More from Make Believe Gardens!


More of these outstanding figures from our friend Barry Hatchet tearing it up at MLG, or in this case MBG. A great job recreating our stars from the late 70's early 80's era.

Mosca Jr, Billy Red , Parisi, The Wildman and Ginger? (hard to tell the bears apart 😁 ), Goldie Rogers, Johnny Weaver, Jos Leduc, Von Hess, Leo Burke, Lord Alfred Hayes, and the Original, Intelligent, Sensationaaaaaaalllll Destroyer !@

-AC

More at Make Believe Gardens!
Thanks to Barry & Griff.
















Sweet Daddy Siki memories with Roger Baker


     The completed and long awaited Documentary on Sweet Daddy Siki recently aired on the Documentary Channel on June 11th, 2017It's very well done with excellent content (Greg Oliver a big part of that) the only complaint that the music is mixed too loud in spots to hear the soft-spoken Siki. Nonetheless, a very good look at his life and struggles as a black wrestler in those days. 

Main pic: Siki on the receiving end vs Al Costello MLG 1962

Of special interest for us Toronto fans is that Siki was a regular here from 1962 through the late 1980's. he debuted here in 1962 and was still wrestling regularly on Dave McKigney's shows as late as 1987 and would appear right into the 1990's here and there.

The Toronto history is huge, he came in at a very pivotal time in our wrestling history. Bruno, Thesz, Buddy Rogers, that whole scene, the unrest in the NWA, the formation of the WWWF. Siki was right in the midst of that and almost from the start was in main events and feuding and teaming with all of the big names here, Whipper, Bulldog, Yukon, Valentine, Hady, and the rest of the stars here.

I was fortunate to be at some of the filming when they shot at MLG photographer Roger Baker's famed wrestling room. A high point of the day was hearing Siki, in his inimitable drawl, tell the origin story of 'Sweet Daddy.' Jet Star was also present. He was an exciting wrestler that mostly worked on McKigney shows around the region in the '80s (and still today!) and he and Roger sat with Siki in the world famous 'wrestling room', an apt spot for the three to film a portion of the doc.

I asked my favorite wrestling expert, super-fan, and major contributor to this site - Roger - for his memories of the 'Irresistible One', both as a fan and as a photographer/writer and insider.

MLW.com - Do you remember seeing Siki for the first time, what were your thoughts, and had you seen him in action before on TV or in other cities before he settled here

Roger - If I recall the first time that I saw Siki was very soon after he first appeared here in Toronto. I had never seen a black wrestler who had bleached blond hair before, and I must say that he was certainly an originator in that regard. Siki was able to immediately generate attention to his appearance as well as his persona what with his skill with a mike in hand, and his unique hair style.
 
I know you took lots of photos of Siki in action, did you ever get to interact with him back then , show him any photos, he seems very reserved in 'real' life, was he always that way - in comparison to his ring persona

Roger - I remember so well the first time that I had a chance to interact with Siki, was with a friend at the time, we were on the QEW. driving to Hamilton to take in a wrestling show at the Hamilton Forum. We were halfway along the highway to our destination, when suddenly we spot S.D. driving right along side of us, we waved and shouted at him, and he waved back. We drove along side each other for perhaps a half mile, and we told him that our main purpose for our trip to the Forum was to see him in action, he had a big grin on his face and waved goodbye as the traffic was building behind us. 


I got to know Siki very well after our first encounter on the highway, we became very good friends I had the opportunity to spend a lot of quality time with Mr. SDS as we traveled together to a few of his mat appearances, and I had the chance to meet his charming wife on two occasions. My wife and myself had them both up to our apt. way back shortly after he arrived on the Toronto scene, the occasion was for an interview, as well as a photo shoot. 

About 8 yrs ago wrestler Jet Star and myself visited Siki at the Duke of York tavern, he has performed at this venue for years, performing karaoke Saturday afternoons and evenings for his legion of fans who enjoy to listen as well as participate with Siki. The purpose of our visit was to see S.D.S. perform, as well I had assembled a very extensive collection of photos of Siki that I had taken so many years earlier, it was a great pleasure for me to be able to leave those photos with Siki. 

Can remember an opportunity that just presented itself one Saturday afternoon back around 1964-65, I was going to cover an upcoming heavyweight fight at MLG that featured George Chuvalo in a ten round fight with then ranked Ernie 'The Octopus' Terrell. It occurred in a tavern in downtown Toronto, Terrell was doing some sparing upstairs above the tavern, there was a heavy bag, mats, and skipping ropes along with other boxing gear, when I saw this as an opportunity to get two well known boxing and wrestling greats together. I phoned Siki at home and explained who was training at this gym and can you make it over so that we could have an introduction between the two take place. Regi Siki was on the scene in about twenty minutes, and it proved to be a very enjoyable experience for all of us.
 
MLWP - You saw all of the major stars of the 1950's 1960's and beyond, where does Siki fit in when you look back at Toronto history

Roger - S.D.S. was a very unique wrestler in that even though he was at the prime of his mat career, he stood out as an original ring performer with his blond hair, magnificent capes, mike skills, and a very powerfully built body. his shoulder muscles resembled two over sized grapefruits. We both had many other pleasant interactions during the sixties, however space would not allow me to recall them all at this time. 

