CCWA Middleweight Title 1951-1961

Red Garner's Central Canadian Wrestling Alliance was a powerhouse circuit from about 1948-1961 holding weekly cards and with it's own champions.
Champ Red Garner

Red famously trained many wrestlers and his cards were the proving ground for stars including Dave McKigney, Waldo Von Erich, Mike Scicluna, Ron Doner, as well as an assortment of light heavyweights who made their names across Ontario and throughout Quebec.

For most of the 1950's Red promoted Richmond Hill Arena and the Thornhill Market (sometimes known as the York Market) year round in addition to shows around Toronto and Southern Ontario. Red was a light heavyweight star in his early days and many of the wrestlers on his shows were in the -under 180lbs class- and called 'Middleweights'.

From 1951 to at least 1960 the main Title defended on these cards was the Canadian Middleweight Title. There were also Tag Titles, a Labbatt Tag Trophy, and at times the heavyweight Canadian Title but the most active during those years was the Middleweight Title.

This is a look at the lineage of that title, sourced from results. As with the North American Title lineage it is followed as best as we can with whats available. It will be ongoing as we source more results from the other towns on the circuit where some of the unknown changes took place.
Red Garner's Central Canadian Wrestling Alliance was a powerhouse circuit from about 1948-1961 holding weekly cards based around his home of Richmond Hill, ON just north of Toronto. 

Red famously trained many wrestlers, his cards the proving ground for stars including Dave McKigney, Wally Sieber, Mike Scicluna, Ron Doner, Gori Ed Mangotich, as well as an assortment of light heavyweights who made their names across Ontario and Quebec, as well as UK & European scenes. 

Garner promoted Richmond Hill Arena and the Thornhill Market (sometimes known as the York Market) year round, in addition to shows around Toronto and Southern Ontario. Red was a noted light heavyweight amateur star in his early days and many of the wrestlers on his shows were in the -under 180lbs class- and called 'Middleweights'.

From 1951 to at least 1960 the main title defended was the Canadian Middleweight Title. There were also Tag Titles, a Labbatt Tag Trophy, and at times the heavyweight Canadian Title but the most active during those years was the Middleweight Title.


1951/./. Jack Diamond - Hamilton
*appears on scene in mid 1952 with belt said to have brought from Quebec and defending it in Hamilton in 1951
*Diamond called 'The Hamilton Hood'

1952/09/16 Ed 'Gori' Mangotich - Richmond Hill Arena
*2/3 falls Mangotich wins 3rd fall with Indian Deathlock
*Mangotich is well known amateur and pro nicknamed 'Killer' and at times 'Mangler' and billed from Ryding, On, an area of Toronto
*Brother Doni also wrestles, sometimes as a brothers tag with Gori. Doni is known as the 'Ryding Roughneck'
In later years Gori sometimes called 'The Svengali of the mat' and would do a hypnotizing act on fans

A writeup for a Keswick card on Oct 21 has Diamond still as champ.

Mangotich is champ through 1953. In May/June he has a series of bouts with rookie Baron (Waldo) Von Seiber including bouts at Lakeshore Arena in Toronto and in Guelph. Seiber billed from Bradford debuted for Garner in 1951 and had been working his way up the cards.

1954/06/(09) Red Garner - Lakeshore Arena
*Mangotich was still champ as of Jun 8 and the two met at Lakeshore on Jun 9 with Garner winning. No mention of title change but was clean win
*June 24 writeup for July 1 Thornhill show says Garner won in Toronto and will make first defense Jul 1 in Richmond Hill
*Garner was previously billed as former Middleweight champ as he held titles in Toronto and Quebec in his early career in the late 1930s

In July there is a Tournament at Weston Arena in Toronto with winner to meet Garner
Contestants include Mangotich, Orlando, Osborne, Van Dyke, Dubois, Greenfield, Flicker, Parisi, Sullivan and others.
Mangotich, Van Dyke, Orlando

1954/11/30 Tom Sullivan - Thornhill Market
*Sullivan takes 2/3 falls , nearly 1,000 fans riot after bout
*'Tall Tom' or 'Honest Tom' from Brampton also has a brother Jerry that wrestles, both are Garner trainees

In late 1954 Les Lyman is being billed as Canadian Heavyweight Champion
Separate lineage, some of the lighter guys would move up over the years to compete.
Title makes sporadic appearances on Garner cards through the 1950s, Baron Von Sieber (Waldo) holds it later in the decade. Lyman also promotes his own cards around Toronto with his own crew and some crossover

1955/06/11 Stoney Brooks - Campbellford Arena
*Defeats Sullivan, Andy 'Stoney' Brooks is billed as being from Campbellford, sometimes called 'The Great Scot'
*He marries another of Red's daughters to become part of the extended Garner family

1955/../.. Al Orlando 
*as of Nov 24 Al Orlando is champ
*Al(edo) Orlando billed from Malton, ON

1956/05/29 Jack Diamond (2) - Thornhill Market
*Diamond took 2/3 falls from Orlando, the two brawled out to the parking lot after the bout

1956/06/12 Al Orlando - Richmond Hill Arena
*Orlando takes 2 straight falls from Diamond

1956/09/18 Ed 'Gori' Mangotich (2) - Thornhill Market

1956/09/25 Harold Van Dyke - Thornhill Market
*beats Gori Mangotich 2/3 falls
*Van Dyke was subbing for injured Al Orlando
From Richmond Hill Van Dyke is another Garner trainee

