Sunday, July 21, 2019

Bob Gregory and The Princess come to Toronto 1938

Originally posted June 2017

In Jan 1938 wrestler Bob Gregory arrived at New York with his new bride Valerie Brooke the former Princess Baba, said to be heading for their 'Hollywood honeymoon' with a plan to launch a film career for Gregory.

The whole story has similarities to the 'wrestling world' even if Gregory had not been a wrestler.

Gregory, an English light-heavyweight had married the daughter of Sir Charles Vyner Brooke, the white Rajah of Sarawak- of Borneo. The trip also marked the introduction of Gregory to his brides mother the Rani of Sarawak who claimed to be pleased of the nuptials although Gregory's manager said that it took 2 hours to persuade her to meet her new son-in-law.

Although her mother had previously expressed displeasure she now denied any problem on her part by proclaiming 'There was no opposition on my part, or my husbands to this marriage. Bob is so good looking he looks more like a boxer than one of these gorilla wrestlers. He should have taken up boxing.' 

The year previous when they had been married the Star covered it and quoted the princess's father as saying they wouldn't like him 'even if he was a good wrestler.'

Upon departure in New York, when the bride was asked about the then 26 year old Gregorys' wrestling career continuing, she replied with a quick 'No.'

On Feb 14 they arrived in Montreal via Boston and Gregory would wrestle Les Ryan in the semi-final of a card which had a main of Danno O'Mahoney vs Yvon Robert. Mrs Gregory was to present the championship belt to the winner (Robert) of the big bout.

Their next stop was Toronto for the Feb 17 MLG card with the main to be champ Robert vs Vic Christie with Gregory as special referee for the bout. Robert, who was the World Champ (Montreal) would win the bout and be awarded (again) a new championship belt by the young Mrs Gregory. This title became a Toronto World Title for a short time.

The day after the Toronto bout in the Star, Gregory wrote up his own take of the bout calling it the 'fastest bout I've ever seen.' The bout which had no time limit actually went 1 hr 15 min before Robert used a rolling short-arm scissor to force Christie to submit. 

Joe Perlove wrote the long form results recap and said Robert was presented with a $7,500 belt by the beautiful Princess. Perlove, in his usual manner said he was rather disappointed with Gregory. Not for his refereeing, but with all the stories of his athletic prowess he fully expected Gregory to separate the wrestlers by 'flinging them into the blue seats using only the thumb and index finger of each hand.'

Apart from all of this Gregory had another tie to the Toronto mat scene. He had appeared in a few movies in the UK and one of those the 1937 film 'The Rat' also had one of Gregory's wrestling traveling partners. Our own Whipper Watson, who was doubling for star Anton Walbrook. Watson, of course was wrestling in the UK at the time where he would meet and marry his wife Eileen and bring her back to Canada with him. Our own 'Prince and Princess.'

Gregory would continue to wrestle a bit around the U.S at least up to about 1946 but would never set foot again in a Canadian ring as far as I can see. His pal Whipper would continue to ply his trade in the UK set to return to Toronto rings in 1940.Gregory had also teamed in England with Northland Wrestling stalwart Herb Parks.

They would continue to appear in the local press with one photo of the two lounging at at a California pool said to be planning to buy an island for Gregory to become Rajah. 'What with?' asked the mother of the princess. 

In July 1938 an item had the brides father formally declaring his three daughters were no longer Princesses. Another daughter married a Jazz musician. No wrestler but still...

If you google Gregory and his princess there are some very informative (and entertaining) articles on the two and her family.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Tommy Nelson: 1940 bout list

We looked at 'Tiger' Tommy Nelson previously. This is the 1940 bout list for his medical here in Ontario in Feb 1940. Familiar name Rod Fenton, could it be Billy Stack? Watson not sure if Whip in France. I think the Jan 12 bout at MLG was his only appearance. He was too light for the Gardens but shows up on circuit shows.  He later becomes a promoter for Tunney and ran several towns around the GTA and is sometimes called 'Matchmaker for the Queensbury Club'

Thanks to Brian L, great grandson of Mr Nelson

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Memories of Toronto with Roger Baker; Chuck Conley & the Scufflin Hillbillies

Conley and cousin Alfred with their jug and cow bell
We are very fortunate to have Roger Baker contributing his vast knowledge and memories of Toronto wrestling to this site.  This time, memories of the Scufflin Hillbillies!  

The first time that I met Chuck Conley was in one of the wrestlers locker rooms in MLG. 

