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 

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Summer Break & New Project !

Taking a bit of a break to work on an exciting new project around the Canadian championship in  Toronto 1978-1984.
We will update that at a future date.

In the meantime we post a lot of nostalgia on Twitter @mapleleafwrest1

On this site we have Gary Will's Toronto Wrestling History
Alongside Roger Baker's Photos
For other stuff just do a search, all the Labels are listed on the right if you scroll down a bit.

For M-A era visit the MLW Archives
Facebook: MLW Archives (public page)
Instagram: MLW Archives
Youtube: MLW Archives

Have a great summer !


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 Collectingcanadianfootball.blogspot.com

Thanks to Gary Will







October 5 1933 

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Niagara Falls Ontario Posters


A great selection of Niagara Falls Posters offered on E-Bay. The one below (GG) from 1953 fetched $462. The others are all from 1953 and 1954.
















Toronto - the Program List


A list of all the Toronto Programs that have been found so far. Lots more out there. If you can add to the list please do.

I also have some Oshawa and other towns but will leave this list for Toronto and Strangleholds. Still, if you have other cities please send. Always great to see more

If you have any of the missing dates from the later years please contact me
There's lots of Programs around the site at tag-   MLW.com: Programs
_______________________________________________________

1929 ? Arena Gardens generic

1930 Jul 10 Arena Gardens Siki vs Komar

1933 Apr 20 Savoldi vs Stein
1933 Aug 24 Savoldi vs Kirelenko
1933 Sept 28 Zarynoff vs Dusek
1933 Oct 10 Sonnenburg vs Stasiak

1935 Aug 8 O'Mahoney vs Browning

1940 May 2 Longson vs Johnson
1940 Jul 24 Watson vs Kenneth

1941 Apr 17 Masked Wolf vs Sammy Stein

1947 May/June? Thesz cover
1947 ? Mike Sharpe cover
1947 Dec 11 Watson/Flanagan vs Hi Lee/Marvel
1948 May 13 Watson vs Singh

1949 Sept 22 Watson/Flanagan vs Atkins/Henry

1952 Aug 21 Tag Team Tourney

1955 Feb 10 Kalmikoffs vs Mills Brothers
1955 Jun 9 Watson vs McLarity

1957 Aug 15 Watson/Eric vs Miller Bros
1957 Sept 5 Watson/O'Connor vs Kiniski/Von Erich

1961 Aug 24 Brower vs Layton
1961 Sept 7 Watson vs Brower

1963 May 9 Lorenzo Parente vs Killer Kowalski
1963 May 16 Valentine vs Watson
1963 May 23 Thesz vs Brower
1963 Jun 13 Brower vs Beast
1963 Jul 18 Valentine vs Watson
1963 Aug 1 Valentine vs Henning
1963 Aug 29 Valentine vs Thomas

1964 Jan 9 Watson vs Kiniski
1964 Feb 13 Baba/Atkins vs Watson/Valentine
1964 Feb 27 Bruno vs Brower
1964 May 6 Valentine vs Mighty Hercules
1964 Jul 23 Hiro vs Valentine
1964 Aug 6 Hiro vs Valentine
1964 Aug 27 Valentine vs Hiro
1964 Sep 3 Hiro vs Valentine
1964 Sep 10 Hillbillies vs Brower/Beast
1964 Oct 22 Valentine vs Hiro
1964 Dec 17 Hiro vs Watson

1965 Jan 17 Valentine vs Sheik
1965 Mar 7 Watson vs Kiniski
1965 Mar 18 Powers vs Siki
1965 Mar 28 Valentine/Watson vs Kiniski/Von Erich
1965 Apr 4 Brower vs Sammartino
1965 Jun 17 Watson vs Powers
1965 Sept 2 Watson vs Kiniski
1965 Sep 9 Watson vs Hiro