1956/12/18 Ron 'Wildcat' Osborne - Thornhill Market
*Osborne won 3rd fall by submission from Van Dyke with a screw and twist hold
*Osborne billed alternately from Willowdale in Toronto and other times as the 'Stratford Streak'

1957/05/07 Stoney Brooks - Thornhill Market

1957/07/.. Ray Schrier - Guelph Memorial Gardens
*Brooks is still champ on Jul 19 - Schrier said to be from Fergus, other article calls him Carl Schrier of Fergus and Montreal

1957/11/05 Stoney Brooks (2) - Thornhill Market
*says he beats 'Carl' Schrier of Montreal - Carl/Ray
*Schrier had not defended the title since he won it from Brooks in July
*Brooks had beat Orlando on Oct 29 to become #1 contender

1957/11/19 Al Orlando (2) - Thornhill Market
*beats Brooks 2/3

1958 Jan 28 Stoney Brooks wins a tournament to meet World Middleweight Champ Rudy Valee
beats Billy Foster in Final, beat Al Orlando in first bout, bye for second round
*Tournament staged over 3 cards
Aledo is still Champ - keeps title despite loss in Tournament

1958/03/18 Juan Lopez - Thornhill Market
*Lopez beats Al Orlando when ref Chief Little Beaver stops bout as Orlando is cut
*Lopez had held the World Middleweight Title in 1938 and had met Red Garner at Mutual St Arena in Toronto for a bout

On Apr 4 the 'World's Middleweight Champion' Roger Vallee makes an appearance to take on Tourny winner Stoney Brooks. Said to be recognized by the Quebec Athletic Association, Maritime Wrestling Association, and the New England Wrestling Alliance. Vallee is billed from Montreal, PQ and Garner says 'he better be good, he's costing us enough money to be Lou Thesz.' Vallee was active on Sylvio Samson's Quebec circuit of which Garner, Mangotich, and the Siebers had wrestled on earlier in the decade. Vallee returns in March 1959 to meet then local champ Gideon Gideen and again in Feb 1960 to meet champ Al Orlando.

1958/Oct-Nov Jack Diamond (3)
*Nov 18 Card -Jack Diamond bout as champ , says he beat Lopez, Lopez still champ as of Oct 7
*unable to find bout

1959/03/10 Gideon Gideen - Thornhill Market
*Gideen beats Jack Diamond

1959/05/12 Billy Foster - Thornhill Market
*no results but Foster is champ on next card May 19 after bout against Gideen on 12th

1959/12/01 Al Orlando (3) - Thornhill Market
*Orlando beats Billy Foster

1960 as of Feb 16 Orlando still champ

1960/../.. Karl Mueller 
*Mueller is champ as of Oct 6

Wrestlers in Halls of Fame

If anyone can contribute to this please do, just starting
Will list wrestlers, promoters, others who tried wrestling etc.

Ontario natives or regulars, Name of HOF, link

Canada's Sports HOF

Ontario Sports HOF
Hamilton Sports HOF

Brantford Area Sports Hall

BILLY BOWMAN aka Major Tom Thumb
Brantford Area Sports Hall

Brantford Area Sports Hall

Ontario Sports HOF

Clarington Sports HOF

Pro Football HOF

Canada's Sports HOF
Hockey HOF

Canada's Sports HOF-

North Bay Sports HOF

North Bay Sports HOF

North Bay Sports HOF

Niagara Falls Virtual Sports Wall Of Fame


PHOTOS: Dory Funk Jr. defends NWA title: 1973; Gary Will's TWH

PHOTOS: Dory Funk Jr. defends NWA title: 1973

On February 11, 1973, Dory Funk Jr. successfully defended the NWA world heavyweight title at Maple Leaf Gardens against challenger Johnny Valentine.

A good portion of the match consisted of Valentine holding Funk in a front face-lock, but February 11 would turn out not to be Valentine's day, as Funk would come back to win the match in 28:12. Reported attendance was 14,000. The referee is Tiger Tasker.

You can see in the photos how the crowd lights would go out during the matches, leaving only the lights above the ring. You can also see the famous Gardens ramp in the background.

-by Gary Will

Unmasked! -- Wrestlers who lost their masks in Toronto : Gary Will's TWH

Masked wrestlers in Toronto date back to the first appearance of the area's first Masked Marvel in 1932. More than 20 wrestlers lost their masks in the ring in Toronto:

36/06/18   The UnknownHal RumbergJim McMillen
38/09/29Masked MarvelTed CoxMayes McLain
41/11/27Masked WolfJohn GrandovichThe Angel
43/08/12Red ShadowLeo NumaWild Bill Longson
44/01/05The CzarDick LeverBobby Managoff
48/01/08The MummyPedro MartinezMasked Marvel
49/01/27Mr. XEarl McCreadyMasked Marvel & tag partners
49/02/17Masked MarvelLew ReynheerWhipper Billy Watson
51/02/22Masked ManagerMayes McLainWhipper Billy Watson
51/08/30Masked MarvelLou NewmanThe Zebra
51/11/29The ZebraGeorge BollasWhipper Billy Watson
52/12/26Masked MarvelFrank ValoisRed Mask
53/06/11Red MaskDutch HefnerLou Thesz
59/06/04Great BoloAl LovelockWhipper Billy Watson
61/05/25Black TerrorLaverne BaxterWhipper Billy Watson
64/01/16The DestroyerJoe ChristieJohnny Valentine
64/05/06Mighty Herculesnot identifiedJohnny Valentine
66/07/10Masked Yankee DandyBob StanleeWhipper Watson/Bulldog Brower
66/07/10Masked Yankee Doodle   Moose EvansWhipper Watson/Bulldog Brower
71/07/11Masked AssassinGuy MitchellThe Sheik
74/04/07The CrusaderDewey Robertson   The Sheik
80/05/25Masked Superstar #2John StuddBlackjack Mulligan
84/04/15AssassinRay HernandezJimmy Valiant

Four Masked Marvels were unmasked in Toronto, but the first one -- the one from 1932 -- never was. It was said to be Al Getzewich, who was unmasked later that year in Ottawa by Strangler Lewis.

