Connie Marker 12/31/10
Constantine “Connie” Marker, often called “The Dean of Referees” in the old Dick the Bruiser/Wilbur Snyder promotion out of Indianapolis, passed away in Kingsport, Tennessee on December 31, 2010. He was 87.
The son of immigrant parents, the proud Greek had a long and rewarding career. He spent the 1950’s and 60’s as a referee in the Indianapolis territory, and his third-man skills and flamboyant style made him the most popular official there. Connie was a showman, and the crowds and the boys loved him for it. Away from the ring he was a restaurateur, operating the hugely-popular Connie’s House of Marker in Richmond, Virginia for over 30 years. Staff who worked there over the years thought the world of him. He was also deeply involved with the Masonic Lodge.
Neil Carr 12/18/10
You might have seen him as Mad Dog Rex, or on television as one of the many masked Mr. X clones that WWF used in the 1980’s. Or you might have seen him as Neil Carr, his legitimate name, in any one of a number of North American locales.
Neil Carr of Brantford, Ontario passed away in his home city on December 18, 2010, losing the final fall to cancer of the esophagus. Born there on February 16, 1959, he came to the wrestling business a little later than most. He commenced his training in 1986 at the famed Sully’s Gym in Toronto, Ontario, under well-known trainer Ron Hutchison and veteran main eventer Reggie “Sweet Daddy” Siki. At a time when many of the territories were on their last legs, he managed to snag bookings in a wide variety of places during the next 12 years.
Carr’s major run was in All-Star Wrestling in Vancouver, where he carried the promotion’s Canadian junior heavyweight title until promoter Al Tomko shut down. He worked offshore briefly, in Puerto Rico, Singapore and Malaysia, often around Ontario, including on Maple Leaf Wrestling events, and under the Mr. X hood for WWF. His forays into the U.S. were always “informal”; Neil Carr wasn’t a great believer in the need for working visas, and was deported seven times, but that didn’t slow down his wrestling travels. He retired from the ring in 1998, satisfied with what he’d accomplished, and worked in construction since then.
Donn Lewin 12/18/10
Donn Lewin, the eldest of a well-known trio of wrestling brothers, passed away in Honolulu, Hawaii on December 18, 2010, just five months short of his 85th birthday.
Born in Buffalo, New York on April 1, 1926, Donn grew up with brothers Ted and Mark and sister Sallee. In the early years of World War II he was seized by a commitment to his country, and by finagling a birth certificate with an earlier date of birth and obtaining his father’s approval, Donn joined the U.S. Marines at only 15. Assigned to the Pacific theatre of war, he took part in the battle for Guadalcanal in mid-1942, then the invasion of Guam in summer 1944. The horror of the war sunk in hard there; some 250 in his unit landed in the first wave, and by noon it had been reduced to 147 men. In February 1945, Private Donn Lewin, 18 years old, L Company, 3rd Division, 9th Marines, went ashore with the fourth wave of troops landing on Iwo Jima, right into a blazing hell of Japanese resistance. Wounded in action several times during his service, he was awarded three Purple Hearts.
Following the war, he returned to Buffalo and began serious bodybuilding, and brought his young brothers into his training regimen. Donn won a Mr. Niagara Frontier contest, and caught the eye of Buffalo promoter Ed Don George. Veteran grappler Jim “Goon” Henry saw potential in the 6’4″, 225-pound young man, offered to train him, and within a few months Donn began his journey on the wrestling trail. He tended to remain on the east coast, with forays into eastern Canada and as far afield as Ohio and California, and was a frequent opponent of “Nature Boy” Buddy Rogers. Ted and Mark had also gotten into the business by the mid-fifties, and he did a lot of tag team work with both of them. Donn and Mark captured the Georgia version of the International Tag Team Championship, and twice held the American tag belts in Capitol Wrestling, Vincent J. McMahon’s forerunner to the WWWF and later WWF.
When Pedro Martinez formed the National Wrestling Federation in New York and Ohio in 1969, Donn had 20 years of wrestling under his belt. Martinez suggested he put on the hood and work as The Executioner, and though he initially hesitated, Lewin found it gave him a new freedom. He could wrestle, but away from the arena he could move about freely and no one knew who he was, a considerable benefit for a family man. The other big change in his life came when he almost accidentally became an expert on raising tropical fish. He had angelfish in a small tank at home, and noted that the female had laid some eggs on a leaf. Intrigued, he took steps to ensure they hatched, wound up with many more angelfish, and in the process got into a very profitable sideline. After diligent study, experimentation and planning, the single aquarium became a couple of hundred of them in his basement in Tonawanda, New York, where the family had settled, and he became a very successful supplier of tropical fish to a number of stores for 18 years.
After 33 years in wrestling, Donn had had his share of hard knocks, and out of the blue decided to retire during an Ontario tour. He shut down the fish business, relocated to sunny Hawaii, and spent a good retirement in spite of multiple surgeries arising out of the hard bumps of his ring years. His hips had been replaced then replaced again, spine operated on three times, shoulders repaired over and over, some 30-plus surgeries in all. In spite of that he took great pleasure in his 11,000 square foot property there, his state-of-the-art gym, and — in his own words, “there are no ex-Marines, only Marines” — regular Thursday visits to Kaneohe Marine Base, on the east side of Oahu. There, he was always welcomed especially warmly as one of the very few remaining survivors living in Hawaii, of the war in the Pacific.
Don’s brother Ted wrestled for 15 years, and concurrently developed his natural artistic abilities. He and wife Betsy Reilly became widely-known authors and illustrators of books for children and youth. Mark continued in the ring for many years, while Sallee Lewin married all-time Texas mat legend Danny McShain, who passed away in 1992.
James “Paul” Morton Bald Eagle 12/17/10
Paul Morton, father of Ricky Morton, passed away December 17, 2010 at the age of 89. He was very active in professionally wrestling as a wrestler, referee, and promoter. Morton refereed for decades for a number of territories in the Mid-South region for the Jarretts and Gulas families, among others. He was inducted into the Wrestling Hall of Fame. Morton was the special guest referee when Ricky Morton beat Eddie Gilbert for the USWA Unified belt in 1992.
Paul joined the Civil Conservation Corps at a very early age followed by service in the Merchant Marines in World War II.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Sim and Mary Morton; brothers, Louis, Hollis, Frank, Edgar, and Oscar Morton. Survived by his wife of 63 years, Lucille Westmoreland Morton; brothers, Mack and Gene Morton and sister, Beulah Hicks; sons, George D. Morton, S. Wayne Morton, Larry P. (Susan) Morton, Rickey W. Morton and Donnie R. Morton plus several grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He was a loving husband, father, grandfather, and friend to many.
