Wednesday, December 28, 2016

'Toar' Morgan

Wilbur 'Toar' Morgan is an interesting name from the 40's. Writer and broadcaster Barry Penahle told me Toar was married to a member of Penhale's family and eventually settled in the Lindsay area. Early in Penhales career Morgan took the young wrestler under his wing and took him on his travels.

In Jul 8 1943 described as the 'best looking thing since (Whipper) Watson disappeared' he was 'practically killed by Lee Henning before being awarded the bout by a sympathetic referee. That didn't suit Morgan who arose from the dead and pummeled Henning. Finally he tied a towel around Henning's neck and left him to strangle himself. Which he didn't.'

They played up his decorated Marine background when he worked around the area here for several years and also spent time in the U.S. and across Canada up to about 1960. Mr Penhale told me Morgan promoted some shows around Lindsay/Peterborough in the 1950's, likely as a Tunney circuit type in booking the bouts.

He had become the manager for the Lindsay Arena and in 1951 he pled guilty to an assault charge that occurred during a argument about a hockey game in Lindsay. 'I hit him on the nose' he declared and was fined the sum of $17 and given a two year suspended sentence. That article called him Clarence 'Toar' Morgan.

The article below is from WAYLI 1954. Penahle's columns are a fascinating look at the inner workings of the Canadian Wrestling scene at the time. They often contained behind the scenes info and such that he got direct from the wrestlers, many of whom stayed in contact as they moved around the territories. ...thanks to Roger Baker

click on the pic to see full size

Monday, November 28, 2016

Gene Kiniski 4 decades on top

Other than Whipper Watson and Nanjo Singh I can't think of another wrestler besides Gene Kiniski who appeared in main events in Toronto in 4 different decades.

Thesz came close with 40's 50s 60s  but the last main he appeared in was Sept 1969 just missing the cut for the 70s

Whipper managed 40s 50s 60s 70s , Singh 30s 40s 50s 60s, and Kiniski managed 50s 60s 70s and 80s. In addition to the main events in 4 decades Kiniski would make the top 20 for most Toronto appearances of all-time.

Amazingly even when we saw him in the late 70's and into the early 80s he could still go with the best of them. By that time his son Kelly was wrestling alongside. Gene was even a big part of the scene late in his career.

He lost to Dino Bravo to kick off the new Canadian Heavyweight Title in 1978. That night was billed as Whipper Watson Appreciation and they brought out Whipper to present the new belt to Bravo. He and Kiniski would get into a scuffle reliving their long feud that had begun back in  1957.

His 1982 run against Angelo Mosca was one of the better matchups of the era and Kiniski would earn mains around the circuit as well.

Above right is '59, Below is '67, '70. '82

Thursday, November 17, 2016

85th Anniversary of first card at MLG: Classic Clippings

Nov 19 2016 marks the 85th Anniversary of the first wrestling card held at MLG. Here are some clippings from the paper. There had been lots of wrestling in Toronto prior but this was the start of  the history into the NWA days.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Cornwall Photos 1950s

The Water St Arena in Cornwall, ON was one of those great old spots that was perfect for Pro Wrestling. Chris Rohde of Cogeco produced a cool video a few years back on the history of the arena and featured a look at wrestling.
Video is on Youtube at

He is currently working on a series that will include Wrestling memories at the Arena and sent me over a few great photos that were passed to him by David Murphy.

These are circa mid to late 1950's.
Cornwall has seen several different promotions over the years, Tunney, Eddie Quinn, and of course Dave McKigney all put on shows at the Arena. There is some Cornwall info on the main site and lots of photos and such from this era

Below is Yvon Robert and Ed Carpentier
Whipper Watson receiving attention
Ed Carpentier
Billy Red Lyons
Little Beaver posing with group
Little Panther
The Beast Johnny Yachetti enjoying a pose with the ladies, amazing that the ladies are also enjoying it !

thanks to Chris and David for sharing these great old photos !

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

1952 Camp Borden

Camp Borden, a Canadian Armed Forces base just outside Barrie, ON has seen occasional wrestling shows dating back to the 1930's. In 1952 Tunney's office presumably with Tommy Nelson at the forefront added Barrie to its circuit after observing success in the area from both Larry Kasaboski and Red Garner's promotions.

Former Boxing champ Jack Dempsey would appear on the first Barrie show in May as special ref for a card  featuring a main of Whipper Watson vs Tarzan Zorro.  'Featuring the stars of Maple Leaf Gardens' would figure prominently on the ads to help bring in the fans.