The later versions of the Masked Marvel were sometimes called The Mask, as in the ad at right. That's for the August 30, 1951 show where Zebra unmasked The Mask and revealed him to be Vancouver's Lou Newman.

The Mighty Hercules from 1964 was said to be Bobby Graham in the papers, but he was the only one who was not formally identified after having his mask removed.

-by Gary Will 

MLG Footage - 1957 Part Card

Thanks to Jon Boucher -  Twitter @jon_boucher for converting this and sharing with the fans!

Jan 17 1957 MLG
Billy Red Lyons vs Baron Gattoni
Bill & Ed Miller vs Pat Flanagan & Ken Kenneth
Edouard Carpentier vs Steve Stanlee

A tag bout in the middle of the card and the main are not included.
Whipper Watson vs Gene Kiniski
Moto & Hito vs The Brunettis

Note from Roger 
      'Thanks for the wonderful wrestling that took place at M.L.G. so long ago, I remember all of the participants. Phil Lisner, refs Bert Maxwell, Cliff Worthy, Bunny Dunlop,and old friend Joe Gollub. How I remember sitting at times with announcer Jerry Hiff at the ring side table, however always keeping my eyes on what was going on. As for the wrestlers on this card, Carpentier, Billy Red Lyons, Baron Gattoni who I saw previously on TV from Buffalo, Ed and Bill Miller, Steve Stanlee, and our own mule kicking Pat Flanagan.

I may very well have been in attendance for this show, not sure. Was a ticket holding fan, about a year away from becoming a roaming wrestling reporter.'
-Roger Baker

Memories of Toronto with Roger Baker; Tex McKenzie

We are very fortunate to have Roger Baker contributing his vast knowledge and memories of Toronto wrestling to this site.  
This time, memories of Tex McKenzie ! 

Tex McKenzie at MLG 

'That Tex he's always got a lot of stories to bend an ear to, me thinks it's mostly his imagination' mused Scottish wrestling star Andy Robin.

Robin was correct on that call. This wrestling photographer spent some time with the happy-go- lucky McKenzie back in the mid 1960's, at this time he was making regular appearances in Toronto's Maple Leaf Gardens.

Big Tex Mckenzie sending out some postcards in Toronto  

Tex was a fan favorite, and  he would enter the ring waving his huge ''Stetson'' cowboy hat to the cheering fans in attendance.

I made a point to introduce myself to the big guy, and as a result Tex and I got along very well, Several times we went to different arenas were he was appearing, and it was the same enthusiastic response that Tex would receive whenever the ring side announcers would introduce the tall smiling wrestler to the crowd.

Chris Tolos braces for a big knee lift. Johnny Barend in background

Now to go back to Andy Robin's comment about Tex always having another story to tell. Yes it was true. McKenzie was an avid sailor, and he could go on for lengthy periods, expounding on his past sailing experience's, as well as other destinations that would follow after he hung up his wrestling boots.

Another of big Tex's pleasures and one that he often would bring up in conversation was his love of fresh seafood, I was driving with Tex from Toronto, to Hamilton On. were he was to appear that night in a six man tag match, he would partner with Andy Robin and Johnny Barend against Bulldog Brower and the Tolos Brothers John and Chris.

Mackenzie rams Chris Tolos in Hamilton Forum match

On the way back to Toronto Tex and myself made plans to go one of Toronto's best seafood restaurants ''The Town and Country Buffet'' this seafood lovers dream was situated on the West side of Jarvis st. just north of Dundas street east.

All you can eat cracked crab was the seafood special, and this feature along with great service were the hallmarks of this great Toronto restaurant.

Regards , Roger

Tex digs into his meal!

Tex and a very sharp dressed Roger Baker dine at the 'Town & Country Buffet' Toronto 

Toronto's Longest Runs -- The 25-Year Club: Gary Will's TWH

These are the wrestlers with the longest gap between their first Toronto appearance for a major promotion and their last:

Lou Thesz36.6
Lee Henning35.3
Ivan Kalmikoff33.2
Sky Low Low32.4
Whipper Billy Watson31.1
Little Beaver30.7
Joe "Killer" Christie30.0
Ric Flair28.6
Dick Beyer / The Destroyer28.0
Billy Red Lyons27.4
Pat Flanagan27.2
Wee Willie Davis27.0
Killer Kowalski26.7
Gene Kiniski26.5
Al Costello26.3
Nanjo Singh26.2
Lord Athol Layton26.0
Don Jardine / The Spoiler25.8
Mike Mazurki25.8
Bobo Brazil25.3
Bruno Sammartino25.2
Paul "Butcher" Vachon25.2

This is different from a list of wrestlers with the most matches in Toronto, since several of these guys had lengthy gaps where they made no appearances here. For example, Dick Beyer didn't wrestle in Toronto after 1961, until returning 18 years later as The Destroyer. Don Jardine didn't wrestle in Toronto for over 20 years after starting in the area in the late 1950s, but he came back for a few matches as The Spoiler in the mid-1980s. Nanjo Singh served a prison sentence for killing his wife before his final run in Toronto. 

