Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Some Ontario Posters




I used to have a bunch of these but gave most away to other fans. These are all Wildman shows except the pink one for MLW in St Catherines 1981.

The one above for Port Elgin is from summer 1977. That one is hanging in our office. It's a good conversation starter. That summer Andre toured Ontario working on both McKigney (Wildman) and Tunney shows.

On the old MLWP site we had about a hundred posters from all through the 1970's. There are a few others on this blog including some MLG just do a search on the right

These are all mostly early '80's (couple mid) except the Napanee which is '76 and the Picton is '77















Thursday, January 18, 2018

Frank Tunney & the Inner Circle 1969




A fascinating photo by Roger Baker featuring the main cogs in the MLW wheel for most of its history.

The occasion was Frank Tunney's 30th anniversary as a promoter (1939-1969) and a gathering in the Hot Stove Lounge at MLG.

Frank is surrounded by his 'inner circle' his trusted group of wrestlers, writers, announcers, promoters, and friends. The total tenure for those in the picture would be somewhere around 340 years of MLW history.

Frank Tunney is covered at -Frank Tunney: The Early Days

There are 3 generations of Ring Announcers, Frank Ayerst (past), Jerry Hiff (present), Norm Kimber (future) spanning from 1950 to 1986.

Frank Ayerst was also Frank's publicist for many years
He was featured at Frank Ayerst

Jerr Hiff was ring announcer from 1955 -1973.

Norm Kimber joined the office as an assistant around 1953  and was ring announcer from 1973 - 1986 in addition to doing publicity chores.

Whipper Watson worked for Frank from 1940 to 1971 but continued to be associated right into the 1980's. He worked as a promoter also for Frank running the outside towns during his career. There is a ton of Whipper around the site.

Behind Frank Tunney is 'Tiger' Tommy Nelson, former wrestler turned promoter who ran some of the outlying towns for Frank. He had accompanied Whipper (and Tiger Tasker below) to England in 1936 and wrestled all over Europe before returning to Toronto.
He was featured at Tiger Tommy Nelson

Behind Nelson is wrestler Paul Diamond who was starring at MLG at the time.

"Lord' Athol Layton wrestled for Frank from 1950 to 1977, refereed for many of those years, and hosted the Toronto ( and others) TV Wrestling show for most of the 1960's and '70's.
We looked at him at Lord Athol Layton

Pat Flanagan wrestled and refereed for Frank from 1941 to 1976. He also worked as a liaison between the Toronto office and the outlying towns, helping to book the wrestlers and other duties.
We looked at him at Pat Flanagan; The Irish Tornado

Fred Atkins, like Flanagan and Layton wrestled, then referred, from 1948 to 1983. He also trained many wrestlers and worked as a manager in the 1960's while still wrestling, his charges including Tiger Jeet Singh, Giant Baba, and Professor Hiro.
He was featured at Fred Atkins: Ferocious Fred

'Tiger' Ken Tasker again a former wrestler turned ref who worked for Frank from the early 1940's to the late 1970's. He was famously along for the ride to England in 1936 with Whipper and Nelson and was one of the main refs for most of his tenure in that capacity.
We looked at Tiger at Tiger Tasker

The gentleman at the far right bottom is ref Cliff Worthy. He was a long time wrestling and boxing referee from the 1930's to the '60's and had been a regular on the amateur scene here, at one time a 'Canadian Champ.'

The portrait above them overlooking the party is ...Frank Tunney
A portrait of Whipper is on the other side of the wall just out of view
The Hot Stove was paying tribute to them as Tunney once had his office where they built the Lounge.

Below is Whipper having some fun with Frank in what was a traditional cake sharing.. There a few photos from different years with Whipper clowning a bit in presenting the cake. You can tell they all loved Frank.
Thanks to Roger Baker for the use of these incredible photos, click to enlarge




Monday, January 15, 2018

Bull Curry 1968




One of the more memorable characters of pro wrestling the incomparable Bull Curry at MLG in 1968. Roger Baker sent me these photos while Bull was appearing here regularly that year mostly teaming with Tiger Jeet Singh.

By the time I started watching Bull was retired but his image persevered and he continued to show up in the mags and in popular culture. His Toronto tenure was short 1968-1973 and when his high flying son Fred came along around 1970 Bull wrestled on the good side of the fence for a while. He even took on The Sheik at the Gardens with Fred making the save after Sheik carved him up during a short bout.

