1981 MLG film footage going up at Louis Laurence's YouTube channel
Celebrating 19 years 2003-2022

2022 James C. Melby Award
An event right up our alley! 
Vendors, Collectors, and fans unite in Ottawa July 17 2022
Enjoy some Brower vs Bruno MLG May 17 1962
Re-match from the previous week, special ref Pat Flanagan in to try to keep the peace.
 Doesn't quite go that way!

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We added a mobile version of the site. Doesn't format great but can now browse on your phone.
Stay tuned for some new stuff and another in the Presents series...
Have a great summer! AC

Slaughter and that US title July 1982


Continuing with '40 years ago.....'  Previously posted  
Our pal Griff and his partner in crime Barry Hatchet have tracked down some great MLW photos over the years. Fan collections, pro shots, one offs...

George Wilkinson was a fan who shot some photos that appeared in Terry Justice's terrific bulletins of the late 70s early 80s. Toronto classics including Backlund vs Flair, and hometown hero Dewey Robertson challenging Harley Race for the world title. 

A few of George's pics from the July 11 1982 card have been rescued and shared on the MLW Archives FB page. Always great to see some photos from shows I was at and didn't take photos. These three really caught my eye. Sgt. Slaughter, the then U.S. champ was to face Wahoo McDaniel after a non-title bout on the previous card (Wahoo had pinned Sarge). 

'Their last match here was to have been a United States Title match, but the ever shrewd Slaughter pointed out that the contract called for McDaniel to defend the title against him and as Slaughter had already regained the title he was not obligated to defend the title. 

Promoter Frank Tunney was powerless to have Slaughter defend on the last card, which was most unfortunate as McDaniel went on to pin Slaughter in the non-title clash. 

Seeing that McDaniel was most deserving of a rematch Promoter Tunney and the National Wrestling Alliance forced Slaughter to give McDaniel a rematch right here in Toronto, but this time the title will indeed be at stake.'
Stranglehold Program July 11 1982
As you can see in the photos Slaughter is wearing the 'other' U.S. title belt.  

I didn't know too much about this belt, I barely remembered it though I am sitting just a few rows from the edge of the ring and had been at the previous non-title bout (did Sarge have the belt with him?). The U.S. shaped belts were the most prominent, on a red or black strap. I learned more about this 'Southern Style' belt in Dick Bourne's excellent 'Jim Crockett Promotions United States Championship.'  This belt was in use from Mar 1982 to Mar 1983 and was also held by Wahoo and Greg Valentine. 
'The belt's flange design was used in many regional belts in the Southern territories during the era, hence it's nickname.'  Dick Bourne; The United States Championship, published 2015

The bout as expected was a tough battle with Slaughter coming out on top this time and retaining the title. He was worse for wear however and required some aid after the bout. Other bouts that evening included WWF Champ Bob Backlund returning to face Greg Valentine again and the two put on another great bout. The other big matchup was Jack Brisco vs Roddy Piper billed with Brisco as Mid-Atlantic champ. Piper was actually the champ - his title win in the U.S. a few days prior wasn't acknowledged here - and Brisco got the win to 'keep the title.' 

Slaughter returned as US champ in Aug 82 and then the title was absent until Summer 1983. Valentine now the champ again with the newly designed 'ten pounds of silver' belt. 
On the ramp 1978

The Sarge had a pretty good history in Toronto. He had initially appeared here during the AWA affiliation 1977-1978 as Super Destroyer (in the AWA he was SD Mark II) managed by Lord Alfred Hayes. Slaughter cut an imposing figure as SD with the spooky Scream style mask and long black cape. 

When he returned in 1981 he was now the evil boot camp Sgt. and making life miserable for the good guys. In his first bouts back he took out his wrath on area favourites including Jay Youngblood and looked like he could remain un-beaten. 

A big feud with our Canadian champ Angelo Mosca follows as well as tag bouts with partner Don Kernodle against Steamboat & Youngblood. After the big tag program, Slaughter takes the Canadian title from Mosca at the Night of Champions card in July 1983 and hold it through Jan 1984 before losing it back to Mosca.

