Sunday, July 29, 2018
First in a series of Audio Snippets features NWA World champion Ric Flair paying tribute to Frank Tunney shortly after his death in May 1983. Flair, one of the best on the mic ever is reserved and serious as he promotes the upcoming May 29 show where he defends the title against Greg Valentine.
Friday, July 27, 2018
Ouch! Reggie 'Crusher' Lisowski introduces Wilbur Snyder to the ringside table during a tag bout in 1958. The Lsiowski Brothers Reggie and Stanley (Holek) were feuding with Whipper Watson and various partners over the Canadian Open Tag Titles. We featured the Lisowski's in cartoon form in a post earlier this month. Cartoons: The Lisowski Brothers 1958
Wednesday, July 25, 2018
Another Alan Abel column from the Globe May 17 1983, the day after Frank Tunney's funeral. Interesting as the other coverage focuses on Kiniski, Watson, etc. Here he speaks with Joe Gollob and Lou Pitoscia. We have featured Joe Gollob previously while Pitoscia himself a long time wrestler turned ref was later an actor around town.
Sunday, July 22, 2018
The Lisowski Brothers tag team had a good run here in 1958 holding the Canadian Open Tag Titles which they won from Yukon Eric and Whipper Billy Watson. Reggie had wrestled here in 1954 with then partner Art Neilson but turned it up a notch when 'brother' Stanley arrived and they won the titles on their first try.
Whipper then joined forces with Wilbur Snyder to try to take the titles back but the Lisowski's turned back their challenge time and time again. During one bout Bobo Brazil rushed the ring to save the favorites from a beat-down and then he and Whipper tagged to try their luck. They were successful in a re-match and pried the titles away. The Lisowski's would hold them again later in the year before losing them a final time to Whipper and Bernard Vignal and departing the area.
Reggie Lisowski (real name) would show back up just twice more in 1978 with the AWA as 'The Crusher' while Stan (Holek) from Chatham, ON would later wrestle with Art as the Neilson Brothers in the AWA proper but never again in Toronto.
Thanks to Roger Baker
Friday, July 20, 2018
John Studd does his best to color the Gardens red in this shot from Jan 1982. He has just lost the Canadian Title back to Angelo Mosca. This was the second cage bout of the night, the first had Johnny Weaver trouncing Lord Alfred Hayes.
Friday, July 13, 2018
Another Classic Photo Friday and another great Roger Baker photo from MLG 1961.
'Gentleman' Jim Hady spent a lot of time in Toronto and area between 1961-1964 wrestling on nearly every weekly show at Maple Leaf Gardens. While mostly mid-card on the big shows he would main event at the many towns on the circuit. He would battle and also team with Johnny Valentine and the two would hold the International Tag Titles.
Jim is talking to one of the regular 'second's' for the wrestlers. Not sure of his name. Phil Lisner is another of Frank's long time employees who was a second, we may look at the use of second's in that era in a future post. You can see announcer Jerry Hiff and ref Pat Flanagan in the background.
Thanks to Roger Baker
Tuesday, July 10, 2018
For fans of the M-A era and into the last years of the NWA days here, memories of Norm Kimber would rate high when recalling wrestling in the city. He was the 'voice' at MLG, usually very serious and business-like but often looking to be holding back a smile while surrounded by the craziness of the ring.
Always well dressed in a suit, tux, or occasionally a sports coat with sweater underneath, he brought an air of sophistication to the proceedings. He introduced the wrestlers and promoted the next big show at MLG while also manning the ring bell at the little table beside the ring.
By the time we knew him as Norm Kimber the ring announcer, he had already put in many years in the office. First as a 'man-friday' type and then taking over the publicity chores before taking over the ringside duties, apparently 38 years in total.
He was in the office at the height of the 1950's revival of pro wrestling. Possibly as early as 1948 when Norm was just 17-18 years old. He had been working as a copy/messenger boy at the Toronto Star when writer Joe Perlove introduced him to Frank Tunney.
He later said 'It was wonderful for me, because I had been a sports fan all my life.' Of Frank he said he was the 'easiest going guy you ever wanted to meet, respected by everyone in sports. He always had a cigar in his mouth, and even when he quit smoking I think he kept a rubber one there.'
At that time the office was busy with boxing people, reporters, and the wrestlers that were part of the inner circle that worked with Tunney through those years. Along with publicity man Frank Ayerst and Kimber there were 'Deacon' Allen, Phil Lisner, Tommy Nelson, and the various scribes who frequented the office as well as Frank's nephew John (Jack) who came in soon after.
He took over the ring announcing duties in 1973 replacing long-time announcer Jerry Hiff. He would stay in that capacity through 1986 until he left for Angelo Mosca's short lived NWA promotion based out of Hamilton. Occasionally he would be replaced by Jack Tunney but for the most part he didn't miss many cards through that 13 year period
He looks to have been the office liaison in the later days with the papers as far as the ads and results for the shows went . From the 1930's through the 1950's the wrestling coverage in the papers was plentiful. That tailed off in the 1960's after Frank Ayerst moved on and Tunney's office was considerably smaller than in those early days.
By the time of our era you were hard pressed to find more than the ad and results placed around the by-then twice monthly shows. There were some features in the papers but written by their reporters. Some listings in the dying days of the promotion said 'by Norm Kimber' but otherwise there wasn't much in the publicity side by the early 1980's.
If you went to Tunney's office, by then across from the Gardens, it was down to Frank and Jack mostly. Kimber and others who worked for Tunney seemed to be somewhat 'game night' types only.
In 1986 he was fired by Jack Tunney. As per Norm 'There was no warning, no remuneration, no holiday pay, no nothing.' He assisted Mosca on the promotion side too though it's not clear how involved he was with 'Pro Wrestling Canada.'
Not as much known about Norm as should be, if you can add to the story of Norm Kimber please contact me.