During his heyday back in the sixties S.D.S. wrestled all of the top wrestlers that were appearing in Toronto's MLG. He faced some very tough wrestlers, to mention a few Yukon Eric, Whipper Watson, Bulldog Brower, Lou Thesz, and Bruno Sammartino. Siki told me during our get together at the Duke Of York, that he once wrestled the mighty Lou Thesz to a ninety minute draw in Texas some time during the late fifties. Siki had it all personality, great mat skills, outstanding physique, and the ability to mix it with the best of them during his era.
 
MLWP - Any bouts that stand out for you , at MLG or in one of the smaller arenas around the area

Roger - The one bout that I saw Siki in that still remains in clear detail in my mind took place in the town of Sutton On. during the summer months. Sutton is very close to Lake Simcoe and cottage country, the scheduled wrestling card was sure to draw a large crowd, being that there were so many people in the area at this time. The main event that promoter Tommy Nelson had on top was a tag team match, it pitted wrestlers Ilio DiPaolo and John Paul Henning VS. Dick BullDog Brower and Sweet Daddy Siki. 


This match was to take place in Sutton Arena, it was a very warm night and it was an older venue without air conditioning. The match started out as expected for about two or three minutes, then all hell broke loose, Brower and Siki got into a private personal beef, I saw Siki nail Brower on the jaw with a very stiff punch, Brower went bonkers and tried to tear Siki apart, the other two wrestlers saw what was unfolding and left the ring altogether. 

Meanwhile Brower was so crazed at this point that he tried to pull down one of the arena's supporting beams to use as a weapon to use against his own partner Siki, when he could not accomplish this, he ran out to the back of the arena, he reappeared a moment later brandishing a large steel wheel barrow over head, his intent was obvious, he wanted to badly hurt and injure his own partner Siki. 

Siki was able to back peddle out of the enraged Brower's range, and Brower who was so intent on maiming Siki started to slow down, no doubt he was tiring, this was triggered by a personal beef between the two. When visiting with Siki at the tavern where he has appeared for years, I mentioned that match to him, wanting to know what was the trigger to set that type of violence up, Siki's only memory of the incident was the wheel barrow.
............
Thanks so much to Roger for sharing his great memories of Siki with us!
Pics by AC taken at 'The Wrestling Room' in 2016 of Siki, Jet Star, and Roger Baker
Main pic & Bottom pic (of Roger and Jet visiting Siki) by Roger Baker

Tiger Tasker

 
   Kenneth 'Tiger' Tasker was a long time Maple Leaf presence both as a wrestler and then a referee,
as well as one of the inner circle that stayed around Tunney for many years.

We have looked at Tiger before in doing some of the longer pieces on the site but there isn't much about him in the recorded history of the area.

Of course he was one of the troupe along with Whipper Watson and Tommy Nelson that famously went to England in 1936. While in the U.K he wrestled Whipper in a movie starring George Fornby, 1938's Trouble Brewing. He and Whipper - then Billy Potts - both attended the Secord school in East York and were schoolmates before turning to pro wrestling. 

Main pic: Circa 1938

Not sure exactly when he had acquired the 'Tiger' name. Along with many others of the era UK travel mate Tommy Nelson also used Tiger as in 'Tiger Tommy', while Tasker was billed as both as Tiger and as Alaskan Tasker (or Taska) on those tours. An item says Harry Joyce, the promoter that took them to England came up with the name but as with 'Whipper' there are different versions.

As far as the origin of the name I asked MLW photog and super-fan Roger Baker for his memory of Tasker

"I saw Tiger wrestling a number of times at the MLG back in the mid fifties. He wrestled as a heel, with a mug like he had there was no other choice. He would work the 2nd or 3rd match on the card, and Tiger the rascal that he was would lose to no one's surprise. Tasker got the handle of ''Tiger'' as a result of his habit of raking his finger nails on his opponents back and shoulders, the only other wrestler that appeared in the Gardens that did that nasty maneuver was ''Leering Lee Henning''

There's not much to find on his pre-pro wrestling days. An item in 1933 has a 'Private Tasker' taking part in the wrestling portion of a mit-mat (boxing and wrestling) show at the University Ave Armories, it was more than likely the then 20-21 year old Ken Tasker.

1978
As far as that first U.K trip, supposedly he and Whipper and pals were spotted by a promoter at the amateur-pro style shows being held at Consols Stadium in the summers of 1935 and 1936 but only Potts (Watson) is mentioned out of the group in reports of those shows.

He wasn't a full time guy in the early days and may have had a day job. He had wrestled in Ontario but only returned to wrestle in Toronto around 1948 and appeared sporadically until becoming more of a regular in the 1950's. He wrestled right up to 1960 before going full time as one of the regular MLG refs.

He was the third man in the ring for the historic Lou Thesz- Buddy Rogers title bout in 1963 and was involved in many of the big bouts right up to 1978.