Some years later (2010) Slaughter met up with the keeper of the Canadian title belt Chris Kovachis and they snapped this great pic below. Chris is holding a cast custom replica of the NWA Tag Title, which Sarge also held. The original Canadian Title belt is over Slaughter's shoulder. Chris makes incredible cast replicas of these and other Mulko belts from the original plates. 

Slaughter was not done with Toronto once the NWA days ended in June 1984. He returned as a WWF star on the first card held after we became a WWF town. This time it was different, the now fan-favorite Sgt. was facing Valentine (another former Canadian champ) from the other side of the ring. He soon matches up with the Iron Sheik, yet another former Canadian title holder and then....teams with Mosca vs Iron Sheik & Nicolai Volkoff. 

He appeared at Mosca's Moscamania (NWA) in Hamilton in Feb 1986 facing Danny Bullwhip Johnson and returned with the WWF in the early 1990's, again a hated heel.  

You can purchase the great US Title book and others at


Photos courtesy MLW Archives collection except as noted

Now Available on the Bookshelf

From Nanjo to The Sheik Tales From Toronto Wrestling

Quick Bits: Frank & The Kangaroos 1967


     Aanother Roger Baker classic, this time with Frank Tunney and the Kangaroos Al Costello & Ray St Clair. Shot in Detroit a couple of years prior to the Sheik streak in Toronto as Frank (and nephew Jack with him) takes in a show. This version of the Kangaroos also appeared in Toronto. The original team of Costello and Roy Heffernan appeared here back in 1957-58 and had even been special referees for a World title bout (Hutton vs Whipper in '58)- both of them. 

This version didn't last long, Costello (the nicest guy in wrestling as per Roger) would soon team with Ray Kent/Don Kent, later Bulldog Don Kent. Frank and Jack perhaps scouting out the hot-at-the-time Detroit territory in a prelude to the teaming with the Sheik. 


Now Available on the Bookshelf

The Canadian Heavyweight Title The Complete History 1978-1984

On Twitter at ...

We quick post stuff on twitter from our vintage collections
Original ads, photos, programs, posters, and other fun stuff from the Toronto/Ontario history

MLG Film Professor Hiro vs Billy Red Apr 1964

Professor Hiro vs Billy Red at MLG Apr 1964 from the MLG Film. Hiro was brought in by Fred Atkins who served as his manager and tag partner. He was coming off a WWWF title shot vs Bruno and also challenged NWA champ Thesz that year. Mostly unbeatable type. Some of his pre bout ritual and good shot of the ramp at the end. Joe Gollob is ref. 

All of the MLG Film

1961 NWA Convention in Toronto

Photo from the 1961 NWA Convention held in Toronto. Frank Tunney steps down as President to be replaced by Fred Kohler out of Chicago. We will add more names once we confirm them, check back. Thanks to the the family of Tommy Nelson for sharing this with us! Click on photo to see full size

The NWA conventions are fascinating, especially Frank Tunney's place in them. That year he held a card on his regular Thursday night, the first day of the convention. Stu Hart was scheduled to make what was by then a rare wrestling appearance (last at MLG 1955) but didn't appear and never returned. You can see in the notation from the article listed further down.

*As of September 28, 1961, Stu Hart was not listed on the membership roster of the NWA. Haft, Quinn, Light, and Luttrall paid their dues right before the 1961 convention in Toronto. Hart may not have paid his dues, and was considered not an active member

Globe Aug 26 1962
Tunney participated in other meetings and conventions over the years, mostly boxing and mostly at the King Edward where much of the business went down in those days. There are a couple of mentions of Frank hosting parties during the festivities for the dignitaries in town. This was the only NWA Alliance convention held here but Frank & Whipper (and later Jack and Eddie) attended meetings held across the U.S.

Roger mentioned that he remembers some of the visiting promoters siting in the Tunney seats above the ramp taking in the card. 