He was dressed in bikers digs, leather jacket, boots, jeans and one could over hear him telling another wrestler in the room that he had driven his motorcycle five hundred miles almost non stop to be at the Gardens for a match that was to get underway in half an hour.

This hillbilly biker persona caught my interest, and after introducing myself to him, he agreed to work with me on a story and photo shoot on both himself and current wrestling side kick Cousin Alfred.

Both Conley and Cousin Alfred were staying at The Prince Carlton hotel which was on the south side of Carlton street just East of  MLG. 

We had agreed that I meet them at the hotel the following week 

Jack Tunney was beside me while I took these photos
and we would tape the interview before leaving for the drive to Hamilton where the Hillbillies would be appearing. 

I had brought an old turntable cassette player combo that was very heavy as well as awkward. So when we got ready to leave Conley saw that I was struggling somewhat with the turntable. He grabbed a hold of it and carried it down to their car,  that simple act of helping me out was certainly appreciated.

We did the photo shoot in the Hillbillies dressing room inside the Hamilton Forum. They were nice guy's to work with and it was obvious that they knew a number of goofy poses to strike when the camera was flashing away.

After Conley's match with a grizzled tough Japanese wrestler (Professor Hiro), which he won after launching a series of very high dropkicks, Jack Tunney came into the dressing room and told The Hillbillies that they had to head out from the Forum to their next date over the the border. 

The original plan was that the three of us would head back to the Prince Carlton in Toronto.

Both  wrestlers without hesitation assured me that they would drive me back to Toronto, for that I was much relieved. 

Getting ready for the drive
to the Hamilton Forum
From this point The Hillbilly's would then get back on the QEW and drive to their next booking. For their unselfish act I will always remember these two wrestlers.  

-Regards Roger

Chuck catches Hiro with
a high flying dropkick
Cousin Alfred dings Proffesor Hiro
in Hamilton On. match

The Hillbillies have a swig of butter milk in hotel room

Monday, July 1, 2019

Whippers Beverages

If you hit the Markets or browse on e-bay from time to time you may find some old 'Whipper's Beverages' bottles, caps, or the very rare crates - from the short lived foray by Whipper Watson into the beverage business.

Whip outside MLG
The bottles are highly collectible and can go for hundreds of dollars. They featured a pose of Whipper with his British Empire Title from the mid 1940's on the front while the neck had 'The Champion of Drinks.' The reverse of the bottle featured a wrestling hold illustrated and the name of the hold below it.

There were several different versions showing holds but I'm not sure how many in total.

Whipper went in to the beverage business in early 1948. It was set up through Dominion Beverages and he went in with his brother George who worked for the RCMP  for many years They were evidently very busy as of July 1948 as Whipper was out looking for new digs as they had too much inventory for their current location.

An item at the time also mentioned another venture with George, a cabinet making operation said to be worth 20k, while the Beverages company with 3 trucks said to be worth 40k. 

They were, in the meantime, keeping their overflow at a farm, and Whipper was talking with area storekeepers who were eager for him to make personal appearances to promote the drinks.

They didn't list ingredients back then but it's likely there was a ton of sugar in these, against the healthy living that Whipper promoted throughout his life. They had Cream Soda, Root Beer, Orange, and Lime..

Whipper was busy on all fronts as he was making big money by this time headlining the weekly cards in Toronto. He would also buy into a Kitchen run by his (other) brother Larry which ran out of a plant (same plant?) where they prepared the orders.

Whipper enlisted some friends as Distributors including fellow wrestler Billy Stack who handled his home area around Bowmanville in 1950.

By 1951 it was done
Notice to creditors
Trustee under the Bulk Sales Act to receive purchase monies from the sale of the plant and equipment of Whippers Beverages Ltd 435 Dawes Rd Toronto which have been sold to Seven-Up Ontario and Dominion Dry Ginger Ale Company for distribution among the creditors of Whippers Beverages Limited. 

If you have any info to add please contact me

Thursday, June 27, 2019

MLG Footage 1948 Longson vs Whip

Whip, Phil, Bert, Bill
Thanks to Gary Will who posted this link on the MLW Archives page. Some of a 1948 Longson-Whipper bout from MLG.

Whipper's manager Phil Lawson is there in the opening frames. Ref is 'The Little Flower of Uxbridge' Bert Maxwell. Great find to go along with the 1957 Footage

MLW Archives - Facebook
Not quite as old as the Angel footage ( ed note: here - youtube 1940 footage ), but this is a rare look at Whipper Billy Watson in his prime, wrestling for the National Wrestling Association world title at the Gardens against champion Wild Bill Longson on April 22, 1948.  This drew a reported 11,000. Watson had been the champion the year before. 

