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