The program lineup with the sub noted and Tim Hornbaker's report on the convention follows...
Thanks to Roger Baker and Tim for the use of the notes
Info from the papers etc 

From Legacy of Wrestling by Tim Hornbaker 

National Wrestling Alliance Convention - 1961
Meeting Location: Toronto, Ontario
Meeting Dates: August 24-27, 1961

President: Fred Kohler (elected)
1st Vice President: Dr. Karl Sarpolis (elected)
2nd Vice President: Roy Welch (elected)
Executive Secretary: Sam Muchnick (reelected)
Treasurer: Sam Muchnick (reelected)

Membership Roster
Fred Kohler                        Chicago, IL
Sam Muchnick                    St. Louis, MO
Karl Sarpolis                       Amarillo, TX
Roy Welch                          Nashville, TN
Jim Crockett                       Charlotte, NC
Al Haft                                Reynoldsburg, OH
Harry Light                         Detroit, MI
Mike London                       Albuquerque, NM
Salvador Lutteroth              Mexico City, Mexico
Cowboy Luttrall                  Tampa, FL
Leroy McGuirk                    Tulsa, OK
Vincent McMahon               Washington, D.C.
Joe "Toots" Mondt               Pittsburgh, PA
Don Owen                          Eugene, OR
Eddie Quinn                       Montreal, Quebec
Morris Sigel                        Houston, TX
Frank Tunney                     Toronto, Ontario
Stu Hart*                            Calgary, Alberta

As of September 28, 1961, Stu Hart was not listed on the membership roster of the NWA.  
Haft, Quinn, Light, and Luttrall paid their dues right before the 1961 convention in Toronto.
Hart may not have paid his dues, and was considered not an active member.

Among those in attendance for the conferences were Muchnick, Tunney, Kohler, Sarpolis,
Crockett, Haft, Londos, Lutteroth, McGuirk, McMahon, Mondt, Owen, Sigel, Welch, Eddie
Graham, Bobby Bruns, Pat O'Connor, Buddy Rogers, Nick Gulas

Cowboy Luttrall, Harry Light, Eddie Quinn, and Stu Hart did not attend the Saturday
session, but may have appeared at other meetings.

In July 1961, Muchnick claimed there were 12 members of the NWA.  Following the
convention, there were 18 members in total.

The NWA Membership Committee rejected the application of Danny McShain because at
the time he didn't meet the requirements of the NWA By-Laws for membership.  The
committee decided he should resubmit his application, and his check was returned to him.

The Membership Committee also wanted Jim Barnett and Johnny Doyle to resubmit
up-to-date applications.  Sam Muchnick had accepted their applications without approval
from the membership committee, in violation of the NWA By-Laws.  Barnett and Doyle were
prepared to take action against the NWA for refusing them into the organization, and
Muchnick had persuaded them not to do anything until they'd resubmitted their paperwork.

The Membership Committee was made up of Mike London, Don Owen, Morris Sigel,
Vincent McMahon, Jim Crockett, Harry Light, and Joe "Toots" Mondt.

Although, Sam Muchnick was no longer the president of the NWA and having the same
amount of responsibilities he once had, he was still being paid $15,000 a year by the
organization.  In a letter to the membership dated October 10, 1961, NWA President Fred
Kohler brought up this fact, and that the money was being paid for Muchnick to book
Buddy Rogers "as world's heavyweight champion," and Pat O'Connor "as the United
States Heavyweight Champion."

At the Toronto Convention, the NWA membership agreed that Muchnick, on behalf of the
organization, would book O'Connor as the U.S. Champion - a new designation awarded to
the former World Heavyweight Champion - to any member that wanted to use him.  That
meant O'Connor had a national booking schedule, similar to that of the heavyweight
champion.  Muchnick, the secretary-treasurer, was then compensated by the Alliance for
booking him.  There is still some debate whether or not the U.S. championship was actually
sanctioned by the Alliance.  It is a slippery slope because Muchnick was being paid by the
NWA to book O'Connor, yet there wasn't a U.S. Title committee and the title didn't need
any measure of Alliance approval to change hands - like the heavyweight, junior
heavyweight, and light heavyweight titles.

Kohler, in his letter of October 10, 1961, stated that he'd heard that Muchnick wasn't even
booking O'Connor, and it was Muchnick's assistant, Bobby Bruns.  The reasoning for
$15,000 annual payment to Muchnick was questioned even more.

In addition to the Barnett-Doyle and McShain applications, one came in from Jules
Strongbow of Los Angeles on October 2, 1961.  Muchnick sent copies to Kohler to initiate
the membership process.

