Ted McKinley Lightweight Champ

     As an addition to the post on the vibrant amateur scene in Toronto in the 1930's we will take a look at one Ted McKinley, a major presence in the amateur and pro ranks in the 1930's and 1940's.

Ted first shows up in 1931 wrestling as a Senior in the University of Toronto Inter-Faculty championships. He is listed as 'former intercollegiate wrestler, careful but quick to seize an advantage, good style at 125lbs.'

Over the next couple of years he is busy on the various cards held around Toronto, many that are run by Phil Lawson, noted amateur who later trained and managed Whipper Watson. Some of these tourneys were held at the Mutual St Arena, where Ivan Mickailoff ran his pro cards. Cliff Worthy was notable in the heavyweight division, he later went on to a long tenure as a pro ref for Jack Corcoran and Frank Tunney.

In July 1934 trials were held in Montreal for the upcoming British Empire Games to be held in England. Along with McKinley and Lawson as trainer for the wrestlers, they were accompanied by Ben Engbloom and Terry Evans

On July 20 they all left for England along with fellow wrestlers Pat Meehan, Joe Scleimer, Howard Thomas, Alex Watt, and Robert McNabb. A note in the Star mentions that as the families saw their loved ones off a '5 year old Arthur McKinley wept at the prospect of not seeing his uncle Ted, wrestling champion at 123 lbs.'

As of Aug 9 it was reported that the Canadians had won all 5 of their preliminary bouts at the Games.

All were said to be defending title won in Hamilton in 1930 though Ted would likely not have competed in those. Earl McCready had won Gold in the Heavyweight division in Hamilton, his last before turning pro. It proved to be a very successful games for the Canadians. Ted won Silver in the Bantamweight division and the other 5 all won medals as well. Final take was 3 Gold, 2 Silver, and 2 Bronze.

Upon return a card was held at the Central YMCA on Nov 7 featuring McKinley, Terry Evans, Joe Schleimer all receiving honor medals as Dominion champs. Another noted star Jimmy Allen also appeared though he doesn't show on the 1934 Games.

On May 3 1935 the Central Ontario Amateur Championships were held in Toronto, said to have a bearing on the 1936 Summer Olympics. McKinley at 123lbs won his first round bout.

At 174lbs Winnett Watson (later Pat Flanagan) won his bout as did Engbloom and Evans.Terry Evans actually won 3 championships, the Middle, Light, and Heavy (weight) divisions working above his weight. A week later Evans won the 175lb YMCA International title in Pittsburgh against contestants from YMCA's around North America.

In Oct 1935 McKinley appeared on a card in Bowmanville vs The Red Devil. Lawson took on Dick Bishop while a young Bill Potts took on Soldier Crisp. Potts, of course became Whipper Watson. These cards appear to be in the pro style but technically 'amateur cards' mostly to get around the licenses and such, featuring the lighter talent that were not able to go up against the heavyweight pros.

In March 1936 McKinley won at 123lbs in a 2 day City Championships. In the final at 174lbs Terry Evans won over Watson (Flanagan) and the heavyweight final was Cliff Worthy over Ken Tasker (both Worthy and Tasker later served as refs)

In June 1936 they began an elimination process with 44 top grapplers to determine who will represent central Ontario at the final Olympic trials in Montreal. They opened it up to allow anyone from any corner of the province and irrelevant of experience to enter to make sure they had the top tier. McKinley made it and went to Montreal where he placed in the final four.

At the Olympics held in Berlin only Joe Schleimer won a medal, a bronze in Welterweight. Terry Evans was defeated and unsure at this point if McKinley made the trip and lost in his division.

In the months after the Olympics he was called the 'Canadian Lightweight Champ' though it's hard to decipher as there were many different regional Canadian Titles and many tourneys held across the country through these years.

In October 1937 Ted wrestled on a benefit card held at Mutual St Arena in support of Red Garner who had suffered a dislocation of a neck vertebrae in a previous bout. The main event that night was McKinley vs Ernie Hughson with others appearing included Sam Gotter, Eric Lake, Tim Timoskym and Earl Grant.

