2009 Finishes

Steve “Dr. Death” Williams 12/29/09

Pwinsider.com has reported that ‘Dr. Death’ Steve Williams has passed away at the age of 49 after a lengthy bout with throat cancer.

Williams, a football and wrestling star at the University of Oklahoma, began wrestling for Bill Watts’ Mid-South Wrestling in 1979. Williams remained with Watts until the renamed promotion then known as the Universal Wrestling Federation was purchased by Jim Crockett Promotions in 1987.

Once in Crockett’s organization, Williams and Mike Rotunda won the NWA World Tag Team Championship. Williams also held the WCW Tag Championship with Terry Gordy and also challenged then-WCW World Champion Ron Simmons for the title prior to leaving the organization in 1992.

A big star in Japan, tagging with Terry Gordy overseas for the better part of a decade, Williams saw the biggest stage in America by wrestling for the then-WWF in 1998,
but quickly left after being embarrassed by Bart Gunn in the ‘Brawl for it All’, WWF’s tournament style tough-man competition.

Williams officially retired from the ring in 2009, last wrestling in Japan in October, 2009. With the onset of his throat cancer in 2004, which went into remission.  2009, however, saw reports of the return of the cancer.

In 2008 Williams was honored at the CAC Reunion with the Lou Thesz award.

Williams was known for both his toughness inside the ring and outside. He was an inspiration for all and will sorely be missed.

 

Clem Turner 12/20/09

Clem Turner a former NFL running back who wrestled in the 70s, mainly in prelims for Dick the Bruiser’s WWA in Indiana and Chicago, passed away in an auto accident on 12/20. He was 64. Turner was driving his 2009 Chevrolet Cobalt when he veered across the center line into oncoming traffic and hit a car head-on in the Cincinnati suburb of West Price Hill.

Turner was a high school All-American running back, who went to the University of Cincinnati. He was a fourth round draft choice of the Cincinnati Bengals in 1969, and played one year for the Bengals (the second year of the franchise ??s existence) and 1970-1972 for the Denver Broncos as a back-up running back. He started wrestling for Bruiser in 1973 after his NFL career ended.

 

Cary Jackson “Colt Steel” 12/20/09

Cary Jackson who was a pro wrestler in the Mid Atlantic area for the past quarter-century under the name Colt Steel, passed away on 12/20. He was 53.

According to his wife, Sharon Jackson, he had gone out hunting and when he didn’t come home, she got worried and they went out looking for him. What they found is that he had shot a deer and while dragging it out of the woods, he had a heart attack and died. He was found next to the deer. It was his second heart attack, as he had one a few years ago which led to him getting out of the ring.

Jackson got into pro wrestling after winning the North Carolina state powerlifting championship in 1985. He was a regular television enhancement performer in the last few years of Jim Crockett’s territory, and continued to work on area independent shows since that point, sometimes as a headliner. He had also worked the Florida and Kansas City territories in the dying days of the territorial system. In recent years, he was the head instructor at the Mid Atlantic Championship Wrestling school in Charlotte, and his main job was working as a plumbing supervisor with Piedmont Piping Mechanical Contracting.

 

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FARMER ELMER GIBSON 12/20/2009

Paul Gibson, yet another wrestling son of Hamilton, Ontario who worked under the name Farmer Elmer Gibson in the early 1950′s, passed away on December 20, 2009 in Hamilton. He was 80 years of age, and succumbed to cancer.

A strapping farm boy, 220 pounds of natural power by the time he was 16, Paul attended the frequent wrestling cards in Hamilton often. His sister and her husband had become acquainted with the Sharpe Brothers, Ben and especially Mike. During a workout at the local YMCA, Paul met Mike and after that worked out regularly with him.

After being trained by Irish Pat Murphy, Farmer Elmer Gibson made his debut in July 1951, and worked a number of matches for small promotions. Away from the ring, he had a 12-year career as a police officer, and managed the popular Martin’s Sportstown Grill operated by another Hamilton wrestler, Martin Hutzler.

“Regardless of what one might think or say about wrestling as a profession, some of the most interesting and likable people I met throughout the years were men who ventured into the world of wrestling,” Gibson reflected in his memoir written for future generations of his family.

 

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DAMIEN TRUTH 12/11/2009

Damien Evans, who wrestled under the name Damien Truth, passed away of a heart attack in Brampton, Ontario on December 11, 2009. He was 29 years of age.

Damien began his wrestling training about nine years ago, but had only a limited career in Ontario independent promotions. For the past several years, he worked in community relations for the Canadian Football League ??s Toronto Argonauts. He had recently become engaged.

