Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Danny Hodge 1972: Classic Photo

Roger Baker took these photos in March 1972 as Danny Hodge made his only Maple Leaf Gardens appearance. His opponent a young Johnny Fargo who would later adopt the 'family' name and wrestle as Greg Valentine. Greg's father Johnny was also on this card facing Chris Colt.

Hodge was the NWA Junior Heavyweight champ at the time. That prestigious title had been held by Verne Gagne, Dory Funk Jr, Hiro Matsuda, and others that were well known for their wrestling ability. Hodge was/is a true tough guy, a real wrestler. Not sure why he made an appearance here, likely touring around the territories as they often did back then.

Fargo went on to a successful career as Greg Valentine and had an impact here during the M-A era from 1979-1984 including holding our Canadian Heavyweight Title for a spell. Fred Atkins is the ref looking on.

Hodge also makes the list of oldest living who wrestled at MLG see MLW.com: Earliest MLG debut for a living wrestler .

Thanks to Roger for sending over these dramatic shots of Hodge and Fargo/Valentine at MLG!

Thats's gotta hurt! 

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Arena Gardens: Toronto's original wrestling palace (1922-1938) : Gary Will's TWH

Maple Leaf Gardens is Toronto's most storied wrestling venue and is one of a handful of sites that can credibly be called a pro wrestling mecca. For 64 years, the Gardens was host to top level pro wrestling matches, including four NWA world title changes.

But before there was Maple Leaf Gardens, there was another Gardens that was Toronto's primary wrestling venue -- the site where major league pro wrestling became established in the city. That was Arena Gardens -- later known as Mutual Street Arena.

Arena Gardens was where Ivan Mickailoff began promoting weekly shows in 1929. It was also where he presented his final Toronto show in 1938 -- the last time the building was used for pro wrestling.

Even before Mickailoff came to town, Arena Gardens had been the site of two matches between Stanislaus Zbyszko and Canadian champion George Walker in 1922 and 1924 (see ad at right).

Some of the names that Michailoff presented at the Arena included Strangler Lewis and Toots Mondt, as well as reigning world champions Gus Sonnenberg, Ed Don George, Henri Deglane, Jim Londos, Ali Baba, and Everett Marshall, who all defended their title in the building (as did light heavyweight champion Billy Weidner). Toronto-made world champion Vic Christie defended his title there once as well.

Rival promoter Jack Corcoran also promoted some shows at the Arena in 1931 before moving over to Maple Leaf Gardens when it opened in November of that year.

Arena Gardens was built in 1912 for $500,000 and was at the time the largest indoor arena in the country. It was located east of Yonge on Mutual Street between Dundas and Shuter, not far from Massey Hall, which was also used at times for pro wrestling shows, particularly when the Arena was closed for repairs. Sir Henry Pellatt, the man behind Casa Loma, was one of the Arena's primary backers.

The NHL's first Stanley Cup winners, the Toronto Arenas (1917-18), were named after the building and played their home games there, as would the Toronto St. Pats and the Toronto Maple Leafs.

In 1938, the Arena was leased to William Dickson who turned it into a recreation facility offering ice skating in winter and roller skating in summer. Dickson bought the building in 1945 and it remained in the family for the next 43 years. Curling sheets -- 18 of them -- were added in a 1962 renovation, and the building was renamed The Terrace, a name it kept until it was sold in 1988 to become the site of a condominium complex. It closed its doors on April 30, 1989 and was demolished a few months later.

In the Toronto Star, Jim Proudfoot wrote:

The birthplace of professional hockey in Toronto is about to disappear - torn down and replaced by, yes, yet another picturesque pile of residential condominiums. Before long, people will dwell at Cathedral Square and they'll have no idea, most of them, that their homes sit precisely where so much of this city's history took place. A Stanley Cup was won there and the Maple Leafs started out there. Sammy Luftspring fought there and Frank Sinatra sang there. The Harlem Globetrotters entertained there and Torchy Peden rode his bike there. Foster Hewitt broadcast his first hockey game there.

Soon it'll be gone and shortly after that, forgotten.

And so it's goodbye forever to another chunk of what's made Toronto what it is today, about to join Sunnyside [amusement park], Thorncliffe [racetrack], Dufferin [racetrack], Icelandia [skating rink/arena], Ravina [Gardens -- one-time practice rink for the Leafs] and Long Branch [racetrack] in a dim and distant past - just a trivia question of the 21st century.

- by Gary Will

Friday, September 21, 2018

Smiling John: The forgotten Tunney: Gary Will's TWH

I am so pleased to start presenting the original articles from Gary Will's Toronto Wrestling History. Gary has graciously allowed me to integrate his content here and it will make a great addition to the MLW site. We will stagger the articles and collect them all on the main TWH page that will be tabbed above on the main bar as well as in the Quick Filter menu on the left side.

Gary's research was the reason I originally delved more into the history side and mapleleafwrestling.com is a direct result of that work. Thank you Gary ! and enjoy

Smiling John: The forgotten Tunney

Frank Tunney was Toronto's greatest wrestling promoter and one of the most successful and respected promoters in the world.

But if it hadn't been for a fluke illness, he may never have had the chance to rise to that level. When Tunney took over the wrestling operations of the Queensbury Athletic Club -- the main Toronto booking office -- from Jack Corcoran in 1939, he was the junior member of the new promoting team. The head matchmaker was his older brother, John Tunney.

