Monday, October 1, 2018

Athletic commission halts Masked Marvel bout: September 22, 1938: Gary Will's TWH

In 1938, the Masked Marvel was the top heel at Maple Leaf Gardens. He wasn't the first masked wrestler in the area -- there had been another Masked Marvel in Toronto in 1932 -- but he was the first to become a main event star.

In June 1938, the Masked Marvel, accompanied by the Masked Manager, won the short-lived Toronto version of the world title (which will be the subject for another time). He defeated Vic Christie -- the city's top babyface at the time -- and then successfully defended the title against former world title claimants Yvon Robert, Ed Don George, and Dan O'Mahony.

After taking a break in the month of August (Maple Leaf Gardens was not a comfortable venue in the hot days of summer), promoter Jack Corcoran opened a new wrestling season in September with Marvel defeating Felix Miquet in the main event.

Headlining the next show was Masked Marvel defending his world title against Mayes McLain. Marvel must have been quite a heat machine, because Patrick Mulqueen, the chairman of the Ontario Athletic Commission, was so troubled by the near-riot that Marvel was enciting during the match against McLain that he jumped up and put a stop to the bout. A quick-acting Corcoran immediately got on the phone to OAC vice-chairman Lionel Conacher -- a former pro wrestler -- and after about 10 minutes, Conacher and another member of the commission overruled Mulqueen and told Corcoran to go ahead and finish the match.

There previously had been rumours that Mulqueen and Conacher didn't see eye-to-eye but I haven't come across what happened internally at the OAC to resove their issues.

In an interview with the Star, Mulqueen said that the Canadian public "have never been very strong for hooded stuff of any kind." If that was ever true, it would certainly no longer the case in Toronto, which would regularly feature masked wrestlers for years to come.

The Marvel was unmasked on the next Gardens show and revealed to be Ted Cox, who would remain a main eventer in Toronto without the hood. A third Masked Marvel (Lew Reynheer) would come to Toronto in 1947 and become a long-time main eventer in the city. A fourth (Lou Newman) started up in 1950 (with Mayes McLain working as his Masked Manager) and a fifth (Frank Valois) wrestled on top in 1952.

-by Gary Will