With all the power that comes with being the NWA President, Kohler called a special
meeting of the Board of Directors to Chicago on November 12, 1961 "for the purpose of
adopting a resolution to dissolve the corporation, National Wrestling Alliance," according to
a letter from NWA attorney Harry N. Soffer to Muchnick dated November 3, 1961.  If a
majority of the Board adopts the resolution, it would then be voted upon by the
membership.  75% of the membership voting in affirmative to dissolve would be needed.  
Kohler informed the members that if they couldn't make the November 12th meeting, they
could vote by proxy.  Soffer told Muchnick, "I know of now law whereby boards of directors
can vote by proxy." Soffer also said that it would take a three-fourth vote of "all the
members" to dissolve the membership, not three-fourths of the members voting.

Soffer also said it would be better to hold such a vote after the result of the Sonny Myers
vs. NWA retrial in Des Moines, which was being staged the week of November 13, 1961.

Regarding the talk of dissolving the NWA, Morris Sigel sent a letter to Kohler (and other
members) on November 7, 1961, telling him that "Neither as a member of the Board of the
National Wrestling Alliance nor as a member of the Alliance, can I vote for its dissolution at
this time." Sigel pointed out that such an important decision should wait until all members
could be present at a meeting to discuss it.  He also noted that dissolution hadn't been
brought up at the last annual convention.  "Furthermore," he wrote, "has it been fully
thought out just what will be substituted in its place if we end the Alliance?"

Research by Tim Hornbaker
December 14, 2010
From 'Legacy of Wrestling' by Tim Hornbaker 

...Thanks Tim! 

Classic Cards: Double World Title 1982

40 years ago... Apr 25 1982 was the last time 2 of the major world/fed titles were defended on the same card at MLG. This also marked the first time the NWA & AWA titles shared the stage here. 

We saw wrestlers from all three major groups of the time (NWA, WWWF/WWF, AWA) so we had several double title nights in the later years. 

WWWF & NWA  : Jul 1977 SBG vs Strongbow, Race vs Sheik
WWWF & AWA  : Nov 1977 SBG vs Stasiak, Bockwinkel vs Carpentier
WWWF & AWA  : Dec 1977 SBG vs Strongbow, Bockwinkel vs Carpentier
WWWF & AWA  : May 1978 Backlund vs SBG, Bockwinkel vs Brunzell
WWWF & AWA  : Jun 1978 Backlund vs Patera, Bockwinkel vs Rufus Jones
WWWF & AWA  : Jul 1978 Backlund vs SBG, Bockwinkel vs Mosca
WWWF & AWA  : Sep 1978 Backlund vs Monsoon, Bockwinkel vs Andre
WWWF vs AWA : Mar 1979 Backlund vs Bockwinkel
NWA & AWA      : Apr 1982 Flair vs Race, Bockwinkel vs Mosca

In Jan 1979 both the NWA & AWA titles were to be defended but Harley Race never made it in. They finally rectified that in Apr 1982 with NWA champ Ric Flair to take on Race while AWA champ Nick Bockwinkel was to face Canadian champ Angelo Mosca. 

It was a busy day with many on the card appearing on an afternoon show in Buffalo which drew 10,000. By 8pm there were over 11,000 at MLG for the evening show. 

The opener in Toronto was an unannounced bout that ended up being a jewel. Ray Stevens returned as a good guy and faced off against local veteran Tony Parisi. They shook hands at the bell and went on to have a great scientific bout with endless holds and counters. It ended in a draw and the crowd was especially appreciative for the great prelim action. 

Next up was Johnny Weaver vs Private Nelson followed by the number one challenger to the Canadian Title John Studd vs Ron Ritchie. Studd flattened Ritchie quickly including a big slam on the ramp and it marked Ritchie's last appearance here.  

Ivan Koloff & Don Kernodle teamed up to take on the fan favorites Jimmy Valiant & Porkchop Cash. As Norm Kimber was making the intros Valiant & Cash stormed the ring causing Norm to make an escape with the big boom box that had heralded Valiant's intro. Even with hazy memory.. most of the bout was exactly what I captured in that photo.

An Indian Strap bout was next with Jay Youngblood seeking revenge against Ninja who had sprayed his green mist in Youngblood's eyes at their previous meeting. Ninja again tried the mist but Youngblood turned and took it to the body, enabling him to take the advantage and drag his opponent to all 4 corners to secure the win. That's ref Terry Yorkston counting out 'two!'

