Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Wild Bill Zim !

It's always great to hear from family of wrestlers who appeared in Ontario. Recently I heard from the son of Wild Bill Zim, a very interesting and well traveled star of the 30's to 50's.

Mike Zim has done an admirable job putting together a very detailed and lengthy ring results record for his Dad who wrestled in many areas including Ontario. Wild Bill Zim (and a long list of aka's including Zimovitch, Zimm, Zimmo, and many other variations) was a very colorful character, larger than life, as many of the early pro wrestlers were.

Mike has a site up at http://www.wildbillzim.com/   if you click on the 'more' you will see the very detailed ring record created with help from Don Luce, Scott Teal, Kasper Christiansen, Jimmy Wheeler, Scott George, and others, but especially especially, J Michael Kenyon.

Self Caricature on right 

The story of Wild Bill has a strong Ontario connection. He wrestled quite a bit on Larry Kasaboski's 'Northland' circuit and also got to Maple Leaf Gardens several times

He had been scheduled at MLG in 1939 but his first appearance in Toronto would come on Dec 3 1942. Billed from Arizona, Zim was described as the latest in 'Mat Maestro Tunney's importation of oddities in pachyderms to expose on the weekly squirm cards...Zim sports a luxuriant growth of shoulder-long hair and Mr. Tunney hastens to deny that Zim is one of the Seven Sutherland Sisters incognito, He is matched with Jan Gotch.'

*The Seven Sutherland Sisters was a family "act" that toured to great acclaim showing 37 feet of long dark hair.

He faced super-villain Nanjo Singh on Dec 17 1942 and returned again to face both Jack Claybourne and Yvon Robert. His time on the Northern circuit was more plentiful, with several tours and some big bouts.


In addition to the far north spots that Kasaboski ran, they also moved into Barrie for several summers in the 1950's that resulted in a bit of a promotional war with Tunney.

The photo at right is from 1949 Sault Ste Marie Ontario, left to right Jim Barnett,  Tony Martinelli, Wild Bill, Monty Leduc/LaDue, and a 'Masked Marvel' said to be Bobby Nelson

The Northland shows were well attended and according to reports of the time, the fans enjoyed these (and Red Garner's cards) more than Tunney's cards in the area. Wild Bill appeared across the circuit including the shows in Rouyn Noranda, Quebec.

Wild Bill was also an accomplished artist and documented his life travels with interesting caricatures, portraits, and busts, both of fellow wrestlers and others he met along the way. Mike shared some great pictures and artwork, some of which was done at the Sunset Cabins resort which was owned by Herb Parks and later his brother Bill 'Dinty' Parks.


The resort is where the wrestlers would stay while up on their summer tours of the area and is the source of the naming of the 'sunset flip.' It's probable that the lure of the Ontario north was part of the attraction for U.S. based wrestlers such as Zim and others including Dory Funk Sr.

pic at right has Wild Bill holding up Marvel's mask with Larry Kasaboski

A must read on the territory is the book 'The Rassler From Renfrew' by the late Gary Howard.

Track it down, its one of the best books ever written on pro wrestling and really captures the era and the legacy of the Kasaboski's, the Parks brothers, Bill (not Bull) Curry, Frankie Hart, Wild Bill Zim, and the many regulars that traveled the Northern towns for many years.

If you can help Mike with any ring results that aren't already on his record send him a note
thanks to Mike for the use of the photos and all of the items shared with MLW ! 
 http://www.wildbillzim.com/





Thursday, July 6, 2017

Jack Corcoran portrait

A fine portrait of Toronto Wrestling & Boxing Promoter Jack Corcoran found in the City of Toronto Archives.

It is an Alexandra Studio commissioned photograph, the studio run by the legendary Turofsky brothers.

They have 194_ ?  as date. Have seen both 1892 and 1894 as date of birth so guessing mid to later part of the decade, putting him in his early to mid 50's in this pic.

I looked at his life in a longer article on the site at Jack Corcoran: The Queensbury King
Very interesting guy and evidently the inspiration business wise for his protege and successor Frank Tunney. He ran Toronto Wrestling from 1930 -1939 and boxing from about 1922. While he sold out to the Tunney brothers in 1939 he stayed somewhat active around the office for several more years and lived in the city until his death in 1965.

Always seeking info on Jack please comment or contact me if you can add to the story above.




Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Whipper collecting Masks 1961


 Whipper Watson holds many of Toronto's 'Wrestling Records' including most un-maskings.

The masked villain gimmick goes way back to the earliest history of Maple Leaf and most of the time Whipper would be the one to un-mask the heel and send him packing.

In some cases they would hang around and continue to wrestle under their 'real' name or as a combination of their masked persona such as 'The Zebra Kid George Bollas.'

The clip from 1961 shows Whipper to have already unmasked 5 men and currently working on #6 The Black Terror.