-by Gary Will

The Myth Of Whipper

  There is the other side of the conversation about Whipper Watson. Not the one that talks about the pride of East York as a humanitarian, or as the tireless crusader for children with disabilities, or of the man who places high on any list of great Canadians, wrestlers or otherwise. 

It's the one about his 'real' wrestling skills, his legacy as one of the greats among peers Bill Longson, Gus Sonnenberg, Earl McCready, and Lou Thesz. Or more accurately, the lack of a legacy amongst the talk of shooters and hookers and the like.

There are a few things to consider when looking at Whipper's career to be able to judge him fairly as a wrestler. His prime, shortened by injuries early in his career came mostly before the advent of TV. By the time Watson became the big Canadian star with CBC's TV Wrestling from Maple Leaf Gardens in the mid 1950's, his best years were mostly behind him.

In his prime in the 1940's, his early years on the busy amateur circuit and his training under the watchful eye of Phil Lawson are worth a look to gain insight to his skills in the ring. 

Main pic: with Lawson, McCready 1942

The Early Years 
Phil Lawson, notably known as Whipper's trainer and manager was a real powerhouse in the city running shows and training upstarts for many years. An accomplished amateur himself he had been both City and Ontario champion since starting at the YMCA as a kid around 1910. In 1921 he won the Provincial Light Heavyweight Title in boxing, and in 1926 the Canadian Lightweight Championship in Wrestling. 

 Lawson took over training for the YMCA in 1926  and started training Whipper around 1931. Officially he became Whip's manager in 1940 but he had already being using his specialized training regimens from the time a teenaged Watson had first found the sport.  By the 1930's he was solidly entrenched in the sporting scene for both wrestling and boxing. Besides Watson, Lawson trained Billy Stack and worked with many others that frequented the MLG cards. Lawson was also very tight in the wrestling/boxing office of Jack Corcoran prior to- and after -the Tunney's taking over. He was later described as 'the eyes, ears, and sometimes mind of Tunney' as they shaped and built a modest start in wrestling to one of the most successful on the continent.

 In the early 1930s Toronto was teeming with wrestling, both professional and amateur. Many of the country's top amateur stars were from here or based in the city. Watson, at that time was still East York boy Bill Potts, and was wrestling on amateur cards that included Fred Spittles -Al Hamilton/Al Spittles future trainer of stars, Al Korman - longtime fixture and future ref, and Ted McKinley - noted amateur/pro, won Silver in wrestling at the 1934 British Empire Games. 

Others included Ben(gal) Engbloom -noted amateur here and overseas, the soon-to-be Pat Flanagan (Winnett Watson), and longtime wrestler and ref Cliff Worthy. Whipper wrestled for the Scarboro wrestling club and worked up to 190lbs.   
A trip to Europe honed the young Watson's skills. His success came fast once he returned from the U.K. and secured a spot on Tunney's cards. In his second pro bout at MLG, a 1940 contest vs Bobby Robert, Watson got the win and in a Joe Perlove recap 'seems headed for bigger things in the local mat scheme.' A week later Perlove wrote that Watson got the 'best hand of the night' after beating the aging Jerry Monahan in a 17 minute bout. 

Lawson & Whip 1945
Local Hero   
By November Perlove was proclaiming Watson as a 'local hero' who 'bids fair to be white-haired Johnny of Ontario Wrestling rings.' Perlove did a small feature on Watson and recounted the much heard origin story of being introduced by brother George to Wrestling at All Hallows Church in Toronto. Further training under Lawson and then his trip England via Ireland and training under George de Relwyskow, a noted promoter in the British Isles. 

Some lesser know tidbits in the Perlove article include a mention of Whipper appearing in several movies, including one as a Detective, and wrestling Tiger Tasker in another  featuring George Formsby (likely 1937's boxing themed Keep Fit). Perloves says in another 1937 film 'The Rat' Whipper was doubling for star Anton Wallbrook. 

That film also had Bob Gregory who was one of Whipper's travelling partners while in the U.K. Gregory married a then member of British Royalty, the Princess of Sarawak and arrived here in 1938 for a memorable visit. Watson meanwhile was said to win the European Light-Heavyweight crown in his travels as well as meet and marry his wife Eileen, bringing her back to Canada. 

 Another variation on the origin story has Whipper answering an ad for wrestlers, hitchhiking to Montreal, and then heading to Wales, then on to England where he received 8 pounds sterling (about 13$) for his first bout. A note in the Star from 1936 supports the Perlove version, with Potts, Tasker, Korman, and Tommy Nelson (long time Tunney office guy/promoter), along with Harry Joyce as a manager sailing out from Montreal the week of June 8 1936. According to the blurb another group was scheduled to head out the following month. A subsequent trip included the then Winnett Watson, soon to be renamed as Flanagan. 

Some programs from England 1936-37

Back in Toronto in 1940 Whipper soon faced George K.O. Koverly in a special one hour bout said to determine the next main eventer in Toronto. The bout ended badly for Watson but set the tone for the coming stardom for the young grappler. Watson ended up out cold on the floor after taking a beating from Koverly who had also knocked referee Bunny Dunlop to the mat. 