The National Wrestling Alliance -- the one that we all came to know (there had been an earlier promotion with that name) -- was formed three months later but it would take almost another year-and-a-half before Tunney joined in late 1949. - Gary Will

Buyout Footage Historic Stock Footage Archive - 1948 Longson vs Whip

*Buyout Footage Historic Stock Footage Archive
-Wrestler Wild Bill Longson Retains Championship
Public Domain Stock Footage Wrestler Wild Bill Longson Retains Championship

Monday, June 24, 2019

1929 Ring Results: Gary Will's TWH

Some of the wrestlers making their Toronto debuts in 1929: Jim Londos, Gus Sonnenberg, Ed Strangler Lewis, Toots Mondt, Stanley Stasiak, and John Katan. All shows were held at Arena Gardens (later known as Mutual Street Arena) and all were promoted by Ivan Mickailoff.

29/05/04 Att: 500 Arena Gardens
Jack Taylor W Jack Rogers (2-0)
Wladek Zbyszko WDec Abe Kaplan, 45:00
Henri Deglane W Karl Oscard, 25:00

29/05/11 Att: 500 Arena Gardens
Jack Taylor W Pat McKay (2-0)
Renato Gardini W George Zaharias
Joe Toots Mondt D Matros Kirilenko, 45:00
Abe Kaplan W Karl Oscard, 19:00

29/05/18 Arena Gardens
Jack Taylor W Ned McCarr (2-0)
Joe Toots Mondt W Tony Rocco, 12:00
Wladek Zbyszko W Nick Volkoff, 15:00
Show is reorganized when wrestlers arrive late due to train troubles

29/05/23 Arena Gardens
Joe Toots Mondt W Ned McCarr (2-0)
Mondt subs for Renato Gardini
Jack Taylor W Wladek Zbyszko
Dan Koloff W Jack Rogers

29/05/30 Arena Gardens
Jack Taylor W Fred Grobmier (2-1)
Joe Toots Mondt WDec Tom Moore
Dan Koloff W Ned McCarr

29/06/06 Arena Gardens
Jim Londos W Tom Moore (2-0)
Fred Grobmier D Sam Rubin (Freddy Meyers), 45:00
Wladek Zbyszko WCOR Pat McKay, 13:00

29/06/13 Arena Gardens
Stanislaus Zbyszko W Fred Grobmier (2-0), 51:30
Jack Taylor WDec Gino Garibaldi, 45:00
Tom Moore WDQ Ned McCarr, 10:00

29/06/20 Arena Gardens
Jack Taylor W Tom Moore (2-0)
Scheduled to be Taylor vs Bill Nelson and Moore vs John Grandovich; Grandovich is prevented from entering Canada
Gino Garibaldi W Ned McCarr, 39:00
Ivan Mickailoff vs Bill Nelson, 30:00
Match is announced as an exhibition and no decision is given; this was promoter Mickailoff's only appearance as a wrestler on his Toronto shows

29/06/27 Arena Gardens
Stanislaus Zbyszko W Ivan Poduboff (2-0), 45:00
Ned McCarr W Fred Grobmier
Jack Taylor vs Yan Sokolsky is cancelled when Sokolosky is said to have been detained at the border

29/07/04 Arena Gardens
Renato Gardini W Frank Altman (2-1)
Jack Taylor D Stanislaus Zbyszko, 45:00
Jim Maloney W Ned McCarr

29/07/11 Arena Gardens
Stanislaus Zbyszko W Bobby Johnson (2-0), 27:40
Jack Taylor W Eugene Lamarque, 25:30
Subs for Frank Altman, who is at the show but has an injured eye
Henri Deglane WDec Ned McCarr, 30:00
Replaces Lamarque

29/07/18 Arena Gardens
Einar Johanneson W Clavio Massimo (2-0), 41:40
Jim Maloney WDec Wladek Zbyszko, 45:00
Jack Taylor WDec Abe Kaplan, 30:00

29/07/25 Arena Gardens
Einar Johanneson W Eugene Lamarque (2-0), 63:30
Jack Taylor D Renato Gardini, 45:00
Stanley Stasiak W Ned McCarr, 19:30
Abe Kaplan W Clavio Massimo, 16:30