 
Lew Reynheer - Masked Marvel - Whip unmasked him 02/17 1949
Mayes McLain - Masked Manager - yes the next Marvel had a masked manager - 02/22 1951
George Bollas (says Bolos) - The Zebra /Zebra Kid - 11/29 1951
Al Lovelock - Great Bolo - unmasked by Whip on 06/04 1959

Now they also show Lou 'Shoulders' Newman who was another Masked Marvel and
was unmasked 08/30 1951 - but by the also masked Zebra, not Whipper
May be that Whip took his mask elsewhere, Hamilton, Buffalo maybe
I still have to look through hundreds of files to check but don't see Whip unmasking Lou here.

He was successful against the Black Terror unmasking him on 05/25 1961 as Laverne Baxter to make it 6 total.

Whip wasn't finished yet however.
He and partner Bulldog Brower unmasked the Masked Yankees on 07/10 1966
Dandy was Bob Stanlee while Doodle was Moose Evans.
Whip had put up his career - he would retire vs the unmasking of he and Bulldog's arch enemies. Whip and Brower also took the International Tag Titles with that win.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Sweet Daddy Siki memories with Roger Baker

The completed and long awaited Documentary on Sweet Daddy Siki recently aired on the Documentary Channel on June 11th, 2017. 
 
Siki is as deserving as anyone to be the subject of a serious doc looking at his life and a star career that spanned 5 decades.

Of special interest for us Toronto fans is that Siki was a regular here from 1962 through the late 1980's. he debuted here in 1962 and was still wrestling regularly on Dave McKigney's shows as late as 1987 and would appear right into the 1990's here and there.

The Toronto history is huge, he came in at a very pivotal time in our wrestling history. Bruno, Thesz, Buddy Rogers, that whole scene, the unrest in the NWA, the formation of the WWWF. Siki was right in the midst of that and almost from the start was in main events and feuding and teaming with all of the big names here, Whipper, Bulldog, Yukon, Valentine, Hady, and the rest of the stars here.

I was fortunate to be at some of the filming when they shot at MLG photographer Roger Baker's famed wrestling room. A high point of the day was hearing Siki, in his inimitable drawl, tell the origin story of 'Sweet Daddy.' Jet Star was also present. He was an exciting wrestler that mostly worked on McKigney shows around the region in the '80s (and still today!) and he and Roger sat with Siki in the world famous 'wrestling room', an apt spot for the three to film a portion of the doc.

I asked my favorite wrestling expert, super-fan, and major contributor to this site - Roger - for his memories of the 'Irresistible One', both as a fan and as a photographer/writer and insider.

MLWP - As a long time fan do you remember seeing Siki for the first time, what were your thoughts, and had you seen him in action before on TV or in other cities before he settled here

Roger - If I recall the first time that I saw Siki was very soon after he first appeared here in Toronto. I had never seen a black wrestler who had bleached blond hair before, and I must say that he was certainly an originator in that regard. Siki was able to immediately generate attention to his appearance as well as his persona what with his skill with a mike in hand, and his unique hair style.
 
MLWP - I know you took lots of photos of Siki in action, did you ever get to interact with him back then , show him any photos, he seems very reserved in 'real' life, was he always that way - in comparison to his ring persona

Roger - I remember so well the first time that I had a chance to interact with Siki, was with a friend at the time, we were on the QEW. driving to Hamilton to take in a wrestling show at the Hamilton Forum. We were halfway along the highway to our destination, when suddenly we spot S.D. driving right along side of us, we waved and shouted at him, and he waved back. We drove along side each other for perhaps a half mile, and we told him that our main purpose for our trip to the Forum was to see him in action, he had a big grin on his face and waved goodbye as the traffic was building behind us. 


I got to know Siki very well after our first encounter on the highway, we became very good friends I had the opportunity to spend a lot of quality time with Mr. SDS as we traveled together to a few of his mat appearances, and I had the chance to meet his charming wife on two occasions. My wife and myself had them both up to our apt. way back shortly after he arrived on the Toronto scene, the occasion was for an interview, as well as a photo shoot. 

About 8 yrs ago wrestler Jet Star and myself visited Siki at the Duke of York tavern, he has performed at this venue for years, performing karaoke Saturday afternoons and evenings for his legion of fans who enjoy to listen as well as participate with Siki. The purpose of our visit was to see S.D.S. perform, as well I had assembled a very extensive collection of photos of Siki that I had taken so many years earlier, it was a great pleasure for me to be able to leave those photos with Siki. 

Can remember an opportunity that just presented itself one Saturday afternoon back around 1964-65, I was going to cover an upcoming heavyweight fight at MLG that featured George Chuvalo in a ten round fight with then ranked Ernie 'The Octopus' Terrell. It occurred in a tavern in downtown Toronto, Terrell was doing some sparing upstairs above the tavern, there was a heavy bag, mats, and skipping ropes along with other boxing gear, when I saw this as an opportunity to get two well known boxing and wrestling greats together. I phoned Siki at home and explained who was training at this gym and can you make it over so that we could have an introduction between the two take place. Regi Siki was on the scene in about twenty minutes, and it proved to be a very enjoyable experience for all of us.
 