Hans Mortier 12/15/10
Jacob “Dutch” Grobbe was fluent in five languages — English, French, Dutch, German and Afrikaans — and that ability contributed markedly to his life, and his success under several different identities during a ring career that lasted over 25 years. The 86-year old veteran of a bygone era passed into history in the early morning hours of December 15, 2010 in Leiden, The Netherlands.
Born on January 28, 1924 in Leiden, the birthplace of world-renowned classical painter Rembrandt over 300 years earlier, he survived the Nazi occupation of his homeland during World War II. Fortunately, his mastery of German without an accent betraying him convinced the Nazi authorities that he was indeed from Germany. Immediately after the war, he “borrowed” ID papers from an American serviceman named Howlett, wangled his way aboard a U.S.-bound troop transport, and ducked security at the airport to begin a new life in a strange land. Winding up in Tacoma, Washington, his unaccented English enabled him to become a police officer there. He also plunged headlong into body-building, then took the natural step into wrestling culminating with his debut match against Abe Yourist in 1946.
Al Haft in Columbus, Ohio booked Grobbe, as Dutch Howlett, for several years beginning in 1949. He then travelled back to Europe for ring engagements, wrestled under a mask in Australia in 1955-56 and Florida in 1969 as The Great Zorro, again under a mask in other areas as Dr. X and after losing the hood as Tarzan Zorra, and in Texas as Lord Charles Montague. Woven into all of these identities, however, was his most well-known and enduring persona: Hans Mortier, the arrogant Teutonic heel, his 6′ 5″, 275 pound frame topped by a shining gold German aviator’s helmet from World War I, and his “Gulllotine” — a full nelson no one escaped — as his major weapon.
Hans Mortier invaded the WWWF in 1963, managed by the inimitable Wild Red Berry. His wrestling abilities and great ring presence quickly made him the number one foe for Bruno Sammartino, the newly-crowned WWWF champion, and a threatening challenge when he pitted the Guillotine against Bruno’s awesome bearhug. The pair did it all; single bouts, title bouts, Texas Death matches, tag teams. In and out of WWF for several years, he worked in Hawaii where he linked with Johnny Barend in 1967 to seize the islands’ tag crown, and in Texas in 1970 tagged with Boris Malenko to win the American tag team belts. He also held gold in Montreal as Dr. X in 1971, and wrapped up his career shortly after.
The years, unfortunately, were not kind to Jacob Grobbe. He recovered from cancer, but suffered a serious bicycle accident in his seventies, and had to use a cane and walker thereafter. He was bed-ridden for the past 18 months, the ravages of age taking their toll, and took a sudden turn for the worse a week before his death.
The Cauliflower Alley Club extends its condolences to his wife Yolaine, his family and friends, and especially to long-time CAC supporter Dotty Curtis, with her late husband Don very special friends of the Grobbe family.
‘KING’ Curtis Iaukea 12/04/10
The word “legendary” is an overused one in the wrestling world, and indeed elsewhere. More and more in this day and age, it’s applied to someone who, yes, may have some noteworthy accomplishments but falls short — sometimes far short — of the true meaning of the word. The genuinely legendary wrestlers are, in truth, precious few in number.
Curtis Piehau Iaukea III, who passed away in his Hawaiian homeland on December 4, 2010, most certainly qualifies for legendary status. As King Curtis in the ring and later The Master and The Wizard as a manager, he personified the chill of the dark side, the raw emotion of violence unleashed, the “what comes next?” of eager anticipation. What’s more, he did it masterfully throughout a career that extended over three continents and several decades.
Curtis was of old Hawaiian stock, the grandson of his namesake, Colonel Curtis Piehau Iaukea, Sr. The Colonel served as a one-man diplomatic corps to the last two Hawaiian monarchs, King David Kalakaua and Queen Lili’uokalani, in the 1880’s and 90’s. The tiny mid-Pacific island chain became a republic in 1894, and the Colonel later became Honolulu’s chief of police, one of some 40 governmental positions he held over his lifetime of public service. His son, C.P.Iaukea, Jr., known to so many in the wrestling business as “Cap”, became a long-serving Honolulu police captain. Cap’s son Curtis was born in 1937 in Honolulu, and became a standout student at the famed Punahou School. His athletic skills carried him to the University of California, Berkeley, to major in economics and develop his gridiron talents to a pro level. Imbued with the freedom of thought and action that ultra-liberal Berkeley engendered, Curtis foresook higher education after two years to play tackle for the B.C. Lions of the Canadian Football League during the 1958-59 seasons. The discipline of football didn’t sit well with him, though, perhaps a harbinger of things to come. At home in the off-season, his free spirit veered toward wrestling when the highly-respected Lord James Blears and footballer-turned-wrestler Joe Blanchard took a serious interest in him, and his passion for the ring ignited.
Blears, particularly, worked long and hard to develop Curtis, training him not only in the ring but in his philosophies of the business. The training took hold quickly, and the man who became known simply as “Da Bull” launched his ring career in 1959. At 6′ 3″ and over 300 pounds, he was a bulldozer run amok, agile for a big man, fiery to an extreme. His first big break came in Australia as a face, allied with Spiros Arion and Mark Lewin, who would play a pivotal role in his life for the next 20 years. Curtis’ true calling, though, was as a heel. He grew his thick black hair long, donned long black tights, and began blasting his way through his foes with every heinous move he could think of. He made fans scream for his hide in England, introduced a new brand of villainy in the course of 20 tours of Japan, thundered through south Asia, bloodied New Zealand, and made his name a household word in his native Hawaiian islands. There, he was surrounded by exceptional wrestling talent, and was instrumental in making the 1960’s and 70’s in Hawaii a golden ring age. Stateside, he tore up Florida and Ohio and Michigan, decimated the AWA and Pacific Northwest and California, rampaged through the old WWWF twice, savaged western Canada and Texas. Curtis held titles everywhere he went, 25 singles belts including four stints as the IWA (Australia) World Heavyweight Champion, and shares of 14 tag crowns, testimony to his drawing power everywhere. The ring ran red with blood, much of it belonging to Curtis himself as he put into practice the old adage, “red means green”. His run lasted 20 years, brought to a permanent halt only by a deadly infection he contracted in Singapore.
