Excerpt 'From Nanjo to The Sheik: Tales from Toronto Wrestling'

Excerpted from the latest 'MapleLeafWrestling.com presents'
From Nanjo to The Sheik: Tales from Toronto Wrestling 
Chapter: Have No Fear Kiniski Is Here 
Begins p 83 and ends p 85
Picks up with the Kiniski-Whipper feud in full swing 1957.

 ....That would set the feud in motion with Kiniski & Whipper going to battle on the next card and later with a wire fence bout (early type cage match). Dick Hutton would side with Kiniski and draw himself into the bouts and team with Kiniski against Whipper and Yukon Eric on a subsequent card as well as interfere in each other’s bouts.

The Fence match on Jan 24 ended in a wild finish with Kiniski and second Hutton going after Whip and ref Jersey Joe Walcott who was again part of the action. Kiniski had previously tried to interfere in the Hutton-Dick Beyer bout earlier in the night before being ejected by ref Bunny Dunlop.

A bout at East York Arena between Watson and Hutton the following week led to another incident involving Kiniski. In front of a standing room only crowd of 2,500 with 1000 turned away, Watson beat Hutton to win the $1000 check that Hutton had been offering to anyone who could beat him within 20 minutes. Whipper would be the first in Toronto to beat Hutton but after the bout Kiniski jumped in and tore up the check. Then he and Hutton attacked ref Dunlop. Gene would also spend much of the bout inciting the fans who were now picking up chairs and swinging them over their heads.

The chairs started flying and Joe Perlove reported that Gene had to be 'the gamest and no doubt the craziest character in history - to pull that stuff in the Whipper's backyard.' Whipper of course lived in the area and was known as the Pride of East York. The riot ensued and Kiniski and Hutton were said to be 'fielding them (flying chairs) in the best Mickey Mantle style.' Dunlop and announcer Jerry Hiff escaped while the Miller Brothers Ed and Bill came out to aid police and ushers in restoring order. Both Kiniski and Hutton were cut and left bloody by the chairs they couldn't 'field.' This led to Kiniski being given a $500 fine by the OAC, said to be the steepest penalty handed down at the time. Kiniski was also given a 4 week suspension from wrestling in Metro Toronto.

Ontario Athletics Commissioner Merv McKenzie was also said to have curtailed the license of Tunney to promote at the East York Arena for 6 months. It was all likely legit as Tunney didn't return to East York until Oct 1957, though they only used it when the Gardens was not available. Les Lyman and others mostly ran the smaller Arena in that era. Tunney admitted fault saying 'I'm not apologizing for Kiniski. He was way out of line in engineering the rumpus. However we erred by not having the chairs anchored to the floor as required by the rules.'

World champ Kiniski on the mat with Carpentier MLG 1966

In a Milt Dunnell column in March 1957 he mentioned that Gene's admirers 'both of them -will welcome him back to the Gardens tonight.' 

Dunnell goes on to call Kiniski 'the hottest box-office item in Canadian sports, and that’s not excluding national heroes such as Jean Beliveau and Rocket Richard.' Kiniski himself brags 'Over in Buffalo they're gonna give me a pair of golden trunks for drawing more than 100,000 people to 10 wrestling shows. Those people who write to me may say I'm a jerk, but the bank manager addresses me as 'Mister.'



He was making money in Toronto too. The first 4 main events he was in drew more than 48,000 fans. He was the anti Whipper Watson and the crowds came out to see him. A note in 1965 quoted Kiniski as saying his best year (to date) was making $89,000 in 1957. It attributed his success not to gimmicks, trick holds, weird get-ups, or racial exploitation' (but that) 'In the ring he is simply a miserable so-and-so.'

After serving out his 4 week suspension he was back for the long awaited main event against Watson which ended with both wrestlers counted out while brawling on the floor. Kiniski had attacked Watson before he could enter the ring, Watson heaved Gene over the ropes and onto the announcers table. When Gene got back in Whip again heaved him out the other side. Ref Dunlop hadn't even made it to the ring yet. When announcer Jerry Hiff came in to make the introductions, Kiniski grew impatient with the pace and again ran at Watson who sidestepped and Kiniski flew between the ropes. He stamped up the corridor and waved his arms as if to say 'Get somebody else!' When he finally returned the two brawled it out for another 17 minutes. In the paper the next day it said that while the bout lasted 17 minutes Kiniski 'found a way to brawl through half an hour.'

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