 

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Edward “Eddie” Fatu -”Umaga” 12/04/09

Umaga was a Samoan-American professional wrestler better known by his ring name Umaga.Fatu was hospitalized in what was described as life threatening condition after he apparently fell asleep on December 3, 2009 while watching television. Several hours later, his wife found him not breathing and he was rushed to the hospital where he passed away.  He was best known for his time with World Wrestling Entertainment, where he was a two-time Intercontinental Champion.

He was a member of the Anoa’i wrestling family and frequently worked as a part of a tag team ?? variously named The Island Boyz, the Samoan Gangstas, and 3-Minute Warning ?? with his cousin Matt Anoa’i.

Fatu was born in American Samoa, a member of the famous Anoa’i wrestling family. His mother, Vera, was the sister of Afa and Sika of the Wild Samoans, and his later Umaga gimmick would be compared to their “wildness”. His two older brothers, Sam (better known as Tonga Kid and Tama) and Solofa Jr. (better known as Rikishi), are also professional wrestlers who have achieved success of their own.

 

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Alexis Pillman 11/26/09

The stepdaughter of the late Brian Pillman, who had been working independents on and off in last year as “Sexi” Lexi Pillman, passed away on 11/26/09 at the age of 26 as a result from an automobile accident
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Pillman had debuted as a manager in January 2008, working a Georgia independent group and had appeared for Showtime All-Star Wrestling in TN as a valet for Sean Casey as well as a number of other independent promotions since that time.  She also made an appearance at a June 2008 TNA house show in Cincinnati, where she worked as a ring girl and specific mention was made of her stepfather’s heritage to the live crowd.

 

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Mike LeBelle 11/25/09

Mike LeBelle passed away this afternoon at 3:50p.m. of apparent respiratory failure in Los Angeles. Mike promoted wrestling from the early 60′s thru 1982. LeBelle is the brother of CAC member, Gene LeBell, even though they used different spellings of their last names. Mike was 79 years old.

 

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Orig Williams 11/12/09

Orig Williams, Welsh wrestler, was born on March 20, 1931. He died after a suspected heart attack on November 12, 2009, aged 78.

Orig Williams was one of the most well-loved villains in sport, a Welsh-speaking native of North Wales who rose to television stardom as a wrestler under the unlikely pseudonym of “El Bandito”. His favourite saying was: “If you don ‘t like the heat, get out of the kitchen” and, in a succession of sports, his objective was always to raise the temperature to the maximum and to make his opponent wilt.

Williams is survived by his wife, Wendy, and by his daughter, Tara Bethan, an actress and singer who was a finalist in the BBC One musical talent show I’d Do Anything last year.

 

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Adam Firestorm 11/05/09

Adam Dykes, who wrestled across western Canada and in the Pacific northwest as the masked El Antorcha and later as Adam Firestorm, passed away on November 5, 2009 in Victoria, British Columbia. Sadly, he took his own life.  Born in New Zealand on November 25, 1976, Adam arrived in Canada with his family as a ten year old. His father had taken a position with Expo’86, and the family remained in Vancouver, B.C. after the event. Adam was captivated by pro wrestling at a young age, recalling that the first wrestler he saw was Rick Martel and the French-Canadian hero’s ringwork sealed the deal for him. After doing some refereeing, he trained under CAC member Michelle Starr of ECCW and launched his career under the mask. He worked for a number of promotions and carried several titles over the years, but unfortunately had to wind down his in-ring work due to a serious arm injury.

His active years at a premature end, Adam moved on to other aspects of wrestling. Trained in theatre, radio, videography and voice, he carved out a niche publishing programs, developing websites, and producing TV and on-line segments and commercials. He was working on development of a new outreach project that grew out of the sudden death of Kerry Brown in September, at the time of his passing.

 

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HIROSHI YAGI (RYUMA GO) 10/18/09

Hiroshi Yagi, who did several stints in North America in the 1970′s, passed away in hospital in Atsugi, Japan in the early morning hours of October 18, 2009. He died of septicemia, a rampant blood poisoning, following a broken wrist. Yagi was only 53.

Yagi was trained in Japan by Isao Yoshihara of International Wrestling Enterprises, making his debut there in 1973. Later that year he moved to North America, wrestling for the Grand Prix promotion in Montreal, Stampede Wrestling in Calgary from 1974 to the spring of 1975, and then the Pensacola promotion. On returning to Japan he worked for IWE, adopting the name Ryuma Go, then switched over to New Japan in 1978.

He trained briefly with Karl Gotch in Florida, then had a running feud with Tatsumi “Dragon” Fujinami, upsetting him for a very brief reign as WWWF Junior Heavyweight Champion. He again crossed the Pacific in mid-1979 for Vancouver’s All-Star Wrestling, then did a final run with Stampede before returning to New Japan in 1980. Four years later, he moved to the new UWF promotion, then to All Japan with old IWE allies Rusher Kimura and Goro Tsurumi.