Prior to the start of the season in Barrie, the 'stars of MLG' would appear on some shows held at Camp Borden. Under the auspices of the RCAC Athletic Club, the wrestlers would appear alongside amateurs. They would also run shows later in nearby Collingwood.

Tunney's stars though did not get the welcome they expected. The small time fans seemed to enjoy the Northland stars and Garner's faster action and before long both groups were back around the area promoting cards. Garner appeared to have an 'understanding' with Tunney but Kasaboski ran direct opposition throughout the decade earning a spot on Tunney's seldom seen 'bad side'.

I'll have more on the Barrie battle and other spots where Kasaboski and Tunney faced off - in a future post
Enjoy the Camp Borden clips and Barrie below.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Toronto Programs 1930s-1980s

Collecting Toronto Wrestling programs can be a frustrating task. There are huge gaps where no programs were made, or at the least , none survived. We will take a look at the programs issued over the years.

The earliest one I have is 1930. You can see the whole program here Previous Blog Entry - 1930 Program Nice full program from the Mickailoff days, 14 pages with a photo on near every page, rules listing, and a line up card. price 10c

Next one is a 1935. The Wrestling content of that one is here Previous Blog Entry - 1935 Program This one has other sports content, hockey mostly but still has 6 pages of Wrestler bios, plus the event specific line up center spread. cost 15c

There are others through the late 1930's and early 1940's that follow the same format as above. Not all of the Wrestling nights had Wrestling on the cover either. There are examples with an Elephant (Circus) or figure skaters (Ice Capades) for events that were coming up that were the focus rather than the Wrestling card. Still those had the lineup spread in the middle and some other pages devoted to wrestlers.

The next change I can find is in the late 1940's. They went to a Maple Leaf Sports Magazine. Photo on the front with headliner or close for that night. About 50 pages covering all sports with several on the wrestlers and the 2 page center spread with the lineup sheet. cost 25c

1947 Example



Then there is a gap. I can't find any from the 1950's as of yet. Surprising as that era had a huge amount of coverage in print, the dailies had wrestling coverage nearly every day of the week. Once TV started it was bigger than ever. Sports writer Frank Ayerst started working for Frank Tunney and would later pen the programs and a column in the dailies but I have yet to find any 50's - gottem ? send em please!

 Next ones are the early 1960's. A shorter format but wrestling specific. A bi-fold with 2 pages of info, a lineup card and a blank page with a holder for an insert photo with one of the stars. Ayerst wrote a cover piece and then the page inside had a tidbits type column similar to his newspaper pieces, often with inside info or personal type stuff about the wrestlers. price 25c

This one is from '63

That type to at least 1965 and then a gap again.

The 1970's, huge cards when the Sheik was on top here, full houses and a revival in wrestling in Toronto - but no programs?

Have yet to see anything from the Sheik era, in fact the only 1970's program found so far is this 1977 glossy type put together by Stan Obodiac, the then Maple Leaf Gardens publicity head. Similar in feel to a Maple Leafs hockey program this one is 12 pages and while not event specific (no lineup card) it features the participants from the July 11 1977 card held at Exhibition Stadium. Also has a NWA title history  and a page on Whipper Watson and Lord Layton, long removed from the scene by this time. Contributors listed are Norm Kimber (Announcer & Frank's publicity guy at this time) son Eddie and nephew Jack. cost unknown.

Then another gap, a bit of unrest between the Sheik era and the M-A era but nothing in the 78-79 years and the beginning of the association with the Crockett stars.

My buddy Griff who makes me look like an amateur when it comes to hunting down MLW artifacts still has not found anything previous to Oct 19 1980 which is in the Stranglehold format. The Oct issue is listed as number 5 but unable to locate the earlier ones. Put together by Gary Kamansack under the Arena Magazine and Mancuso Publishing name. They were responsible for the Detroit area programs, also the fabulous Wrestling Exchange magazine, as well as programs for George Cannon's Superstars. Slick feel with good (mostly) local photos and a card specific lineup sheet. think these were 75c maybe 1$

This one Nov 16 1980 

A bit of a gap through the end of 1980 and then starting in early 1981 and regular to the end of the NWA era in mid 1984. Appears Mancuso and Arena pulled out in 1981, the format stayed mostly the same although the look started to go downhill and wasn't as good, cutout photos and such like the one below from 1983. Still with card specific lineup. cost 1$ still I think

When Jack Tunney switched to using the WWF stars they kept the Stranglehold format for a time as the one below shows. Thats where I stop but they did switch to the WWF magazine some time after, a generic type with an inserted lineup sheet


If you can supply a pic from any of the years that have gaps please send over. If you have programs for sale please contact me  !