29/08/01 Att: 5,000-Arena Gardens
DIAMOND BELT: Wladek Zbyszko W Jim Maloney (2-1), 41:00
Renato Gardini W Ali Hassan, 14:30
Stanley Stasiak WCNC Jack Taylor, 14:00
Taylor breaks his leg

29/08/08 Att: 5,000-Arena Gardens
Renato Gardini WCNC Wladek Zbyszko (1-1)
Stanley Stasiak D Karl Pospeshil, 45:00
Jackie Adams D Alex Kasaboski

29/08/15 Att: 6,000 Arena Gardens
Stanley Stasiak W Renato Gardini (2-1)
Karl Pospeshil W Frank Altman, 28:00
Einar Johanneson W Ali Hassan, 20:00

29/08/22 Att: 5,600 Arena Gardens
Jim Maloney WCNC Stanley Stasiak, 42:30
Renato Gardini W Al Thomas, 14:30
Frank Altman D Abe Kaplan, 30:00
Subs for Ned McCarr

29/08/29 Att: 6,500 Arena Gardens
Jim Maloney WCNC Renato Gardini (0-1)
Stanley Stasiak D Stanislaus Zbyszko, 45:00
Karl Pospeshil W Karl Vogel, 25:00

29/09/05 Arena Gardens
Stanley Stasiak W Jim Maloney (2-1)
Wladek Zbyszko WDec Frank Gaburenko, 45:00
Frank Judson W Ned McCarr, 23:00
Judson subs for Karl Vogel

29/09/12 Arena Gardens
Wladek Zbyszko W Stanley Stasiak (2-1), 38:14
Karl Posposhil W Pat McKay, 15:02
Frank Judson D Frank Gaburenko, 30:00

29/09/26 Arena Gardens
Karl Pospeshil W Einar Johanneson (2-1), 90:00
Jack Milo D Mike Nazarian
Chief War Eagle W Ali Hassan, 15:15
Scheduled bout between Wladek Zbyszko and Karl Vogel is scratched; Vogel said to have been in a train accident; Zbyszko suspended by the athletic commission for not reporting for medical inspection

29/10/03 Arena Gardens
Dan Koloff W Jim Maloney (2-1), 83:00
Koloff subs for Stanislaus Zbyszko
Renato Gardini W Jack Milo, 18:00
Bibber McCoy W Ned McCarr, 9:00

29/10/09 Arena Gardens
Dan Koloff W Stanley Stasiak (2-0), 51:00
Bibber McCoy D Karl Pospeshil, 30:00
Stanislaus Zbyszko D Jim Maloney, 45:00
Subs for Frank Altman

WORLD TITLE: Gus Sonnenberg W Dan Koloff (2-0), 47:00
Stanislaus Zbyszko W George Hills
Karl Pospeshil W Archie Jeannatte
Mike Nazarian W Charles Manugian

29/11/12 Att: 3,500 Arena Gardens
First show of the season
Wladek Zbyszko W George Hills (2-1)
Jack Taylor W Frank Altman, 25:00
Joe DeVito W Cowboy Jack Rogers
Stanley Stasiak was originally booked in Rogers's spot

29/11/25 Arena Gardens
Stanley Stasiak W Jack Taylor (2-1)
Karl Posposhil D George Hills, 45:00
John Katan D Karol Novina, 30:00

29/12/09 Att: 5,000 Arena Gardens
Ed Strangler Lewis W Dan Koloff (2-1), 51:37
George Hills W Joe Varga, 32:30
Count Karol Novina W Charlie Manugian, 10:55

-By Gary Will

MLG Footage - January 17, 1957

Thanks to Jon Boucher  Twitter @jon_boucher who scored a kinescope print reel on e-bay and converted it for all fans to share !

Billy Red Lyons vs Baron Gattoni
Bill & Ed Miller vs Pat Flanagan & Ken Kenneth
Edouard Carpentier vs Steve Stanlee
The tag bout in the middle and the main are not included.

Note from Roger Baker
Thanks for the wonderful wrestling memorabilia that took place at M.L.G. so long ago, I remember all of the participants.

Phil Lisner, refs Bert Maxwell, Cliff Worthy, Bunny Dunlop,and old friend Joe Gollub, how I remember sitting at times with announcer Jerry Hiff at the ring side table, however always keeping my eyes on what was going on and around ring side.

As for the wrestlers on this card, Carpentier, Billy Red Lyons, Baron Gattoni who I saw previously on t.v. from Buffalo, Ed and Bill Miller, Steve Stanlee, our own mule kicking Pat Flanagan.