Roger Baker reflects on Tiger as a referee

"Tasker was the number one referee during the sixties, and early seventies . he was very capable to handle the toughest bouts, as a result he officiated almost all of the main events, the wrestlers respected him, he was always even handed in the ring."

In 1975 there was note about a thoroughbred horse 'named Tiger Tasker for the well-known wrestling referee' collecting it's first victory in a Detroit race. Not sure if he was involved but many of the Toronto wrestling fraternity were heavy into the horse racing game so there may have been a connection past the name.

In 1977 there was a small mention of him in a story about a jockey at Woodbine winning the lotto.
Tasker was mentioned as working security at the track in Toronto.

The last bouts he refereed in were during the AWA partnership in late 1977-1978, He officially retired in 1978 at the age of 66.

MLG 1964 featuring Tiger between WWWF champ Bruno and Waldo Von Erich. What a pic ! ! !

Roger relates a couple of personal notes regarding Tasker

"I can remember an occasion when my wife and myself were invited to a very pleasant get together at the late Dave Mckigney's house many years back, Tiger was there with his wife, as were three or four other wrestlers, Tiger at the time was also handling some of the officiating for The Bearmans  wresting shows. Tiger had the look of an older ex fighter, he was built close to the ground, like a fire plug, he sported a smashed nose, facial scares, and two tin ears.

I last saw Tasker and his wife back around 1991, I was out doing some grocery shopping at a supermarket in Scarborough. I happened to look up and there was Tasker with his wife. I shouted out 'Tiger!' not having seen him for perhaps twenty years and we had a wonderful chat. At this point in his life he was far removed from being a wrestling referee , but he remembered me from all the times that I shot pictures of him at MLG, as well as some of the many other towns that we both had a purpose to be at. 
Tasker told me that he still kept in touch with the Toronto wrestling office via his long relationship with Jack Tunney, by now the WWF had taken over Toronto, "

Kenneth A Tasker passed away on in September 30 1991 at the Providence Villa in Scarborough. It was just over a year after old pal Whipper had died.

As always thanks to Roger Baker! If you can add to the story of Tiger Tasker please comment or contact me

-AC

Paul DeMarco - The Hatman




    Paul DeMarco had a long and successful career though much of it was away from his hometown of Hamilton. He did spend some time in the Toronto mat wars from 1964-1966 and again in 1970 and 1973.

According to the story, as a child growing up in Hamilton he was stricken with Polio. Long hours of therapy, swimming, and other sports brought him back to health.  He is quoted as saying he went to his first card at the Hamilton Forum and there was a bad guy wrestling as 'The Little Flower Of Italy' and it made him so mad he tried to intervene and got ejected. It turned him off Pro Wrestling but he went on to compete as an amateur for 3 years.

The Little Flower of Italy would have been Benito Gardini who wrestled in the early 1950's. In the Toronto area we had our own 'Little Flower', the 'Little Flower of Uxbridge' Bert Maxwell. The not so little Maxwell got his name as he was a horticulturist, as MLW expert Roger Baker once told me.

Later DeMarco was at a gym and observed several pro guys in the ring wrestling and challenged them to a 'real match.' He said one fellow obliged him and beat him up so bad he could hardly move for 3 days and he earned a respect for the professionals. That guy turned out to be Ron Logue who broke him into the pro game.

In a Slam! Wrestling story on Logue, he had this to say about DeMarco "He was a natural. He had the gift of gab and the girls loved him. He was a real smooth character," Logue said of the future star.




When Paul's chance came to go to Detroit, he didn't have any wrestling boots, so he borrowed Ron's; "I never did get the boots back, because you know what the bugger did? He put his initials on the boots, white leather on top of black leather. P.D.," laughed Logue.
*credit Slam! http://slam.canoe.com/Slam/Wrestling/2007/12/09/4715810.html

I recently received a note regarding a short lived gimmick that Demarco took part in.
Back in 1966 as part of an ad campaign for the Workers Compensation Board (now WSIB) DeMarco, as 'Hatman' the 'Construction Safety Symbol', had a bout against Tiger Jeet Singh.

'Hatman' won the bout and a re-match was scheduled for the next weeks card but Demarco didn't appear. He didn't return to Toronto for four years in fact.

The character was created by Vickers and Benson agency, if anyone has any other info or photos of DeMarco as Hatman please drop me a line.
Hans Schmidt choking Demarco 

Roger Baker, former MLW photographer, and our never-ending source of wrestling knowledge, took some candid photos of Demarco in 1965 for a mag story looking at  DeMarco's life and beginnings as a wrestler and gets the last word.

'He was working for Tunney back then and was a baby face, very good wrestler, and he kept himself in top shape by training at The Y.M.C.A. in Hamilton. He excelled in a lot of sports, and would hit the weight's, as well he played handball, and could jog on a gym track for miles.'

Roger Baker's pics ..
Below
Hatman vs Singh May 15 1966
Demarco in Oshawa 1973

Demarco especially suffered the typical pro wrestling skewering of his name on many ads and writeups!











Thanks as always to Roger Baker
and also to Ryan O'Connor for the info on Hatman - www.ryanoconnor.ca