Home in Hawaii to recuperate, Curtis opened a concession on Waikiki Beach, renting boogie boards, beach chairs and the like. His name was magic there; “Da Bull” was known to virtually every islander, fan or not, and to many Waikiki visitors. Almost every pro wrestler or referee, publicist or promoter who visited Hawaii made it a point to drop by for a visit, to “talk story” and fill his days with vivid reminiscences of the ring and the road. They weren’t just perfunctory courtesy visits, not at all. They were made out of deep affection and respect for the man, developed somewhere out on the road and still vital even many years later.
“This is paradise, but paradise is hell, sometimes,” Curtis would observe, anxious on occasion for a respite from living on a rock in the middle of the Pacific, and chafing to get back to what he knew best.
Physically, it wasn’t remotely possible, but the opportunity arose to manage several times, in WWF in 1986-87 and.WCW in 1995. Curtis once again brought his awesome promo skills to the forefront; in fact, he had long been referred to as one of the very best promo men in the business. His voice was a low threatening growl, his shaven and scarred head suggested an ogre, his carefully-selected words promised unspeakable acts of horror to be inflicted on anyone daring to challenge his men As he’d done for years, he most often used the unorthodox stance of keeping his broad back to the camera, seldom turning to face it, and letting that ominous voice and its dire predictions hold the listener spellbound. Jim Blears had originally recommended the tactic to him, and Curtis worked it to perfection, turning words into cash at the box office.
Everyone who crossed Curtis Iaukea’s path has a vividly-recalled memory of the man often described as “larger than life”. What always surfaces in the telling is the total counter-point between his maniacal ring persona and his true personality. Curtis was typically Hawaiian, warm and friendly, soft-spoken and kind, easy-going and good-humoured. He was respected by the boys, and always willing to share his knowledge as a mentor to many of them. Though suffering from a number of serious maladies in his last quarter-century, he maintained his beach stand activity as long as possible, and kept as active as his health would permit. His last public appearance was in July 2005 at a collectors’ show in Honolulu International Center (now Blaisdell Arena), the building he had sold out so many times, on behalf of the Alzheimer’s Association in Hawaii. Curtis quietly disclosed at the time that he was suffering the onset of the horrible disease.
Curtis passed away in Papakolea, a Honolulu district, in the house he’d called home for many years. He was 73 years old. “He died peacefully, with family around him,” his son, Rocky, told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. “He was originally crippled from wrestling in 1979. Over the last year things accelerated, but his health problems started a long time ago.”
The Cauliflower Alley Club extends its condolences to Curtis’ widow Jeannette, son Rocky, and all family and friends of ‘King’ Curtis Iaukea.
Aloha ‘oe, Curtis, a hui hou kakou…
Skip Young 12/03/10
Galton W. Young, who worked as Skip Young and was the man behind the persona of Sweet Brown Sugar in several territories, passed away in Dallas, Texas on December 3, 2010. He was 59 years of age.
Young was born on July 24, 1951, and spent his young life in Dallas. David Von Erich was a close friend in their youthful years, and once he started wrestling, encouraged Skip to get into the business. He earned his spurs through the latter 1970’s, combining great athleticism and a phenomenal leaping ability to make his mark in the southern promotions. Amazing dropkicks were often his offensive weapon of choice, and impressed not only ringsiders, but his fellow wrestlers as well. He was named Pro Wrestling Illustrated Rookie of the Year in 1979. Gary Hart, one of the shrewdest judges of talent, credited Skip in his book as one of the finest athletes the business has ever had.
His star began to rise when he moved into Florida in 1979, and donned a mask to become Sweet Brown Sugar. He showed such style and ability that promoter Eddie Graham moved him into the title picture in short order. Over the next eight years, he held FCW’s Southern championship on three occasions, the Florida heavyweight, Bahamas and TV titles, and a pair of tag team titles with first Bobo Brazil and later Bruce (Butch) Reed. Skip also wrestled intermittently in WCCW in Texas, twice copping their tag team title, and in Los Angeles where he held the Americas Championship. He worked infrequently during the latter 1980’s and early 1990’s for small promotions, then surfaced in Puerto Rico in 1996 where he held the WWC television title for a time.
Young was markedly different from most masked wrestlers, in several respects. Regardless of whether he was Skip Young or Sweet Brown Sugar, and he worked under a mask or not, he never worked heel in his entire career. As well, he often wrestled without the hood but retained the name Sweet Brown Sugar, an identity that seemed to have greater appeal to the public. He was actually one of two men who worked under that name, the other being Koko B. Ware in 1982-83 in the Tennessee territory. There’s no record of which identity he used when Japan beckoned in 1982, as far as is known his only overseas experience. In his most memorable match there he teamed with Dick “The Destroyer” Beyer against top-line foes Genichiro Tenryu and Ashura Hara.
Skip Young apparently became a preacher as his career tapered down, following in his father’s footsteps with that choice.
Jack Laskin 11/28/10
Jack passed away quietly in his sleep on Sunday morning. Jack was honored in 2001 at the CAC reunion in Las Vegas. One of his requests was that his obituary appear in Cauliflower Alley Club’s records.
On March 13, 1929 Jack Laskin entered the world. On November 28, 2010 he has left the world. He will not be returning. Enough is enough! He’s done it all; from the shmatah business to professional wrestling all over the world, then for ten years, a successful Fuller Brush Man, then a salesman, then computer service bureau, then marriage to Audrey, then a collection agency, then a Public Speaker on the ”Pro” circuit, then a move to Penryn in 1989, then retirement, then volunteer Jewish Chaplain at Folsom Prison and two major hospitals, then retirement again after he lost Audrey in 2008,and just officiating at weddings and funerals, etc. When he lost Audrey, he lost his best audience and critic. There was no one left to impress. His humor was outdated. His last creative act was writing this obituary, just to be sure all the facts were there. Jack was a member of Temple Or Rishon and doesn’t want any flowers. You want to send flowers, go to somebody else’s funeral. Better you should send a donation to Temple Or Rishon for the building fund or to the heart or cancer fund. Or take some kid and buy them a book and say its from me. But you can put your name in it too. Me and you, we did something nice together. Jack was born on March 13, 1929 in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada and is survived by everybody. His last words to one and all: ”Its been a pleasure.”
EL HIJO DEL CIEN CARAS 11/28/10
Ignacio Jimenez Ibarra, who wrestled under a mask as El Hijo del Cien Caras, was found dead in Mexico City during the night of November 28, 2010.