It isn't clear exactly when the Tunneys started to work for Corcoran. Frank would say in later interviews that he was working in the office as a teenager at the time of the first Maple Leaf Gardens show in 1931. A story in the Star at the time said the Tunneys became involved in 1933. But whatever the date was, John and Frank spent years helping Corcoran behind the scenes.

Corcoran was reported to have caught pneumonia in March 1939, and Toots Mondt -- who was or had been a partner in the Toronto office (more about that another time) -- came up to run the Gardens show on March 16, which featured a world title bout between Jim Londos and local star Vic Christie.

 The following week, it was announced that John Tunney had become the head matchmaker. Attendance through the rest of 1939 averaged 3,000-4,000 per show, and John brought in Wild Bill Longson (an immediate hit), Bronko Nagurski, Frank Sexton, and Lou Thesz for their Toronto debuts in the fall of that year.

According to the attendance figures in the Globe, John Tunney's biggest show was on Thursday January 12, 1940. The main event was Longson vs Jumping Joe Savoldi with Gus Sonnenberg on the undercard. It drew 6,000. It would also be John's final show at the Gardens.

He started feeling sick the next day, but -- against the advice of friends -- decided to work through what seemed to be a bad cold. On Monday, he made the drive to Ottawa to oversee a show there. "Upon his return, he was ordered to bed by the family physician and his condition was not considered even remotely serious," reported the Globe.

Tunney remained at home -- his house was near Danforth and Woodbine -- but things took a sharp turn for the worse on Thursdsay, the day of his next scheduled Gardens show. He died early that morning at age 32. The Star said it was influenza and the Globe added that he had suffered a heart attack. The Gardens show that night was cancelled.

"The entire sports community is prostrated by this blow which took away one of its youngest, most pleasant and most promising promoters," wrote the Star.

Tunney's wife had given birth two weeks earlier to their fourth child and was herself in the hospital suffering from complications. Among the couple's other three children was their oldest son, Jackie.

John Tunney was buried at Mount Hope Cemetery. Frank immediately became Toronto's head promoter. John's son, Jack Tunney, would go on to work for his uncle Frank starting in the early 1950s and took over the business with Frank's son Eddie Tunney after Frank's death in 1983.

-by Gary Will

Thursday, September 20, 2018

REPOST Sammy Berg, Don Leo, Dick Beyer, Mark Lewin....Earliest MLG debut for a living wrestler.

Earliest MLG debut for a living wrestler

  1. Sammy Berg 89 debut 1951
  2. Don Leo Jonathon 87 debut 1953
  3. Dick Beyer 86  debut 1956
  4. Mark Lewin 81 debut 1956
  5. Johnny Walker 83 debut 1957
  6. Tony Marino  87 debut 1960  
  7. Domenic Denucci 86 debut 1960
  8. Dino Bravo ?  debut 1960
  9. Sweet Daddy Siki 77 (reportedly) debut 1962
  10. Emile Dupree 81 debut in 1965
As of May 19 2018 - MLG Debut listed

Dick Beyer aka The Original Sensational Intelligent Destroyer as he was known here has the distinction of being one of the oldest living MLG regulars - who debuted the earliest.

He will be 87 years young on July 30 and debuted here on July 5 1956 as 'Dick Beyer' earning a draw with 'Mr Canada' Sammy (Samson) Berg.

Sammy Berg who is listed as 89 debuted here in September 1951 and appeared through 1957. He would top the list as it is currently. The earliest MLG debut for a living wrestler. He is also the oldest on the top 10 list.

Don Leo Jonathon just celebrated his 87th birthday. He debuted at MLG in 1953 appearing in the area through 1956 making him #2 ahead of Beyer. Beyer had a longer tenure, from 1956-1961 and then as The Destroyer from 1979-1984.

Mark Lewin is 81 and debuted here way back in 1956. Incredibly, as we saw him on the Wildman's circuit as late as 1986 and he was still in top shape. He appeared on the MLG cards through 1976.

Johnny 'Rubberman' Walker aka Mr Wrestling II is 83 and appeared here in 1957. But only once. Technically not a MLW regular.

Tony Marino is 87 and debuted here in 1960. He appeared at MLG through 1976 and for George Cannon about a year or two later than that.

Domenic Denucci is 86 and wrestled here as Domenic Bravo in 1960. He put in a full schedule in that year and later came back as Denucci. He wrestled here through 1982 and beyond that on the Wildman's circuit.

The original Dino Bravo- real name- who wrestled here from 1960-1961 and teamed with Beyer a time or two in addition to teaming with Domenic Denucci/Bravo as the Bravo Brothers was profiled a few years back , if still living likely in around the same age as Domenic.

Sweet Daddy Siki doesn't reveal his actual age. Wikipedia has him at 77 but he doesn't tell, likely close to that. He debuted here in 1962 and was a regular in the area on and off through 1986. He was teaming with Mark Lewin on the Wildman shows in 1986, another guy who didn't seem to age

Emile Dupree 81 debuted in 1965
Tiger Jeet Singh 74 debuted in 1965
Rocky Johnson 73 debuted in 1965
Jacques Rougeau Sr. 87 debuted 1967
Gino Brito 77 debuted in 1967
Paul Diamond 82 debuted in 1969
Angelo Mosca is 81 but he didn't debut at MLG until 1969
There may be others from the 1960's but couldn't find anyone prior to 1962 in front of Siki

There are many others who are over 70 but debuted here after 1970
Carlos Rocha would be the oldest at 91 but he debuted here in 1971
Pampero Firpo is 88, debuted in 1971
Danny Hodge is 86 he wrestled here only once, in 1972

If you can correct or add to this list please do

Monday, September 17, 2018

Whipper and Phil Lawson Training: Classic Photo

An interesting and slightly creepy photo of Whipper Watson and manager/trainer Phil Lawson circa mid 1940's.