On his own due to talent cutbacks in All Japan, Yagi formed the short-lived Pioneer Wrestling in 1989, wrestled for various independent Japanese promotions, and ran his own indy cards periodically. His final match was in Kiba, a Tokyo suburb, on September 3, 2009.

 

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Captain Lou Albano 10/14/09

Captain Lou passed away at 3am Oct. 14th of natural causes. He was 76.  Born in Carmel, New York on July 29, 1933, Louis Vincent Albano will be remembered as one of the greatest managers of all time. He was the epitome of the antagonistic heel; with his trademark beard, rubber band facial piercings, and Hawaiian shirt, he incited the anger of wrestling fans in a career that spanned nearly fifty years.

His wrestling career began in Canada in the early 1950s where he rose to prominence as part of a tag team called The Sicilians with the late Tony Altimore. Together they drew a lot of heat.

On June 30, 1961, The Scicilians won the Midwest Tag Team title.This caught the attention of Vince McMahon Sr. who brought the team to New York to work for the WWWF. They went on to enjoy modest success capturing the United States Tag Team title from Bruno Sammartino and Spiros Arion in 1967. They dropped the belts back to Sammartino and Arion two week’s later and soon after the title was abandoned.

Albano broke out as a major star when he ended his partnership with Altimore and became a manager. He said he made the switch due to injuries suffered in the ring, which included breaking his back twice.
Managing though would become Albano’s true calling.

He went on to lead some of the biggest stars in the business; Pat Paterson, Greg Valentine, Don Muraco, Nikolai Volkoff, Andre the Giant, Hulk Hogan and Ivan Koloff — who ended Bruno Sammartino’s 7 year WWWF title reign in Madison Square Garden in 1971. Koloff would be the first and only World Champion Albano ever managed.

He also had a lot of success managing tag teams; The Wild Samoans, The British Bulldogs, The Moondogs and The Valiant Brothers just to name a few.  I talked earlier today with Jimmy Valiant. Who in the early 70′s along with Johnny Valiant became the WWWF Tagteam Champions under the managerial skills of Captain Lou Albano. Albano bought out Jimmy’s contract from the Grand Wizard and signed Johnny to a contract as well. Jimmy tells me,”I nick named Lou “The Captain” and told him to get a whistle and blow signals to myself and Johnny. After all, he was our Captain”.

So thats where the “Captain” originated from for Lou Albano. Jimmy & Johnny held the belts for a record 13 months. At which time was the longest title rein of the tagteam championship belt.

In 1983, Albano collaborated with Cyndi Lauper in her music video Girls Just Want to Have Fun, which he claimed at the time was the catalyst for her success. Lauper would then go on MTV and WWE shows to defend Albano’s claims sparking an angle that would help wrestling crossover to a mainstream audience. The angle created the Rock n Wrestling era which together with Hulkamania launched WWE to a whole new level in the mid-80s. Lauper and Abano eventually became friends following a lengthy rivalry which made him an instant babyface. This culminated during the MTV/WWE special The War to Settle the Score

In 1994 he returned for the last time as a manager together with Afa guiding Samu and Fatu, the Headshrinker to the WWE Tag Team title.

He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 1996 by New York media personality Joe Franklin.

In 2005 he suffered a massive heart attack and his health began to deteriorate. For those who really knew Lou Albano he was the antithesis of his wrestling persona; a kind, caring husband, friend and brother to all.

Last November he released a book with Burt Sugar titled, Often Imitated, Never Duplicated: The Lou Albano Story.

He is survived by his wife Gerry.

 

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Beverly “BJ” Race 10/09/09

It is with a heavy heart, The CAC announces that Beverly “B.J.” Race passed away this evening at the Lake of the Ozarks hospital. BJ had been in the hospital since Monday with fever and flu like syptoms. B.J. was very supportive of the CAC and was a friend to so many. BJ was honored just this year with a “Above and Beyond” award for her dedication to the CAC and the Wrestling world. While at the annual reunion, all any of the Directors had to do was ask BJ for help, and she was there.

After her retirement, B.J. and Harley moved to Lake of the Ozarks. Here they owned and operated World League Wrestling, and B.J. became “mom “ to many wrestling stars.

B.J. loved living at the lake and a favorite phrase was “Come on down and we’ll go out on the boat”.  She especially enjoyed visits from grandchildren, which always included a shopping trip from Grandma.

Survivors include her husband Harley of the home; two sons, Rob Jamison, Richmond, Missouri and Justin Race and his wife Bobbie of Kansas City, Missouri; sister, Manevalin Knapp, Aurora, Colorado and sister-in-law, Jane Palmer, Osage Beach, Missouri; eight grandchildren; one great-granddaughter and many other relatives and friends.

 

 

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Lester Welch 09/18/09

Lester Welch who held many tagteam championships with people like Jackie Fargo, Buddy Fuller, the Gladiator, Lee Fields to name a few, passed away in Pennsacloa Florida on Friday,Sept 18th.