Jimenez was born in 1977 in Monclova, Mexico. He was the brother of L.A. Park (known more as La Parka), nephew of Super Parka and cousin of Volador Jr., established stars in Mexico. He had moderate success during his career, twice holding the IWRG tag team titles. Little information is available at this point, but Jimenez and female companion Adela Luna, age 45, were apparently found dead in a Honda CRV, both shot twice in the head and neck.
Kantaro Hoshino 11/25/10
New Japan Pro Wrestling has reported the passing of grand veteran Takeo “Kantaro” Hoshino, one of the best smaller wrestlers of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. He died in hospital of pneumonia on November 25, 2010, at the age of 67, after being in ill health since suffering a stroke in 2009.
Born in Kobe, Japan on October 9, 1943, he took up boxing in school, but migrated to wrestling as a young teenager. After training in JWA, and just 18 years old, Hoshino debuted on December 22, 1961. He impressed fans from his early days onward, especially when he and recently-deceased Kotetsu Yamamoto paired up in 1967 as the Yamaha Brothers. He remained with that promotion until it closed, then moved to Antonio Inoki’s New Japan promotion when it opened in June 1972. The late 60’s saw him campaign in the U.S. as The Great Yamaha, and though a smaller competitor at 5′ 7″ and about 210 pounds, he achieved considerable success in Memphis where he held the Southern Junio Heavyweight Championship.
Hoshino gained an even higher profile in the 80’s, when he often teamed with Satoru Sayama, the original Tiger Mask, who was riding a tsunami wave of popularity. Their matches against the top foreign junior heavyweights touring Japan, The Dynamite Kid, Steve Wright, Bret Hart, Black Tiger (Mark Rocco), Abdullah Tamba and others were classics, showcasing a revved-up brand of action that totally captured fans’ imagination. He remained a familiar and respected figure in New Japan rings long after, until capping a 34-year active career in 1995. Complete retirement was still down the road, though; Hoshino became a promoter for New Japan, and in the new millennium, the manager of the heel faction in the promotion, The Makai Club. At the 35-year anniversary of New Japan in 2007, he was inducted into their Hall of Fame.
Chris Long 11/21/10
Chris Long, a Georgia independent wrestler who worked under the moniker “Solid”, was shot and killed in the early hours of November 21, 2010 while working security at an Atlanta-area nightspot.
The 33-year old Long, a resident of Smyrna, GA, had wrestled amateur in high school. His professional ring name, Solid, typified the 6’4″, 375 pound bruiser as he strove for success in the independent world, most recently with the Mexico-based Lucha Libre USA promotion. He worked as Marco Corleone’s (Mark Jindrak) sidekick on the Lucha Libre USA: Masked Warriors series on MTV2. Long also worked with his friend Frank Aldridge’s WWA4 wrestling school in Atlanta, where he was active on the creative side, including development of a new Christian wrestling operation. Aldridge described him as very creative, able to make friends easily, and very helpful to everyone.
Chris had been working security to supplement his income and provide a better life for his wife of six months, Lisa, and their two children. Reportedly, Long and other security staff had ejected three trouble-makers earlier in the evening, who returned later and opened fire in the club. Chris died of gunshot wounds, while two other security staff were wounded and hospitalized. DeKalb County police are investigating, but remain close-mouthed about their progress at this early stage of the investigation.
Joe Higuchi 11/8/10
Kanji “Joe” Higuchi, an institution in Japanese puroresu circles and a bridge between East and West for English-speaking wrestlers touring his homeland, passed away in Japan on November 8, 2010. He was 81 years of age, and succumbed to lung cancer.
Born in 1929, Higuchi practiced judo during his teen years, and became an instructor following World War II. He also mastered the English language, a skill that would ultimately serve him well. Turning to wrestling in 1954, he joined Japan Pro Wrestling Alliance (JWA) for the next six years as a light-heavyweight.
After a hiatus of several years, he reappeared as a referee with JWA, then moved to Giant Baba’s newly-formed All Japan Pro Wrestling in 1972. For the next 28 years, Joe excelled as their number-one official, but perhaps even more important was his role as go-between for the many English-language-only athletes who wrestled for the company. Joe capably handled translation duties ranging from everyday situations such as ordering in restaurants through to the vital communication of the foreign visitors ?? concerns or problems to company management. And of course, he ensured clear communication between the Japanese and touring wrestlers in arranging their matches.
“Joe Higuchi spoke English well and had excellent communication skills”, recalled Dory Funk, Jr., who knew Higuchi from 1972 when his father, Dory Sr., negotiated the supply of American wrestling talent with Baba’s new promotion. “He was well-liked by foreign wrestlers coming to Japan……and most liked because he looked after the wrestlers when they were far from home in a strange country with a different culture.”
The consummate referee “the first NWA in-ring official in Japan, and in later years the promotion’s title match referee” and interpreter remained with All Japan until Baba’s death in 1999, then retired. Though over 70, he joined Pro Wrestling NOAH when it was formed in 2001 as the company auditor and title management chairman, and of course continued to bridge the communications gap between overseas talent and Japanese wrestlers and management.
Public testament to Joe’s 60-year contribution to puroresu came not only from NOAH president Akira Taue, but also New Japan president Naoki Sugabayashi and All Japan CEO Keiji Muto.
Taro Myaki 11/07/10
George Halealoha Kahaumia, who had a long wrestling career stretching from the latter 1940’s until the late 1960’s, passed away on November 7, 2010. He was 89, and was in hospice care in Aiea, a Honolulu district..
Born in Honolulu on August 7, 1921, George began his athletic career as a sumo wrestler, using the name Kongozan, “diamond mountain”. He moved on to professional wrestling in the 1950’s, campaigning variously as Taro Myaki — which seems to have been his most frequent identity — Professor Hiro (or sometimes Hito), and Taro Keomuka. He criss-crossed the U.S. and Canada thoroughly, at one time holding the Toronto version of the U.S. Heavyweight Championship as Professor Hiro, and twice seizing the Texas version of the World Tag Team Championship with Duke Keomuka. He often teamed with other supposedly-Oriental wrestlers, and did a lot of tag team work.
George retired to Kaneohe, Hawaii, to finally rejoin his wife Lai Ing. They had two daughters, Eileen and Diane, now residing in California and Washington State respectively, grandchildren Matthew and Monica, and many nieces and nephews.
Mike Masarsky 11/04/10
Long time CAC reunion attendee Mike Masarsky past away Nov. 4th after a lengthy illness. He attended the CAC Reunions for close to 10 years. Mike could be found hanging out with many of his friends discussing pro-wrestling.