Lawson was a real powerhouse in the city running shows and training upstarts for many years. An accomplished amateur himself he had been both City and Ontario champion since starting at the YMCA as a kid around 1910. In 1921 he won the Provincial Light Heavyweight Title in boxing, and in 1926 the Canadian Lightweight Championship in Wrestling.

Lawson took over training for the YMCA in 1926 and would start training Whipper around 1931. Officially he would become Whipper's wrestling manager in 1940 but he had already been using his specialized training regimens from the time a teenage Watson had first found the sport.

There were stories about the unorthodox training methods Lawson would use. Having Whipper carry him up the Scarboro bluffs on his back, stuff like that. This one looks designed to strengthen your neck. If you survived.

Whipper would survive and go on to a long and successful career. Lawson, a very fitness conscious and hyper type who was described as literally 'bouncing' around through life passed away in 1949 at the age of 48 from a heart attack.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Fan Action 1950's: Classic Photo

This photo is from around 1954-57. Could be any bout at MLG during that time. Well, not any but many. At first I thought it was a valet, maybe for Athol Layton. He had a couple in succession when he first came in, Gerald notably.

I'm thinking it's just a regular guy, you or me, (they dressed better then) that got 'too into it' and is being dragged off the ring apron by one of  Metros finest with an usher waiting in the wings. The ring was a lot bigger too as you can see where the ramp starts.

It's always fascinating reading accounts from the 1950's when there were frequent riots and 'fan participation' at the wrestling bouts. From all over Ontario there are many reports of Wrestlers and Fans creating mayhem.

In a future article we will look at some of the incidents that took place back then.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

The Wrestling Boom of the 1950's - Beyond Tunney

While there were few threats to Frank Tunney's promotion throughout the 50+ years he controlled Toronto and the outlying towns. it did happen a few times. As it was Frank enjoyed the jewel of the territory, Maple Leaf Gardens, of which he had the exclusive wrestling rights and was seeing 300,000 fans a year or more for the weekly cards of the 1950's.

Amidst the wrestling boom of the 1950's Tunney and his affiliate promoters were also busy promoting the towns around southern Ontario. They were running Niagara Falls, Hamilton, Kitchener, London, Barrie, and Oshawa who all had regular seasons, and others that didn't. He had his trusted partners in place in these cities. Pat Milosh, Sammy Sobol, John Katan, and Tommy Nelson but a few.

Some others like the Maich brothers (Joe and Don) in Brantford on a smaller scale and Larry Kasaboski in Sudbury on a larger one ran their own show but kept an amiable relationship with Tunney going back to their wrestling days. Kasaboski's TV Wrestling frequently featured Tunney stars 'Straight from MLG!' Dave McKigney (The Wildman) would start promoting in the mid 1960's but at this time he was a young middleweight working on Red Garner shows.

Garner and Kasaboski were both promoting shows in Tunney's backyard and we will look at them here.

If you are not familiar with Ontario have a look on Google maps at Barrie Ontario and use the zoom 'two time's' to zoom out. That's the small area where many of the towns listed below are located.
Google Map - Barrie, Ontario

Red Garner and the Middleweight Circuit

Garner (pictured) show 1951 
Edwin 'Red' Garner, a former amateur standout was based in the small town of Richmond Hill just North of Toronto. He ran a small circuit using mostly trainees from his gym set up near his home. He started in the 1940's and was going strong by the 1950's.

Using fast and exciting mostly middleweight wrestlers he ran 'real' type pro wrestling and had a strong fan base in Richmond, Hill, Thornhill, and Aurora.

His wrestlers all had an amateur background but it was a pro style. The lighter grapplers didn't pose much of a threat to Tunney. He ran frequent shows in and around Toronto proper also and branched out to Guelph, Stoufville, and other small towns in Southern Ontario.

1952 was an especially good year for Red and company. They were doing brisk business with youngsters including Waldo Von Sieber (later Waldo Von Erich), Jacques Dubois (McKigney), and Toronto born Gori 'Ed' 'Killer' Mangotich who would later find great success in Europe.

New Action In Stoufville

Despite Garner's success, in early 1953 Stoufville Arena announced a change for it's second Wrestling season (the arena opened in 1952) with a move to 'Southern States wrestlers.' Said to be the same stars from the Grapefruit states which were shown on Toronto's film TV shows. The wrestlers eventually featured were not household names. Irish Michael O'Toole,Steve Zaboski, Wes Glazier, a 'Red Demon.' Don Ireland of Oshawa, Ted Swift from Niagara Falls and others from the area.

That outfit ran a few shows and one report claimed it to be the 'best wrestling show that has been offered here since it was introduced here over a year ago.' The only local 'name' that appeared was 'Killer' Jim Conroy (as Bert 'Killer' Conroy.

