Monday, September 30, 2019

New Book 'The Canadian Heavyweight Title: The Complete History 1978-1984'

Maple Leaf presents with design and layout by Dick Bourne of the Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Available now at the Mid Atlantic Gateway - Bookstore 

The Canadian Heavyweight Title - The Complete History 1978-1984
In 1978 as the Toronto territory was taking off with the young stars of Mid-Atlantic wrestling, promoter Frank Tunney introduced a local championship. That title, the first true local title in many years, was called the Canadian Heavyweight Title to be defended by the top star in Maple Leaf Wrestling.

The title drew from the earlier days of wrestling when the top Canadian wrestler would defend his laurels across the country and occasionally -the world.  From 1978 to 1984 the Canadian title would be defended in Toronto and the circuit towns– and around North America on occasion.

During those years locally known as ‘the Mid-Atlantic era’, the area was one of the most exciting and important territories in the wrestling world.  Frank was a long-time member of the NWA and was close to many of the major promoters including Vince McMahon Sr. (WWWF/WWF), Verne Gagne (AWA) and Jim Crockett Jr. (JCP)

Those relationships would ensure a steady diet of World champions and champions of different territories defending their titles in Toronto. Our Canadian championship would share the stage with those titles, our champions displaying their skills against the best in the world.

In this book we will take a look back at the emergence of the Canadian Title in Toronto. We will feature the champions and challengers. Dino Bravo, Greg Valentine, Dewey Robertson, Hossein the Arab, Angelo Mosca Sr. & Jr. Big John Studd, and more.

Join us as we go down memory lane and revisit the big cards, the tournaments, the beautiful title belt, and many other memorable slices of Maple Leaf Wrestling from 1978-1984.

Proud to be in the lineup! Check out all of Dick Bourne's fabulous books at

Friday, September 20, 2019

Memories of Toronto with Roger Baker: Sam Steamboat

Roger Baker sends along a great photo he took of Sam Steamboat being helped out at Maple Leaf Gardens in 1962. We were lucky to see his namesake Ricky Steamboat here during the Mid-Atlantic era and as Roger relates Sam was quite a wrestler too.

'Back in the late 50's early '60's a very popular Hawaiian wrestler made regular appearances at MLG. The fans recognized the exciting wrestling skills that were possessed by this newcomer to the Toronto scene.

Samual K. Mokuahi better known as Sam Steamboat was an American Professional wrestler whose career extended from the 1950's through to the 1970's

Steamboat wrestled mid card in Toronto in the early sixties and the fans who enjoyed his wrestling style had good reason, Steamboat was discovered and trained by the great Lou Thesz 

Steamboat patterned his wrestling style closely to that of Thesz, and to see him launch the Lou Thesz press was a visual treat.'


Steamboat is being helped by tag partner Jim Hady and long time Ref Cliff Worthy. Bert Maxwell looks on.

Thanks Roger!

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Verne Gagne & Reggie Lisowski photo 1952

This great photo was posted on twitter recently by Verne Gagne and Reggie Lisowski with ref Pete Minnow. Taken in Binghamton, NY at the Masonic Lodge-Kalurah Temple in 1952.

Both Gagne and Lisowski made impacts on the local scene in Ontario which at times mirrored the action in Buffalo and other spots in upstate NY. Both Buffalo promoters Ed Don George and later Pedro Martinez had wrestled for Frank Tunney early in their careers so many of the Toronto wrestlers were stars on both sides.
Reggie and Stan face off with Jersey Joe Walcott MLG 1958

Reggie Lisowski made his name here as half of the Lisowski brothers tag team in the mid 1950s. Reggie was teamed with Ontario native Stan Holek who came in first as Stan Nielson then became Stanley Lisowski.

They would later win our Canadian Open Tag Titles (Trophy) and as was more prevalent back then they would battle both the good guys and the heel teams of the day.

In addition to facing Whipper and his various partners at MLG and around the circuit they would engage in tough bouts with some of the 'brother' teams from the 'other side.' The Miller brothers Bill and Ed, the Great Togo and 'brother' Tosh, Ivan and Karol Kalmikoff, and Doc and Mike Gallagher.

Reggie on his own would face NWA World champ Dick Hutton in Niagara Falls, ON in August 1958.

Toronto 1958
Stanley would stick around but Reggie would depart the area in 1959 and go on to great success as the cigar smoking beer crushing 'The Crusher.'

He would return to Toronto in 1978 during the AWA era while Tunney was using AWA stars after Tunney and The Sheik had departed ways.

Of course the AWA was run by Verne Gagne who would also appear here 1977-1978 alongside his son Greg, Jim Brunzell, Nick Bockwinkel, and other stars of the AWA -including The Crusher.

As big as a star Verne was in the 1950's he didn't appear here too often in the earlier era. While he appeared in Fort William, ON (now Thunder Bay) in 1956-1957 he  only made it to Toronto twice in 1958. As in the photo above he did appear regularly in Buffalo and across upstate NY at that time.

In 1958 in Toronto Gagne came highly touted in the press. He would face Karl Kulaski in Oct 1958 and a couple of weeks later would take on Al Alberto.

When he returned to Toronto in 1978 he faced El Santos (Canadian based gimmick), Bobby Duncum, Zimba Kahn, Super Destroyer (Jardine?), and Lord Alfred Hayes. He would also team with Greg against Duncum and Blackjack Lanza.

Verne later promoted several cards in Ottawa, ON (1980) in tandem with Ray Boucher in a similar setup that he and Tunney had.The cards in mid 1980 featured Canadian champion Dino Bravo who had departed Tunney not long before. Bravo was actually barred from wrestling in Ontario and missed the first card. We will have more on that story in the upcoming Canadian Title book.

Thanks to the photo and all of the great NY stuff he has posted.