One of the famous Welch brothers, Lester had many fueds with people such as,Sputnik & Rocket Monroe, Boris Malenko, the Medics and many more popular workers from the south.

 

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Kerry Brown 09/11/09

Kerry Brown, a mainstay of Stampede Wrestling throughout the 1980′s, passed away in Winnipeg, Manitoba on September 11, 2009.

The nephew of the late “Bulldog” Bob Brown, Kerry was born in Winnipeg in February 1958. He began his career with a year-long run in Kansas City in 1980. The following year he migrated to Stampede Wrestling out of Calgary, and spent the majority of each of the next ten years there.

Often a tag team competitor, Kerry’s most successful tandem campaign was with Duke Myers, a familiar face at recent CAC reunions. The pair held Stampede’s International Tag Team Championship on three occasions, and pulled in sell-out houses across the territory during their tumultuous feud with the unlikely team of Leo Burke and “Dr. D” David Schults. He also had a three-month run with Stampede’s North American title in 1986.

The rest of Canada came to know him well too, but as rowdy Rick Valentine, during several tours of Quebec and the maritime provinces. Internationally, he toured Puerto Rico under the Valentine moniker, Kansas City again under a hood as Super Destroyer, and did three extensive tours of Japan under his own name. Following the demise of the territories, Kerry occasionally wrestled across western Canada for several independent promotions until 2007, now and then with uncle Bob as his tag partner.

Kerry was the perennial heel, the cocky and confident scrapper that every crowd loved to hate. The “Pitbull” handle fitted him perfectly: he turned every match into a dogfight, and there was plenty of fight in that dog. In failing health for the past several years, he apparently lost the final fall to liver disease at only 51 years of age.

 

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BUTCHER BRANNIGAN 09/07/09

Joseph Novo, known for most of his career as Butcher Brannigan, passed away at age 61 in Hamilton, New Jersey on September 7, 2009.

Joe covered much of the world in the course of his wrestling exploits. He worked widely in the U.S., including in the old WWWF territory, and Canada, then journeyed to the far-flung mats of Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, South Africa, England, Scotland and Germany. His name changed periodically in his early career – Joe Nova, Killer Joe Nova, Crusher Brannigan — but the bulldozing style of the big man remained unchanged.

He had been in poor health the past couple of years. Kidney disease and heart failure finally claimed his life in the hospital in Hamilton. Joe had marked his 61st birthday just four days earlier.

 

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Peter Goodman 08/27/09

West Coast talent Peter Goodman died on August 27, 2009 at the age of 29. Goodman made a good name for himself as a top rule breaker working for NWA promotions in CA, NV and AZ. Goodman also traveled the globe performing in Japan and both North & South Korea. He was liked by all and always had a helping hand to lend.

 

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Gladys “Killem Gillem” Gillem 08/13/09

Gladys “Killem Gillem” Gillem died August 13th. following a long battle with Alzheimers. She was in her late 80′s and a pioneer of women’s wrestling. She began her career in 1942 and retired in 1962. Famous as a carnival wrestler who faced men, bears and alligators over the years. A one of a kind, who attended many CAC banquets in Studio City and one in Las Vegas over the years. Was a close friend to Mike Mazurki and Maria Bernardi who both called her the toughest lady that ever lived.

 

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Karl Von Hess 08/12/09

It is ironic that a decorated US Navy World War Two veteran died 3 days after the 63rd anniversary of the bombing on Nagasaki on August 9, 1945. Karl Von Hess died this past week on August 12 another member of that Great Generation.

He was known as Frank Faketty back then in his navy days and was looking forward to returning home to Omaha and returning to the other war of being a ham and eggs wrestler. His days of being a underwater demolition specialist were over in the Pacific theater, however, the WW2 would give him fame and fortune beyond his wildest dreams.

Frank Faketty like other from that era grew up in the 1920′s and the great depression. He found refuge in sports especially in swimming. He was spotted by the one of the famed Dusek Brothers (Joe) who befriended the youth and started to train him. On a one of my visits with Karl and his wife, Lenore, Karl told me if if were not for his meeting Joe that he could have
gone in the wrong direction in life.

He went back to wrestling in various promotions and even worked AT shows on the midway in the west and mid. In 1955 he found himself in the Pacific Northwest where he met a wrestler, Kurt Von Poppenheim, who was working a German heel gimmick.

An idea struck his mind and he transformed himself from Frank Faketty to Karl Von Hess. The war was still fresh in the minds of America and just a decade old, it was a move that made him the most hated man in wrestling.