He did wrestle around Ontario a bit dating back to the late 1930's but I don't see him in Toronto though he may have come in in those early days. He did frequent Windsor (I have a OAC licence issued to him in 1937) as the Detroit promotions were active on our side of the border dating back to the beginnings of pro wrestling.

In his first bout in '68 teamed with Dutch Momberg against Whipper Watson and Bulldog Brower he was described as a 'newcomer to the local scene'. Indeed he was (apparently) but at 10 days past his 55th birthday.

In that bout he left no doubt to his legend when he hit Whipper with he chair announcer Jerry Hiff normally sat in and then attempted to strangle Whip with the cord the ring hammer (for the bell) was attached to. He was finally disqualified when he attacked ref Joe Gollob. OAC commissioner Merv McKenzie, present at the festivities fined Curry 200$ for his actions (not for trying to kill Whipper, that's allowed, but for hitting the ref, that's not allowed).

His last bout in Toronto was in July 1973 against another long timer Ivan Kalmikoff.
Thanks to Roger Baker for the great photos , click to enlarge, that's Al'Bunny' Dunlop in the 2nd photo




Thursday, January 11, 2018

Lord Layton, Tiger Jeet & Fred Atkins 1967-68

Unless you were a fan in the 1950's you would likely know Athol Layton as a TV commentator, both here and in Detroit and Cleveland.  He was still wrestling into the mid 1970's but not as a full time star and past his prime as a star here decades prior.

When he fist hit Toronto he was quite a presence, tall and strong - and hated! - and he would go on to become one of the biggest stars of the '50's and later one of Tunney's inner circle alongside former stars Whipper, Flanagan, and Fred Atkins.

Here is a great Roger Baker shot of Layton interviewing Atkins and his young charge Tiger Jeet Singh circa 1967-68 for our TV show out of Hamilton.

Fred trained Tiger Jeet and teamed with him quite a bit before he went on to become the long time ref at MLG. Layton left in the mid 70's and went on to work for Bacardi here but still maintained ties with Tunney and wrestling.

Roger told me he gave a copy of this photo to Tiger Jeet some years ago and that he was very moved by the photo in remembering his mentor Atkins. Roger was seated above the ring for this shot as the interviews were taking place out of view of the studio audience. Thank you Roger !




Saturday, January 6, 2018

Frank Ayerst

Frank Ayerst is an interesting name from Toronto's wrestling history. He was the epitome of the writer types that Tunney kept close to the office and eventually went to work for Tunney as his publicist.

Ayerst had been the secretary for MLG's Marlboro's Athletic Organization when it was formed in 1937 and worked closely with Maple Leafs owner Conn Smythe. For a couple of years at the onset of the 1940's he had also worked at MLG tracking goals and assists during Leafs games.

He had written writeups in the programs of the wrestlers of the day as early as 1935. In the 1940's in his role as a sports writer for the Star, he would report the occasional wrestling results before joining the office in 1947. At the turn of the 1950's he would variously be referred to as Tunneys 'poll-taker', and the 'voice of Wrestling HQ' and would stay with Frank for 17 years.

After long time ring announcer Bill Smith passed on in 1950 Ayerst would take over from 1950-1955. Later in the decade his weekly columns with bits about the  upcoming cards (mostly for the purpose of advertising the card) including snippets from the wrestlers and other info were a regular entry on the sports pages.

He would also contribute to the wrestling programs during the early to mid 1960's. One of the pages was 'Grappling Gossip' written by Frank but sometimes credited to 'Matt Wise'. Would include 'real' info about the wrestlers and tidbits such as their hobbies or interests, family life, or recent trips and bouts elsewhere.

I asked MLG Photog and writer Roger Baker for his recollections of Frank

"Yes I do remember Frank Ayerst from a period if correct in the early 1960's, saw him in the back of Tunney's office occasionally when I would be picking up my own working pass."

"About all that I can remember of him was his immaculate personal grooming, all ways wore a dark well made suit of clothes, he looked very sharp in the ring when he was announcing the matches, and the columns that he wrote for the Toronto news papers were well done, and often left readers with interesting pieces of information on the wrestler's that he did his column on."

He looks to have left the office around 1964 and later worked for the Provincial Department of Tourism.

He passed away in Dec 1984. If you can add info on Frank please comment or contact me

Couple of original columns from the scrapbooks 1956, and below 1959. click to enlarge
Thanks to Roger Baker