MLWP - You saw all of the major stars of the 1950's 1960's and beyond, where does Siki fit in when you look back at Toronto history

Roger - S.D.S. was a very unique wrestler in that even though he was at the prime of his mat career, he stood out as an original ring performer with his blond hair, magnificent capes, mike skills, and a very powerfully built body. his shoulder muscles resembled two over sized grapefruits. We both had many other pleasant interactions during the sixties, however space would not allow me to recall them all at this time. 

During his heyday back in the sixties S.D.S. wrestled all of the top wrestlers that were appearing in Toronto's MLG. He faced some very tough wrestlers, to mention a few Yukon Eric, Whipper Watson, Bulldog Brower, Lou Thesz, and Bruno Sammartino. Siki told me during our get together at the Duke Of York, that he once wrestled the mighty Lou Thesz to a ninety minute draw in Texas some time during the late fifties. Siki had it all personality, great mat skills, outstanding physique, and the ability to mix it with the best of them during his era.
 
MLWP - Any bouts that stand out for you , at MLG or in one of the smaller arenas around the area

Roger - The one bout that I saw Siki in that still remains in clear detail in my mind took place in the town of Sutton On. during the summer months. Sutton is very close to Lake Simcoe and cottage country, the scheduled wrestling card was sure to draw a large crowd, being that there were so many people in the area at this time. The main event that promoter Tommy Nelson had on top was a tag team match, it pitted wrestlers Ilio DiPaolo and John Paul Henning VS. Dick BullDog Brower and Sweet Daddy Siki. 


This match was to take place in Sutton Arena, it was a very warm night and it was an older venue without air conditioning. The match started out as expected for about two or three minutes, then all hell broke loose, Brower and Siki got into a private personal beef, I saw Siki nail Brower on the jaw with a very stiff punch, Brower went bonkers and tried to tear Siki apart, the other two wrestlers saw what was unfolding and left the ring altogether. 

Meanwhile Brower was so crazed at this point that he tried to pull down one of the arena's supporting beams to use as a weapon to use against his own partner Siki, when he could not accomplish this, he ran out to the back of the arena, he reappeared a moment later brandishing a large steel wheel barrow over head, his intent was obvious, he wanted to badly hurt and injure his own partner Siki. 

Siki was able to back peddle out of the enraged Brower's range, and Brower who was so intent on maiming Siki started to slow down, no doubt he was tiring, this was triggered by a personal beef between the two. When visiting with Siki at the tavern where he has appeared for years, I mentioned that match to him, wanting to know what was the trigger to set that type of violence up, Siki's only memory of the incident was the wheel barrow.
............
Thanks so much to Roger for sharing his great memories of Siki with us!
Pics taken at 'The Wrestling Room' in 2016 , Siki, Jet Star, and Roger Baker
Bottom pic Roger and Jet visiting Siki 

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Whippers Beverages

If you browse on e-bay from time to time you will find some old 'Whipper's Beverages' bottles, caps , and occasionally other merchandise from the short lived foray by Whipper Watson into the beverage business.

The bottles are highly collectable and can go for hundreds of dollars. They featured a pose of Whipper with his British Empire Title from the mid 1940's on the front while the back of the neck had 'The Champion of Drinks.' The reverse of the bottle featured a wrestling hold illustrated and the name of the hold below it.

I'm not sure how many different versions there were but have noted about 10 different holds pictured on the bottles I've seen. Leg Trip, Crotch Lift and Slam etc

Whipper got in to the beverage business in early 1948. It was set up through Dominion Beverages, and he went in with his brother George who worked for the RCMP at the time and for many years after. They were evidently very busy as of July 1948 as Whipper was out looking for new digs as they had too much inventory for their current location.

An item at the time also mentioned another venture with George, a cabinet making operation said to worth 20k, while the Beverages company with 3 trucks said to be worth 40k. 

They were, in the meantime, keeping their overflow at a farm, likely Whipper's spread up in Kewsick, and Whipper was talking with area storekeepers who were eager for him to make personal appearances to promote the drinks.

They didn't list ingredients back then but it's likely there was a ton of sugar in these, kind of against the healthy living that Whipper promoted throughout his life. They had Cream Soda, Root Beer, Orange, Lime, and others.

Whipper was very busy on all fronts as he was making real money by this time headlining the weekly cards in Toronto. He would also buy into a Kitchen run by his (other) brother Larry which ran out of a plant where they prepared the orders.

Whipper enlisted some friends as Distributors, fellow wrestler Billy Stack handled his home area of Bowmanville in 1950.

By 1951 it was done
Notice to creditors
Trustee under the Bulk Sales Act to recieve purchase monies from the sale of the plant and equipment of Whippers Beverages Ltd 435 Dawes Rd Toronto which have been sold to Seven-Up Ontario and Dominion Dry Ginger Ale Company for ditribution among the creditors of Whippers Beverages Limited. 