AWA champ Bockwinkel soon made his way down the ramp with the fans united in a thunderous boo. His opponent was the reigning Canadian champ and area's top good guy Mosca. Big Ange got the best of the champ and was on the verge of winning the title when his archenemy John Studd ran in and helped Bockwinkel beat Mosca down. That led to a tag bout on the next card with Bockwinkel & Studd vs Mosca & Jake Roberts (who subbed for Blackjack Jr.) and marked Bockwinkel's last appearance in Toronto. 

Though this was Bockwinkel's last title defense at MLG, he defended the following day vs Youngblood in Ottawa. Note the ref in the ring with Bockwinkel above is Bill Alfonso who later found fame with the ECW. He stayed to ref the final bout too. Toronto favorite NWA champ Flair vs #1 challenger Race. Both were disqualified after an exciting bout. Flair covered in blood and some of the other wrestlers coming out to break up the post bout brawl. This fan left very happy with another great card at the Gardens!

More on Flair vs Race
- AC and photos by....
Posted Apr 25 2022

Classic Card: 50th Anniversary Nov 15 1981

Over the years we have looked at the various anniversary shows held at Maple Leaf Gardens, this time we focus on the final one, celebrating 50 years of wrestling.
The first card was held on Nov 19 1931 under the promotion of the Queensbury Athletic Club headed by Jack Corcoran. Corcoran passed the promotion to John & Frank Tunney in 1939 and when John passed away suddenly in 1940 Frank took over the reigns. 

By 1981 the promotion was celebrating 50 years at the Gardens. 

The card was set for Sunday Nov 15 and featured an NWA title bout with new champ Ric Flair defending against #1 contender Harley Race. At that time newspaper coverage was minimal as compared to previous eras, but this anniversary earned some notable entries in the dailies.

The Toronto Sun had an enlarged ad type entry on Nov 11 with the caption 'He does it with Flair' with a photo of the new champ and his belt. It was billed as 3 championship bouts, Alongside Flair vs Race, Angelo Mosca was trying to regain his Canadian Heavyweight Title from John Studd, and NWA TV champ Ron Bass defended against Kurt Von Hess. Added to that was Andre the Giant going for revenge against Killer Kahn for breaking his leg (actually happened well before and the two had had several return bouts elsewhere) and 'others' including Johnny Weaver, Mike Miller, Mike (billed as Ron) Davis, and Victor Jovica.

The Globe had a feature article by James Christie (40 years at Globe as Sportswriter) entitled 'Love and pain and 50 years of grappling.'  He looked at the history of wrestling here and quoted Tunney as saying he 'would sell out' the card expecting 17,000 and a gate of $100k.

The card did almost sell out MLG, announced attendance was 16,000 which made it one of the best of the era. Since 1974 there had only been two other cards over 15,000.

The place was full, and loud.

The card itself did not disappoint, though there were some minor changes from what was scheduled.

NWA TITLE: Ric Flair WP Harley Race 24:03
Andre the Giant D/DQ Killer Kahn 14:19
Canadian Heavyweight Title: John Studd LCOR Angelo Mosca 15:47
TV Title: Outlaw Ron Bass W Mike Miller (sub for Kurt Von Hess) 10:46
Johnny Weaver W Charlie Fulton 8:24
Tony Parisi/Mike Davis W Doug Vines/Izzy Slapowitz 11:12

About to hit the ramp! 
   The highlight was Flair vs Race. 24 minutes of suplexes, figure fours, falling headbutts, and all out action, both in the ring and on the ramp. As was usually the case when these two met, both were covered in blood after sacrificing themselves on the hard wooden ramp.

   Race appeared to pin the champ when ref Terry Yorkston counted Flair down for 3 and the fans thought we had seen another title change in Toronto. Ref John Laing came out to tell Yorkston that Race had pulled Flair's trunks. During this exchange Flair got behind Race and threw him into the ropes catching him in a cradle and pinning him. Flair was declared the winner and some of nights wrestlers came out from the back to congratulate him.

   Race though, blew his stack and laid out Mike Davis before piledriving Flair into the mat. Race continued to stomp on Flair until Johnny Weaver grabbed the NWA title belt and chased Race out as the fans cheered.

