Thursday, March 28, 2019

Memories of Toronto with Roger Baker : Fishing with Victor Rivera

We are very fortunate to have Roger Baker contributing his vast knowledge and memories of Toronto wrestling to this site. This time, fishing on Simcoe with Victor Rivera!

It was back in the mid sixties that a young Puerto Rican wrestler made his appearance at MLG. He had an easy to remember name- Victor Rivera- and his in ring skills as well as his impressive muscularity caught my attention.

I made a point to meet up with the wrestler and we hit it off well, it was the summer time and I was planing to go fishing on the week end, and asked him if he would like to come along and test his skills insofar as hooking a pike or a bass from Lake Simcoe.

Warming up for a day of fishing !

He was eager to go. He was staying at a three story walk-up on the third floor on Parliament St. about fifteen blocks east of the Gardens. We made plans that I would pick him up the following Saturday at 8am. He was out side waiting when I got there and we left to arrive at a pre-determined marina on Cook's Bay which is at the south end of Lake Simcoe.

The marina that we were going to launch from was owned by several brothers, and one of the brothers kept staring at Rivera, and then at myself. After a few minutes of  the stares he said to me 'Hey, your buddy looks like like Jeff, and you look like Mutt,' I had to admit he was right.

The day turned out to a very enjoyable experience for us both, and wouldn't you know it , the novice ''Rivera'' catches a pike, and I got skunked.

The rookie snags one! 

Fast forward about six years, I'm at Buffalo's War Memorial Auditorium on assignment to do a story on Abdullah The Butcher. I walk into one of the wrestlers dressing rooms and who do I see? It was none other than Bruno Sammartino, Domenic Denucci, Louis Martinez, and Victor Rivera. The wrestlers all had smiles on their faces as did this wrestling reporter. I yelled 'Victor, the fish, the fish, you remember us and only you caught a fish,' he was all smiles, and this impromptu meeting was the highlight of my trip to Buffalo that day.

As an after thought I heard that the photo of Rivera with the fish was published in wrestling programs in the Boston Mass. arena.
*note, pic was used in a Ring mag also , at bottom of post

Battling Abdullah in Buffalo

Ron Martinez and the ref attempt to separate the two during the Buffalo bout

Victor Rivera's wrestling career was very successful and he went on to win many titles in the following years including

The NWA Americas Heavyweight title 5 times
The WWW world tag championship with Dominic Denucci
He held the WWW  Los Angeles tag title with Tony Marino
As well the WWW International tag title also with Tony Marino
- Roger

-Thanks Roger ! 

Roger's photo used in a 1969 Ring Mag