Les Lyman

      Les Lyman was a promoter/wrestler active around Toronto from the 1950's through the early 1960's. I'm not sure when Les started wrestling but by the time he settled in as a regular at Maple Leaf Gardens in 1960-61 he was already fairly long in the tooth.

Main pic: Lyman attacking Alfie Richards (George's brother and perhaps Blackjack Richards?) on the mats at the YMHA Toronto 1956

The first signs of him in the area are alongside Red Garner on Red's shows around the Toronto outskirts in 1950-51. It's likely Lyman came out of the busy amateur scene as Red and many of the pros did.

By 1953 he was promoting shows at East York Arena, the same spot Frank Tunney occasionally ran when MLG was unavailable. The wrestlers were a mix of guys who worked on both Garner and Tunney shows around the region.

Those early cards featured young Sandy Scott and his billed brother/cousin Joe (not George AFAIK), Wilf Jennings (McKigney ref later), and big Jim 'Killer' Conroy. Others names included Jack Sibthorpe, Ivan Klimenko, Kenny Evans, Paul Penchoff, Al Kendall, George & Bob McKeague, Ronnie Kopac, and the usual masked gimmicks Masked Marvels, Red Mask etc.

Sometimes they would mirror the action over at the Gardens. During the big Red Mask angle on Tunney's cards which ended with Lou Thesz unmasking the villain to reveal Dutch Hefner, Lyman too had a Red Mask headlining his cards. That gimmick proved popular, there was even a Red Mask on the popular car racing circuit around Toronto.

He promoted under the banner of  International Wrestling Association and occasionally branched out to other spots, Scarborough Arena, Lakeshore Arena, etc. He may have been running cards (TBD) in Kingston, Cobourg, and other eastern spots also. He and Garner had an ongoing partnership of sorts that lasted throughout the '50's. Besides sharing talent, much of it homegrown that Garner had trained himself, Lyman appeared on Garner's cards too, often as Canadian Heavyweight Champion.

Sometimes referred to as the Scarborough Strongman and variously billed from Scarborough or East York, in 1954 as Canadian champ he faced Quebec star Sylvain Richard at the Thornhill Market. Was also often billed as undefeated and a year later a byline listed him as 'having an enviable record, among his victims Baron Von Seiber, (later Waldo Von Erich), Tiger Jenson, and Sandy Scott who wrestled at MLG a few weeks back.' 

He lost his Canadian title to Seiber in 1957 on Garner's circuit and was described even then as 'aging.' He was one of Waldo's early opponents and carried on a feud over several years with the up and coming star.

In 1960 he made his MLG debut against Bob Nandor in the opener. He remained a regular through 1961 and but for a few occasions, always worked in the opening bout. Also a regular on the weekly TV also in pelims His last MLG date was teamed with Tony Marino against the Kalmikoffs, that one in the semi of the night but Lyman still took the fall for his team.

Photographer Roger Baker used to work out at a YMHA gym in Toronto and remembers Lyman and associates from there. The photo of Lyman vs Alfie Richards was taken by Roger in 1956 as they worked out on the mat at the facility and he also attended some shows.


Thanks to Roger Baker
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