1977 Summer July generic Andre on cover

1978-1979 - Nothing found

Not known if printed
1980 Jun 15 (POSSIBLY 1ST STRANGLEHOLD)
1980 Jun 29
1980 Jul 20
1980 Aug 10
1980 Aug 24
1980 Sept 6
1980 Sept 27
Everything below accounted for EXCEPT for MISSSING dates
1980 Oct 19 - Oldest found after 1977 - says #8
1980 Nov 2
1980 Nov 16
MISSING 1980 Dec 7
MISSING 1980 Dec 28
MISSING 1981 Jan 11
MISSING 1981 Feb 1
1981 Feb 22
1981 Mar 8
1981 Mar 29
1981 Apr 12
1981 May 3
1981 May 24
MISSING 1981 Jun 14
1981 Jun 28
1981 Jul 12
1981 Jul 26
1981 Aug 9
1981 Aug 30
1981 Sept 20
MISSING 1981 Oct 4
MISSING 1981 Oct 18
MISSING 1981 Nov 1
1981 Nov 15
1981 Nov 30
1981 Dec 27
1982 Jan 17
1982 Jan 31 (issued-cancelled Caddy Tourny)
1982 Feb 21
1982 Mar 7 (issued-rescheduled Caddy Tourny)
1982 Mar 21
1982 Apr 4
1982 Apr 25
1982 May 16
1982 Jun 6
1982 Jun 27
1982 Jul 11
1982 Jul 25
1982 Aug 8
1982 Aug 22
1982 Oct 3
1982 Oct 17
1982 Oct 31
1982 Dec 12
1982 Dec 26
1983 Jan 9
1983 Jan 23
1983 Feb 20
1983 Mar 6
1983 Mar 27
1983 Apr 10
1983 May 15
1983 May 29
1983 Jun 12
1983 Jul 10
1983 Jul 24
1983 Aug 7
1983 Aug 28
1983 Sept 18
1983 Oct 16
1983 Oct 30
1983 Nov 13
1983 Dec 4
1983 Dec 26
1984 Jan 8
1984 Jan 22
1984 Feb 12
1984 Apr 1
1984 Apr 15
1984 Apr 29
1984 May 13
1984 May 27
1984 Jun 10
1984 Jun 24
NON-MAPLE LEAF GARDENS STRANGLEHOLD PROGRAMS:
1983 Nov 30 KITCHENER
1984 May 14, ST. CATHERINES
1984 May 15 GENERIC (LOCATION UNKNOWN)

North American Heavyweight Title: Title Histories

North American Heavyweight Title: Big Bear - Ontario


Archie Gouldie1974/05
Holds Calgary version, also billed as champion in London, ON.
Luis Martinez1974/05/29?London, ON?
Archie Gouldie [2]1974/06/09Sarnia, ON
Vic Rossatani1974/07 //
Sometime after 74/06/26.
Archie Gouldie [3]1974/07/10?London, ON?
Bobo Brazil1974/08/21?London, ON?
Still champion as of 74/10/13.
[...]
Stan Stasiak1974/12/21 //
[...]
Tony Parisi1975/07/25 //
Billed as champion at start of season; still champion as of 75/08/22
[...]
Waldo Won Erich1976/05
Billed as champion at start of season.
Billy Red Lyons1976
Chris Colt1976/08/17Simcoe, ON
Billy Red Lyons [2]1976/08/24Simcoe, ON
[...]
Geeto Mongol1977/06/15 //
Billed as champion at start of season; inactive until 82
[...]
Whipper Watson Jr.1982/07
Billed as champion at start of season.
Chris Colt [2]1982/07/04Scarborough, ON
Canadian Wildman (Dave McKigney)1982/07
Chris Colt [3]1982/08/01Scarborough, ON
Whipper Watson Jr. [2]1982/08
[...]
Chris Colt [4]1983/08
Billed as champion after the start of season.
Johnny Valiant1983/08Cornwall, ON
Title inactive 

Monday, April 29, 2019

Smiling John: The forgotten Tunney: Gary Will's TWH

Smiling John: The forgotten Tunney


Frank Tunney was Toronto's greatest wrestling promoter and one of the most successful and respected promoters in the world.

But if it hadn't been for a fluke illness, he may never have had the chance to rise to that level. When Tunney took over the wrestling operations of the Queensbury Athletic Club -- the main Toronto booking office -- from Jack Corcoran in 1939, he was the junior member of the new promoting team. The head matchmaker was his older brother, John Tunney.

