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.

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

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 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

Monday, April 8, 2019

Ric Flair 1983: Audio Snippet

With NWA champion Ric Flair paying tribute to Frank Tunney shortly after his death in May 1983. Flair, one of the best on the mic ever is reserved and serious as he promotes the upcoming  show..

Monday, April 1, 2019

Memories of Toronto with Roger Baker : Don Leo

We are very fortunate to have Roger Baker contributing his vast knowledge and memories of Toronto wrestling to this site. 
This time, collecting photos and meeting Don Leo!

Don Leo vs Whipper 1960 

Having been a wrestling fan since the age of 12, I always was thrilled to come into the possession of wrestling photos, be they action or posed.

While on this subject, for the past prior years I'd been buying wonderful wrestling action 8/10 photos from two wonderful sources, Michael Burns, and Nat Turofsky, the premier sports photographers of professional wrestling at MLG. As a result I had built a good selection of wrestling photos.

I remember this day so well, it was in the year 1961, I had been downtown on King St. visiting Turofsky's establishment to pick up my latest batch of photos. They were very accommodating to me, and I felt privileged to be left alone with their negative files to pick and choose what I wanted them to print for me.

About an hour later I was parked in the St. Clair and Bathurst  area. I was driving a very compact Bedford van, my newly purchased photos right beside me, I happened to glance to my right and almost did a double take,who do I see, none other than one of the top wrestlers appearing at MLG at this time ''Don Leo Jonathon.''

I yelled and waved, and caught the big mans eye, I motioned for him to climb into the van, that I had something to show him, the big man had to hunch over in the van as the cab was so tight. I remember telling Don Leo I just picked up a number of wrestling photos that were taken at  MLG. and that he will get a surprise when he looks them over, he was downright pleased when he saw that several of the photos were of himself battling with the Whipper.

We had a great conversation, and he was very obliging in answering many of my questions, I asked him how he was able to balance himself on the top ropes of the ring and walk the length while dragging his opponent by the hand, his answer was that he was blessed with good strength and balance. And speaking of strength, I saw Don Leo body slam Eric Pomeroy, better remembered as Stanley Pulaski 15 consecutive times on a ring in Buffalo N.Y.

We both had places to go, and things to do, I let him know how pleased I was to have met him personally, and we shook hands,and he told me that he appreciated having the opportunity to see those great photos that I had with me.