The news of this “German Heel” came to the attention of Vince J. McMahon, who brought into the East Coast to the horrors of his patrons. A real life Nazi in their midst or so they had assumed. His feuds with Argentina Rocca were sellouts up and down the coast. He seldom spoke, however, when he was to meet the very popular, young Jewish wrestler, Abe Jacobs he uttered words to the Ray Morgan the voice of East Coast Wrestling that the Jacobs family better start saying the Kaddish (Jewish Prayer for the Dead). Telephone calls, mail and even a FBI probe was made on this US navy vet.

His time as a wrestler ended in the early 60′s. He was billed as the World Champion and went down to Venezuela for his former capitol wrestling colleague, Miguel “Bull” Torres.His life as a wrestler is well known and has been reported here and elsewhere.

However, let me tell you about the man that I could call my friend for some twenty years plus. Unlike his persona in the ring he was a man of peace. His life was filled with a prayer list of people he knew and did not know. He was a volunteer swimming coach and loved working with kids that were handicap and special needs (before the Special Olympics). Like another great heel of our sport (Killer Kowalski) he was a vegetarian. His wife Lenore was the love of his life for 53 years. When she passed away in 2005, Karl began to slip away. He was a friend of 20 years plus and I will miss him.

 

 

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Al Tomko 08/05/09

Al Tomko, a legendary name in Canadian wrestling, passed away on Wednesday, August 5, 2009. Tomko was a former wrestler and a promoter in the Manitoba and British Columbia areas. Tomko, who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in June had been in and out of hte hospital several times over the past year. Tomko brought about strong opinions from all who knew him and there are numerous stories and tales about this character.

 

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Jason “DJ Rizz” Smith 08/04/09

Northern California Independent wrestler Jason “DJ Rizz” Smith’s life was suddenly cut short Tuesday night, August 4 fallowing a head-on car collision in Crocket, CA. Smith, who also competed under the name “Ravishing Rizz” worked for a number of promotions throughout California, Nevada & Oregon. Jay began his career in 2002 with BRAWL WRESTLING. He was well known as a member of the Sub Commandos trio but will be best remembered for his incredible in-ring ability, charisma and charm on the stick. DJ Rizz leaves behind his mother Chalee Bessolo, his siblings Sage Johnson, Cody Johnson, Ciera Johnson and and his young daughter Caelinn Lauree Smith . Jason Lee Smith was 26 years old.

 

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“Whirlwind” Woodie Johnson 07/20/09

Woodie Johnson Sr., born August 28, 1928, passed away on July 20 after having suffered a stroke and resulting paralysis 18 months ago. Johnson worked in the Northeast area and had been a part-time worker for Pedro Martinez’s promotion in Buffalo for approximately six years and may have worked for other promotions as well. In addition to wrestling, Johnson also owned Johnson Real Estate, Johnson Construction and Black Top, Johnson Supermarket and the Cold Spring Taxi Cab company and was a minister with the Mount Ararat Baptist Church in Buffalo. Johnson truly lead an incredible life. A full obituary can be found at the Buffalo News.


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Karl Von Brauner 07/05/09

Karl Von Brauner’s passing on July 5th in northern California at the age of 78 went unnoticed by the wrestling world in which he once headlined as a hated German heel, one of four men who portrayed Von Brauners. And that’s just the way he would have wanted it.  For the last number of years, Brauner — legally changed from Doug Donnan — was a bit of a recluse. He lived without a phone, carrying just a pager to return calls of his choosing. Up in the air as a crop duster, he could do his job and return home.

 

 

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WALDO VON ERICH 07/05/09

Walter Paul Sieber, the man behind the classic German heel Waldo von Erich, passed away unexpectedly in Kitchener, Ontario on Sunday, July 5, 2009. The 75-year old had been taken to hospital following a fall earlier in the day.

Trained in the early 1950′s by Red Garner in his hometown of Toronto, Wally started out in eastern Canada, then in 1958 started what would be a life-changing run in Minnesota. There, be became Waldo von Erich, “brother” of the infamous Fritz von Erich who was just then hitting his stride as a major attraction. The pair clicked immediately both there and in Charlotte, and though they separated after, the die was cast for the rest of Wally’s career.

He worked many territories in the U.S. and Canada, and made a number of trips overseas to Australia and Japan during a 25-plus year active career. Wally combined a bulldozing ring style capped by his infamous “blitzkrieg” kneedrop from the top turnbuckle with a blunt, no-nonsense promo style that left no doubt he was a heel. That combination never failed to inflame audiences wherever he went. He worked with top names everywhere, and had perhaps his greatest series with Bruno Sammartino — including several top-drawing Madison Square Garden main events — throughout the old WWWF territory.

Wally retired from the ring in 1979, but kept his hand in by training young wrestlers from his adopted home base in Elmira, Ontario. He had recently joined CAC, but sadly never made it to an annual reunion.

 

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Espectrito (II) and La Parkita 07/01/09

Espectrito (II) and La Parkita were both found deceased on July 1, 2009 in Mexico City. At hotel Moderna. After a Lucha Libre Show in Cuajimalpa. The two were brothers.