It isn't clear exactly when the Tunneys started to work for Corcoran. Frank would say in later interviews that he was working in the office as a teenager at the time of the first Maple Leaf Gardens show in 1931. A story in the Star at the time said the Tunneys became involved in 1933. But whatever the date was, John and Frank spent years helping Corcoran behind the scenes.

Corcoran was reported to have caught pneumonia in March 1939, and Toots Mondt -- who was or had been a partner in the Toronto office (more about that another time) -- came up to run the Gardens show on March 16, which featured a world title bout between Jim Londos and local star Vic Christie.

 The following week, it was announced that John Tunney had become the head matchmaker. Attendance through the rest of 1939 averaged 3,000-4,000 per show, and John brought in Wild Bill Longson (an immediate hit), Bronko Nagurski, Frank Sexton, and Lou Thesz for their Toronto debuts in the fall of that year.

According to the attendance figures in the Globe, John Tunney's biggest show was on Thursday January 12, 1940. The main event was Longson vs Jumping Joe Savoldi with Gus Sonnenberg on the undercard. It drew 6,000. It would also be John's final show at the Gardens.

He started feeling sick the next day, but -- against the advice of friends -- decided to work through what seemed to be a bad cold. On Monday, he made the drive to Ottawa to oversee a show there. "Upon his return, he was ordered to bed by the family physician and his condition was not considered even remotely serious," reported the Globe.

Tunney remained at home -- his house was near Danforth and Woodbine -- but things took a sharp turn for the worse on Thursdsay, the day of his next scheduled Gardens show. He died early that morning at age 32. The Star said it was influenza and the Globe added that he had suffered a heart attack. The Gardens show that night was cancelled.

"The entire sports community is prostrated by this blow which took away one of its youngest, most pleasant and most promising promoters," wrote the Star.

Tunney's wife had given birth two weeks earlier to their fourth child and was herself in the hospital suffering from complications. Among the couple's other three children was their oldest son, Jackie.

John Tunney was buried at Mount Hope Cemetery. Frank immediately became Toronto's head promoter. John's son, Jack Tunney, would go on to work for his uncle Frank starting in the early 1950s and took over the business with Frank's son Eddie Tunney after Frank's death in 1983.

-by Gary Will


Sunday, April 28, 2019

Make Believe Gardens Classic Matchup: Bravo vs Valentine 1979


We are back to visit Barry Hatchet's fine Make Believe Gardens for a classic bout from 1979. Dino Bravo and Greg 'Hammer' Valentine had some great bouts in Toronto over our Canadian Heavyweight Title. This could be any one of 3 where Bravo was champ at introductions. Valentine would eventually beat Bravo for the title in April but would lose it back in June.

Bravo had recently turned back the challenge of Ric Flair and had tagged with Ricky Steamboat against the team of Flair and Valentine before starting this series.

Both Valentine and Bravo's careers had a lot of parallels. Singles titles (but not the big one), great tag teams - and titles, and a similar style. Valentine, while not as popular as Flair was becoming, was still a 'favorite heel' for many, and Bravo was at the height of his popularity here. Their bouts at MLG were tough and scientific and bloody all at the same time.

Thanks again to Barry "Kicking ass is my business...and business is good!" Hatchet for this classic bout !







The Fabulous Kangaroos at CHCH TV Taping: Classic Photo



Another fabulous Roger Baker photo of Lord Layton interviewing the Fabulous Kangaroos in Hamilton early 1970's.  Al Costello is talking while new partner Don Kent looks on. Layton as usual impeccably dressed, likely by George Richards Big and Tall.


Thursday, April 25, 2019

Masked Men in Toronto - Part 1

1938
Masked wrestlers have been around since the beginning of pro wrestling and Toronto had it's fair share of them (plus a couple of masked managers) over the years.

Sometimes the fans knew or had a good idea who was under the mask. In Toronto more often than not the fans would find out after they had lost their masks in the ring at Maple Leaf Gardens.