If you have any info to add please reply below or email me tks

Below are some pics, including a Turofsky pic of Whipper promoting his drinks beside Maple Leaf Gardens



















Friday, May 26, 2017

Ali vs Inoki 1976 CC at MLG

There were several closed-circuit cards shown at MLG over the years, and at various other places around Toronto. The 1976 Ali-Inoki 'War of the Worlds' is one of the only ones that involved wrestling, at least in the TV-in-every-house era.

The bout was highly promoted all over North America and Japan while Toronto fans could catch it at the Gardens.

A couple of weeks prior at MLG they had shown the Foreman -Frazier bout from Vegas.
Attendance at MLG was listed at 4,000 to see Foreman win by knockout in the fifth round,
Promoters in Toronto were All Canada Sports Promotions and Concerts West, All Canada was Irv Ungerman, long time boxing promoter.

Ungerman would also present the Ali-Inoki telecast, this time alongside Frank Tunney Sports.
Tunney held exclusive rights to hold wrestling at MLG which may have been the extent of his involvement (cut of the $) having long since removed himself from the boxing wars in Toronto.

The card set to start at 830pm would include some bouts from New York's Shea Stadium show which had Bruno vs Hansen, Scicluna vs Putski, Gonzales vs Sullivan, White Wolf and Strongbow vs The Executioners, the mixed Andre vs Chuck Wepner for 10 rounds, then the Ali-Inoki from Tokyo sched for 15. Tickets at MLG were priced from $8-15 , bit cheaper than the Foreman-Frazier which were priced at $10-20.

For comparison Tunney's regular wrestling shows at this time were $2.50- 7

Prior to the show in a Jim Proudfoot Star column, Gene Kiniski had predicted 'if it's on the level, Ali hasn't got a chance.' Kiniski,. a pretty smart guy, predicted that Inoki 'has got to go to the canvas, that's where any wrestler would go - for the legs- if Inoki stays on his feet, you'll know he's going to get himself knocked out.' Not only smart but still incredibly humble Kiniski added 'I've wrestled Inoki a few times and...he's nothing special.'

As we all know that's how the bout played out, generally viewed as a rather big disappointment after all of the hype.

The next day on the front page of the Star was a pic of Ali in full face of surprise looking down at Inoki on his back. The caption, all in caps screamed THEY GOT $!0 MILLION FOR THIS!

About 8,000 turned up at MLG to watch it. Ungerman declared it 'a disgrace and I'm embarrassed.'
MLG was one of 18 locations across the country to show it.
'Never again. We blew a tube at our Hamilton location and had to refund admissions to about 1,000 people. They were lucky' added Ungerman.

The wrestling fans weren't quite so upset, the whole card wasn't too bad and the Andre- Wepner bout laid some of the framework for the Rocky movies.

The 'real' sports world was slow to accept the combo of Boxing and 'rasslin. Writer Jim Kerhaghan in the Star added that the Andre-Wepner bout was 'highly suspect' and after Andre got Chuck in a headlock  'that those who were watching closely noticed that Andre had his hand on Wepner's head and bonked his own knuckles.'

Welcome to 'pro wrestling' Jim.









Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Wilf Jennings

Continuing our look at some of the lesser known stars in Ontario we look at Wilf 'Wolf' Jennings.

Jennings is a somewhat forgotten star of the 1950's and up. He showed up on Red Garner's local Ontario circuit around 1955 and wrestled into the early 1960's on the smaller circuits.

He was often tagged with a 'brother', variously  billed as Wilf and Al , Wilf and Don, and mostly as Wilf and Frank. Frank was Frank Griffiths, the two were called the 'Sudbury Hard Rocks' described as 'as tough a pair as have ever come to these parts.'

I don't know anything abut Frank, he was mentioned in Wilf's obituary but I can't locate any other info on him or if he wrestled beyond Garner's circuit.

The weight range on the Garner cards was from 150-250lbs. Wilf looks to have be on the lighter end of that scale but wiry and tough looking, a middleweight type, as many of Red's wrestlers were. He had some tatoo's so assume he may have been in the navy or army near the end of WW11 or later.

On the CCWA circuit the Jennings Brothers would hold the Ontario Open Tag Championship represented by the 'Labatt Trophy' when they beat the team of  the 'Hamilton Hoods' Alex Jensen and Jack Diamond in Thornhill on Jun 10 1958. An additional sum of $100 was awarded to the brothers who had wrestled - and won - in 4 consecutive cards as part of a tournament to crown the next champs.

Wilf also wrestled solo and was sometimes billed as 'Wolf' Jennings,  said to be 'the #1 enemy of the fans.' Not sure if he wrestled after mid 1960's, he doesn't show up in the results of the province.

He would stay close to Dave McKigney who was also wrestling on Garner's shows at that time as Jacques DuBois. Wilf would later show up as the regular ref on Dave's circuit in the 1970's.