By 1954 though Garner was back in to Stoufville kicking off the season at the beginning of April with Von Sieber against Mangotich. Garner's matchmaker Roy McMahon (yup) offered a money back guarantee if you weren't happy with the show

Back in 1952 while Garner was filling out the arenas on his circuit Tunney was running Barrie -using famed sportsman Max Hurley as promoter - and Collingwood  (60km away). With his regular stars and guests like Boxing great Jack Dempsey in as special referee, they were regularly drawing 1000 fans to the small arenas. Tunney's shows ran from 75c to $2.50 for ringside while Garner had lower prices of 65c to $1 for ringside.

Wrestling Returns to Barrie 1954 - with Northland Wrestling

Come 1953 wrestling would be absent from the two towns. In 1954 Barrie announced a new summer wrestling season would kick off on May 25, this time with shows promoted by Northland Wrestling Enterprises headed by Kasaboski. Northland was enjoying a huge upswing at the time due to it's popular live TV wrestling, one of the first Studio shows in North America.

Kasaboski would run Barrie on Tunney's former Tuesday night while Tunney countered in Collingwood on the usual Wednesday night.  At the end of the month Kasaboski ran a card featuring the very popular midget stars as the main event and filled the arena. Tunney would send his biggest stars of the day alongside Whipper. The Mills Brothers, Fred Atkins, Yukon Eric. etc.

Kasaboski 1954 Tuesday Night Aug 10 

Tunney 1954 Wednesday Night Aug 11

A July main in Barrie had upcoming Olympic star Maurice Vachon vs Bobby Ford while Tunney followed with Whipper vs Sky Hi lee in Collingwood. Dory Funk and Don Evans would also appear that summer, many U.S. stars would come up over the years and enjoy the Ontario North. Kasaboski was regularly drawing 700-1200 to the shows. Tunney's attendance was not reported .

At that time Kasaboski's circuit was vast. He was running shows in over 30 towns from La Sarre in Northern Quebec across to Wawa, Ontario, working his way down as far as Brockville on the Canada/U.S. border. He would also run Orillia a few minutes to the East of Barrie.

1954 sharing the page

Tunney Fights Back 

At the 1954 NWA convention Tunney, who had been elected as vice-president, complained about Kasaboski going into his towns and under-bidding him to promoters. Kasaboski was not a member of the NWA so Tunney may have been looking to stop some of the Southern U.S. stars from heading.up.

Tunney takes Stoufville 1957 
In 1956 Tunney would move into Stoufville bumping Garner out with regular cards featuring Dick Hutton, Fritz Von Erich, Whipper, and the rest. They would also run other towns that Garner ran including Newmarket and Bradford. Garner would continue to run Thornhill (Summer Market) and Richmond Hill on alternate days to the Tunney cards. Tunney would promote with 'Big Name Stars' prominent on the ads.

In Sutton (across the Lake from Barrie) in July 1957 Tommy Nelson (Tunney) drew 1,500 fans for a main of Whip vs Kiniski. It was said to be the largest draw at the Sutton Arena for any sport over the past several years.

It's unclear if Tunney had any grievance with Garner who wasn't the same threat as Kasaboski was.

Somewhere along the way Kasaboski and Tunney settled up as some of the names crossed over. One Kasaboski card in September 1958 was set to have a main of  Fred Atkins (billed 'from Frank Tunney's Toronto circuit') vs Bobo Brazil, who were both current stars for Tunney. Bobo no showed forcing Atkins to face Thompson. It said the 'incident will not go unaccounted. Northland promoter Larry K who brings in the Toronto men through his friendly connection with Frank Tunney, is sure to find out the reason why.'  The recap for that bout claimed Thompson made Atkins 'work, probably harder than he has in many bouts.'

Somewhat related was that the Barrie Fair that same month had originally scheduled wrestling (Kasaboski). It was said the OAC said it was illegal to put on wrestling at the fair so the card was cancelled. Have to wonder as many fairs in Ontario at the time had 'exhibition' wrestling.

Northland Winning The Fight

A column in the Barrie Examiner in Sept 1958 looked at the past season and determined the best wrestling was ....Northland.

'While the Northland wrestlers were although a mite smaller, proved far more schooled in the science of the game. They were faster, and did more than hold their right arms up, claiming victory.'

Added was 'Best Villain - Maurice Vachon' and best supporting cast of Bill Curry, Sandy Scott, Louis Papineau, and Frank 'Scotty' Thompson.
Tunney heads North 1958

Tunney would in turn head North into Kasaboski's area promoting some shows at the Bracebridge Community Centre.

Bracebridge -100km North of Barrie, 200km north of Toronto - is the gateway to the North and further than Tunney had gone previously. For two successive shows they ran Yukon Eric vs Kiniski mains.

In 1959 Ricky Starr missed a Tunney show in Barrie. In a column titled 'Bad Feelings' Barrie Sports Editor Steve Jonescu kicked off with 'Francois Tunney, wrestling promoter at Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto doesn't have too many friends among the wrestling crowd in the Barrie area.' He reminded readers of the Bobo no-show the previous year but said that Starr hadn't drawn very many anyways - as they weren't advised of the substitution until they entered the arena. Again it was said 'Northland Wrestling Enterprise was quite upset...'

Garner Still Going Strong

All this time Garner wouldn't miss a beat, filling them in at the Thornhill Farmers Market summer shows and in his home base of Richmond Hill. One of Garner's stars Stoney Brooks was from Campbellford in the eastern part of Ontario and they would run shows in the region including Cobourg and other towns. Kasaboski would also occasionally drop south of his usual circuit and run Perth and other towns in the Eastern area.

