We celebrate our 20th year with a new entry in the mapleleafwrestling.com presents series
This one a bit more fun and quick! Over 120 entries and 175+ photos and images in 1-2-4 page format Promoters, lists, venues, stars, builders, direct from Roger, classic matchups, did you know? and more! Featuring photos by Roger Baker 238 pages $10.99 in Canada
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Film Clip Little Beaver Sky Low Low MLG 1962

 'Little Beaver must be the best performer in the business...tremendous!'
Jim Proudfoot Toronto Star, on Beavers Toronto debut May 1955

Little Beaver & Sky Low Low MLG August 1962. 

ADS: Dick Hutton's Toronto Title run

Ads from Dick Hutton's title run for Toronto. He defeated Lou Thesz at Maple Leaf Gardens in November 1957 and defended there nine times. A somewhat forgotten champ but an important part of the history with his $1000 challenge and a big tag team with Kiniski. He also defended on the Ontario circuits (including vs Kiniski in Hamilton and Kasaboski's North Bay) but only Toronto included here.

Ads in order from top all MLG
57/12/05        Dick Hutton W Yukon Eric
58/01/16        Dick Hutton WDQ Whipper Watson
58/01/30        Dick Hutton D Whipper Watson
58/06/26        Dick Hutton W Wild Bill Longson
58/08/14        Dick Hutton WDQ Lou Thesz
58/08/21        Dick Hutton D Lou Thesz
58/09/11        Dick Hutton D Whipper Watson
58/10/30        Dick Hutton WDQ Whipper Watson
58/11/27        Dick Hutton WCOR Hombre Montana  


Classic Toronto clip: Martino Angelo & Pat Flanagan suspended in a cage

Classic Toronto Wrestling: Film from Maple Leaf Gardens Apr 1964. Manager Martino Angelo is suspended above the ring in a cage with Pat Flanagan while his charge The Beast (Yachetti) faces Whipper Watson. This was to keep Angelo from interfering in the bout. Apparently he wasn't not a fan of heights and was having some real issues so they went to the pin and lowered it. 

The aftermath is fun, with Flanagan leaning into his mule kick of the old days. By this point Flanagan was a referee and TV/MLG commentator but still got back into the ring (or cage) to settle a grudge if needed. Referee is Tiger Tasker. From the Classic Toronto Wrestling YouTube channel


Big Anthony's & Tony Parisi

Big Anthony's in Niagara Falls Ontario was a popular spot for many years. Owned by Tony Parisi and family, the restaurant was filled with great photos and nostalgia from Parisi's career, There was even a sitting area roped off like a ring.

I took that in 2006. Quite a poster! 

Parisi had a strong presence in the area since he had moved there in the early 1960s and later opened the Tony Parisi Sports Lounge. He first appeared at Maple Leaf Gardens back in June 1963 and put in a good showing vs Killer Kowalski despite getting the loss. His second bout was against Gene Kiniski before he soon teamed up with Lorenzo Parente in a popular Italian team. Parisi remained a regular on the weekly cards and the busy circuit to 1965, though in other areas he was mostly Antonio Pugliese, Bruno Sammartino's cousin. 

The Italian Connection remained strong as he partnered with Domenic Denucci & Gino Brito in Toronto. When Parisi came back in 1968 teamed with Brito, he was billed as Pugliese (only time as Pugliese here) but didn't stay around long. He was scheduled to be on Dave McKigney's Varsity Arena show in 1971 that went head to head with Tunney but didn't appear. A couple of weeks later he was back in the MLG ring. 

In 1976 he did appear for a rival promotion. George Cannon and his Superstars of wrestling ran at the CNE Coliseum while Tunney moved his 45th Anniversary show up to go head to head. Again no grudges held as Tony was back on the Tunney cards soon thereafter.

Throughout the 1970s Parisi promoted in and around Niagara Falls. Cards at Memorial Arena as well as the Skylon Tower, and at Oakes Park. One card at the Skylon brought in 2,700 fans for a main of Tony vs Waldo Von Erich. Of course in Niagara Tony always won. He also ran the popular wrestling shows at the annual CHIN Picnics in Toronto for many years. 

In late 1977 he took some time off but returned for the exciting Mid Atlantic era. He was still very popular and exciting in the ring. Quick and light on his feet. He would get up on the top rope and lay down like he's sleeping (his opponent was boring him) and other fun stuff. By this time he was mostly in the openers alongside Frankie Laine, The Destroyer (Beyer), Billy Red Lyons, and other skilled veteran types. We were lucky to have some good prelim bouts through this era. He did team with Flair and other stars too, able to keep up with anyone.

With the onset of the M-A affiliation the promotion went back to a circuit, with Parisi handling the Niagara Falls cards. Mostly held on the Monday after the big Sunday MLG card with Flair, Youngblood etc hitting the circuit towns for a couple of dates before heading back south. 
Let the match begin...Apr 1982 MLG -one of my favorite pics

At MLG in April 1982 he took on Ray Stevens, now a good guy after years as 'The Crippler.' They shook hands at the beginning of the bout and had an all scientific type match, one of the best bouts of the era for me. It was a good way to kick off the evening which was also the last time two major titles were defended on the same card. NWA Title (Flair vs Race) and AWA Title (Bockwinkel vs Mosca). 