 

 

 

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Billy Red Lyons 06/22/09

Billy Red Lyons died Monday night after complications from a long battle with cancer. Lyons began his wrestling career in 1959 and over the years he had wrestled or tag teamed with several of the CAC members including, Bed Bastein, Dick Beyers (Dick is the real life brother in law of Billy), the late, Dewey Robinson to name a few. In the 60′s Billy was billed as the British Empire Champion while wrestling in the AWA. He was famous all across the country. But more so in Texas and Oklahoma. Lyons retired in 1984 and joined the offices of Frank and Jack Tunney, Toronto’s long time promoters. Billy’s famous catch phrase, “Don’tcha dare miss it!?” was famous throughout the land.

 

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William “Bud” Osborne 06/21/09

William “Bud” Osborne together with brother Ray a long-time tag team in Stampede Wrestling, passed away of heart failure on Sunday, June 21, 2009. He was 80 years of age.

Bud and Ray broke into wrestling in 1960 in Alberta, under Stu Hart. They were content to limit their ring activities to the Stampede territory, and particularly its Alberta core so that they were never far from their Edmonton home base. Bud wrestled for part of almost every year through to 1978, while Ray compressed his schedule by several years, and all the while they worked on developing their successful Osborne Brothers Realty firm in Edmonton.

The bigger of the two at some 6’2″ and 250 pounds, Bud was more the buldozer in the ring while Ray handled the smoother offense. Both rough and tough every time out, they relied heavily on Bud’s thundering running bulldog, the source of his nickname. The Osbornes briefly held Stampede’s tag team title on three occasions in 1969 and 1970.

 

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Mitsuharu Misawa 06/13/09

Mitsuharu Misawa, universally considered as one of the best professional wrestlers in history, tragically passed away on Saturday, June 13 during a match in which he was teamed with former CAC Future Legend, Go Shiozaki. Misawa, 5 days short of his 47th birthday, took a suplex from opponent Akitoshi Saito and lost consciousness in the ring.

Before making his 1981 pro debut, Misawa was a successful amateur wrestler placing 5th in the 1980 world championships. Misawa earned early respect as the second generation Tiger Mask from 1984 until 1990 when he abandoned the gimmick to concentrate on a more serious, grounded style.

Misawa continued as a dominant pillar of AJPW throughout the 1990s. Following the death of AJPW founder, Shohei Baba, Misawa assumed the role of company President; however, was removed from the post in 2000. Shortly after this, Misawa left AJPW to form Pro Wrestling NOAH, taking nearly all of the AJPW roster with him.

Misawa held numerous titles throughout his career including the All Japan Triple Crown (5 times)and the NOAH GHC title (3 times) and he was inducted to the Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame in 1996.

 

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John Tolos 05/28/09

John “The Golden Greek” Tolos, a long-time CAC member and one of the most successful wrestlers in the history of the Los Angeles area passed away on May 28, 2009 at the age of 78.

Tolos was honored by the CAC on more than one occasion and is fondly remembered by all those who knew him. For a more detailed page on the passing of the legendary Tolos, please click here.

 

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Princess Jasmine 05/08/09

Cynthia Johnson better known as Princess Jasmine passed away this morning at 7:45 am. Jasmine was a CAC member and was honored this year at the annual reunion. Jasmine had battled pancreatic cancer for a good while and was unable to attend this years reunion. Her award was fed-ex over night to her following the reunion.

Jasmine was well known in the wrestling world. She had worked for the AWA, NWA, WCW, WWF and tons of Independent promoters. Had feuds in the Caribbean’s, Japan, Africa, the Philippines, Korea, Middle East, and all over the United States & Canada. Trained by Prince Pullins and Dick the Bruiser in 1968, her first match was just three months after training.

Jasmine’s funeral will be at Woods Funeral Home, 1003 S. Halsted St., Chicago Heights, Illinois, (708) 755-2010 There will be a viewing at the funeral home on Tuesday, May 12, from 2-7 p.m. The funeral will be at Calvary Missionary Baptist Church at 241 E. 15th Street in Chicago Heights, IL 60411 on Wednesday, May 13, burial to follow at Restville Cemetery.

 

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“Playboy” Buddy Rose 04/28/09

Paul Perschmann, known the world over as “Playboy” Buddy Rose, passed away today, Tuesday, April 28, 2009 at his home in Vancouver, WA.

Rose was trained as a professional wrestler by Verne Gagne and Billy Robinson in the early 1970s and worked nearly everywhere over the course of his 20-plus year career. Rose found, perhaps, his greatest success in the Pacific Northwest; however, also had successful runs in the AWA, WWF and Florida.

Rose was honored with a Men’s Wrestling award by the Cauliflower Alley Club in 2004.