I may very well have been in attendance for this show not sure, was probably a ticket holding fan, and possibly a year away from becoming a roaming wrestling reporter.

Roger Baker

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Canadian Heavyweight Title Project

We are excited to announce that a book on the history of the Canadian Title as defended in Toronto 1978-1984 is beginning to take shape. It will include both the champs and the bouts as well as the history of the belt alongside some features of the era.

Some friends and fellow fans will be contributing and we would love to feature other fan photos and memories of the Canadian Title and the M-A era here in general. It is turning into a collaborative effort and it would be great to include other fans to help tell the story.

If you would like to contribute in any way to this project please contact me.

Thank you !

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Ron Hutchison: Pain Torture Agony!

Do yourself a favor and order the fantastic new book by Toronto's Ron Hutchison
Pain Torture Agony  Excerpts and available at

Ron is a local legend around here but he will be familiar to all wrestling fans as THE trainer of stars. There were many that would endure his regimens which he dubbed PTA -Pain Torture Agony - the title of his autobiography.

Christian, Edge, Trish Stratus, Gail Kim, Beth Phoenix, Johnny Swinger, Joe E. Legend, and many others passed through Ron's training in Toronto, and the telling of his life as he made his way through the wrestling world is truly a fascinating read.

As a local fan who grew up in Toronto watching the same stars, his tale of fan-to-wrestler is the ultimate wrestling fans dream. He takes you from his days as a fan and into Sully's Gym as he realizes his dream of being a pro wrestler- and wrestling at Maple Leaf Gardens!

It's evident from the first days hounding Powers & Siki to train him that there is no substitute for HEART, hard work, and a desire to succeed. That message is abundant throughout the book.

In addition to the very thorough narrative (almost 200 pages with smaller print) there are a ton of great photos from his personal collection scattered throughout with a full album at the back of the book.

There's lots of great stories. A mix of road and ring and a ton of info around the wrestling scene in the late 80's through the 90's, and beyond. The East Coast tours in particular for this Canadian fan, are both revealing as well as a source of some great road tales.

It's a super interesting look at what goes into training, getting work, running TV, promotion, and arranging shows. The chapters dealing with pro training are a virtual encyclopedia on a side of the sport we rarely see.

I really learned a lot, both about Ron and the inner workings of that era. As it turns out I had missed Ron's pro wrestling debut in Summer 1983 on a McKigney show by one week (tell me it isn't so re: payoff). Did recall his WWF TV bouts early in the WWF years here (covered with some great local recollections), and didn't realize I was at the very first Apocalypse Wrestling card in Scarborough in which he had a hand in (have my own Abdullah connection to that one).

In typical Canadian fashion he downplays the role he played in others successes but there are lots of tributes added in from others. It works very well in the context of the book, lots of positive messages, working back to where it all started -Toronto's iconic Sully's Gym -which is prominent throughout..

It's a very honest and revealing look at pro wrestling as it really was. From defending being a fan in schoolyards, rinks, etc (did that too) to dealing with all the issues that go with wrestling in Ontario, across Canada - and Worldwide (see India!).

Overall a very informative and fun read. I thoroughly enjoyed Ron's story and would recommend it for wrestling fans of all ages. A great book to take to the beach - in any weather.

Well done !

Ron Hutchison is on Twitter at @RonHutchison1
Excerpts and available at

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Whipper and Kiniski: The Feud

By the time Gene Kiniski burst onto the Toronto scene in November 1956 Whipper Watson was well into his 16th year as the reigning king of the ring at Maple Leaf Gardens. Kiniski, billed as a 'footballer of note' made an instant impact on the fans in Toronto. They hated him right away.

Publicity man Frank Ayerst remarked that Kiniski was 'sometimes referred to as Genial Gene, because he smiled once when an opponent was being carried out of the ring.' Adding that he 'is such a rugged ring operator that getting a match with him is gaily alluded to as The Point of No Return.'

1957 with Jersey Joe
He would take out a few of the smaller types early in the cards before suffering his first loss against Shaq Thomas. He actually beat Thomas in a mere 54 seconds but was disqualified when he wouldn't stop assaulting his opponent. He would finish out the year beating another newcomer Billy Red Lyons in December and next show up at MLG on Jan 3 1957.

This time Kiniski would trounce local favorite Pat Flanagan with his 'Prairie Paralyzer' and return to the ring for the main event between Whipper and Buddy Rogers. Kiniski, not known for his quiet demeanor, stepped into the ring before the introductions and challenged Whipper. Rogers backed him up declaring 'Kiniski will pick up the pieces after I've finished with you.'

