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 - The Hatman

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.
*credit Slam!

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.
Hans Schmidt choking Demarco 

Roger Baker, former MLW photographer, and our never-ending source of wrestling knowledge, took some candid photos of Demarco in 1965 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.'

Roger Baker's pics ..
Hatman vs Singh May 15 1966
Demarco in Oshawa 1973

Demarco especially suffered the typical pro wrestling skewering of his name on many ads and writeups!

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