Monday, July 4, 2016

Ex Show 1983 Proudfoot Columnn

33 years ago this month were the two big Ex shows put on by the newly in charge Jack Tunney after Frank's death months earlier. Jack had something to prove and the shows did well, stacked with the top stars of the day. The first show 'Night Of The Champions' and the 'Return Of The Champions' 2 weeks later drew a reported 20,000 and 14,000 respectively.

The Ex had been run before during the summer of 1977 and would later be the site of the 'Big Event' in 1986 but these shows stand as two of the biggest - and best shows of the last days of the NWA in Toronto

Note that in the end notes after the article, it mentions Jack may be interested in the boxing side. After Frank's experiences with the boxing world it's surprising Jack was interested at all.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Peterboro 1945 Poster

This poster was on ebay recently, don't see too many from the outside towns from this far back.

I spent some time years back at the Peterboro (Peterborough as its more commonly spelled) Library and did the year of 1953 when they were running weekly shows

I haven't had time to get back but the city was a regular stop for Tunney through the 1950's with Oshawa Promoter Pat Milosh handling the shows in 1952 and 1953 at the very least. Others ran the town too, Red Garner and his Central Canadian Wrestling Alliance, Gus Marmon and the Olympic Wrestling Club, and later Dave McKigney with his Big Bear circuit.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Thesz in Barrie 1962

Lou Thesz would make frequent appearances in Toronto as well as the major cities on the circuit, Ottawa, Hamilton, and London. The smaller towns would be more infrequent.

This ad for Barrie makes note of the fact that Thesz is getting ready for a shot at Buddy Rogers NWA crown 'next week'. The next bout between the two appears to be the one here in Toronto in Jan 1963 when Thesz won the crown.

I couldn't find the results for this night in Barrie but 3 days later at MLG Thesz fought Argentina Rocca to a double countout.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Thesz debut in Toronto 1939

Apr 24 2016 marked what would have been the 100th birthday of Lou Thesz. Generally regarded as the best of the best of all the Professional Wrestlers that have ever entered the squared circle, Thesz had a long and storied history here in Toronto beginning in 1939 and going to 1969 - for Tunney and assoc.

He showed back up in 1976 on George Cannon's ill fated attempt to run against Tunney at the CNE Coliseum but his best days here were the many world title defenses (30), the long feud with Whipper Watson and big bouts vs Gorgeous George, Yukon Eric, Gene Kiniski, Dick Hutton, Buddy Rogers, and many more.

He lost the belt at MLG to Whipper in 1956, Hutton in '57, and won it from Rogers in '63, good times indeed for the Toronto fans who were lucky to be around in that era.

Clips from Thesz first appearance Nov 16 1939, pretty good card !

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Terrible Ted & Honest Ed 1963

One of the more unusual places I have seen an appearance of Dubois/McKigney and his Wrestling Bear. Honest Ed's was a huge discount store in Toronto for over 60 years and is scheduled to close in Dec 2016. If you grew up in Toronto you would remember Ed's and Honest Ed himself who was a much loved and well known local personality. As was McKigney. This is from 1963, I left in the sidebar ads, there were always outrageous door crashers as you can see

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

1958 World Middleweight Title

Roger Vallee brings his World Middleweight Title into Red Garner's Central Canadian Wrestling Alliance to defend at the Thornhill Market. Vallee would come in a couple of times to face the local favorite, in this case Stoney Brooks who is pictured..
We had our own local Middleweight Title also - that's listed in another post here, just look up Middleweight in the search box

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Jacques Dubois first main event 1954

have been compiling results for Red Garner's 1950s cards and able to add some early Dave McKigney results to the MLW - Wildman Career Record with more to come soon too

this Ad is for what appears to be his first main event Aug 19 1954 , he lost but was on his way

Thursday, March 17, 2016

1942 The Fans Decide Bouts

Too bad they didn't try this in our era. Not sure they ever did it again , this way anyways.

It did happen in 1968 though that was because a storm had taken out several of the combatants and bouts were decided on the spot. Another time in 1979 there was a coin toss to decide a bout under similar circumstances

On this one the fans picked Katan to take on McCready and Whipper to meet Dunlop.

Al 'Bunny' Dunlop is already causing trouble back then and would continue to do so for many years, even after the outrageous 5$ fine !

Funny too that they refer to Dunlop as 'creaking' way back in 1942 as he had been reffing after a busy pre-war ring career. Seventeen years later, and about 12 years past his wrestling days he was said to be 'rather long in the tooth' when he got back in the ring again vs the Whip in 1959. The inimitable Joe Perlove in his recap in '59 would state that Bunny as a wrestler was a good referee, and while a terrific referee 'couldn't wrestle much when he was young' either !