We will take a general look at some of the masked wrestlers who were unmasked - and some that weren't - and the men who unmasked them over the 50 years. Not a definitive listing as there were likely 100's of different masked persona's around the region.
_______________________________________________________

One of the first of note to be unmasked was 'The Unknown' in 1936. Billed as a 'masked mystery man of the sport' he would lose his mask to reveal Jim McMillen. Hal Rumberg unmasked McMillen who was a noted ex footballer that played for the Bears before a successful wrestling career

The 'Masked Marvel' is probably one of the earliest and plentiful masked gimmicks. We had a few at different times both at Maple Leaf Gardens and the many towns on the circuits around Ontario.

Whipper trying to unmask Marvel 1949
Jack Dempsey looks on 
First on the scene in 1932 a Masked Marvel was said to be a different person than the one who had been unmasked in New York as Mike Romano. Promoter Jack Corcoran claimed ours was a 24 year old youngster who did not want to reveal his identity until 'he makes good.'

He never did (reveal his identity) but it was said to be Al Getzewich/Al Getz who was unmasked later that year in Ottawa by Ed 'Strangler' Lewis. Getzewich was born in 1907 making him around 24 years old in 1932 and wrestled around the area under his own name in the early 1940's.
            
Another Marvel in 1938 was our World Champion (Toronto version) for a time. He lost the title and was unmasked to uncover Ted Cox. Also known as 'King Kong' Cox he would wrestle as the Masked Marvel in other areas and lose the mask several times in other cities.

Cox was unmasked here by Mayes McClain. Mayes was another ex footballer who turned to wrestling and had a long and successful career across North America. Mayes held the World title for a couple of months before losing it back to Cox, who may be the only man to hold a World Title both masked and unmasked.

At the time of Marvel/Cox in 1938 promoter Jack Corcoran entered a dog in the Toronto Star's 'Dog Derby. 'The Masked Marvel II' with a photo in the paper of a masked dog and his 'Masked Manager' presumed to be Corcoran with his ever present pipe in his mouth. The dog had his own pipe.

Cox had his own 'Masked Manager' as well. In a rematch with McClain after losing the title the manager was to unmask if Cox had lost to McClain. The Masked Manager routine would resurface later.

In 1949 our British Empire champion Whipper Watson would meet another Marvel in a series and eventually unmask him to reveal Lew Reynheer. The bout had been advertised as a with a clause that Whipper would retire if he lost. Former World champ Strangler Lewis was the special referee for the unmasking bout. Jack Dempsey had refereed an earlier bout which is pictured here.

When Whipper unmasked Lew, he was said to be the 'original' Masked Marvel, obviously not the first Marvel to appear here and he would not be the last.

By 1951 another Marvel was on the scene (sometimes billed as 'The Mask/Mask') and he also had a 'Masked Manager.' They would have an all masked series with another masked man 'The Zebra.'

The Masked Manager would lose his mask to Watson who beat him in Feb 1951 to reveal non other than -Mayes McClain. It went full circle since the 1930's with McClain now being the unmasked. McClain would hang around for a bit as the 'Unmasked Manager.'

Thesz stares down Hefner after unmasking him
Ref 'Bunny' Dunlop looks on  
Soon it was Marvel's turn and it would be the masked Zebra that would claim the mask revealing 'Shoulders' Lou Newman. 'Shoulders' also worked as a masked Mr X elsewhere in his career.

The Zebra, sometimes billed as 'Zebra Kid'  would get his due when he faced Whipper in a feud that would see Whipper collect another mask. Boxing champ Jack Dempsey served as a special referee and would help Watson forcibly remove the mask after a double count-out at MLG. Under that one was George Bollas who would hang around a bit as 'George Bollas' or sometimes 'the unmasked Zebra.'

Bollas was famous all over the wrestling world both here and overseas as the Zebra/Zebra Kid. In late 1951 after being unmasked he attempted to re-don the mask for a bout in Niagara Falls but was ordered by promoter Sam Sobel to remove it before wrestling.

In those years there were a bunch of other masked wrestlers, some who got unmasked, among them Red Shadow (Leo Numa), Masked Wolf (John Grandovich), The Czar (Dick Lever), The Mummy (Pedro Martinez), and the simple Mr X (none other than Earl McCready). Both the Mummy and Mr X were actually unmasked by the masked Marvel/Lew Reynheer.