No Hard Feelings

Both Garner (as Great Kudo) and Kasaboski would return to wrestle at MLG in the early 1960's. Garner was slowing down and would retire soon after but not before a WWWF title shot vs Bruno Sammartino. Larry K would wrestle for Tunney in 1958 and again in 1960. He would come in for a last time in 1964 to face newcomer The Sheik who spent the better part of the 15 minute bout 'chewing on his victims left ear.' Maybe Tunney got his revenge after all.


Garner would team up with Gus Marmon and The Olympic Wrestling Club in the early 1960's for a time and they would have a short run TV show shown in Eastern Ontario. He would retire for good in 1964 and went on to drive the 'Bookmobile' (library on wheels) in North York and later was the head of Woodview Library.

Kasaboski would continue to promote the North through 1975 but wasn't down in the southern part of the province very often after his initial run in the 1950's.

Tunney celebrated the 50th Anniversary of MLW in 1981 and passed on in 1983 after 42 years at the helm. The rights passed to nephew Jack and son Eddy and as far as I know no one else ever had rights to promote at MLG before it closed in 1999.

For more on Red Garner and the CCWA see
MLW.com : Red Garner

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Barry Lloyd Penhale with Tony Lanza 1955

We have lots of Barry Lloyd Penhale stuff around the site. This photo from a bodybuilding contest with wrestler and noted photographer Tony Lanza in 1955. The contest was held in Toronto with Penhale and Lanza as judges.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Barry Penhale Column WAYLI 1954 Joe Gollob Rene La Belle

Another Penhale column from WAYLI 1954. This time a visit with Joe Gollob, Tex McKenzie, Mighty Ursus,  and an update on Rene La Belle.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

1972 Article on 16 yr old Ray Rougeau

A 1972 look at then 16 year old Ray Rougeau (he would turn 17 later that month) in with the recap of his Feb 6 bout against Ivan Kalmikoff. Ray debuted here in Nov 1971 and later teamed with his father Jacques Sr. wrestling here a bit up to 1974. He would come back in 1986 with the WWF teamed with brother Jacques Jr.

Both brothers were chips of the old block(s). Their uncle Johnny Rougeau was a huge star in Quebec and wrestled here in the 1950's and '60's as did their great uncle Eddie Auger (Jacques Sr. and Johnny's father) who wrestled here in the early 1950's as Pierre LaSalle.

Friday, August 31, 2018

Jimmy Valiant 1982: Classic Photo

Jimmy Valiant making an ENTRANCE at MLG in 1982. This was his 'Handsome Jimmy' persona and to say it was popular would be a huge understatement. He was kind of a precursor to Hulkamania in his own way, a lot of flash and energy, and the fans loved him. You could argue his stuff didn't age well but there were others -Leroy Brown notably - that you couldn't mistake for Lou Thesz, but they had the fans and that's what it's all about.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Recent Updates

Taking a break so time to catch up on some recent features you may have missed
We will be back with a feature on a Promotional war from the 1950's and lots of other stuff.

Hutton wins NWA Title 1957: From The Scrapbook
Original Scrapbook clippings from the night Dick Hutton won the NWA Title at MLG

Ric Flair 1983: Audio Snippet
NWA champ Ric Flairs reflects on the passing of Frank Tunney

Referees in Maple Leaf
A look at the many refs from the history of MLW

Montreal 1981: Classic Clippings
More classic Montreal ads

Toronto - the 'Program' List

A list of all the Toronto Programs that have been found so far. Lots more out there.
If you can add to the list please send me dates and scan of cover and lineup sheet if you can.

I also have some Oshawa and other towns but will leave this list for Toronto and Strangleholds
Still, if you have other cities please send. Always great to see more

If you have any of the missing dates from the later years please contact me

There's lots of Programs around the site at tag-   MLW.com: Programs

1929 ? Arena Gardens generic

1930 Jul 10 Arena Gardens Siki vs Komar

1933 Apr 20 Savoldi vs Stein
1933 Aug 24 Savoldi vs Kirelenko
1933 Sept 28 Zarynoff vs Dusek
1933 Oct 10 Sonnenburg vs Stasiak

1935 Aug 8 O'Mahoney vs Browning

1940 May 2 Longson vs Johnson
1940 Jul 24 Watson vs Kenneth

1947 May/June? Thesz cover
1947 ? Mike Sharpe cover
1947 Dec 11 Watson/Flanagan vs Hi Lee/Marvel
1948 May 13 Watson vs Singh

1949 Sept 22 Watson/Flanagan vs Atkins/Henry

1952 Aug 21 Tag Team Tourney

1955 Feb 10 Kalmikoffs vs Mills Brothers
1955 Jun 9 Watson vs McLarity

1957 Aug 15 Watson/Eric vs Miller Bros
1957 Sept 5 Watson/O'Connor vs Kiniski/Von Erich

1961 Aug 24 Brower vs Layton
1961 Sept 7 Watson vs Brower

1963 May 9 Lorenzo Parente vs Killer Kowalski
1963 May 16 Valentine vs Watson
1963 May 23 Thesz vs Brower
1963 Jun 13 Brower vs Beast
1963 Jul 18 Valentine vs Watson
1963 Aug 1 Valentine vs Henning
1963 Aug 29 Valentine vs Thomas