The fans unhappy with the result tried to get at Koverly as he made a hasty retreat to the dressing room. This was in the pre-ramp days and Koverly, despite the police presence, was attacked by fans. Once he had made his exit the fans went after Dunlop, and finally after the photogs who had vacated the press table during the melee. Some 200 fans wouldn't give up, even when ushered out of the Gardens, milling about until the ambulance came and took Watson away on a stretcher to St Michaels Hospital around the corner. The new crowd favorite was said to have taken a stiff punch on the chin while off-balance injuring his neck in the process. 

In 1941 before his first main event, again vs Koverly, Whipper was pictured in the Star sparring with soon to be World boxing featherweight champ Jack 'Spider' Armstrong. In the 1940's and 1950's they kept the ring set up in the basement of the Gardens for the wrestlers to work out between cards. They  also set up the ring in its usual spot a day or two before a card if the arena was free, and some of the stars wrestled exhibitions in front of small crowds of reporters and other insiders. Longson, Thesz, Watson, and their opponents or sparring partners, including Dunlop, Ted Christie, Frank Hewitt, Billy Stack, Flanagan, and others. 

 In those early years Watson took a lot of abuse in his bouts. He was a high flyer with a ton of energy. He was constantly going over the ropes to the floor and for a (rising) star of his stature took a lot of stretcher exits from the floor at MLG. Some of these falls led to the injuries that hampered his style. He started to suffer some serious neck and back injuries in the 1940's leading to a change in style as he progressed. Not as much as his doctors may have liked, those injuries continuing to pile up through the 1950s.

Wild Bill
 A long and successful rivalry with Wild Bill Longson spanned the 1940s and resulted in a World title win for Watson when he beat Longson in 1947. Wild Bill had held the title for 4 years and rarely lost.  He was close with Tunney and had helped the young promoter gain a foothold in the lean years prior to Whipper arriving on the scene. While Watson only held the title for a few months, he was soon firmly entrenched in the upper tier of the best wrestlers in the game. He and Longson thrilling the Toronto fans with tough and exciting bouts, the fans riled to riot on many occasions. Wild Bill often having to flee under the ring until the cops could get him out- before the ramp. 

1954. By 1956 he had dropped 30lbs and was in great shape leading to the title win.

The Toronto papers reporting on Whippers win over Longson in St Louis proclaimed him 'wrestling's No. 1 box office attraction.' St Louis programs lauded Whippers speed and noted his popularity and exciting ring work. Longson was viewed as a legit type and many of those bouts go 30-40-60 minutes of action and earn attention from all over the wrestling world. 

Wrestling was long past legit by the 1940's and Whipper didn't really beat Longson or Thesz, but he was good enough in the eyes of those who mattered to be able to hold the big title. In his later years Thesz (who was often brutally honest) was asked about Whipper and always answered amicably. That Watson was a 'fine wrestler,' and 'tough.'  Not to say Whipper was picked because of his skills. Of course Tunney's influence within the NWA would rate, and that he was trusted to return the title, but it was not a one-man vote. He had the respect of the top stars both in the ring and out of it. 


Whipper UK programs from Twitter or one of the UK guys sent it, thank you

Memories of Toronto with Roger Baker: Sam Steamboat

Roger Baker sends along a great photo he took of Sam Steamboat being helped out at Maple Leaf Gardens in 1962. We were lucky to see his namesake Ricky Steamboat here during the Mid-Atlantic era and as Roger relates Sam was quite a wrestler too.

'Back in the late 50's early '60's a very popular Hawaiian wrestler made regular appearances at MLG. The fans recognized the exciting wrestling skills that were possessed by this newcomer to the Toronto scene.

Steamboat wrestled mid card in Toronto in the early sixties and the fans who enjoyed his wrestling style had good reason, Steamboat was discovered and trained by the great Lou Thesz. Steamboat patterned his wrestling style closely to that of Thesz, and to see him launch the Lou Thesz press was a visual treat.'


Steamboat is being helped by tag partner Jim Hady and ref Cliff Worthy. Ref Bert Maxwell looks on.

Thanks Roger!

Oshawa Postcard Mailer circa 1948


A postcard type mailer with many/most of the wrestlers that had appeared in Oshawa up to this point 1948 or so. 

Wrestling's Big Three Whipper Watson - Lou Thesz - Wild Bill Longson

Interesting to see the Ontario Athletic Commission (OAC) referees listed. Al 'Bunny Dunlop' Bert 'The Little Flower of Uxbridge' Maxwell, and Ernie Powers were all regular refs in Toronto and on the circuit. Former boxing champs Joe Sharkey and Jack Dempsey refereed many bouts in Ontario while Ed 'Strangler' Lewis did occasional guest spots (some while legally blind!). Ben Fallman may be the Oshawa ref that shows up in many photos. 


Whipper Billy Watson vs Gorgeous George, March 12, 1959: Gary Will's TWH

It may be the most famous match in Toronto that didn't involve a world title switch. On March 12, 1959 Whipper Billy Watson defeated Gorgeous George in a match where the stipulations were that Watson would retire if he lost and George would have his head shaved if he was defeated. It was a no-curfew, there-must-be-a-winner match, so promoter Frank Tunney had just about guaranteed the fans that one of the stipulations would be carried out. And it was.

George had just turned 44 the previous month, but he was an old 44 and his hall-of-fame career was clearly on the downswing. He had made his first appearance in Toronto in 1948 and wrestled Watson at Maple Leaf Gardens that year and again in 1956. Watson had won both of the previous matches and this would be their third meeting in Toronto.