Yet another Masked Marvel came along in 1952 and was unmasked to reveal Frank Valois. The man who unmasked him? Another masked wrestler named Red Mask.                 

By 1953 there were several Red Mask's active both on the major MLG circuit and on the smaller independent shows in and around Toronto. The MLG one got a shot at NWA champ Lou Thesz who unmasked him to reveal Dutch Hefner. There was even a Red Mask on the small auto racing circuit here taking advantage of the Red Mask angles on the various shows at the time.

Others active on the circuit from the 1930's to the 1950's included Purple Mask (said to be 'Wild' Bill Longson) , The Red Demon (unmasked in Oshawa in 1947 as 'Red' O'Malley), another Unknown (unmasked in Oshawa in 1950 as Hamiltonian Abe Zvonkin), Red Devil, The Hooded Mask, more Masked Marvels, and several Mr X's .

In 1955 a Mr X was wrestling in Red Garner's Richmond Hill/Thornhill (just North of Toronto) based CCWA. One bout offered the fans a chance to predict who was under the mask (if he lost) to win $10 and a season pass to the wrestling events held at the Thornhill Market that year. He kept it but lost it in a later bout to reveal Harry Szaley.

Pat Flanagan vs The Zebra
in Oshawa 1951
The Great Bolo was another that saw action in many areas. We had one in 1959 unmasked by Whipper Watson to reveal Al Lovelock. The most well known of the 'Bolo's' Lovelock would work the  gimmick all over the territories during his career. There were other Bolo's around the region too in that era.

Whipper made a career out of collecting masks. In addition to the ones already mentioned he would continue to add to the collection right into the 1960's. We will look at those and others up to the 1980's in Part 2 of our look at masked men in Toronto.
.

Thanks to Roger Baker and Gary Will
See also Gary Will's TWH: Unmasked! -- Wrestlers who lost their masks in Toronto

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Our favorite classic wrestling website! Spend some time over there -you will love it !

A recent Toronto related post ....
The Mid-Atlantic Gateway: Blooper from Toronto!

Other Toronto related on The Mid Atlantic Gateway
The Mid-Atlantic Gateway: Toronto

Main Site
The Mid-Atlantic Gateway




Thursday, April 18, 2019

Memories of Toronto with Roger Baker; Remembering the Miller Brothers

We are very fortunate to have Roger Baker contributing his vast knowledge and memories of Toronto wrestling to this site. 
This time, the MIller Brothers and Chis Colt ! 

It would be mid 1972 this reporter was in one of the wrestlers dressing rooms at MLG it was on this occasion that I had the opportunity to meet both Bill and Dan Miller. Bill was sharing the room that he was in with Hans Schmidt, and the wild man of the Pampas Pampero Firpo. 

Miller and I were sharing some recent wrestling coverage in some of the wrestling mags, and he showed me that he had a keen sense of humor. I mentioned that I was doing a story on The Fabulous Kangaroos, and now found myself in a situation where the team had split up. As a result All Costello had just taken on a new partner in Don Kent. I told Miller that all the work that I had put into doing the original story was now dead in the water. Miller gave me a big smile and said that all I had to do was just write half of a new story and that would solve my problem.

Bill Miller with Hans Scmidt and Pampero Firpo
Chris Colt and Danny Miller

Danny and Bill Miller enjoy dinner at Bassels restaurant

I had the opportunity to visit another locker room and met Danny Miller and Chris Colt as well. Danny invited me to join both older brother Bill and himself for something to eat at Bassels restaurant which was just a couple of blocks south from Church  and Carlton.This famous eatery was a mainstay at Yonge and Gerrard for many years, and was very popular with the wrestlers that appeared at MLG.


The Millers boot hapless opponents at MLG. Ref is George Kanelis

Having met Chris Colt payed off with an invite to spend a weekend with both himself and Ron Dupree a month later in Omaha Nebraska where they would be wrestling as two wild biker types. As it later turned out this would prove to be the best wrestling layout that I had ever done.

Regards Roger