really wound up on this particular evening and had some very interesting stories that he related to, where he had wrestled in so many different countries around the world.
Little Beaver hoists Sky Low Low, ref Gollob Sutton 1968

I asked him if he had concerns when he would be  on the floor of a wrestling venue, that he being the heel wrestler could be attacked by irate fans. The answer was an emphatic yes! 

He went on to relate an incident that occurred in Paris France when an obsessed women hit him over the head repeatedly with a walking stick of some kind. He bled profusely, and had to be rushed to a hospital to tend his wounds!

Sky Low Low related that he probably would have bled out without the prompt medical care that he received. He went on to say that in the heat of the match that he felt no pain even though he  probably got hit a dozen times with the cane.

On another occasion I was sitting in a dugout of the old Maple Leaf Ballpark. Little Beaver was also in the dugout and we got to talking about the vagaries of running a wrestling business. 

Beaver went on to relate the following to me. 'When I began to promote as well as wrestle all I got was complaints, bad working conditions, not enough pay, and on and on so now I don't promote anymore. I wrestle, collect my pay, enjoy life,, and most importantly sleep again at night.'


Johnny Kostas, Frenchy Lamont, Lord Littlebrook Newmarket 1967 

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Welcome to

Roger & AC in Roger's 'Wrestling Room' 2015

Welcome to  Classic Wrestling in Ontario since 2003.

Home to Gary Will's Toronto Wrestling History alongside Roger Baker's photos.

For more Toronto stuff see Toronto posts on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway  and others linked on the left sidebar.

Quicker things by AC on Twitter @mapleleafwrestl1

Thanks to Roger Baker for contributions to Many of the Classic photos and the main header images come from Roger's collections from his many years as a fan and then Professional Photog shooting Wrestling and Boxing bouts at MLG and around Ontario. We are fortunate to have his contributions to the articles as he shares his memories from the classic days of Ontario Pro Wrestling. Roger wrote many great stories for the Wrestling mags of the day that featured his photos and time spent with many of the biggest stars ever to appear at Maple Leaf Gardens. Thank you Roger!

Thanks to Griff Henderson and Gary Will for their contributions to Griff and I have shared stuff for years and Gary is the go-to guy for Toronto history.

Thanks to Chris Kovachis

Thanks to all of the contributors over the years
Ed White aka Johnny Davis/The Spoiler, Michael Cannon, Chris Owens, Mark Eastridge, Jim Painter aka Big Jim Lancaster, Tim Gerouard aka Tim Gerrard, Daren Gleason, Dave O'Halloran, Wes Maidment, Chris Swisher, Mr Thompson, Jerome Mac Donald, Eric Peddle, Chris Drury, Doug McLeer, Pete Jarvis, Rob Elder, Todd Cummer, Greg Oliver, Vern May aka Vance Nevada, Barry Hatchet, Dick Bourne, Ron Hutchison, Pete Lederburg, and everyone who has sent me stuff, or helped with articles !

Historical info comes from the newspapers and original clippings, scrapbooks, photos etc. A lot of info from Gary's stuff and the pages here on his TWH.

The site has been scaled back, You can find old stuff at the Internet Archive Wayback machine
Gary's Canadian and HOF sites are also there !

It's always good to hear from family of the wrestlers we feature, if you can help add to the story  please contact me.

The Canadian Title book is available at Mid-Atlantic Gateway Bookstore alongside Dick Bourne's fabulous books covering the wrestlers and titles of the M-A (and Toronto) area.

-AC 2020
Ontario, Canada

Friday, January 3, 2020

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 champion in 1908, which is false. He was also said to have worked as some kind of secret agent in WWI and to have served in the Russian Imperial Guard for nearly four years, attaining the rank of colonel. He was a tall man who ejoyed cigars and reportedly liked playing card games, particularly pinochle and hearts.

His name occasionally comes up in match results from the 1910s. For example, he opened the 1915 wrestling season in Montreal losing to John (Giovanni) Perelli on November 5 ("there was little excitement," said a report in the Toronto Star). Just over a year later, on November 27, 1916, Mickailoff lost in straight falls to Dr. B.F. Roller in Springfield, Mass.

I don't have any details for the years before he launched his Toronto shows -- he later claimed to have promoted wrestling in Miami -- but somewhere along the line he hooked up with Boston promoter Paul Bowser, who was one of the dominant forces behind pro wrestling at the time. He apparently also had some ties initially to Toots Mondt, who wrestled on four of Mickailoff's first five shows. Mondt would later be allied with Mickailoff's opposition in Toronto and would even own a piece of Jack Corcoran's office.