The stipulations were only announced five days before the match. On February 26, George had made his first appearance in Toronto in three years, defeating a clean-cut youngster named Wally Sieber who was being groomed as the next Whipper Billy Watson (it didn't last long; he soon left town and went back to his earlier evil German gimmick and became known world-wide as Waldo Von Erich). Watson himself had been away for nearly three months, and came back on the same show to wrestle Gene Kiniski in the main event. The show drew 12,000 fans.

Neither Watson nor George appeared on the next Toronto show on March 5, but a couple of days after that card, it was announced that they would meet each other in a hair vs career match on the 12th.

It drew 14,000 fans, which was the largest attendance for any Toronto show that year. The end came with George in Watson's sleeper, the Canuck Commando Unconscious, and Kiniski running into the ring to attack Watson, earning Whipper a DQ win. A parade of babyfaces -- Sieber, Pat Flanagan, Ilio DiPaolo and Mike Valentino (the future Baron Mikel Scicluna) -- raced in from the dressing room to save Watson and after chasing off Kiniski, they helped referee Joe Gollob keep George still while Gardens barber George Hansen did the honours. George's valet (and real-life wife), Cherie, caught the hair in a towel as it was shaved off.

A shorn George was back two weeks later for a rematch against Watson, which Whipper again won. Watson had put up his hair in that match, which drew 12,000. George then wrestled in a couple of main event tag matches partnered with Kiniski.

George came back to Toronto two years later and drew 5,000 fans for a main event against Watson, which was a good number at that time. In May 1961, George lost again to Watson in a match where Cherie's hair was at stake. It drew 8,000. A few pieces of hair were cut off, but then the chivalrous Watson told the barber to stop. There was one rematch between the two the following week, and that was the last time George wrestled in Toronto.

In November 1962, George lost his hair again -- this time to The Destroyer in Los Angeles.

-by Gary Will

Title Histories: Canadian Heavyweight Title


22/07George Walker
   Billed as champion on arrival; still billed as champion, 24/02
29/05Jack Taylor
   Billed as champion on arrival
31/05Earl McCready
   Billed as champion on arrival; still billed as champion, 34/10
38/06Yvon Robert
   Billed as champion on arrival
41/06Earl McCready
   Billed as champion on arrival; Whipper Billy Watson claims the title after defeating McCready in the second fall of a best-of-three match, that went to a draw, 41/06/05, Toronto, ON; Watson claims the Canadian title was on the line in each fall; McCready defeats Watson, 41/06/12, Toronto, ON, to end the dispute; a scheduled match between McCready and Yvon Robert on 41/11/06, Toronto, ON, is billed as a battle between Canadian title claimants; Robert is a no-show for the match and neither wrestler's claim to the title is mentioned again
54/06Al Mills
   Billed as champion on arrival for one match
78/12/17      Dino BravoToronto, ON
   Defeats Gene Kiniski
79/04/08Greg ValentineToronto, ON
79/06/03Dino Bravo [2]Toronto, ON
   Bravo leaves the area
79/09/09Dewey RobertsonToronto, ON
   Defeats Greg Valentine in tournament final
80/05/25Great Hossein Arab (Iron Sheik)Toronto, ON
80/07/20Angelo MoscaToronto, ON
80/08/10Great Hossein Arab [2]Toronto, ON
80/12/28Angelo Mosca [2]Toronto, ON
81/07/12Mr. FujiToronto, ON
81/07/26Angelo Mosca [3]Toronto, ON
81/09/20Big John StuddToronto, ON
82/01/17Angelo Mosca [4]Toronto, ON
83/07/24Sergeant SlaughterToronto, ON
84/01/22Angelo Mosca [5]Toronto, ON
84/04/29Ivan KoloffToronto, ON
   Defeats Brian Adidas in tournament final
84/06/10Angelo Mosca Jr.Toronto, ON

-By Gary Will 

Whippers Beverages

If you browse on e-bay from time to time you will find some old 'Whipper's Beverages' bottles, caps , and occasionally other merchandise from the short lived foray by Whipper Watson into the beverage business.

The bottles are highly collectable and can go for hundreds of dollars. They featured a pose of Whipper with his British Empire Title from the mid 1940's on the front while the back of the neck had 'The Champion of Drinks.' The reverse of the bottle featured a wrestling hold illustrated and the name of the hold below it.

I'm not sure how many different versions there were but have noted about 10 different holds pictured on the bottles I've seen.

Whipper got in to the beverage business in early 1948. It was set up through Dominion Beverages and he went in with his brother George who worked for the RCMP at the time and for many years after. They were evidently very busy as of July 1948 as Whipper was out looking for new digs as they had too much inventory for their current location.

An item at the time also mentioned another venture with George, a cabinet making operation said to be worth 20k, while the Beverages company with 3 trucks said to be worth 40k. 

At MLG 1949
They were, in the meantime, keeping their overflow at a farm, likely Whipper's spread up in Kewsick, Whipper was talking with area storekeepers who were eager for him to make personal appearances to promote the drinks.

They didn't list ingredients back then but it's likely there was a ton of sugar in these, kind of against the healthy living that Whipper promoted throughout his life. They had Cream Soda, Root Beer, Orange, Lime, and others. 

The marketing involved Whipper's Safety Club which you could join by sending in some bottlecaps from the drinks. They claimed up to 150,000 members across Canada and into the U.S.

Whipper was very busy on all fronts as he was making real money by this time headlining the weekly cards in Toronto. He also buys into a Kitchen run by his (other) brother Larry which ran out of a plant where they prepared the orders. Whipper also enlisted some friends as Distributors, fellow wrestler Billy Stack handled his home area of Bowmanville in 1950.

