Wild Bill Zim and Northland Wrestling

                                            Zim after un-masking the Marvel with Kasaboski Sault Ste Marie 1949 

Originally posted 2017

    It's always great to hear from family of wrestlers who appeared in Ontario. Recently I heard from the son of Wild Bill Zim, a very interesting and well travelled star of the 1930's to 1950's.

   Mike Zim has done an admirable job putting together a detailed and lengthy ring results record for his Dad who wrestled in many areas including Ontario. Wild Bill Zim (and a long list of aka's including Zimovitch, Zimm, Zimmo, and many other variations) was a very colorful character, larger than life, as many of the early pro wrestlers were. Wild Bill was a real classic.

   The story of Wild Bill Zim has a strong Ontario connection. He wrestled quite a bit on Larry Kasaboski's Northland circuit and also got to Maple Leaf Gardens several times

   He had been scheduled at MLG in 1939 but his first appearance in Toronto would come on Dec 3 1942. Billed from Arizona, Zim was described as the latest in 'Mat Maestro Tunney's importation of oddities in pachyderms to expose on the weekly squirm cards...Zim sports a luxuriant growth of shoulder-long hair and Mr. Tunney hastens to deny that Zim is one of the *Seven Sutherland Sisters incognito, He is matched with Jan Gotch.'
*The Seven Sutherland Sisters was a family 'act' that toured to great acclaim showing 37 feet of long dark hair.

 Zim faced super-villain Nanjo Singh on Dec 17 1942 and returned again to face Jack Claybourne and then Yvon Robert. His time on the Northern circuit was more plentiful, with several tours and some big bouts. In addition to the far north spots that Kasaboski ran, they also moved into Barrie for several summers in the 1950's that resulted in a bit of a promotional war with Tunney. We looked a bit at that at The Wrestling Boom of the 1950's - Beyond Tunney The Northland shows were well attended and according to reports of the time, the fans enjoyed these (and Red Garner's cards) more than Tunney's cards in the area.

  Wild Bill would appear across the Ontario circuit and into some of the towns in Eastern Quebec that were part of the vast Northland territory. Kasaboski ran about 30 towns regularly and also went into some very remote spots around James Bay and other far flung areas. They did well, even at spots like Moosonee where in 1957 some 250 fans started a riot after a fun filled night. 'The excitement had just been too much for the northerners.' 

Signing to meet the Masked Marvel Sault Ste. Marie 1949 
Promoter Barnett (not that Barnett), Tony Martinelle, Zim, Marvel, Frenchy Monte La Due

   Zim was an accomplished artist and documented his life travels with interesting caricatures, portraits, and busts, both of fellow wrestlers and others he met along the way. Mike shares some great pictures and artwork at his site, some of which was done at the Sunset Cabins resort which was owned by Herb Parks and later, his brother Bill 'Dinty' Parks.

   The resort is where the wrestlers would stay while up on their summer tours of the area and is the source of the naming of the 'sunset flip.' The lure of the beautiful Ontario north was a great attraction for U.S. based wrestlers such as Zim and others including Roy Shire and Dory Funk Sr.

  A must read on the territory is the 'The Rassler From Renfrew' by the late Gary Howard. Track it down, its one of the best books ever written on pro wrestling and really captures the era and the legacy of the Kasaboski's, the Parks brothers, Bill (not Bull) Curry, Frankie Hart, Zim, and the many regulars that traveled the Northland towns for many years.

   If you can help Mike with any ring results that aren't already on his record send him a note
and thanks to Mike for the use of the photos!
 http://www.wildbillzim.com/ 

-AC


Self Caricature 

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