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.