He also worked as a ref for Frank Tunney and had been working as a photographer for Tunney at the time of his sudden death at the age of 50 on March 24 1976. His obit listed him as a former Toronto Star employee.

Below the clips is a photo of Wilf reffing around 1973. Photo is by Rudy Iseli who used to publish the excellent Canadian Wrestling Revue, he has many other photos of Wilf and tons of other stuff from his time as a fan and photog at his awesome Big Bear Wrestling blog - linked at right

There is a history of the CCWA on the MLW site , if you know more about Wilf or Frank please comment or contact me








































Friday, May 12, 2017

Ed White aka 'Handsome Johnny Davis'

This is excerpted from a longer piece on the old site
When I first started posting some of my collection back around 2002 I spoke with Ed White, he wrestled up here under his own name as well as around Detroit and other areas as Handsome Johnny Davis'. Note same name as Ed 'Sailor' White but different guy.

Ed/Johnny also wrestled as a masked 'Spoiler' and worked from about 1974 -1979 after learning from Lou Klein who broke many into the business including Ed's pal and sometimes tag partner Denny Alberts.

Anyways he mailed me a couple of items to use, a handwritten lineup sheet from a Wildman show and a receipt from a TV taping he had done for Tunney. Very gracious and a very nice and humble guy.

Ed worked a couple of Wildman tours in '75 and on one of those he drove Andre The Giant around in his (Ed's) Dad's car. He remembered the Wildman Dave McKigney fondly, “Great guy, paid good, made one of my biggest mistakes not going to work for him full time when he asked me, I was fed up and wanted out, if I had gone with him I may have lasted a few years longer and had some fun.”

McKigney had trouble with the boxing/wrestling commission later on but in those days seemed to have an easier time of it all and according to Davis, “I always thought of Dave as the Canadian Lou Klein. He must have had the blessings of the Tunneys or they wouldn’t have used him on the MLG shows”.

The small towns made for interesting match-ups like Davis teaming with McKigney (The Wildman) against the mammoth Haystacks Calhoun in one of those handicap matches that seemed to be on every card. On the trips through Ontario, the familiar names pop up, Chris Tolos, Dewey Robertson, Red Lyons, Sweet Daddy Siki, and local favorite heel Waldo Von Erich, “He was funny and real nice to me. Taught me a few things about the biz too.”

One of the great attractions of the circuit was Dave's Wrestling Bear. “Never wrestled it” said Davis “Got in the ring with it one time just playing before a show.”

Ontario was the home away from home for The Sheik in those days and he would appear on many cards throughout the circuit. “Scary at first,” Davis says of the feared Arab wildman, “but I got along great with him, even though his payoffs sucked.”

He also made it to MLG a couple of times, vs Mark Lewin in Sept 1975 and again vs Waldo Von Erich. “I loved going to MLG” said Davis, “wish I could have worked there more, big building, clean, great crowds, big ring and I loved the ramp”. And what about Frank Tunney? “Nice guy, used to pick up his Export A butts for him at the border” adds Davis.

A TV Taping for the Tunneys' at the Hamilton Studios would also be part of the tour, and Davis would pick up a cool 50 bucks for an afternoon of taking bumps. As a mid carder Davis would see his share of losses, and when asked about his biggest win, replied, “Win? Not many of them so I should remember, but I don’t”.

Some of those losses would come from heroes like Bobo Brazil,” worked with him a lot and every one was a dream,” while one would come from legendary tough guy and long time Toronto stalwart Johnny Valentine. “ He beat the hell out of me,” remembers Davis, “Wasn’t long after this that he had his plane crash so I never worked with him again."

"He came back to do some booking for Sheik from a wheelchair. I got to know him a little during that time. Got along good and he got a good laugh when I reminded him about the ass kicking he gave me. I wasn’t the only rookie to get this from him.”

Below are the items, he mentioned that 50$ payout (well 42$ after tax) was every penny earned the hard way ! If you look around on youtube there is a clip of Ed on Match Game from 1978, he won 6800$. Host Gene Rayburn in his most annoying style asked Ed about wrestling. One question was ' is it was real?', Ed responded by saying "as real as this show." touche !






Monday, May 8, 2017

Tiger Tasker

Kenneth 'Tiger' Tasker was a long time Maple Leaf presence both as a wrestler and then a referee.
as well as one of the inner circle that stayed around Tunney for many years.

We have looked at 'Tiger' before in doing some of the longer pieces on the site but there isn't much about him in the recorded history of the area.

Of course he was one of the troupe along with Whipper Watson and Tommy Nelson that famously went to England in 1936. While in the U.K he wrestled Whipper in a movie starring George Fornby, likely 1937's boxing themed Keep Fit.

Not sure exactly when he had acquired the 'Tiger' name. Along with many others of the era UK travel mate Tommy Nelson also used 'Tiger' as in 'Tiger Tommy', while Tasker was billed as both as 'Tiger' and as 'Alaskan Tasker' on those tours.