1964 Jan 9 Watson vs Kiniski
1964 Feb 13 Baba/Atkins vs Watson/Valentine
1964 Feb 27 Bruno vs Brower
1964 May 6 Valentine vs Mighty Hercules
1964 Jul 23 Hiro vs Valentine
1964 Aug 6 Hiro vs Valentine
1964 Aug 27 Valentine vs Hiro
1964 Sep 3 Hiro vs Valentine
1964 Sep 10 Hillbillies vs Brower/Beast
1964 Oct 22 Valentine vs Hiro
1964 Dec 17 Hiro vs Watson

1965 Jan 17 Valentine vs Sheik
1965 Mar 7 Watson vs Kiniski
1965 Mar 18 Powers vs Siki
1965 Mar 28 Valentine/Watson vs Kiniski/Von Erich
1965 Apr 4 Brower vs Sammartino
1965 Jun 17 Watson vs Powers
1965 Sep 9 Watson vs Hiro

1977 Summer July generic Andre on cover

1978-1979 - Nothing found

Not known if printed
1980 Jun 29
1980 Jul 20
1980 Aug 10
1980 Aug 24
1980 Sept 6
1980 Sept 27
Everything below accounted for EXCEPT for MISSSING dates
1980 Oct 19 - Oldest found after 1977 - says #8
1980 Nov 2
1980 Nov 16
MISSING 1980 Dec 7
MISSING 1980 Dec 28
MISSING 1981 Jan 11
MISSING 1981 Feb 1
1981 Feb 22
1981 Mar 8
1981 Mar 29
1981 Apr 12
1981 May 3
1981 May 24
MISSING 1981 Jun 14
1981 Jun 28
1981 Jul 12
1981 Jul 26
1981 Aug 9
1981 Aug 30
1981 Sept 20
MISSING 1981 Oct 4
MISSING 1981 Oct 18
MISSING 1981 Nov 1
1981 Nov 15
1981 Nov 30
1981 Dec 27
1982 Jan 17
1982 Jan 31 (issued-cancelled Caddy Tourny)
1982 Feb 21
1982 Mar 7 (issued-rescheduled Caddy Tourny)
1982 Mar 21
1982 Apr 4
1982 Apr 25
1982 May 16
1982 Jun 6
1982 Jun 27
1982 Jul 11
1982 Jul 25
1982 Aug 8
1982 Aug 22
1982 Oct 3
1982 Oct 17
1982 Oct 31
1982 Dec 12
1982 Dec 26
1983 Jan 9
1983 Jan 23
1983 Feb 20
1983 Mar 6
1983 Mar 27
1983 Apr 10
1983 May 15
1983 May 29
1983 Jun 12
1983 Jul 10
1983 Jul 24
1983 Aug 7
1983 Aug 28
1983 Sept 18
1983 Oct 16
1983 Oct 30
1983 Nov 13
1983 Dec 4
1983 Dec 26
1984 Jan 8
1984 Jan 22
1984 Feb 12
1984 Apr 1
1984 Apr 15
1984 Apr 29
1984 May 13
1984 May 27
1984 Jun 10
1984 Jun 24
1983 Nov 30 KITCHENER
1984 May 14, ST. CATHERINES

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Pedro Martinez and Rocca 1968: Classic Photo

Another fantastic photo from our friend Roger Baker. Pedro Martinez seated chats with
Antonino/Argentina Rocca during Rocca's comeback in Buffalo in 1968. Chief White Owl is in the background seated and standing is the Oklahoma Kid..

Back in the 60's I visited Buffalo's War Memorial Auditorium perhaps a dozen times to meet some great wrestling talent, my purpose was to photograph and interview top rated wrestling stars.

During this period it was my pleasure work with guy's like Bruno Sammartino, Waldo Von Eric, Crazy Luke Graham, Pampero Firpo, Abbdullah The Butcher, Argentina Rocca, Johnny Powers, and Louis Martinez to name just a few.

Standout wrestling promoter Pedro Martinez was always very courteous to me, and I found him to make me feel welcome whenever I would make the trip to Buffalo. One incident that stands out in my mind. I was covering a Saturday afternoon show at the Aud. and had brought along my young son, he was at his first ever wrestling show. I wanted to take him into the dressing room to meet the wrestlers, however one of Buffalo's best was who stood in front of the wrestlers dressing room would not let us in at this time, I got a bit frantic and ran out into the hallway looking for Pedro who was rushing out of the building to drive to another city where he had another wrestling event going on that evening.

I asked for help from him to gain entrance to the guarded dressing room, he wrote a couple of short lines on a piece of paper, ''Please show kindness'' we got in when I handed the message to the police officer. 


Thanks! to Roger Baker

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Pedro Martinez in Toronto

Many of the wrestlers of the early days of pro wrestling would go on to become promoters. There were several that had careers in Toronto and later promoted in Ontario and across the country. Buffalo and NY promoter Pedro Martinez spent some time in Toronto in the early 1940's

His Toronto debut in Apr 1942 had the new 'Mexican jumping bean' or 'Mad Mexican wrestling at 238lbs. Said to favor a 'well-placed kick to the face more than regular wrestling holds with no desire to become recognized as a great scientific wrestler' he was Pedro (mostly) in the ads but Ignacio to his friends.

He came in with a flurry and subsequent bouts established him as 'forceful and efficiant a mat villain as has come along here since the days of Stanley Stasiak.' High praise. His first main against the equally heel Roland Kirchmeyer earned him a short lived cheering section.