Kiniski would exit but return to the ring when Whipper captured Rogers in his 'Canuck Commando' and the future looked bleak for the 'Nature Boy'. Kiniski attacked Watson and special ref 'Jersey' Joe Walcott took at swing at big Gene. Pat O'Connor, who had wrestled earlier in the card came to Whipper's rescue but Walcott wasn't sure and took a couple of swings at Pat before going at Kiniski again and then disqualifying Rogers for outside interference.

That would set up a tag bout for the next card with Whipper and O'Connor to face Kiniski and Rogers with Walcott and Bunny Dunlop as referees. The heroes won by dq in front of 14,000 fans when Kiniski took off under the ring a'la Nanjo Singh.

Joe Perlove in his recap the next day opined that 'he (Kiniski) had heard that Nanjo Singh had those nether regions fitted up with a bar and chintzy furniture.'

Perlove went on to describe the 'several hundred customers (that) wanted to make his (Kiniski) crew cut a little shorter. By maybe a foot.' When Kiniski failed to return Walcott gave the win to Watson and O'Connor. Kiniski still had to make his way through the fans to the safety of the dressing room having earned the fans ire previously shown to Nanjo and other enemies of the state - State Whipper.

1957 Jersey Joe again and Hutton outside the fence
That would set the feud in motion with the two going to battle on the next card at MLG and later a wire fence bout (early type cage match). Dick Hutton would side with Kiniski and draw himself into the bouts and team with Kiniski against Whipper and Yukon Eric on a subsequent card as well as interfere in each others bouts.

The Fence match on Jan 24 ended in a wild finish with Kiniski and Hutton going after Whip and ref 'Jersey Joe' who was again part of the action.

A bout at East York Arena between Watson and Hutton the following week led to another incident involving Kiniski. Watson beat Hutton to win the $1000 check that Hutton had been offering to anyone who could beat him within 20 minutes. Whipper would be the first in Toronto to beat Hutton, but after the bout Kiniski jumped in and tore up the check while he and Hutton attacked ref Bunny Dunlop.

This led to Kiniski being given a $500 fine, said to be the steepest penalty handed down at the time. Kiniski was also given a 4 week suspension from Metro Toronto. Commissioner Merv McKenzie also curtailed the license of Tunney to promote at the Arena for 6 months. MLG was not included !

It may have been legit as Tunney didn't return to East York until Oct 1957, though they only used it when the Gardens was not available anyways. Les Lyman and others ran the smaller Arena in that era also.

Genial Gene meanwhile offered this to the fans in response to the outrage over how he treated our fan-favorites. 'Tell them from me to go to hell too ! I'll fight in Maple Leaf Gardens whenever I like. Let those chicken bums stay home if they don't like me.'

Genial Gene orating while on suspension 1957
This was around the same time that Ontario MPP Arthur Child had leveled criticism at the antics of Wrestlers pushing the referee's around and called it a farce. It started a heated battle with debates over the OAC being associated with pro rasslin and involved Whipper and others around the scene. Ref Joe Gollob, no stranger to the rough stuff replied back that 'we don't need a Commission.' Whipper used his diplomacy to smooth things over in the end.

Kiniski meanwhile would show up at MLG in March and take to the ring before the main of The Miller Brothers vs Hard Boiled Haggerty and Hutton. In his usual quiet way Gene announced his suspension was now over and he would be back to destroy Whip.

They would continue through the year both in singles and tag bouts, Whipper with various partners and Kiniski with Hutton. Kiniski would go on to beat O'Connor for our British Empire Title and he would earn a bouts against NWA champ Lou Thesz at the Gardens.

They would do big business here with averages of 10,000 a card. With Whip and Kiniski on top for most of the year Tunney drew over 320,000 over 48 cards in 1957.

The feud would travel around the circuit here with some big bouts in London as well as in Buffalo, and then moving across the country with stops in Winnipeg, Calgary, and Vancouver with the fans following the feud on the CBC shows.

Gene would soon team with Fritz Von Erich to form a formidable tag and continue to battle Whipper and his partners through 1958 while the two would battle in singles bouts and trade the B-E Title into 1959. They would also battle with the Canadian Open Tag Titles at stake in the same time frame, both of them on top of the wrestling world here in Toronto.

The feud would periodically start up again and continue through the 1960's up to 1965.