As far as the origin of the name I asked MLW photog and super-fan Roger Baker for his memory of Tasker.

"I saw Tiger wrestling a number of times at the MLG back in the mid fifties. He wrestled as a heel, with a mug like he had there was no other choice. He would work the 2nd or 3rd match on the card, and Tiger the rascal that he, was would lose to no one's surprise. Tasker got the handle of ''Tiger'' as a result of his habit of raking his finger nails on his opponents back and shoulders, the only other wrestler that appeared in the Gardens that did that nasty maneuver was ''Leering Lee Henning''

There's not much to find on his pre-pro wrestling days. An item in 1933 has a 'Private Tasker' taking part in the wrestling portion of a mit-mat (boxing and wrestling) show at the University Ave Armories, it was more than likely the then 20-21 year old Ken Tasker.

As far as that first U.K trip, supposedly he and Whipper and pals were spotted by a promoter at the amateur shows being held at Consols Stadium in the summers of 1935 and 1936 but only Potts (Watson) is mentioned out of the group in reports of those shows.

He wasn't a full time guy in the early days and may have had a day job. He had wrestled in Ontario but only returned to wrestle in Toronto around 1948 and would appear sporadically until becoming more of a regular in the 1950's. He would wrestle right up to 1960 before going full time as one of the regular MLG refs.

He was the third man in the ring for the historic Lou Thesz- Buddy Rogers title bout in 1963 and was involved in many of the big bouts right up to the mid 1970's

Roger Baker reflects on Tiger as a referee

"Tasker was the number one referee during the sixties, and early seventies . he was very capable to handle the toughest bouts, as a result he would officiate almost all of the main events, the wrestlers respected him, he was allways even handed in the ring."

In 1975 there was note about a thoroughbred horse 'named Tiger Tasker for the well-known wrestling referee' collecting it's first victory in a Detroit race. Not sure if he was involved but many of the Toronto wrestling fraternity were heavy into the horse racing game so there may have been a connection past the name.

In 1977 there was a small mention of him in a story about a jockey at Woodbine winning the lotto.
Tasker was mentioned as working security at the track in Toronto.

The last bouts he seemed to appear in were the end of the Sheik era and the onset of the AWA partnership in late 1977-1978

Roger relates a couple of personal notes regarding Tasker

"I can remember an occasion when my wife and myself were invited to a very pleasant get together at the late Dave Mckigney's house many years back, Tiger was there with his wife, as were three or four other wrestlers, Tiger at the time was also handling some of the officiating for The Bearmans  wresting shows.

Tiger had the look of an older ex fighter, he was built close to the ground, like a fire plug, he sported a smashed nose, facial scares, and two tin ears.


I last saw Tasker and his wife back around 1991, I was out doing some grocery shopping at a supermarket in Scarborough. I happened to look up and there was Tasker with his wife. I shouted out 'Tiger!' not having seen him for perhaps twenty years and we had a wonderful chat. At this point in his life he was far removed from being a wrestling referee , but he remembered me from all the times that I shot pictures of him at MLG, as well as some of the many other towns that we both had a purpose to be at."


Tasker told me that he still kept in touch with the Toronto wrestling office via his long relationship with Jack Tunney, by now the WWF had taken over Toronto, "

Kenneth A Tasker passed away on in September 30 1991 at the Providence Villa in Scarborough. It was just over a year after old pal Whipper had died.

As always thanks to Roger Baker ! and if you can add to the story of Tiger Tasker please comment or contact me

Pic below believe is circa late 1930's
below that is a another of Roger's incredible photos from 1964 featuring Tiger between WWWF champ Bruno and our own Waldo Von Erich. What a pic ! ! !



































Sunday, April 30, 2017

May 7 1967 Dewey debuts at MLG

May 7 2017 will mark the 50th Anniversary of Dewey Robertson's MLG debut.
He had trained in Hamilton but was touted as latest protege of Whipper Watson's due to become the next big star in Toronto.

That first bout at the Gardens saw him teamed with Sweet Daddy Siki to defeat Fred Atkins and The Beast (Yachetti). A week later he flew solo against Dutch Momberg in the opener earning a draw.

He lingered in the openers or near the middle of the cards until his first high profile bout in 1970. He was matched against The Sheik on the under-card of a Dory Funk Jr vs Gene Kiniski NWA Title bout but the stardom predicted didn't pan out as predicted by Watson a few years prior.

He would find a niche as a tag team wrestler in the early 1970's teamed with a variety of opponents before donning a mask as The Crusader. He would get a main event vs The Sheik in 1974 to be unmasked as Dewey and after a re-match as Crusader Dewey Robertson he would team with veteran Billy Red Lyons. They would go on to form The Crusaders both masked and unmasked for the next few years.