  That was their 2nd of 6 bouts here over the NWA Title between 1980-1984, each as champ for 3 bouts. Flair who was popular here since his switch in 1980 always earned the cheers, while mostly a heel in other areas. Even as a full fledged heel here in 78-79 the fans loved him. When he made his return as NWA champ we saw 10 defenses total 1981-1984. The only downside of his NWA runs was that we saw him less often.

     The Andre- Kahn bout was also a hard fought, very realistic and rough battle. Andre looked to be killing Kahn before Miller, Fulton, Slapowitz, and Vines rushed out and dragged Kahn away from the angry Giant. Andre had Kahn on the ropes trying to break his leg and wouldn't let up so was officially a double dq.

   Mosca and Studd continued their feud with two referees and brawled their way to the floor where Studd had enough and fled to the dressing room. It left Mosca the winner but not the champ. Mosca eventually regained the title a few months later in a cage bout.

   Those 3 bouts alone were worthy of the card and the openers were pretty good, including the only appearance for Slapowitz. Some of the wrestlers appeared in Brantford for TV tapings the following day, notably Race who wrestled 3 bouts for the day.

   The card got some write ups in the magazines of the day including an 'Arena Report' in PWI, 'The Wrestler' had a story entitled 'The John Studd School of Rulebreaking' - Studd mentoring Slapowitz, Miller, Davis and a great shot of the old dirty Maple Leaf Dressing room, and a 2 page spread in 'Ring' Magazine.

 The Mid Atlantic Gateway has the TV bout from the next day featuring Race vs Weaver 

   None of the bouts from the 50th card have surfaced, I have a hazy memory of seeing portions of the Andre-Kahn and Flair-Race bouts on the CITY TV News.

Some other of my Flair-Race pics are at Flair vs Race: Photos

-AC & photos by...

Quick Bits: Wayne Bock

 There were quite a few ex-Football players that hit it big in pro wrestling. Here in Toronto we had Gene Kiniski, Tom 'Emperor' Jones, and Angelo Mosca, as well as George Wells, Ernie Ladd, Dick Huffman, and some others that didn't hang around as much. 

Gil Mains and Wayne Bock are two more that wrestled here -while under contract to the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League. Mains in 1955 and Bock in 1960.

Wayne Bock was a 25 year old who stood 6'4 and weighed in at a wrestling ready 257lbs. He came into the city highly touted and with a reputation that preceded him. Lou Agase, the Argo's coach who had previously recruited Bock for both Illinois University and the Chicago Cardinals, and now the Argos, was a big fan. 'He's an animal' said Agase.

Toronto Promoter Frank Tunney, as usual, was quick to see the potential in another gridiron star. 'I recruited Wayne as a wrestler because Gene Kiniski tipped me off. Kiniski said 'he's just about as tough a (deleted) as I am' and this coming from Kiniski is high praise indeed.'

Tunney offered that Bock would wrestle on the Ontario circuit until football practices start and at that point give up the bumps and grinds of the ring for the bumps and grinds of the grid.

Bock had previously been under contract to the Ti-Cats back in 1955 but had suddenly left camp and joined the Marines. The then coach of the Ti-Cats had  to go looking for his player, phoning his counterpart in Toronto asking if he had seen Bock who he admitted 'had a great camp.'

He played football for the Marines and later signed with the Cardinals and played there briefly  before coming to Toronto. He already had some experience in the ring having wrestled around the U.S. in 1959 and  early 1960 before arriving in Toronto.

In a Jim Hunt column Bock was asked if he was a villain in the ring. 'I'm not a very nice fellow in the ring or on the football field' he replied.

Coach Agase claimed he had no problem with Bock working the grunt and groan as it would keep him in shape and he was better off wrestling than sitting around gaining weight. Bock was due to report for training on the field as of July 1.

Another pre-bout write up referred to Bock calling himself  'The Beast.' John Yachetti aka 'The Beast' who wrestled here for many years, was still 2 years away from his MLG debut at that time.

His first bout was against Babyface Don Jardine the future 'Spoiler' and made an instant impression. The recap said the Argo's fans were going to be happy as he was fast for a guy his size and they will welcome 'his ugly temper' that he demonstrated in beating Jardine after 11:46 of action. 'The fans don't usually like me very much' added Bock.