When he got his first main against Whipper Watson the bout went 45 minutes to a curfew draw. The winner was said to recieve an upcoming shot at World champ Bill Longson.

The rematch with Whipper was a brawl-fest that saw Martinez counted out after recieving a dropkick from Watson and ending up in the press seats at ringside.

In Apr 1943 Whipper was set to meet the Red Shadow, the newest masked villain. As reported later the 'real' Shadow appeared pre-bout for his medical examination and was declared fit. At the start of the bout Whip was telling manager Phil Lawson that something wasn't right. Watson would pin his opponent and rip the mask off - revealing Martinez - who was said to be relieved to catch his breath.

Martinez was said to be a stooge in playing the old duckaroo and promptly suspended as was the Shadow. Tunney asked for him to be re-instated, claiming he had been led astray by the Shadow. The commission would soon allow both him and the Red Shadow to wrestle - on a charity card Tunney had scheduled.

For the show with proceeds to charity Martinez was matched against Ed "Strangler' Lewis. Lewis described as 'portly' and according to Tunney Martinez would 'murder the Strangler'. He didn't and went down to the famous Strangler headlock then body press in losing the bout.
The Mummy

In Jan 1948 the newest Masked Marvel was brought in to face another newcomer. Wrestling's challenge to Frankenstien 'The Mummy.'

Tunney commented the office had been deluged with phone calls trying to guess who was under the mask. Terry McGuiness, Strangler Bob Wagner, Bronko Nagurski, Pedro Martinez, and Dr Len Hall were some of the guesses that were 'pretty good' accorcing to Tunney.

Marvel won the bout and exposed Martinez.

Around that time Martinez bought in to the Great Lakes Athletic Club and became partners with Ed Don George, who he later bought out. Buffalo would be a mirror city to Toronto hosting many of the same stars through the 1950's as well as being a popular TV show here.

We will follow this with a Classic Photo from Roger Baker of Promoter Pedro Martinez in 1968- stay tuned

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Make Believe Gardens Classic Matchup: Bravo vs Valentine 1979

We are back to visit Barry Hatchet's fine Make Believe Gardens for a classic bout from 1979. Dino Bravo and Greg 'Hammer' Valentine had some great bouts in Toronto over our Canadian Heavyweight Title. This could be any one of 3 where Bravo was champ at introductions. Valentine would eventually beat Bravo for the title in April but would lose it back in June.

Bravo had recently turned back the challenge of Ric Flair and had tagged with Ricky Steamboat against the team of Flair and Valentine before starting this series.

Both Valentine and Bravo's careers had a lot of parallels. Singles titles (but not the big one), great tag teams - and titles, and a similar style. Valentine, while not as popular as Flair was becoming, was still a 'favorite heel' for many, and Bravo was at the height of his popularity here. Their bouts at MLG were tough and scientific and bloody all at the same time.

Thanks again to Barry "Kicking ass is my business...and business is good!" Hatchet for this classic bout !

Monday, August 13, 2018

Star Column Apr 1943

Working on a look at Pedro Martinez in Toronto and thought I would share this column from the Toronto Star Apr 24 1943 about Martinez being unmasked as the Red Shadow. Whipper refers to John Katan British Empire champ at the time. The second part is a cool lighthearted look at the office at the time. Tunney, Watson, Sobel, Lawson, and Dunlop.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

More 'Stuff' on Twitter

added a twitter account to post some quick items from the vast MLW archives. Will be stuff from my collection , others around the MLW world ,more Roger Baker collection including the most recent, a press pass from Roger's days as a pro photog here and around the wrestling world. We will look at Pedro Martinez and his wrestling days here in Toronto in an upcoming feature.

at @mapleleafwrest1 on Twitter

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Whipper Watson vs Pat O'Connor 1956: Classic Photo

Whipper Watson defends his NWA Title at MLG against British Empire champ Pat O'Connor in the second of a two-bout series in June 1956. The first one ended in a 40 minute curfew draw. The second went 32+ minutes with special referee Wayne Pete imported from St Louis. Surprisingly Whipper heard some boo's with many O'Connor fans in attendance both nights but this one remained clean with O'Connor finally missing a dropkick and Whipper getting the pin. 

Pat was a highly rated star in Toronto with battles against Dick Hutton, Edouard Carpentier, Killer Kowalski, and many other stars of the day. He and Whipper would later form a popular team and capture the Canadian Open Tag Titles. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Double Shot Feb 20 1983: NWA Champ Ric Flair

There were quite a few double-shots during the M-A affiliation, an afternoon card in the Carolinas and an evening card in Toronto. This one in Feb 1983 had both main event participants wrestling in both cities!

Flair was well known anyways for having a schedule that would have killed mere mortals and on this day he brought along some company. I assume they had a private flight lined up out of Greensboro to land in Toronto, forego customs, and hop in a waiting van straight to MLG arriving after the card had got underway. You will note the length of the first bouts at MLG.

Roddy Piper was scheduled but missed both cards. Up here Piper was said to be stuck in Puerto Rico. I remember reading years later in his book or perhaps Flair's book that it was indeed the case.

Terry Funk joined the others to take Piper's spot, the first time Terry had been back since he lost the title here to Harley Race in Feb 1977. In Toronto Flair was a huge fan favorite so if Funk hadn't been able to make the trip he may have been matched against his Greensboro partner Greg Valentine.