MLG Photog and writer Roger Baker saw these two in action many times over the years and relates his memories

"Their matches will forever be a bench mark for both the length of time and many dozens of encounters that took place between these two great Canadian wrestlers. The only other feud that Watson had that could compare in number of years and brutality, would have been The Whipper's many grudge encounters with Nanjo Singh.

Kiniski was a very brash, in your face competitor, and he kept himself in excellent physical condition at all times. He belonged to be the headliner that he was, only the top wrestlers of his era could stay with him long enough to make for a good match, and at the same time walk out on their own two feet.

Whipper always gave Kiniski a battle whenever they met. Watson probably body slammed Kiniski at least eight to ten times in every encounter. To see Watson apply this slam was a thing of beauty. He would crotch Kiniski and lift him with his right arm and actually be able to raise him up to where Kiniski was a good foot above the Whipper's head, then Kiniski was slammed to the mat, or the wooden ramp with all of Watson's strength. This move always got the crowd excited, and had Kiniski crawling on his knees in a lot of pain.'

Kiniski employed many wrestling holds to his opponents that were at times crippling. An example would be his knee drop to his opponents upper chest, and sometimes to the exposed throat as well. He often delivered his big boots to their rib cage, this could result in a wrestler having many a recovery for bruised ribs."

Kiniski would have his run with the NWA Title and would defend here a total of 17 times including a 1966 bout against Whip. Their last bout at MLG would come in June 1967 with Kiniski taking on both Whipper and Bulldog Brower in a handicap bout. The NWA title was not at stake as Whipper and Brower, working in tag rules, beat Kiniski in front of 6,200.

Whipper's career ended in 1971 but that would not be the end of the feud. In 1978 Kiniski was set to battle Dino Bravo for the newly created Canadian Heavyweight Title. The night was also deemed 'Whipper Watson Appreciation Night.'

Frank Tunney was to honor Whipper by donating 1$ from each ticket to the Easter Seals 'Timmy Scholarship Fund ' and would acknowledge Whipper for all he had done for the sport and the charity work. Watson would also award the new championship belt to the winner of the bout.

Well, big Gene, still not a quiet guy by any means would start an argument with Whipper earning the wrath of the newer fans who would boo him mercilessly as he lost the bout to the now new champ Bravo. At that point Whip and Gene were at the 22 year mark of the feud.

Kiniski, in later years would talk very highly of Watson and of the money they made with each other, and he would be present at Whipper's funeral in 1990. The feud was finally over.

Photos by Burns and original clips and memories thanks to Roger Baker
For more on the MP's vs Wrestling incident see  1957: The year the Ontario government questioned pro wrestling's validity

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Wayne Bock 1960

There were quite a few ex-Football players that hit it big in Pro Wrestling. Here in Toronto we had regulars Gene Kiniski, Fritz Von Erich, and Angelo Mosca, as well as others like George Wells and Ernie Ladd, and some others that didn't hang around as much.

Gil Mains and Wayne Bock were two that would wrestle while under contract to the Toronto Argonauts of the CFL. Mains in 1955 and Bock in 1960.

This time we will have a look at Wayne Bock, the then 25 year old who stood 6'4 and weighed in at a wrestling ready 257lbs. He came into the city highly touted and with a reputation that preceded him. 

Lou Agase, the Argo's coach who had previously recruited Bock for both Illinois University, the Chicago Cardinals, and now the Argos was a big fan.
'He's an animal' said Agase.'

Toronto Promoter Frank Tunney, as usual, was quick to see the potential in another gridiron star.
   'I recruited Wayne as a wrestler' said Tunney, 'because Gene Kiniski tipped me off. Kiniski said 'he's just about as tough a (deleted) as I am' and this coming from Kiniski is high praise indeed.'

Tunney offered that Bock would wrestle on the Ontario circuit until football practices start and then would give up the bumps and grinds of the ring for the bumps and grinds of the grid.

Bock had previously been under contract to the Ti-Cats back in 1955 but had suddenly left camp and joined the Marines. The then coach of the Ti-Cats had phoned his counterpart in Toronto asking if he had seen his highly touted player who 'had a great camp'.

He played football for the Marines and later signed with the Cardinals and played there briefly  before coming to Toronto.

He already had some experience in the ring having wrestled around the North/Northeast US in 1959 and  early 1960 before arriving in Toronto.

In a Jim Hunt column Bock was asked if he was a villain in the ring. 'I'm not a very nice fellow in the ring or on the football field' he replied.