By 1951 it was done
Notice to creditors
Trustee under the Bulk Sales Act to receive purchase monies from the sale of the plant and equipment of Whippers Beverages Ltd 435 Dawes Rd Toronto which have been sold to Seven-Up Ontario and Dominion Dry Ginger Ale Company for distribution among the creditors of Whippers Beverages Limited. 


1929 Ring Results: Gary Will's TWH

Some of the wrestlers making their Toronto debuts in 1929: Jim Londos, Gus Sonnenberg, Ed Strangler Lewis, Toots Mondt, Stanley Stasiak, and John Katan. All shows were held at Arena Gardens (later known as Mutual Street Arena) and all were promoted by Ivan Mickailoff.

29/05/04 Att: 500 Arena Gardens
Jack Taylor W Jack Rogers (2-0)
Wladek Zbyszko WDec Abe Kaplan, 45:00
Henri Deglane W Karl Oscard, 25:00

29/05/11 Att: 500 Arena Gardens
Jack Taylor W Pat McKay (2-0)
Renato Gardini W George Zaharias
Joe Toots Mondt D Matros Kirilenko, 45:00
Abe Kaplan W Karl Oscard, 19:00

29/05/18 Arena Gardens
Jack Taylor W Ned McCarr (2-0)
Joe Toots Mondt W Tony Rocco, 12:00
Wladek Zbyszko W Nick Volkoff, 15:00
Show is reorganized when wrestlers arrive late due to train troubles

29/05/23 Arena Gardens
Joe Toots Mondt W Ned McCarr (2-0)
Mondt subs for Renato Gardini
Jack Taylor W Wladek Zbyszko
Dan Koloff W Jack Rogers

29/05/30 Arena Gardens
Jack Taylor W Fred Grobmier (2-1)
Joe Toots Mondt WDec Tom Moore
Dan Koloff W Ned McCarr

29/06/06 Arena Gardens
Jim Londos W Tom Moore (2-0)
Fred Grobmier D Sam Rubin (Freddy Meyers), 45:00
Wladek Zbyszko WCOR Pat McKay, 13:00

29/06/13 Arena Gardens
Stanislaus Zbyszko W Fred Grobmier (2-0), 51:30
Jack Taylor WDec Gino Garibaldi, 45:00
Tom Moore WDQ Ned McCarr, 10:00

29/06/20 Arena Gardens
Jack Taylor W Tom Moore (2-0)
Scheduled to be Taylor vs Bill Nelson and Moore vs John Grandovich; Grandovich is prevented from entering Canada
Gino Garibaldi W Ned McCarr, 39:00
Ivan Mickailoff vs Bill Nelson, 30:00
Match is announced as an exhibition and no decision is given; this was promoter Mickailoff's only appearance as a wrestler on his Toronto shows

29/06/27 Arena Gardens
Stanislaus Zbyszko W Ivan Poduboff (2-0), 45:00
Ned McCarr W Fred Grobmier
Jack Taylor vs Yan Sokolsky is cancelled when Sokolosky is said to have been detained at the border

29/07/04 Arena Gardens
Renato Gardini W Frank Altman (2-1)
Jack Taylor D Stanislaus Zbyszko, 45:00
Jim Maloney W Ned McCarr

29/07/11 Arena Gardens
Stanislaus Zbyszko W Bobby Johnson (2-0), 27:40
Jack Taylor W Eugene Lamarque, 25:30
Subs for Frank Altman, who is at the show but has an injured eye
Henri Deglane WDec Ned McCarr, 30:00
Replaces Lamarque

29/07/18 Arena Gardens
Einar Johanneson W Clavio Massimo (2-0), 41:40
Jim Maloney WDec Wladek Zbyszko, 45:00
Jack Taylor WDec Abe Kaplan, 30:00

29/07/25 Arena Gardens
Einar Johanneson W Eugene Lamarque (2-0), 63:30
Jack Taylor D Renato Gardini, 45:00
Stanley Stasiak W Ned McCarr, 19:30
Abe Kaplan W Clavio Massimo, 16:30

29/08/01 Att: 5,000-Arena Gardens
DIAMOND BELT: Wladek Zbyszko W Jim Maloney (2-1), 41:00
Renato Gardini W Ali Hassan, 14:30
Stanley Stasiak WCNC Jack Taylor, 14:00
Taylor breaks his leg

29/08/08 Att: 5,000-Arena Gardens
Renato Gardini WCNC Wladek Zbyszko (1-1)
Stanley Stasiak D Karl Pospeshil, 45:00
Jackie Adams D Alex Kasaboski

29/08/15 Att: 6,000 Arena Gardens
Stanley Stasiak W Renato Gardini (2-1)
Karl Pospeshil W Frank Altman, 28:00
Einar Johanneson W Ali Hassan, 20:00

29/08/22 Att: 5,600 Arena Gardens
Jim Maloney WCNC Stanley Stasiak, 42:30
Renato Gardini W Al Thomas, 14:30
Frank Altman D Abe Kaplan, 30:00
Subs for Ned McCarr

29/08/29 Att: 6,500 Arena Gardens
Jim Maloney WCNC Renato Gardini (0-1)
Stanley Stasiak D Stanislaus Zbyszko, 45:00
Karl Pospeshil W Karl Vogel, 25:00