His Canadian Title run in 1979-1980 would bring him back to the top in Toronto and he would prove to be both popular and successful with great bouts against AWA champ Nick Bockwinkel, NWA champ Harley Race, and the regular contenders for our title including Greg Valentine, Hossein The Arab/Iron Sheik, and Jimmy Snuka.

His last MLG bout was in Aug 1981 teamed with Tony Parisi against Chris Markoff and Nikolai Volkoff, and a bout in Hamilton in September vs Lord Alfred Hayes was it for Dewey here during the NWA days

Of course he went on to a second career as The Missing Link. In fact on his Wikipedia page it lists him as ...
"The Missing Link (Wrestler)....Byron James John "Dewey" Robertson (February 28, 1939 - August 16, 2007) was a professional wrestler, known best by his ring name The Missing Link."

Not for this fan , he will always will be Dewey Robertson Canadian Champ!

I compiled a career record for Dewey some years back and presented it to him , he signed a copy of it for me and it remains one of my favorite pieces in the collection.

It's also coming up on 10 years since Dewey passed on. RIP champ.

67/05/07 MLG
NWA TITLE: Gene Kiniski WCOR Mighty Igor
BRITISH EMPIRE TITLE: Whipper Billy Watson W Johnny Rougeau
Sweet Daddy Siki/Dewey Robertson W Fred Atkins/The Beast (2-1)
Seaman Art Thomas D Hans Schmidt
Mohan Singh D Ivan Kalmikoff


Thursday, April 20, 2017

Bob Gregory and The Princess come to Toronto 1938

In Jan 1938 wrestler Bob Gregory arrived at New York with his new bride Valerie Brooke the former Princess Baba, said to  heading for their 'Hollywood honeymoon' with a plan to launch a film career for Gregory.

The whole story has similarities to the 'wrestling world' even if Gregory had not been a wrestler.

Gregory, an English light-heavyweight had married the daughter of Sir Charles Vyner Brooke, the white Rajah of Sarawak- of Borneo. The trip also marked the introduction of Gregory to his brides mother the Rani of Sarawak who claimed to be pleased of the nuptials although Gregory's manager said that it took 2 hours to persuade her to meet her new son-in-law.

Although her mother had previously expressed displeasure she now denied any problem on her part by proclaiming 'There was no opposition on my part, or my husbands to this marriage. Bob is so good looking he looks more like a boxer than one of these gorilla wrestlers. He should have taken up boxing.' 

The year previous when they had been married the Star covered it and quoted the princess's father as saying they wouldn't like him 'even if he was a good wrestler.'

Upon departure in New York, when the bride was asked about the then 26 year old Gregorys' wrestling career continuing, she replied with a quick 'No.'

On Feb 14 they arrived in Montreal via Boston and Gregory would wrestle Les Ryan in the semi-final of a card which had a main of Danno O'Mahoney vs Yvon Robert. Mrs Gregory was to present the championship belt to the winner (Robert) of the big bout.

Their next stop was Toronto for the Feb 17 MLG card with the main to be champ Robert vs Vic Christie with Gregory as special referee for the bout. Robert, who was the World Champ (Montreal) would win the bout and be awarded (again) a new championship belt by the young Mrs Gregory. This title became a Toronto World Title for a short time.

The day after the Toronto bout in the Star, Gregory wrote up his own take of the bout calling it the 'fastest bout I've ever seen.' The bout which had no time limit actually went 1 hr 15 min before Robert used a rolling short-arm scissor to force Christie to submit. 

Joe Perlove wrote the long form results recap and said Robert was presented with a $7,500 belt by the beautiful Princess. Perlove, in his usual manner said he was rather disappointed with Gregory. Not for his refereeing, but with all the stories of his athletic prowess he fully expected Gregory to separate the wrestlers by 'flinging them into the blue seats using only the thumb and index finger of each hand.'

Apart from all of this Gregory had another tie to the Toronto mat scene. He had appeared in a few movies in the UK and one of those the1937 film 'The Rat' also had one of Gregory's wrestling traveling partners. Our own Whipper Watson, who was doubling for star Anton Walbrook. Watson, of course was wrestling in the UK at the time where he would meet and marry his wife Eileen and bring her back to Canada with him. Our own 'Prince and Princess.'

Gregory would continue to wrestle a bit around the U.S at least up to about 1946 but would never set foot again in a Canadian ring as far as I can see. His pal Whipper would continue to ply his trade in the UK set to return to Toronto rings in 1940.Gregory had also teamed in England with Northland Wrestling stalwart Herb Parks.

They would continue to appear in the local press with one photo of the two lounging at at a California pool said to be planning to buy an island for Gregory to become Rajah. 'What with?' asked the mother of the princess. 

In July 1938 an item had the brides father formally declaring his three daughters were no longer Princesses. Another daughter married a Jazz musician. No wrestler but still...

If you google Gregory and his princess there are some very informative (and entertaining) articles on the two and her family.



