Coach Agase claimed he had no problem with Bock working the grunt and groan as it would keep him in shape and he was better off wrestling than sitting around gaining weight. Bock was due to report for training on the field as of July 1.

Another pre-bout write up referred to Bock calling himself  'The Beast'
John Yachetti aka 'The Beast' who wrestled here for many years was still 2 years away from his MLG debut at that time.

His first bout was against 'Babyface' Don Jardine (the future 'The Spoiler') and made an instant impression. The recap said the Argo's fans would be happy as was fast for a guy his size and will welcome 'his ugly temper' that he demonstrated in beating Jardine after 11:46 of action.
'The fans don't usually like me very much' added Bock.

His second bout was against Tony Marino with the same result, winning with a top spread after 11 minutes. That would mark the end of his ring tenure.

The Argo's would finish the 1960 season in first place, losing in the Eastern final to the Ottawa Roughriders but Bock was absent, having never played a game in Toronto. For such a highly touted star he only shows to have stats for 4 games for the Cardinals in 1957 (though said to have played over 3 seasons with them), the extent of his pro career.

He was gone by the end of training camp but am unsure if he left or got cut.

There is quite a bit online about him having ties to the criminal underworld in Chicago.

He passed on in 2016 at the age of 82.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Memories of Toronto with Roger Baker; Tex McKenzie

We are very fortunate to have Roger Baker contributing his vast knowledge and memories of Toronto wrestling to this site.  
This time, memories of Tex McKenzie ! 

Tex McKenzie at MLG 

'That Tex he's always got a lot of stories to bend an ear to, me thinks it's mostly his imagination' mused Scottish wrestling star Andy Robin.

Robin was correct on that call. This wrestling photographer spent some time with the happy-go- lucky McKenzie back in the mid 1960's, at this time he was making regular appearances in Toronto's Maple Leaf Gardens.

Big Tex Mckenzie sending out some postcards in Toronto  

Tex was a fan favorite, and  he would enter the ring waving his huge ''Stetson'' cowboy hat to the cheering fans in attendance.

I made a point to introduce myself to the big guy, and as a result Tex and I got along very well, Several times we went to different arenas were he was appearing, and it was the same enthusiastic response that Tex would receive whenever the ring side announcers would introduce the tall smiling wrestler to the crowd.

Chris Tolos braces for a big knee lift. Johnny Barend in background

Now to go back to Andy Robin's comment about Tex always having another story to tell. Yes it was true. McKenzie was an avid sailor, and he could go on for lengthy periods, expounding on his past sailing experience's, as well as other destinations that would follow after he hung up his wrestling boots.

Another of big Tex's pleasures and one that he often would bring up in conversation was his love of fresh seafood, I was driving with Tex from Toronto, to Hamilton On. were he was to appear that night in a six man tag match, he would partner with Andy Robin and Johnny Barend against Bulldog Brower and the Tolos Brothers John and Chris.

Mackenzie rams Chris Tolos in Hamilton Forum match

On the way back to Toronto Tex and myself made plans to go one of Toronto's best seafood restaurants ''The Town and Country Buffet'' this seafood lovers dream was situated on the West side of Jarvis st. just north of Dundas street east.

All you can eat cracked crab was the seafood special, and this feature along with great service were the hallmarks of this great Toronto restaurant.

Regards , Roger

Tex digs into his meal!

Tex and a very sharp dressed Roger Baker dine at the 'Town & Country Buffet' Toronto 

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Whip, Dipaolo....O'Connor, Dipaolo...Lisowski Brothers...Singh, Sharkey....Whip....Fritz, Dempsey, Gollob
Turofsky brothers photos Thanks to Roger Baker 

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Wrestlers and Football Toronto 1933

Over on the MLW Archives Gary Will was talking about Mayes McLain and the other wrestlers that were in the first professional Football team in Toronto back in 1933. The Crosse & Blackwell Chefs.

Led by multi-sportsman (including wrestling) Lionel Conacher and his hockey playing brother Charlie, it also featured wrestlers McLain, Joe Savoldi, Alex Kasaboski, Ernie Zeller, and in practice Al Getzewich (a former Masked Marvel), and Wilbur Smith.

Gary reported that  in October 1933 Toronto lost the first game against Rochester but won the second one with Lionel Conacher leading the way. They drew 13,000 to Maple Leaf Stadium for the inaugural game. Clips are from the days before the games.

There is more info and pics at

Thanks to Gary Will

October 5 1933