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 to 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 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 efficient 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 receive 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 Frankenstein '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' according 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