Mike was a self employeed computer specalist in Las Vegas Nevada and owned the Masarsky Group, a computer training and consulting firm.
Edouard “Flying Frenchman” Carpentier 10/30/10
Carpentier dazzled in the ring with his high-flying and acrobatic style, hence his nickname. Quebec’s Flying Frenchman, wrestler Edouard Carpentier, died during the weekend at his home in Montreal. He was 84. Reports say he suffered a heart attack on Oct. 30.
Carpentier dominated the Canadian and particularly the Montreal wrestling scene after emigrating from France in 1956, and was a four-time International Champion (1957-67) and a popular member of the tag teams of the 70s.
His name was as well known during that period as that of his arch-nemeses, Canadian wrestlers Killer Kowalski and Mad Dog Vachon.
Carpentier dazzled in the ring with his high-flying and acrobatic style, hence his nickname. All those years of slamming down to the mat took a toll and in the past decade, Carpentier suffered a heart attack and many physical ailments due to the rigours of his early career.
Born Edouard Weiczorkiewicz in Roanne, France, July 17, 1926 he reputedly worked with the French Reistance during the Second World War. Trained in physical fitness, he competed as a gymnast for France in the 1948 and 1952 games in London and Helsinki.
He picked up wrestling skills and was lured to Montreal in 1956 where he adopted the stage surname Carpentier after a French boxer.
With his compact size and broad physique “5 foot 10 inches and 220 pounds” plus his penchant of adding backflips and somersaults to his performance, Carpentier had the crowd eating out of his hand.
Carpentier became a Canadian citizen in the 1970s and also helped train up-and-comers to the business. He supplemented his income with work as a stunt man for several movies.
After retiring from wrestling in the 1980s, Carpentier did some play-by-play commentary for the French networks.
GRAN NANIWA 10/2010
Yoshikimi Kimura, who blended solid wrestling and comedy under an unlikely masked persona, passed away in Japan in very early October, 2010. Death was due to heart failure, at the young age of 33.
Kimura wrestled almost his entire career as the masked Gran Naniwa. It was a cleverly constructed identity that blended the characteristic mannerisms of a crab with an intense, high energy wrestling style and comedic spots, and it got over strong with Japanese fans. At one time, Naniwa was the most popular face in Michinoku Pro Wrestling.
Born in Morioka, Japan in 1976, Kimura began training in 1992 under Gran Hamada and then Super Delfin, two standout performers in Japanese rings. Something of a prodigy, he made his pro debut under his own name in March 1993 at just 17 years of age, in a battle royal. After several months under a mask and another name, he began using the Gran Naniwa identity in June 1993.
Though titles eluded him throughout his career, he had some big matches, including making it to the quarter-finals in the famous 1995 Super J Cup tournament alongside Chris Jericho, Chris Benoit, Jushin “Thunder” Liger and Ultimo Dragon. Naniwa competed mainly for Michinoku Pro, but also had appearances in New Japan, All Japan, Kaientai Dojo and Okinawa Pro as a junior heavyweight, and had a brief run in the original ECW in 1998. He was semi-retired at the time of his passing.
MIKE PORTER 10/23/10
Kim Michael Porter, 59, a former western U.S. ring announcer and ring crew chief for the World Wrestling Federation, passed away in Los Angeles on October 23, 2010. He had reportedly been dealing with cardiac problems recently.
Mike began his association with wrestling by working security and ring announcing for northern California promotions from the late 1960’s onward. In 1988, he attended a WWF event in Chico, California and happened to find out that Terry Garvin, a booker for whom he ‘d worked years earlier, was now a company executive with Vince McMahon’s organization. Mike made contact with Garvin, and got on board several months later as a member of the ring crew. In 1989 he had his first shot at ring announcing on the WWF’s big stage. From there on, he blended announcing duties with the position of ring crew chief in the western states and western Canada. and if he wasn’t on the microphone, often handled timekeeping, music continuity or refereeing. Mike continued with the company until 1993, when they scaled back their west coast events from the busy schedule of the past few years..
Still passionate about the business after his WWF stint, Mike authored the newsletter Wrestlebeat and hosted a radio show, Wrestleshoot, that also had a short run on TV. He continued to ring announce with several California indy promotions, and explored another avenue of endeavour in singing and stand-up comedy.
Jorge Gonzalez 9/22/10
According to Argentinean news outlet Impulso Baires, former WWE and WCW wrestler Jorge Gonzalez passed away on Wednesday in San Martina, Argentina. He was 44. According to those in Gonzalez’ hometown, El Colorado, confirm that he was taken to San Martin after “suffering a decompensation.” Gonzales suffered numerous health problems for years, and received dialysis treatments for kidney failure. The legit 7’6″ giant had been in bad health for years due to kidney failure and had been confined to a wheelchair.
He was scheduled for a wrestling convention this past May in New Jersey but was forced to cancel due to his health.
Gonzalez was originally a basketball player and was drafted to the Atlanta Hawks in 1988, but he lacked the natural ability an coordination for basketball so Hawks owner Ted Turner brought him into World Championship Wrestling, a franchise he also owned.
He debuted in May 1990 after a year of training using the moniker El Gigante. He was a top card fan favorite while in WCW and allied with other top stars like Sting and The Steiner Brothers against Ric Flair, Sid Vicious and the other top villains of the day.
He left WCW in 1992 and jumped to the World Wrestling Federation. He made his debut at the 1993 Royal Rumble where he attacked The Undertaker. Using the new moniker “Giant Gonzalez” and wearing a full body suit, he embarked on an eight month long feud with The Undertaker, culminating in a “Rest in Peace” match. After the match he split with his manager Harvery Wippleman and embarked on a brief run as a fan favorite before leaving the company in October 1993.
The big man then worked in New Japan Pro Wrestling until 1995 when he officially retired as an active wrestler. He also did some small acting roles, but moved back to his native Argentina as he grew older.
MIKE SHAW 09/11/10
Mike Shaw, who successfully navigated his way through the trials of portraying a half-dozen oddball characters during his years in the ring, passed away in Michigan on September 11, 2010. His death at age 53 was attributed to complications of a heart attack he’d suffered some time before.
Born in Marquette, Michigan on May 9, 1957, Mike lettered 11 times in high school, in wrestling, shot put and football. After graduation, he played a season of pro softball with the Milwaukee Schlitz, but the next year, 1978, was stranded in Florida during spring training when the league folded. On the advice of an old wrestler he’d met, he struck out for Walter Kowalski’s school in Salem. Massachusetts, and there enjoyed a very positive learning experience. Big and brawny at 6’1″ and some 275 pounds at that time, he honed his skills working small nearby shows for the Killer, and did a few WWWF enhancement shots, as Mike Stryker.