His second bout was against Tony Marino with the same result, winning with a top spread after 11 minutes. That marked the end of his short ring tenure.

The Argo's finished the 1960 season in first place, losing in the Eastern final to the Ottawa Roughriders but Bock was absent, having never played a game in Toronto. For such a highly touted star he only shows to have stats for 4 games for the Cardinals in 1957 (though said to have played over 3 seasons with them), the extent of his pro career. He was gone by July, telling Coach Agase his knee was done, having injured it a couple of days prior. 

There was mention of him having ties to the criminal underworld in Chicago when he passed on in 2016 at 82. We will look at Gil Mains in a future Quick Bit


OWH: Kinsmen Stadium

 Pro wrestling in Oshawa went way back to the start of weekly cards in nearby Toronto in 1929. The outdoor Kinsmen Stadium would host wrestling for the first time in 1954 after the adjacent Oshawa Arena had burned down on the day of the last wrestling card of 1953. 
Fritz Von Erich & Karl Von Schober vs Doug Hepburn (pictured) and Lord Layton at Kinsmen Aug 1954

The stadium opened in May 1949 and is still there, mostly un-changed from the early days and retains the charm of the old style baseball fields. Can imagine it was a fine spot for wrestling on a hot summer night. Unfortunately it rained much of the time (after a while they reserved Children's Arena, also adjacent, for stormy nights) but they still did well, packing them in. 

After starting the 1954 season in nearby Bowmanville the Return of Wrestling to Oshawa with Primo Carnera vs Tiny Mills drew 1500. The next week with boxing great Joe Louis refereeing a tag bout with Pat Flanagan/Tex McKenzie vs Al Mills/The Mighty Ursus they had 2000 in the seats. By summer 1956 they break the Oshawa attendance record (set July 1953 at the Arena, Whipper vs Togo 3527) with a main of Hardboiled Haggerty vs Yukon Eric drawing 4,600 to the Stadium. 

Promoter Pat Milosh used the Stadium through 1960 and regularly had 1000-2000 for the weekly shows. The venue fit nicely within the mini territory that he ran from Oshawa to Peterborough and from talking with older fans it was always a great night of wrestling-raining or not!

All of the Oshawa stuff that we put back is at Oshawa Wrestling History

Photos by AC, collection. Info sourced from Oshawa Library microfilm
Originally posted at the old site 2011

Quick Bits: Firpo, Sheik, & Tunney 1972


   More classic Roger Baker photos as The Sheik takes on Pampero Firpo in a Jungle Strap match MLG May 1972. Sheik didn't lose much but he did earn his share of beatings over the years, many in these type of bouts. Mexican Death matches, Indian Death matches, Texas Death matches (all pretty much the same) and some new ones; Arkansas Death match (Haystack Calhoun), Portuguese Death match (Rocha), and South American Death match (Firpo).

This one was called a Jungle Strap but they were tied together with a chain and collar similar to the Dog Collar bouts we saw later. In his various feuds Sheik had a bad habit of leaving the bout early, hence the chain to keep him in the battle. 
Firpo using the chain to his advantage
11,000 in the seats see Firpo take immediate control and try to 'disengage the Syrian's head from it's moorings.' Sheik gets a foreign object from manager Farouk which soon ends up in the hands of Firpo and both are soon entangled in the chain. They go down to the mat and Sheik gets the pin! He takes off down the ramp while Firpo, not to be underestimated on the madman scale, attacks ref Tiger Tasker. Sheik comes back to rescue Tasker (not really) and they all brawl to the back. 

The bout lasts a bit over six minutes bell to bell which includes the pre-requisite wind up before the start with others trying to force Sheik to participate. Dewey Robertson, Tex McKenzie, and Layton had persuaded Sheik to finish attaching the collar and get to work. 