After a slow start, Mickailoff's shows grew from attracting hundreds to drawing thousands, leading to an appearance in October of Bowser's world champion, Gus Sonnenberg.

"Taking loss after loss without a murmur, he built the game up within a short space of time." -- GLOBE, October 31, 1929
"By staging bouts that were highly satisfactory, matchmaker Michailoff gained a large following for wrestling here." -- GLOBE, January 17, 1930

"When Ivan Mickailoff commenced promoting wrestling shows in Toronto the attendance figures were around the 200 mark. He has built the game to the stage where it is now numbered among Toronto's major sports." -- GLOBE, May 30, 1930

"He came to Toronto a year ago last spring, and astounded an amazed public when he announced that he would stage wrestling shows at Arena Gardens. Old-timers smiled. They had seen this venture tried before, and didn't think that Mickailoff would make headway. It did require considerable time to convince Toronto that here was a sport worth while supporting, and there were lean days, but Mickailoff and his associates shouldered their losses, and refused to be dismayed. The money eventually began to roll in, and now others would emulate Mickailoff." -- GLOBE, October 20, 1930

Mickailoff was soon popular enough to be used as a spokesman for Buckingham Cigarettes from Philip Morris & Co. Ltd. (see ad at right). The ad used a photo of what was said to be Mickailoff in his Russian Guard uniform.

After having the city to himself for a year-and-a-half, Mickailoff faced his first competiton when Jack Corcoran and his Queensbury Athletic Club were granted a wrestling license in 1930. They held their first show in November and it was a colossal flop, but Corcoran quickly learned the tricks of the trade and rebounded strongly. After about a year, Corcoran had taken over as the top promoter in town, and that position was cemented when he arranged to be the matchmaker for shows at the new Maple Leaf Gardens, which opened in November 1931.

After competing head-to-head with Corcoran for two years, Mickailoff was put out of business by the Ontario Athletic Commission, which decided not to renew his wrestling promoters license when it lapsed at the end of October 1932. Commission secretary James Fitzgerald told the Star that the decision was made "for the good of the sport." Instead, it granted a license to the Shamrock Athletic Club, which had previously promoted boxing.

Mickailoff immediately made plans to relocate to Winnipeg and booked what was billed as his farewell show for October 26, 1932. It was to feature Bowser's world champion, Henri Deglane defending his title against Bibber McCoy, another of Bowser's boys. The show drew 9,000 fans, but neither of the wrestlers booked in the main event appeared that night.

Deglane claimed that Bowser never told him that the show was on a Wednesday and not Thursday as was the custom in Toronto. McCoy was sent on his way to Toronto at a time that guaranteed that he wouldn't be able to make it for the official weigh-in, and he ended up not getting to town until the show had already started.

There was speculation at the time that Bowser -- for whatever reason -- had deliberately sabotaged Mickailoff's final show.

Mickailoff followed through on his plans to go west and in 1933 promoted shows in Winnipeg, Calgary, Regina, and probably other towns. He wasn't very successful. Mickailoff was said to have lived in the Ivan Apartments on River Ave. in Winnipeg where he shared his apartment with wrestlers who would drive in for shows.

Mickailoff was again turned down for a licence by the Ontario Athletic Commission in 1933, but the following year he reappeared in Toronto as the matchmaker for the Metropolitan Racing Association -- the horse racing people -- which decided that its federal charter enabled it to run wrestling shows without a license from the province (a long story, and one that had significant repercussions, that will have to wait for another time).

The MRA quickly found out that pro wrestling was a dirty business. Unable to book the wrestlers they wanted, they made their first show a free event at the Exhibition Coliseum on December 13, 1934. It drew a reported 10,000 people (see ad at right -- featuring a photo of Mickailoff), but it was the only show they ran. The president of the MRA later said that he learned through this experience not to mess around in other people's areas of business.

Mickailoff did make a comeback in 1935 as the matchmaker for the Arena Athletic Club -- one of three groups awarded a license that year, and the only one that didn't operate out of Maple Leaf Gardens. They ran their first show at the Mutual Street Arena on November 22 with names that were well below the standards being delivered at the Gardens.

It was pretty slow going for Mickailoff until May when he booked the Toronto debut of world title claimant Ali Baba, which drew an impressive 5,000 fans. A similar crowd came to see Baba's next match in June, and Mickailoff was suddenly outdrawing Corcoran's Gardens shows. A main event in October between Baba and new world champion Everett Marshall drew 5,100 to the Mutual Street Arena. It was right around that time that Mickailoff learned that his license was again being threatened.

According to figures provided by Corcoran, the gate receipts from pro wrestling through the 1935-36 season were almost half of that from the previous year: $75,374 vs $144,585. The number of shows declined from 42 to 29 (there were actually more than that, but these are the numbers he provided). He blamed that outcome on the existence of three wrestling promoters in the city.