From there, Mike caught on with Vancouver’s All-Star Wrestling promotion, debuting as Klondike Mike, a bearded, burly and popular Yukon lumberjack. Area veterans Moose Morowski, Dean Ho and Eric Froelich enhanced his development, and in 1981 he moved on to Stu Hart’s sprawling Stampede Wrestling territory in western Canada. A mid-card attraction at best in his early going there, Shaw utilized an unlikely gimmick to cement his claim to fame. Allying with East Indian heel The Great Gama Singh, he changed his name to Makhan Singh, became a turbaned brute who no longer answered to Mike Shaw, and loudly extolled the virtues of the evil alliance known as Karachi Vice – a takeoff on the then-popular TV series, Miami Vice.
On the surface the gimmick seemed weak, but Makhan Singh made it work with his bombastic promos on TV. Within weeks, it took off like a rocket. Though no trick was too low for the Singhs, along with assorted recruits over time, their wrestling was solid. Their gate appeal zoomed sky-high, Karachi Vice T-shirts were seen everywhere, and they were jeered on the streets. They were the faction the public loved to hate, and the Vice headed by Makhan Singh rolled on in one form or another until Stampede’s end in 1989.
In the mid-1980’s, Mike developed a special chemistry with up-and-coming Owen Hart that on paper looked unworkable: the talented but green youngster of the Hart clan, and the ponderous bulk of Makhan Singh, now well over 300 pounds. The pair had terrific matches all around the territory, many before SRO crowds, and Mike had much to do with Owen being able to showcase his massive but still-developing talents and rise to a new pinnacle of popularity. They traded the area’s North American title several times from 1986 to 1988. And to this day, nearly 25 years later, Makhan Singh is one of the most readily-recalled wrestling names not only by fans, but the man on the street in western Canada as well.
With the cable TV juggernauts under full steam, Mike became Norman the Lunatic, then Trucker Norm in WCW as the 90’s approached. He next morphed into Big Ben Sharpe in South Africa, Aaron Grundy or Jed Grundy in Mexico, and Man Mountain Mike in the Canadian maritimes. WWF then beckoned to him, albeit with less than promising roles for him to fulfill.
Friar Ferguson, a mad monk, didn’t last long. Bastion Booger, a gross, seemingly sewer-dwelling character, had greater longevity but the booking of that role didn’t allow Mike to display his considerable promo ability and impressive working big man talents. He left WWF IN 1994, disappointed in the nature of his characters, but pleased that he’d been able to fulfill his wish to perform on that grand stage.
Mike retired to his native Michigan, where he and wife Kelly, whom he’d met while working in Canada, raised two children, Joshua and Amanda. He ran a wrestling school for a time, and worked in security and public relations in the nearby Ojibwa casino. Mike was at one time a CAC member, but unfortunately never made it to a reunion.
LA FIERA 09/11/10
Arturo Casco Hernandez, a major star in Mexico as La Fiera (The Wild Animal), passed away in the early morning of September 11, 2010 in his native country. He died of injuries sustained in a stabbing incident the previous day.
The 49-year old was born on March 17, 1961 in a small town in the state of Puebla, Mexico. He was trained by Diablo Velasco and his father Hercules Poblano, and launched his career in April 1977 in Mexico. By the early 1980’s was often referred to as the best worker in the country. Mitsuhara Misawa, making his 1984 debut as Tiger Mask in the All-Japan promotion, handpicked Casco to be his opponent in the all-important match.
La Fiera defeated Gran Hamada for the EMLL NWA middleweight championship in 1985, holding it for over three months. He held the same organization’s welterweight title for nine months in 1981-82, capturing it from Lizmark.
RANDY MORSE 09/05/10
Randy Morse, who began as a wrestler and moved on to a successful banking and real estate career, passed away on September 5, 2010 at the age of 58. He had a history of cardiac problems, and died of heart failure.
Born in 1952, Randy began his athletic career in baseball, as a catcher. Moving on to pro wrestling in the early 1970’s, the 6 ‘7″, 280 pounder appeared in Stampede Wrestling in the spring of 1973 as Randy Mountain. Over the next six years, he appeared frequently in Vancouver for All-Star Wrestling, and in the Kansas City and Amarillo territories, as Mountain, Randy Morse and Sky Hi Morse. He also headlined in South Africa, but his career came to a sudden halt in Japan in about 1982. He ruined a shoulder beyond repair when he landed badly taking Jumbo Tsuruta’s Greco-Roman backdrop.
Subsequently, Randy took a college degree, then entered the banking field in Denver. He moved from there to real estate, eventually becoming a vice-president of Remax. Ironically, seeing the movie “The Wrestler” and hearing of the deaths of old friends Gene Kiniski and Buddy Rose, he had planned on attending the 2011 edition of the CAC reunion.
JOSE NIEVES 09/04/10
Pedro Castro Mendoza, a famed trainer in Mexico who also wrestled for many years as Jose Nieves, passed away in his homeland on September 4, 2010.
A native of Mexico City, he began wrestling in 1952 and had his final match 45 years later, in 1997. Castro campaigned under a variety of names as a mid-carder, and was best known as Pedro or Jose Nieves, but gained much greater fame as a trainer. Among his most successful students were Villanos I, II and III, El Halcon, Talisman, Popitekus, El Hijo del Gladiador, Pequeno and Irma Aguilar.
HERB LARSON 09/01/10
Herb Larson, one of the scores of professional wrestlers to pour out of Hamilton, Ontario in the mid-1900’s, has passed away at the age of 83. Larsons funeral will be in Madison, Tennessee on September 6, 2010.
Hamilton, for some reason, was a fountainhead of wrestling talent in those days. Many went on to become top national and international names: the Sharpes, the Tolos and Scott brothers, and more. Many others, all solid ring talents, spread out across North America and carved out memorable careers in promotions large and small.
Herb Larson, born in 1927, was one of four brothers. As a teenager, he often attended the Tuesday night wrestling cards at Hamilton’s municipal swimming pool, where the ring was suspended above the water. Fascinated by what he saw, Herb learned largely by watching the name wrestlers who frequented southern Ontario, and from his brother George, 13 years his senior. George had been an Olympic swimmer in 1932 and 1936, then had become a wrestler, using the name Irish Tom Collins.
