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