 

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Ted Grizzly 04/20/09

Ted Grizzly, died in a Hamilton hospital Monday.Portraying a country bumpkin with his ratty overalls, unkempt beard and less-than-stellar physique, Grizzly was a competent worker who battled the likes of Hulk Hogan, Andre the Giant and Paul Orndorff over the years. His sheer size — a balloon-like 320 pounds or so — made him believable cannon fodder for the WWF giants. Born Gary Wolfenden, the Hamilton native fell into pro wrestling in early 1982. His fellow training partner at Al Spittles’ gym was Bob Clark. They hit the road together shortly after finishing training, working as the Grizzly brothers, Bob and Ted, in Al Tomko’s All-Star Wrestling in British Columbia. Grizzly died Monday morning at 9:30, from complications from diabetes. (compliments of SLAM! Sports)

 

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Rick Crabtree 03/22/09

Rick died Sunday morning in the Lamar, Co. hospital after celebrating his 51st birthday Friday. Rick had been very ill a number of years with liver disease and was on a liver transplant list. In recent months he had problems with his heart and needed stints put in, thus taking him off the active transplant list. He wrestled on the independent circuit some 15 years as a country boy. He was outspoken but he was willing to talk to the young wrestlers and tried to help them improve their skills.

 

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Steve “Dunn” Doll 03/22/09

Steve Doll, who was most famous for his mid-90s run in the WWE as Steven Dunn as part of the tag team Well Dunn passed away on March 22 at the age of 44. Doll’s wrestling debut was in 1985 against Dick Slater and he would go on to wrestle for more than 10 years. In 2007, Doll was hospitalized and placed on life support where he remained until March 22.

 

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Andrew “TEST” Martin 03/13/09

Andrew “Test” Martin, 33 year old former WWE wrestler, was discovered dead at his residence (on 3/13/09) in Tampa last night. The Canadian born 6’6″, 280 lb. wrestler debuted in 1997 and went by ring names Big Foot, Martin Kane, Test and T.J. Thunder. He retired from the WWE in 2008 and was currently employed by NWA-TNA Wresting under the ring name “The Punisher” Andrew Martin.

 

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Andres “Abismo Negro” Palomeque 03/09

Andres Palomeque, better known as Abismo Negro in AAA, was apparently found dead in a river in Mexico. He was 37. Palomeque was also known as Winners, a masked male dancer, who teamed with Super Calo during the early glory days of the AAA promotin. At the second year’s first TripleMania show, Winners formed a trio with Rey Misterio and Rey Misterio Jr., and lost his mask in a feud with Calo in 1995. He became Abismo Negro in 1997, and was on the 1997 Royal Rumble show in San Antonio that drew 60,000 fans to the Alamo Dome and wrestled on a few episodes of Raw that year.

 

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Yvon “The Beast”  Cormier 03/04/09

The all-time wrestling hero of Canada’s maritime provinces has valiantly fought his last fight. Yvon Cormier, known far and wide as The Beast, succumbed to terminal cancer early on the morning of March 4, 2009 with family at his side.

Yvon was the senior brother of the four wrestling Cormiers, and blazed the family ??s trail to arenas around the world after training in Indianapolis, Indiana under veteran Les Ruffen. Known there as Pierre Lebelle, he became Yvon the Lumberjack during his first season back home, Joe Gump in Amarillo for Dory Funk, Sr., then was dubbed The Beast by North Carolina promoter Jim Crockett, Sr. The moniker stuck. Yvon was forevermore known “even to his family” as simply Beast.

And beastly he was, shaggy hair and wild beard flying as he rampaged around rings in Canada, the U.S., Japan, Australia and Korea. His work was rock-solid, his persona downright scary, his reputation in the business solid gold. Unknown to most, there was a soft side to this larger-than-life man: his devotion to his family, and his love of his native maritimes were paramount in his life. When younger brothers Jean-Louis (Rudy Kay), Leonce (Leo Burke) and Romeo (Bobby Kay) ventured into the business, Beast insisted on being with them on the road during their very early days, almost a father figure as he educated them in the ring and out on every facet of the proper conduct of a professional wrestler. Beast ??s love of his ocean side homeland came to the fore each and every spring for his entire 40-year career, as he insisted on returning to wrestle “down home” through the summer, no matter what other bookings might be offered to him.

No stranger to hard work, Yvon blended in a long parallel career as a highly-respected trainer of harness-racing standard bred horses, and an expert blacksmith. For many years, he kept a six-horse hitch of Percheron draft horses at home, and liked nothing better than showing the massive animals at country fairs, parades and horse shows across his native New Brunswick.