The OAC decided to renew all three licenses in 1936, but Corcoran threatened to appeal the decision to Ontario premier Mitch Hepburn. Hepburn said he had no interest in hearing an appeal, and Corcoran dropped his complaint. Mickailoff told the Star that the wrestling interests controlled in the U.S. were putting on the pressure to try to force him out of business.

He remembered the times years earlier when he had helped Corcoran. "I telephoned Boston for permission to let the men work for Corcoran. Now he doesn't want me to have a license."

The 1936-37 season got off to a very slow start, and in December, Mickailoff and Corcoran both only attracted 1,300 fans for their shows.

Corcoran bounced back to become the clear winner in the promotional battles in 1937, but Mickailoff would occasionally draw some stong gates himself, including a reported 8,000 who turned up to see the Masked Marvel take on Strangler Wagner in March 1938, with 6,500 returning to see Marvel wrestle Lou Plummer in April and 6,000 on hand for Marvel against Ed Don George on May 12 (see ad at right).

But that would turn out to be Mickailoff's last show in Toronto. He received a license to operate in 1938, but decided not to run any more shows and asked for the return of his $5,000 license fee from the OAC.

"I'm sorry to see Mike go," said Corcoran to the Globe. "I like competition. While he and I had our differences some years ago I have found him quite ready to cooperate during the past two years."

He was reported to be moving to Florida, but almost ten years later, there was a report in the Globe that Mickailoff was promoting shows in Providence, Rhode Island.

-by Gary Will

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Promoters - Ontario

Old piece, lots of new info to add as there is time. An overview... not a definitive history.. Stops at 1984.
Corcoran & Deacon 1937
Phil Lawson promoted amateur shows in Toronto 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.

From the Toronto circuit, John Katan, Joe Maich, Al Dunlop, Pat Milosh, Les Lyman, Red Garner, and others would go on to promote shows locally themselves. Sandor Kovacs ran in Rochester and later Western Canada. U.S. based Toots Mondt and Paul Bowser also had an interest in the early Toronto scene.

Ivan Mickailoff ran the first weekly cards  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.
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Toronto businessman Jack Corcoran and his Queensbury Athletic Club would start with boxing in the 1920's. He would begin promoting wrestling in Toronto in 1930. Corcoran would be awarded the matchmaking duties for shows at the newly built Maple Leaf Gardens in 1931. The Queensbury Club would cover the region with shows from Barrie to Mount Forest down to Hamilton and the Niagara region. Other towns too. He ran Timmins (way up there) for a couple of summers. Corcoran, while mostly forgotten had a pretty good career and he was the one who hired the Tunney brothers.
A piece on Corcoran on the site is being updated.

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. 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 its 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).
Oshawa 1950 Milosh

Oshawa would present its first pro card in October 1929 at the Oshawa Armouries featuring the 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 with Pat Farrell and Jimmy Szikszay would take over 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 and 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, 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.

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. He 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.

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.

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.

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.
Find the book 'The Rassler From Renfrew' by Gary Howard, it's an extensive look at Kasaboski and the North.
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.

In the 1930's shows at the Municipal Pool began, put on by George Hills. Hills may have been involved as early as 1929 as he was a regular on Mickailoff shows in Toronto. Wrestlers, used were mostly from the Detroit and Toledo offices including Jimmy 'Redd' Simms (later promoter), Martin 'Blimp' Levy, Rudy Epps, and Johnny Tipa, 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 for the office in the early 1940's.

John Katan the 'strongman from Palermo' would branch out around 1947 to promote shows in Hamilton at the Municipal Pool and The Forum. 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.

During the Mid-Atlantic era 1978-1984 Tunney ran the Forum, Convention Centre and Germania Club.
Acton  1949 Maich

Brantford operated similar to the other towns as a circuit town run by Mickailoff and later Tunney By 1950 Brantford was seeing shows by former Olympic and pro star, and stock car enthusiast Joe Maich and his brother Don Maich, as 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 and later in Hamilton and other towns in the region.

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. Johnson would occasionally run shows around Hamilton and area right up to the early 1980's. In the late 1970's Bull and his son Danny 'Bullwhip' Johnson would hold shows at the Shamrock Club in Hamilton with Terry Yorkston, Bob Marcus, and lady wrestler 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.
N Falls 1975 Parisi

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

Sobel 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, in tandem with Parisi.

Al 'Bunny' Dunlop a 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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.
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.

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.
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.

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.

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. The later part of the decade at least and into the late 1960's was Laddie Simkanin 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