Turning pro in about 1946 and finding it difficult to rise through the ranks in his home province, Herb took his skills south of the border. He appeared first in the northeast U.S., then settled comfortably into the southern states area. He worked long runs for Roy Welch and Nick Gulas in Tennessee, had a good stint in Gulf Coast as the masked Proud Rebel, and was one of the original masked Medics with Don Lortie. Herb also had a run with Jack Pfefer and Buddy Lee, working under the unlikely name of Elmer the Rocket.
Herb settled down in Nashville, married, and not long after bought the Flamingo Lounge, a well-known watering hole just off the main strip in the city. The Flamingo had a wrestling heritage that spanned some 60 years; Firpo Zybszko, then Steve Kovacs had owned it, and Herb ran it for more than 40 more years. He also owned the Lee Motel, home to many of the boys working in the area. His career stretched into the late 1970’s.
MICKEY GARAGIOLA 08/29/10
Mickey Garagiola was almost an institution in St. Louis. He was the ring announcer for the highly-rated weekly television show “Wrestling from the Chase” for much of its existence, and doubled as co-commentator with Larry Matysik in the show’s later years. He was also a widely-known St. Louis “character”, in the best sense of the word, and a great friend to the wrestling business for the past 40 years.
Mickey passed away on August 29, 2010, at the grand old age of 89. He was the older brother of MLB catcher and Hall of Famer Joe Garagiola, who was the first man behind the microphone when “Wrestling at the Chase” began on May 23, 1959. Mickey was an outgoing, popular and well-known waiter at Ruggeri’s, an upscale restaurant, and often served and bantered with — St. Louis promoter and NWA president Sam Muchnick and many of the boys who frequently dined there.
Muchnick saw something he liked in the gregarious waiter, and invited him to the TV taping one night in 1969, at the upscale Chase-Park Plaza Hotel. Rather than a ringside seat, Mickey was handed a program and given hurried instruction on how to ring announce, and that launched his close ties to the business. He fitted well into Muchnick’s classy style of presenting his product, that made St. Louis the gold standard of pro wrestling promotion, and he enjoyed a great rapport with the city’s wrestling fans for the rest of his life.
Larry Matysik, Sam Muchnick’s right-hand man, took the anchor’s chair on “Wrestling from the Chase” in 1972, and brought Mickey on board as co-commentator. The pair clicked beautifully, balancing their easygoing on-air style with the red-hot action that the top names in the NWA produced inside the ring. The pair shared mic duties until the final Chase program on September 10, 1983.
The St. Louis Wrestling Club folded for good in 1985 as the WWF wave rolled across the country. Mickey handled their ring announcing until into the 1990’s, when the company began sending their own announcers on the road. He was inducted into the St. Louis Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2007, a fitting acknowledgement of his many contributions.in the arena and out in his home city. Mickey never lost touch with the wrestling public, continuing to attend independent events as recently as June 2010.
BEVERLY LEHMER 08/30/10
Beverley Lehmer, who survived an attack of childhood polio to begin her wrestling journey at the tender age of 15, passed away in Estes Park, Colorado on August 30, 2010. She was 77 years of age.
The youngster from Council Bluffs, Iowa fell into wrestling quite by accident. Her sister Carolyn babysat for the local auditorium manager, and he also gave the sisters some work in the concessions area. Carolyn had designs on becoming a lady wrestler, and the manager prevailed on a couple of wrestlers to provide some instruction. Beverly was pressed into service as a workout partner, though she didn’t really have ambitions to follow her sister’s career choice at the time.
The pair then attended a ladies “training camp in next-door Omaha. Carolyn wrestled only a few matches locally, but Beverly stuck with it. A friend arranged contact with ladies” wrestling impresario Billy Wolfe, and while she didn’t catch on with Wolfe’s troupe, Beverly did. She criss-crossed the states that allowed ladies wrestling for several years, usually working as a heel, and even appeared in pre-Castro Cuba.
This was the golden era of the lady wrestlers, and their ranks were rich in ring talent. Beverly worked at one time or another with all of Billy Wolfe’s top talent, including world champions Mildred Burke and June Byers, and leading contenders such as Nell Stewart, Mars Bennett, Penny Banner, Anne LaVerne, Ethel Brown, Kathleen Wembley and Johnny Mae Young. Tall and shapely at 5’6 “ and 155 pounds, she had the reputation of being strong and very seldom tiring in the course of a match
A short-lived marriage took Beverly out of wrestling for a time, but she came back in the wake of that experience and concentrated on working in the mid-west. Her final match, against an aging Mildred Burke, took place in Denver in 1968.
Beverly returned home to Council Bluffs to raise a son and daughter, and ultimately relocated to Colorado. There, she worked with people dealing with alcohol abuse, a disease she herself had successfully conquered. Ironically, on the day she passed away, she was to have received a coin honoring her 34 years of sobriety.
J. C. BAILEY 08/29/10
Joseph Carl Bailey, Jr., who wrestled on independent events through most of the past decade as J.C. Bailey, passed away on August 29, 2010 at the age of 26. The cause of death has not been released.
Trained by Tracy Smothers and Ian Rotten, Bailey specialized in hardcore matches of all kinds. He appeared most frequently for Bad 2 the Bone Wrestling in Kentucky, a promotion operated by his father Joe Bailey, IWA Mid-South, CZW and a number of other hardcore promotions. He had a single brief tour with Big Japan Pro Wrestling several years ago.
KOTETSU YAMAMOTO 08/28/10
Masaru Yamamoto, who received his ring name “Kotetsu” from the famed Toyonobori, second only to Rikidozan in the hierarchy of the Japan Wrestling Association, passed away at the age of 68 on August 28, 2010. He died of a degenerative brain disease.
Born on October 30, 1941 in Yokohama, Yamamoto initially trained as a body builder. He joined JWA in 1963 and would be the last student of Rikidozan due to his untimely death on December 16 of that year. The 5’7″, 220-pounder debuted in July 1963, and four years later journeyed to the U.S. to gain experience. In 1969, he pinned mammoth Gorilla Monsoon in just five minutes to score one of the biggest upsets in Japan’s comparatively-brief 16-year pro wrestling history.
Yamamoto accompanied his mentor, Antonio Inoki, when Inoki left JWA to form New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) in late 1971. He continued to wrestle actively, and also moved into training and coaching, as well as booking. He was instrumental in the training of such future legends as Satoru Sayama (the original Tiger Mask), Akira Maeda, Keiichi Yamada (Jushin “Thunder” Liger), Yoshihiro Asai (Ultimo Dragon), and American judoka and Olympic medalist Bad News Allen Coage.
