Gentleman Joe Gollob

    Long time referee Joe Gollob is an interesting name from the classic days of pro-wrestling in Ontario. After a boxing career he had become a wrestling referee and handled many big bouts at Maple Leaf Gardens and across the busy Ontario circuit.

 The Montreal native  turned pro in 1934 and boxed throughout the U.S., Mexico, South America, and parts of Europe claiming several titles in his travels as a welterweight.

 At the onset of WWII he worked as a physical training instructor with the Kent District Air Training Corps in England and in 1943 returned to Montreal in a similar role. Many wrestlers of the day either joined the forces or helped with training soldiers. Edwin 'Red' Garner, Pat Flanagan, and Whipper Watson all filled similar roles here in Toronto.

 With his boxing background he was able to take bumps. Not only from the wrestlers or co-referees (like Jersey Joe Walcott or Joe Louis) but on occasion the fans.

Riots and a heel ref 

Gollob also didn't hesitate to get involved in the action. He was often blocking angry sorts like the immovable object Bulldog Brower out on another rampage. Amid the riots and general mayhem of the era Joe also did the heel ref angle. Quickly counting the fan favorites down or failing to see the heels indiscretions.

 Ultimately they would bring in another referee to even it up and Joe would get thumped again by a combination of the ref and/or wrestlers. In 1952 at the Oshawa Arena he was lucky to make it out alive after some 500 fans took issue with his decision (see clip above).

They also run the heel ref in Kingston and Niagara Falls. One report from the Falls after an unpopular decision proclaims  'Joe Gollob is wrong as often as he is right.' 

 In those days they had 2 referees for the tag bouts to keep a handle on the action. Sometimes they teamed up one of the regular refs with a former boxing champ. In addition to Walcott and Louis, Rocky Marciano, Jack Dempsey, and Max Baer were others who were brought in to help maintain order.

 Unfortunately for Gollob that meant occasionally taking a good punch from one of the boxers after the two refs had a difference in opinion. While he may not have been a championship boxer in his day Gollob still ends up taking his share of the worlds greatest punches.

With Fuzzy Cupid, Sky Low Low, Little Beaver, Brown Panther MLG 1962 

 In 1957 after the Ontario government got involved in pro wrestling* Joe backed up promoter Tunney with an impassioned plea to the Ontario legislature.

'Referee Joe Gollob said wrestling referees don't need any help from the Ontario Athletic Commission to maintain order during bouts. He admitted that in the heat of battle a referee is occasionally pushed or shoved by a wrestler but he added: 'We learn to accept this and to make allowances for it. In such a contest the wrestlers are bound to be in high spirits from time to time.' 

 In August 1959 Gene Kiniski had helped Don Leo Jonathon beat down Whipper Watson when the angry fans lofted the ringside chairs in the air. Poor Joe took one flush to the face and needed 15 stitches to close the wound.  

Despite all the bumps he was fairly prolific as a ref, working several nights a week on the busy circuit here for years. He was involved in too-many-to-list big bouts at MLG including the 1959 Gorgeous George loses his hair bout.. He finally hung up the refs shirt in 1969 and passed on at the age of 89 in 2005.


*We covered that episode in a bit for Slam at 1957 Childs goes after wrestling- on Slam Wrestling 
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Whitby Free Press 1997