As for Piper, when he finally made it back to Toronto in March to face Flair for the title it was said he had to post a $15,000 appearance bond. On that same card (Mar27) Steamboat and Youngblood finally beat Slaughter and Kernodle in a title bout to claim the NWA tag titles which they had already won in Greensboro 2 weeks earlier -we will look at that in a future post.

2/20/83 Greensboro, NC 3PM
NWA Tag Titles: Sgt. Slaughter/Pvt. Kernodle W Terry Funk/Dory Funk, Jr
Ricky Steamboat/Jay Youngblood W Ric Flair/Greg Valentine
Jimmy Valiant W One Man Gang
Dick Slater W Jerry Brisco (subs for Roddy Piper)
Jack Brisco W Paul Jones
Dizzy Hogan/Larry Lane W Ricky Harris/Bill White
Larry Lane W Ricky Morton

2/20/83 Toronto, ON 730PM
NWA Title: Ric Flair WP Terry Funk  (subs for Roddy Piper)
Ricky Steamboat/Jay Youngblood W Sgt Slaughter/Don Kernodle
Salvatore Bellomo WDQ Ray Stevens
Leo Burke DCOR Tony Parisi
Destroyer W Terry Kay
Johnny Weaver WP Bobby Bass
Nick DeCarlo/Rudy Kay D Pvt. Nelson/Tim Gerrard

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Billy Red & Dewey Audio Snippet 1981

Another Audio Snippett, this time with Dewey Robertson. Dewey wasn't a great 'mic' guy. He was just a regular Canadian dude, mostly soft-spoken and not over the top in his promos. I was a big Dewey fan but this one isn't noteworthy for any other reason that it's conducted with his former tag partner and 'buddy' Billy Red Lyons in what was one of his last promos on Maple Leaf Wrestling -and pairing with BRL - before departing for good.

They are promoting the May 24 1981 card with Dewey to face Ray Stevens.

Monday, August 6, 2018

A week in the life 1981: Repost

Another repost looking at a week in MLW in 1981

Tunney went back to a small circuit in 1980 running the towns around Toronto before or after the big Sunday MLG show. It had been some years since Tunney had actively put on shows around the region.

The 1950's and 1960's were busy times for the Toronto office. Barrie, Stoufville, Oshawa, Hamilton, St Catherines, Niagara Falls, Kingston, Galt (Cambridge), Kitchener, Milton, Ottawa, and others saw regular weekly-or-so cards. Most of the towns had 'Promoters' who used Tunney stars but ran their own shows. That ended in the late 1960's for the most part with Dave McKigney, Whipper Jr, The Loves etc putting their own shows out, often with Tunney's guys and/or blessing to do it.

In 1980 with the success of the Mid-Atlantic partnership they went back to running the circuit. And stopped co-operating so much with others, especially with McKigney.

Some of the M-A stars would stay on for these shows, some of the bigger stars would head back to the South. It gave popular guys like Jay Youngblood a chance to star around the circuit while often at mid-card on the MLG shows. They would fit a TV taping in also either in Kitchener, Brantford, or Guelph for the most part.

As the MLG shows reduced to about 2 per month in this era the circuit towns may see 2 shows per month also in the week around the big card.

Here's a snapshot in Feb 1981 , if you have the Ad for the Buffalo show please send me and I'll add it

81/02/22 MLG
CANADIAN TITLE: Angelo Mosca WP Great Hossein
Masked Superstar WDQ Ray Stevens
Jimmy Snuka WP Mad Dog Vachon
Bob Duncum/Swede Hanson W Sweet Ebony Diamond/Dewey Robertson
Tony Parisi D Kurt Von Hess (subs for Jim Dillon)
Frankie Laine WP Ron Ritchie

81/02/23 Buffalo, NY
Masked Superstar/Paul Jones W Jimmy Snuka/Ray Stevens
Blackjack Mulligan W Bobby Duncum
Iron Sheik W Mad Dog Vachon
Sweet Ebony Diamond W Frankie Laine
Dewey Robertson W/DQ Swede Hansen
Tony Parisi W Ron Ritchie

81/02/24 Kitchener, ON TV Tapings
Iron Sheik/Bobby Duncum W Earl Pinnock/Ricky Johnson
Angelo Mosca W John Orlick
Mad Dog Vachon/Dewey Robertson W/DQ Iron Sheik/Bobby Duncum
Angelo Mosca W Chris Jones/Tim Gerrard in a handicap match
Swede Hanson W John Bonello
Frankie Laine D Ron Ritchie
Sweet Ebony Diamond/Tony Parisi W Kurt Von Hess/Brian Mackney
Swede Hanson W Ron Ritchie
Iron Sheik W Dewey Robertson
Angelo Mosca W Bobby Duncum

81/02/25 London, ON
Angelo Mosca W Hossein Arab
Mad Dog Vachon/Dewey Robertson W Bobby Duncum/Swede Hanson
Sweet Ebony Diamond W Kurt Von Hess
Frankie Laine WP Ron Ritchie
Tony Paris D Billy Red Lyons

81/02/26 - Kingston, ON
Angelo Mosca W Great Hossein
Mad Dog Vachon/Dewey Robertson W Bobby Duncum/Kurt Von Hess
Sweet Ebony Diamond W/COR Swede Hanson
Frankie Laine D Billy Red Lyons
Tony Parisi W Ron Ritchie