Norm Kimber: Announcer Extraordinaire

    For fans of the Mid-Atlantic era and into the last years of the NWA days here, memories of Norm Kimber will rate high when recalling wrestling in the city. He was the 'voice' at MLG, usually very serious and business-like, but often looking to be holding back a smile while surrounded by the craziness of the ring.

 Well dressed in a suit, tux, or occasionally a sports coat with sweater underneath, he brought an air of sophistication to the proceedings. He introduced the wrestlers and promoted the next big show at MLG. And he manned the ring bell at the table beside the ring. The same table went back to the 1950s where once Pat Flanagan and Frank Tunney and others had sat. 

Main pic with old pal Pat Flanagan MLG Hot Stove Lounge 1969. 

 By the time we knew him as Norm Kimber the ring announcer, he had already put in many years in the office. First as a man-friday type and then taking over the publicity chores before taking over the ringside duties, apparently 38 years in total.

 He was in the office at the height of the 1950's revival of pro wrestling. Possibly as early as 1948 when Norm was just 17-18 years old. He had been working as a copy/messenger boy at the Toronto Star when the great sportswriter Joe Perlove introduced him to Frank Tunney.

 He later said in a Star piece 'It was wonderful for me, because I had been a sports fan all my life.' Of Frank he said ‘he was the easiest going guy you ever wanted to meet, respected by everyone in sports. He always had a cigar in his mouth, and even when he quit smoking I think he kept a rubber one there.'

 At that time the office was busy with boxing people, reporters, and the wrestlers that were part of the inner circle that worked with Tunney through those years. Along with publicity man Frank Ayerst and Kimber there were 'Deacon' Allen, Phil Lisner, Tommy Nelson, and various scribes who frequented the office, as well as Frank's nephew Jack who came in soon after.

 Kimber took over the ring announcing duties in 1973 replacing long-time announcer Gerry Hiff. He stayed in that capacity to 1986 then briefly appeared for Angelo Mosca's short lived Pro Wrestling Canada. Occasionally he would be replaced by Jack Tunney but he didn't miss many cards through that 13 year period.

 In 1986 he was fired by Jack. As per Norm in a Where Are They Now item 'There was no warning, no remuneration, no holiday pay, no nothing.'

Not as much known about Norm as should be...it wasn’t only Toronto fans who loved Norm and will leave the last word to our friend Dick Bourne. 

Two things made Toronto seem special and unique to me right off the bat. First was that elevated walkway, the famous Toronto "ramp", that led to the ring. I had never seen such a thing, and that whole concept intrigued me. Secondly though, and more lasting in my memory over the years, was the iconic call by Toronto ring announcer Norm Kimber announcing the new champion. I actually made an audio cassette recording of that, and the many times I've listened to it over the next years had it burned into my brain. It wasn't just what he said, it was the dramatic way he said it...

"The winner of the match, the time 14 minutes 10 seconds with an Indian deathlock, the new heavyweight champion of the world Harley Race!"  

In my opinion, Kimber was one of the great ring announcers of all time.

-Dick Bourne http://www.midatlanticgateway.com/ 

-AC

Thanks to Roger Baker