 

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Robert Bruce 03/03/09

The former mat star died suddenly and unexpectedly in Auckland this morning after a short illness. It was not known how old he was. Born in Scotland, Mr. Bruce started wrestling in London in 1967 and toured most of the United Kingdom, South Africa, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and Fiji and wrestled all the top wrestlers in those countries. Bruce went to New Zealand in 1972 and gained national attention through his wrestling exploits. After quitting wrestling he made a living as a bodyguard to film and rock stars and was a fight and stunt coordinator for film and television; working on 39 films, 73 television series and 21 theatre shows.

Mr Bruce leaves behind his long time partner Gabriella who has asked for privacy during this time.

 

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Adolfo “Renato Torres” Contreras 02/05/09

Adolfo Contreras who wrestled as “The Hippie” Renato Torres and starred, under the same name, as a villain in several films opposite El Santo died on Thursday, February 5 following a heart attack.  “My dad always loved wrestling, until the last moment, always remember wrestling with pride, and this was the time I love most in life”, said Ivan, one of his three children. Interestingly, Renato Torres passed away on the 25th anniversary of the death of his friend and rival, Santo.

 

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Jim Wilson 02/02/09

Jim Wilson of Atlanta, GA died on February 2 at the age of 67. Wilson was an All-American offensive lineman for the Bulldogs and went on to play several years in the NFL including stints with the Boston Patriots, the San Francisco 49ers, the Atlanta Falcons and the Los Angeles Rams. While playing for Atlanta, Wilson was recruited into professional wrestling by Ray Gunkel. Wilson lobbied heavily to unionize professional wrestling and even attempted to run an “outlaw” promotion with Thunderbolt Patterson. Wilson claimed to have been blackballed for his efforts. He later went on to co-author “CHOKEHOLD: Pro Wrestling’s Real Mayhem Outside the Ring” which is recognized by many as an important historical look at the National Wrestling Alliance. In 2007, Wilson called for Congress to hold hearings on the wrestling industry, telling the Associated Press, “In those other sports, they aren’t dropping like flies like they are in the wrestling business. Now is the time to push for legislation nationally.”

Wilson was inducted into the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame in 2001 and into the UGA Circle of Honor in 2005. He also was a member of Georgia’s 1950-75 all-time team.

 

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Dianna Moody 01/31/09

Dianna Moody, who just celebrated her 32nd anniversary with husband Bill Moody (Percy Pringle) this last December, died on Saturday, January 31, 2009 at her home in Mobile, Alabama.

Dianna was the wrestling wife that everybody dreams of: respectful (and knowledgeable) of the business, and willing to support her husband’s passion, even through the most difficult of times. She worked many of the local shows with her husband over the years, working the ticket counter, gimmick tables, etc. She was the foundation that every man dreams of having.

She had survived cancer twice. Percy left WWE the first time to take care of Dianna during her first battle, and stayed with her faithfully as she faced another round a few years thereafter.

 

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Helio Gracie 01/29/09

The man most commonly known as the father of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Helio Gracie, passed away in his sleep on 1/29 at the age of 95. Helio was the patriarch of the famed Gracie fighting family that included Royce (the winner of the first UFC tournaments), Rickson, Royler, Rorion and Relson. Helio was recognized as Black Belt Magazine’s Man of the Year in 1997.

 

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Paul E. Normous 01/16/09

Paul Normous, who had a cameo and was mentioned by name in the first locker room scene in “The Wrestler” passed away Friday Jan. 16th. 2009.  A New York native, E. Normous trained out of a number of different schools including Gino Caruso and Jason Knight’s. He had worked some of the early Ring of Honor shows, plus numerous indy promotions like WXW, 3PW. He had also worked an invitational training camp for Ohio Valley Wrestling when it was an official WWE developmental.  A tall, extremely muscled worker, E. Normous was billed at 6’6″ so he fit the role of a huge monster worker on independent shows during an era where most wrestlers on that level are far smaller. Beyond that, he had also worked as a celebrity bodyguard, personal fitness and nutrition and had done some acting work.

 

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Lanny Kean Jr. 01/13/09

Kean, best known as Hillbilly Cousin Junior in WWF in the 80s, and later for Jarrett Promotions as Moondog Cujo in the 90s, passed away at 1 AM Tuesday morning from a heart attack in Jamestown, KY, where he was living.

Kean Jr. was a friend of Jim Morris, who later became Hillbilly Jim, as the two started out together working for Dale Mann in Bowling Green, KY. When the WWF expanded the Hillbilly stable to include Uncle Elmer (Plowboy Stan Frazier), Morris got Kean into the WWF, but it was short lived.

Kean had worked under his real name for years on WWF television but changed his look to play a Hillbilly, and later changed his look a second time to play a Moondog, a role he continued to play on independent shows until his death. Teaming with the late Larry Booker as Moondog Spot, the Moondogs vs. Jeff Jarrett & Jerry Lawler was one of the last great long-term programs of the Jarrett territory.  Kean Jr. was 48.