Gotter also went on to be a long time MLG ref, while Red Garner promoted his own shows around Toronto for many years. Red was a lighter guy himself and featured many of the former amateur stars on his pro cards in the '40's and '50's under the 'middleweight' banner.

Meanwhile Ted continued to wrestle on the Coronation Club cards at Mutual St which featured a mix of talent and were promoted under the auspices of amateur style. 

In the summer of 1939 Ted travelled to Montreal earning a win and a draw in a big amateur tournament. He would leave the scene for some years at this point when he joined the Army as part of the war effort, as several of the other wrestlers did.

1947 Oshawa 

He re-appeared on the scene in May 1947 in Oshawa, ON where he appears to have been part of the Oshawa Wrestling Club, promoting alongside Pat Farrell and Jimmy 'Ziggy' Szizksay. Jim Allen, Ernie Hughson, Red Garner, Harvey Stanfield were all there helping out. This is just prior to Pat Milosh taking over in August '47.

Ted also showed up on Al 'Bunny' Dunlop's pro cards held at Oakwood Stadium in the summer of '47. Dunlop, who had Tunney's blessings (Dunlop ran Tuesday while Tunney's cards were on Thursdays) tried his hand at promoting but it didn't pan out and he was soon back working on the Tunney shows. Alongside McKinley on these cards were pros Billy Stack, Sandor Kovacs, and Szikszay, as well as several other lightweight types that Ted wrestled or teamed with.

He wrestled less in the next few years, the last I note is 1954 on a Red Garner show at Lakeshore Arena taking on 'Tall' Tom Sullivan, one of Red's trainees

Lots of gaps in Ted's story , if you can add please contact me


Raphael Halpern: The Wrestling Rabbi

  It's December 1961 and top villain Bulldog Brower is destroying everything in his path- literally. Both wrestlers and whatever happens to be in his way at the time. Promoter Frank Tunney was feeding Brower a steady diet of matmen and Brower was disposing of them all, Whipper, Yukon Eric, Kiniski, Stasiak, and on.

  Coming into the area was the 'Wrestling Rabbi' Raphael Halpern. This was no gimmick, Halpern, originally from Austria was an ordained Rabbi with a full background in amateur wrestling and ran several bodybuilding clubs at the time he first appeared at Maple Leaf Gardens.

  He ran up numerous wins before Tunney decided to feed him to the Bulldog in March 1962. Brower had lost his first bout 2 weeks prior to Bill 'Brute' Soloweyko (later aka Klondike Bill) by dq and after beating the Brute in a re-match was again frothing at the mouth for the highly touted challenge by Halpern. The Rabbi was said to be un-defeated not only here, but in his entire pro career.

  The bout sees Halpern using an array of high flying moves and his speed keepS Brower on his toes and unable to mount his usual destructive offense. The bout went on late due to a long tag bout between Whipper and The Brute vs the Tolos Brothers and was called in the 11th minute due to curfew. The crowd roared its applause when ref Joe Gollob raised Halpern's arm as the winner by decision.

  Bulldog celebrated his 2nd loss in 27 bouts at MLG by 'kicking a bald headed man when the crowd surged about the ramp as he (Brower) departed the ring.'

  While he was in town Halpern appeared at several synagogues for lectures and was photographed giving Toronto mayor Nathan Phillips a prayer book brought over from Israel.

  The re-match with Brower a week later saw Brower get the win when Halpern hit the floor and couldn't return. Halpern continued to appear both in Toronto and in Hamilton and on Mar 22 1962 the MLG card was held with some proceeds going to about 120 organizations under a banner of 'The Israeli Group.'

  Halpern beats Brower by dq in the main event but loses the re-match the following week by count-out again.  That was the last bout here for Halpern who soon returned to Israel and was said to
popularize the pro sport there before retiring in 1973. He passed on in 2011 at the age of 87

Very interesting guy, google him for more info

Thanks to Roger Baker