The last pic facing down the ramp captures Firpo & Sheik at the stairs. You can note Frank Tunney in his usual spot at the head of the hallway and Sheik's bodyguard Mike Loren is awaiting the boss's return. Loren may have been the Masked Marvel on this night as he wasn't listed. 
Thanks to Roger! His contributions can be found all around the site and in Roger Baker's Corner 

Quick Bits: The East-West Connection

In January 1982 Maple Leaf Gardens was abuzz with anticipation for the first area appearance of the East-West Connection. Adrian Adonis had previously appeared here as Keith Franks back in 1975-76 while tag partner Jesse Ventura was making his MLG debut.
   It was my first time seeing them in person but they were already one of our favorite tag teams. Their bouts with Gagne & Brunzell in the AWA over the tag titles was a constant on the Winnipeg TV we got here. On this night they would take on the 'Italian Connection,' Domenic Denucci and Tony Parisi. An entertaining bout with the good guys frustrating the heels with a barrage of ring tricks. Adonis eventually pulls the tights for the pin on Denucci and ref Terry Yorkston awards the victory to the former tag champs.
 We didn't know it yet but both Adonis & Ventura had just moved to the WWF  under the managerial tutelage of Freddie Blassie. They were mostly wrestling solo and Adonis in particular gives Backlund some tough matches. The following night after their MLG debut Adonis was in Madison Square Garden beating the stuffing out of Backlund when the ref stopped the bout due to excessive blood loss of the champ.

  Toronto promoter Frank Tunney also made the trip to MSG the next day appearing in the ring alongside Vince Sr., WWF President Hisashi Shima, and then NWA President Jim Crockett Jr. as they made an announcement about an upcoming  tournament to take place in Japan.
  Adonis & Ventura were both scheduled for the Cadillac Tournament to be held two weeks later but it was snowed out. They eventually had it in March and both return for the tourny. Adonis lost his first round matchup to Ricky Steamboat while Ventura fared better beating Mike Rotundo, then Johnny Weaver, before losing to Jimmy Valiant in the finals.

  It was unfortunate for the fans that we didn't get to see more of them at the time especially as a team. Both return post 1984 in the WWF days and appear fairly regularly. Still, Adonis will be forever connected locally as the tragic crash that took his life also claimed our own Dave McKigney and Pat Kelly.

More on this bout in the look at Terry Yorkston
-AC and photos by...

Quick Bits: Yukon Eric

This photo of Yukon Eric being lifted up by the fans at MLG illustrates how popular he was in Toronto. For a time second only to Whipper Watson. From his debut here in 1949 he immediately captivated the fans and spent most of his time at or near the top of the weekly cards, and in the many arenas around Southern Ontario through 1964.

He initially wrestled barefooted and featured his Kodiac Krunch backbreaker to steamroll his opponents. His first loss here was to Whipper and the two faced off often before forming a very successful tag team. Our friend Roger Baker had a impromptu meeting with the big man back around the time of this photo.

'It was in the summer of 1956 the place, Crystal Beach Ont. which is situated on the shores of Lake Erie, it was a wonderful spot to come for a visit and enjoy all that it had to offer. Wrestlers also visited in the summertime to enjoy an outing on the famed beach, these wrestlers would almost always be appearing in a town or city that was not to far off, Buffalo, St. Catharines, Welland, Niagara Falls.

It was a sunny Saturday morning, a wrestling card was taking place later in the day, it was an afternoon show that was being held in the fabled Crystal Beach Park. The main event was a tag team match that featured Yukon Eric his partner Sandor Kovaks vs. a very young Nick Bockwinkel* and his partner Johnny Barend.

Earlier that day I was walking on Derby Rd. taking in the sights. Who do I see sitting on a bar stool at the front of the restaurant? It was Yukon Eric. On the table in front of him was a plate stacked high with jumbo pancakes, also beside the pancakes was a large jug of- as I soon learned- his own favorite syrup which he brought along to enjoy on his pancakes.

I couldn't resist and walked over to Yukon and introduced myself to him, and let him know that I was one of his many fans. He was wearing jeans, and a large plaid short sleeved shirt, one could not help but to notice lust how massive he was, his arms looked like tree trunks, and his chest according to Yukon himself was sixty inches around, his arms were over twenty inches in circumference. Eric explained to me that because of wrestling being the main focus on him, that his huge muscular development received less attention.

 I thanked Eric for chatting with me while he had his pancakes, and assured him that I'd be at the Crystal Beach Park later on in the day to see his match.'


*Note Nick Bockwinkel was driving Yukon around at this time. While his father Warren had wrestled here Nick didn't appear in Toronto proper until 1977.  More at Lists: Fathers & Sons

Thanks to Roger Baker
Partially excerpted 'From Nanjo to The Sheik'