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

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Boxing Day and Holiday cards

Christmas, Holiday, and Boxing Day cards were something of a tradition in Toronto. The 25th was out but there were cards held on the 26th of December dating back to the early days of wrestling in the city and cards at Massey Hall.  A 1930 card at the venue saw fans turned away for a card headed by Stanley Stasiak vs Joe Malcewiez.

At Maple Leaf Gardens on Dec 26 1935 7,500 came out to see a World Title bout between Dan O'Mahony and Lou Plummer.

A 1970 show held on the 27th drew 16,000 for The Sheik vs Lord Layton. It could be said it was  largely because of The Sheik who was kick-starting the scene here, and in the middle of a long winning streak, but the holidays helped.  'Considering last night's turnout, it would seem that a pair of wrestling tickets has replaced the traditional oranges and walnuts as stocking stuffers this Christmas.' wrote Allen Ryan in the Star. 

The kids weren't forgotten either with many of the holiday cards featuring the fan favorite midget wrestlers in action. Dave McKigney and his Wrestling Bear made a few shows too.

The next year in 1971 Tunney saw the same success on the 26th with The Sheik and Layton again getting 15,000 fans out to the Gardens.

There were actual Boxing day cards held in every decade, some with success and some not so much.

The ones held in my era were not always great cards but as with others over the 50 years it often had more to do with the overall landscape of pro wrestling in the city at the time .

The Holiday show on Dec 27 1981 did draw about 14,000 fans to see Canadian champ John Studd take on Leroy Brown but the Andre The Giant-Killer Kahn bout was the real attraction.

Besides the ones listed above there were Boxing day cards held in 1935, 1947, 1952, 1963, 1965, and 1976.

The others held on the 27th and a few on the 28th were often billed as  'Christmas' or 'Holiday' shows.

The 27th of December also stands as the first time Tunney ran a Sunday show at MLG. In 1964 Joe Perlove of the Star cited Tunney's 'humanitarianism' for 'getting many fathers out of the house....for after three straight days of home and mother and kids with noisy Christmas presents father has to be tickled dizzy to flee into the night.'

He got 9,000 out for that first Sunday show, still good in the era of weekly shows. He ran another show the Thursday following on the 31st and another on Jan 3 for a total of 3 shows in 8 days. Over the 3 they drew 20,500 fans during the holidays.

The last one of the NWA era was Dec 26 1983 with a main of Roddy Piper and Dory Funk Jr  vs The Assassins. The card was fun but not great as the scene here was already on a downward curve.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Gorgeous George is Coming ! 1948

The Gorgeous one wrestled in Toronto quite a few times from his first appearance here in 1948 to his last in 1961, including the famous Retirement (Whipper Watson) vs Hair (George) bout in 1956 covered at Gary Will's TWH - Watson vs George

On his first appearance at MLG in 1948 there was quite a bit of anticipation for his bout against Larry Moquin.

In a sidebar in the Sports pages it mentioned Frank Tunney sidekick and Promoter Sammy Sobel saying about George 'He's completely marvelous, in 40 years around wrestling mats I ain't seen anything like him' to which Tunney replied 'Wait until he taps you for 30% of the gross and see if you still consider him marvelous' to which the author adds 'Sammy fainted and was borne away by grinning servitors'

9,000 fans came out to see him beat Moquin and Frank Tunney announced he would 'take a chance' by matching George against his top man Whipper.

A week later he would meet Whipper for the first time. Attendance wasn't listed but this time George was on the losing end to the 'top man' in Toronto.  Whipper wins the bout with a backslam off the ropes at just over 11 minutes into the bout.