Parisi passed on in 2000 and the family continued for a time before selling the business. Last time I was by there it was an Indian restaurant. Tony was deservedly inducted into the Niagara Sports Hall of Fame in 2008.

-AC and photos by ...

1980 poster 

Lists: Titles in Toronto 1929-1984

Pro Wrestling a myriad of titles with most every wrestler in the classic era holding a title somewhere sometime. Many used old or fictitious claims. Fred Atkins in his early days in Toronto was Australian champ, Carlos Rocha the Portuguese champ, Emile Dupree the Maritimes champ, and many, many more. For the purpose of this list I just listed those titles that were defended* and officially recognized in Toronto from the start of the weekly cards in 1929 to the end of the NWA days in 1984.

Main pic AWA Title belt in front of the W in NWA at MLG 1982
I took that as Nick Bockwinkel made his last defense here in Apr 1982 vs Angelo Mosca

Toronto's own titles
  • World Title (Toronto)  1938-1939
  • British Empire Title (Toronto)  1941-1967
  • Canadian Open Tag Team Titles (Toronto)  1952-1961
  • International Tag Titles (Toronto)  1961-1977
  • U.S. Title (Toronto)  1962-1973
  • North American Title (Toronto) 1973
  • U.S. Title (Toronto)  1974-1977
  • Canadian Heavyweight Title (Toronto)  1978-1984
  • Canadian TV Title (Toronto)  1982-1984
  • North American Title (Toronto)  1982-1984

  • Canadian Title  1929-1941 pre dates the start of the weekly cards in 1929
  • World Title  1929- 1947  pre dates the start of the weekly cards in 1929
  • NWA (Alliance) World Title  1950-1984
  • Canadian Title (CCWA)  1950-1962
  • Middleweight Title (CCWA) 1951-1961  
  • WWWF/WWF Title  1964-1982
  • Women's World Title  1971-1983
  • NWA Junior Heavyweight Title  1972*
  • North American Title (Big Bear circuit only)  1974-1983
  • U.S. Title (Big Bear circuit only) 1974-1982** 
  • AWA World Title  1977-1982
  • AWA Tag Titles  1977-1979
  • AWA British Empire Heavyweight Title  1978
  • U.S. Title (Mid Atlantic)  1978-1983
  • NWA Tag Titles  1979-1983
  • NWA/Mid Atlantic TV Title  1979-1983
  • International Tag Titles (Japan Stars Tour)  1980
  • World Tag Titles (Detroit) 1980 
  • Mid Atlantic Heavyweight Title  1981-1983
  • Mid Atlantic Tag Titles 1981-1982
  • North American Tag Titles (Big Bear circuit only) 1983
  • Intercontinental Title (WWF)  1983

*Danny Hodge was billed as NWA Jr champion in his one bout at MLG in 1972 but had lost it prior. He won it back the next night in Shreveport, LA.
**Sheik title, same lineage as Tunney/MLG for the most part. Sheik lost it at MLG twice.

There were others defended outside Toronto proper including Kasaboski's titles, the Labatt Tag Trophy, Ontario Tag Titles, and more but not included. 

-AC and photo by...

Baker & Bruno: Two champs in Toronto

Roger Baker's photos from the classic days of Toronto wrestling are all around this site but this time the tables are turned! Thanks to Mike Mastrandrea for sharing this great photo of Roger with Bruno Sammartino in Toronto 2010.
Baker & Bruno: Two Champs in Toronto

The occasion was a reunion dinner with Bruno as the main attraction. Almost 50 years prior Roger had been at ringside snapping pictures of Bruno. That was 1962 and the Italian Strongman was fast gaining fans from MLG to the smaller arenas on the circuit. In July-August of that year Bruno had faced World champion Buddy Rogers in a 3 card series at Maple Leaf Gardens, and it became an integral part of the Toronto history.

Bruno returned in 1964 with his WWWF title and defended here over 25 times through 1976 with Roger taking photos at many of those bouts. In the main photo you can note Bruno is holding some of those photos that Roger brought him and he was chuffed at seeing Roger again. Who wouldn't! 

Bruno vs Waldo 1964, vs Johnny Powers 1965, vs Rogers 1962
All photos at MLG by Roger Baker
After Bruno's initial run he went on to hold the WWWF title through the balance of the 60s while Roger continued as a roving photographer for the big magazines of the day. Bruno sure got his share of magazine covers and so did Roger with photos taken in and around Toronto like the one below in October 1968. In addition to his fine photography skills Roger also wrote some great articles full of history and facts around our favorite Toronto stars. If a mag covered Toronto it was likely Roger's story, seek them out you will enjoy them!

This site wouldn't be the same with Roger and we can say the same about Bruno as far as the Toronto history goes. Thanks to both of these champs for their contributions to the sport we love. 👏

The city's Italian populace has found a major hero in Bruno Sammartino and have been flocking to cheer their countryman. Bruno is a hero in the same mould as the great Rocca is to the Puerto Ricans in New York. Veteran mat officials are together in their view that Bruno Sammartino, if he continues to improve, will be the next World Champ.
Toronto Daily Star 1962 


Some clips from the 3rd Rogers-Bruno bout at the Toronto Classic Wrestling YouTube channel
Special thanks to Mike Mastrandrea, his fine photography can be found online