29/09/05 Arena Gardens
Stanley Stasiak W Jim Maloney (2-1)
Wladek Zbyszko WDec Frank Gaburenko, 45:00
Frank Judson W Ned McCarr, 23:00
Judson subs for Karl Vogel

29/09/12 Arena Gardens
Wladek Zbyszko W Stanley Stasiak (2-1), 38:14
Karl Posposhil W Pat McKay, 15:02
Frank Judson D Frank Gaburenko, 30:00

29/09/26 Arena Gardens
Karl Pospeshil W Einar Johanneson (2-1), 90:00
Jack Milo D Mike Nazarian
Chief War Eagle W Ali Hassan, 15:15
Scheduled bout between Wladek Zbyszko and Karl Vogel is scratched; Vogel said to have been in a train accident; Zbyszko suspended by the athletic commission for not reporting for medical inspection

29/10/03 Arena Gardens
Dan Koloff W Jim Maloney (2-1), 83:00
Koloff subs for Stanislaus Zbyszko
Renato Gardini W Jack Milo, 18:00
Bibber McCoy W Ned McCarr, 9:00

29/10/09 Arena Gardens
Dan Koloff W Stanley Stasiak (2-0), 51:00
Bibber McCoy D Karl Pospeshil, 30:00
Stanislaus Zbyszko D Jim Maloney, 45:00
Subs for Frank Altman

WORLD TITLE: Gus Sonnenberg W Dan Koloff (2-0), 47:00
Stanislaus Zbyszko W George Hills
Karl Pospeshil W Archie Jeannatte
Mike Nazarian W Charles Manugian

29/11/12 Att: 3,500 Arena Gardens
First show of the season
Wladek Zbyszko W George Hills (2-1)
Jack Taylor W Frank Altman, 25:00
Joe DeVito W Cowboy Jack Rogers
Stanley Stasiak was originally booked in Rogers's spot

29/11/25 Arena Gardens
Stanley Stasiak W Jack Taylor (2-1)
Karl Posposhil D George Hills, 45:00
John Katan D Karol Novina, 30:00

29/12/09 Att: 5,000 Arena Gardens
Ed Strangler Lewis W Dan Koloff (2-1), 51:37
George Hills W Joe Varga, 32:30
Count Karol Novina W Charlie Manugian, 10:55

-By Gary Will

Ron Hutchison: Pain Torture Agony!

Do yourself a favor and order the fantastic new book by Toronto's Ron Hutchison
Pain Torture Agony  Excerpts and available at

Ron is a local legend around here but he will be familiar to all wrestling fans as THE trainer of stars. There were many that would endure his regimens which he dubbed PTA -Pain Torture Agony - the title of his autobiography.

Christian, Edge, Trish Stratus, Gail Kim, Beth Phoenix, Johnny Swinger, Joe E. Legend, and many others passed through Ron's training in Toronto, and the telling of his life as he made his way through the wrestling world is truly a fascinating read.

As a local fan who grew up in Toronto watching the same stars, his tale of fan-to-wrestler is the ultimate wrestling fans dream. He takes you from his days as a fan and into Sully's Gym as he realizes his dream of being a pro wrestler- and wrestling at Maple Leaf Gardens!

It's evident from the first days hounding Powers & Siki to train him that there is no substitute for HEART, hard work, and a desire to succeed. That message is abundant throughout the book.

In addition to the very thorough narrative (almost 200 pages with smaller print) there are a ton of great photos from his personal collection scattered throughout with a full album at the back of the book.

There's lots of great stories. A mix of road and ring and a ton of info around the wrestling scene in the late 80's through the 90's, and beyond. The East Coast tours in particular for this Canadian fan, are both revealing as well as a source of some great road tales.

It's a super interesting look at what goes into training, getting work, running TV, promotion, and arranging shows. The chapters dealing with pro training are a virtual encyclopedia on a side of the sport we rarely see.

I really learned a lot, both about Ron and the inner workings of that era. As it turns out I had missed Ron's pro wrestling debut in Summer 1983 on a McKigney show by one week (tell me it isn't so re: payoff). Did recall his WWF TV bouts early in the WWF years here (covered with some great local recollections), and didn't realize I was at the very first Apocalypse Wrestling card in Scarborough in which he had a hand in (have my own Abdullah connection to that one).

In typical Canadian fashion he downplays the role he played in others successes but there are lots of tributes added in from others. It works very well in the context of the book, lots of positive messages, working back to where it all started -Toronto's iconic Sully's Gym -which is prominent throughout..

It's a very honest and revealing look at pro wrestling as it really was. From defending being a fan in schoolyards, rinks, etc. (did that too) to dealing with all the issues that go with wrestling in Ontario, across Canada - and Worldwide (see India!).

Overall a very informative and fun read. I thoroughly enjoyed Ron's story and would recommend it for wrestling fans of all ages. A great book to take to the beach - in any weather.

Well done !

Excerpts and available at
Ron is on Twitter at @RonHutchison1

We had a lengthy chat with Ron about growing up a fan in Toronto 

Niagara Falls Posters

A collection of Niagara Falls Ontario Posters from 1953 and 1954. Sammy Sobel ran the town for the Queensbury office for nearly 30 years. Sobel wore many hats in the office. He was a manager of Vic Christie in the 1930s and also ran Hamilton & Ottawa in the earlier days. At that time Niagara Falls was part of the busy circuit which included many of the towns around Southern Ontario. The Whipper-Togo feud was the highlight, setting records as they tore across the region.
More on Sobel at Sammy Sobel