Saturday, April 15, 2017

Ontario Place shows 1972

In 1972 Frank Tunney ran a series of shows at the Ontario Place Forum between May and October.
There were 7 shows set for Thursday evenings over the course of the summer with the last coming a few days before Ontario Place was to close for the year.

Three of the first set in May and June filled out the 3,000 seat Forum with another 1,000 or so on the grass slopes surrounding the structure. The first show of the second set, held on Sept 6 drew 1,200 due to rain being forecast. It did rain keeping the spectators that did show up under the roof and off the grass.

Other shows were held Sept 14, 28, and Oct 5. Tunney was said to get expenses from Ontario Place, his bonus being the calling of attention to his Sunday night spectaculars at MLG.

Sept 6 results
Lord Layton defeated Joe 'Killer' Christie
The Love Brothers beat Nick DeCarlo & Tarzan Zorra
Tony Parisi over NIkita Kalmikoff
Lee Henning drew The Beast
Jeannie Baxter drew with Vivienne Lynn

I saw quite a few concerts at the old Forum starting about 1977 but never caught a wrestling show there. Thought they held more shows over the years but have yet to locate any.

The 1972 ones are the only ones I have found as of yet. The Forum opened in May 1971 but unsure if they held wrestling that first season..

Jun 29 below, below that is  May 25 both versions, the others are just small ads, no listings





































Friday, April 7, 2017

Paul DeMarco

Paul DeMarco had a long and successful career though much of it was away from his hometown of Hamilton. He did spend some time in the Toronto mat wars from 1964-1966 and again in 1970 and 1973.

According to the story, as a child growing up in Hamilton he was stricken with Polio. Long hours of therapy, swimming, and other sports brought him back to health.  He is quoted as saying he went to his first card at the Hamilton Forum and there was a bad guy wrestling as 'The Little Flower Of Italy' and it made him so mad he tried to intervene and got ejected. It turned him off Pro Wrestling but he went on to compete as an amateur for 3 years.

(The Little Flower of Italy would have been Benito Gardini who wrestled in the early 1950's. In the Toronto area we had our own 'Little Flower', the 'Little Flower of Uxbridge' Bert Maxwell. The not so little Maxwell got his name as he was a horticulturist, as MLW expert Roger Baker once told me.)

Later DeMarco was at a gym and observed several pro guys in the ring wrestling and challenged them to a 'real match.' He said one fellow obliged him and beat him up so bad he could hardly move for 3 days and he earned a respect for the professionals. That guy turned out to be Ron Logue who broke him into the pro game.

In a Slam! Wrestling story on Logue, he had this to say about DeMarco

"He was a natural. He had the gift of gab and the girls loved him. He was a real smooth character," Logue said of the future star.

When Paul's chance came to go to Detroit, he didn't have any wrestling boots, so he borrowed Ron's; "I never did get the boots back, because you know what the bugger did? He put his initials on the boots, white leather on top of black leather. P.D.," laughed Logue.

Read the rest of that article on Logue at Slam! - Ron Logue

I recently received a note regarding a short lived gimmick that Demarco took part in.
Back in 1966 as part of an ad campaign for the Workers Compensation Board (now WSIB) DeMarco, as 'Hatman' the 'Construction Safety Symbol', had a bout against Tiger Jeet Singh.

'Hatman' won the bout and a re-match was scheduled for the next weeks card but Demarco didn't appear. He didn't return to Toronto for four years in fact.

The character was created by Vickers and Benson agency, if anyone has any other info or photos of DeMarco as Hatman please drop me a line.

Roger Baker, former MLW photographer, and our never-ending source of wrestling knowledge, took some candid photos of Demarco in 1965 (pics below) for a mag story looking at  DeMarco's life and beginnings as a wrestler and gets the last word.

'He was working for Tunney back then and was a baby face, very good wrestler, and he kept himself in top shape by training at The Y.M.C.A. in Hamilton. He excelled in a lot of sports, and would hit the weight's, as well he played handball, and could jog on a gym track for miles.'

below Roger Baker's pics .. Hatman vs Singh May 15 1966, .rematch against Singh in Oshawa 1973, Demarco especially suffered the typical pro wrestling skewering of his name on many ads and writeups!


















Big Hans Schmidt getting the better of DeMarco






























































Thanks as always to Roger Baker
and also to Ryan O'Connor for the info on Hatman - www.ryanoconnor.ca

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Canadian Wrestling Newspaper 1972-1973

I have two editions of this professional well put together newspaper type pub,

It was published out of Thornhill and had photos and reports from both Tunney and Wildman shows and one report from the CHIN picnic show summer 1973. They had a bit of advertising including the high profile Molson Breweries so had some connections.

I don't recognize any of the names, one of the stories is by 'Eddie Haskell' so  thought maybe Rudy of the CWR had something to do with it as the photos and content are similar to what they were covering but he said he didn't so ...

Unsure how many issues they put out but the Fall 73 issue has an ad for the first issue. That's the other one I have Fall 72 so may just be the two. If you you have any others or any info please drop me a line.