“Although he was a hard task master, he was always fair,” recalled Coage, now deceased. “I was the second foreigner allowed to train with New Japan Mr. Yamamoto impressed me as I watched him do 3,000 Hindu squats every day. The majority of his students turned out to be great pro-wrestling stars.”
Together with Inoki and Karl Gotch, Yamamoto is credited with developing the fundamentals of “strong style” wrestling. He retired from active competition in April 1980, but continued with New Japan until the end of his life as a trainer, coach, referee and TV color commentator.
LUNA VACHON 08/27/10
In the beginning she was Gertrude, a sweet little four year old who became the daughter of Paul “The Butcher” Vachon when he married her mother, Van. Early on, she became Trudy, and in her early teens insisted on her dad teaching her some wrestling basics. When she hit the wrestling trail, she became Angelle Vachon, a blonde bombshell with a penchant for fast, furious action in the ring. And finally, she became Luna, the free-spirited, wildly-unorthodox, devil-may-care and always-entertaining wrestler, manager and valet.
Luna Vachon passed away unexpectedly on August 27, 2010, at her mother’s home in Port Richey, Florida. She was only 48. Luna had retired from wrestling in 2007 after some 30 years of passionate devotion to the sport she loved. Unorthodox as always, she settled into a job of driving a tow truck and leading a peaceful life. However, she lost all her belongings in a fire at her home, and was staying with her mother temporarily.
As a young teenager, Luna often accompanied father Paul to his WWWF bookings around Connecticut, where the family lived at the time. Increasingly fascinated by what she witnessed there, and of course being part of a wrestling family that included uncle Maurice “Mad Dog”, and aunt Diane “Vivian” Vachon, she insisted that her dad show her some basics in the empty ring before the public entered. Some of the WWF talent came out to watch the youngster, and she often inveigled one or another of them into showing her some of their moves. Aunt Vivian contributed to her ring education as well. The die was cast: young Trudy would be a professional wrestler, and as far as she was concerned, that was that!
Paul, though he had misgivings, arranged for her to train with The Fabulous Moolah. It wasn’t long before she hit the road with Moolah’s troupe using her middle name, Angelle Vachon. Florida and Kevin Sullivan’s “Army of Darkness” were the next stop, where she carried out a complete image change to become Luna, a disciple of the pseudo-satanist clan, and the first signs of her ultimate persona emerged. She spent several years in Japan, part of the time with Paul managing her, and expanded her repertoire of ring moves working with the top talent there. In the early 90’s she managed The Blackhearts, David Heath and Tom Nash, in the U.S. and on a tour of Japan.
Now fully into her unorthodox character, Luna hit her stride in 1993, beginning with a WrestleMania IX appearance. It was the first of two lengthy runs with the WWF, interspersed with WCW and ECW campaigns. Through the decade, she spiced up her persona with various twists, depending on what male wrestler she was allied with. Though most of the WWF divas lacked on the technical side of wrestling, Luna carried them to very good matches, utilizing her vast knowledge and imposing skills.
At the turn of the century, Luna left the demanding schedule of the now-WWE behind and confined her bookings to the independent world. She travelled widely, wrestling and managing her husband at the time, David “Gangrel” Heath, until deciding to retire in December 2007. By then divorced from Heath, and experiencing a new-found peace following renewal of her Christian beliefs through the Athletes International Ministry, she chose a quiet life in Florida.
Luna had two sons, Joshua and Van Hurd, from an early marriage. Van gained a measure of fame in 2009 when he competed on the reality show Hell’s Kitchen with the demanding British chef Gordon Ramsey. She is also survived by two granddaughters, Neila and Lauren Hurd.
With father Paul looking on proudly, Luna – a life member of CAC – was honored by the Club in 2009 with the Women’s Wrestling Award, for which she extended her heartfelt appreciation. All four wrestling members of the Vachon family have now been honored individually, a record array of honors for one family.
Luna Vachon was a complex personality, for whom life was never easy. She achieved her childhood dream of becoming a professional wrestler, and one of the best-known women in the sport. She was as warm and lovable in real life as she was cold and savage in her wrestling persona; it was just that, though, a persona, dropped as easily as a piece of clothing, and the real Luna shone through like a beam of sunlight.
Bishop Jason Sanderson, a CAC director and a friend and confidante to Luna, has penned the following personal tribute to this remarkable lady:
The thing that I remember most about Luna is her childlike qualities; her laughter, her smile and her appreciation for anything anyone did for her or any kindness she was shown.
I had the wonderful opportunity of having her work on the last show that I ran in New Hampshire and attend our small wrestlers reunion that weekend. To see her at the cookout, laughing and having fun, after having seen her do a fabulous match with Malia Hosaka that showed the range of emotions and depths that she was capable of, was wonderful. During that time we spent a great deal of the afternoon discussing holistic medicines and natural lifestyles, and I was amazed that she had such a grasp of a field that I have spent many years studying, only to realize how much I have yet to learn about it.
With that childlikeness, however, also came a childlike fragility, and she was one who could be easily hurt. She did not hide her pain, nor make excuses for it; neither did she hide her flaws or mistakes, or make excuses for them. She did not lie or try to couch things in ambiguous terms; with Luna, what you saw was what you got. In a business built upon ‘working’, she was one of the few who was only a “worker” in the ring.
On the recent day that I held a memorial mass for Luna, one of the readings was how you cannot get bad fruit from a good tree. I was instantly reminded of an incident at the CAC reunion at which she was honored, where she was undergoing a deeply painful and stressful time of her life; yet, she set that aside to reach out to a young wrestler on the brink of a difficult and potentially tragic situation, and helped him to find the help he needed to deal with his pain and put him on a positive path.
Yes, she had borne good fruit; perhaps she was bent by the winds of life that buffeted her, and perhaps she was broken in places, but her heart still shone through despite it all. I believe with all my heart that she is now in a place where she can find comfort and peace and her childlike nature can continue to be a blessing to those that knew her.
EL ESPANTO II 08/27/10
Fernando Cisneros Carrillo, who rose to the status of a major Mexican star under a mask but even after losing it had an outstanding career, passed away in his homeland on August 27, 2010, just two days after his 78th birthday. He had been hospitalized several times for heart problems prior to his death.
Beginning his athletic life as a weightlifter in his native Torreon, Mexico, Cisneros was convinced by his brother to turn to wrestling. He began his career in 1952, and nine years later donned a mask to became El Espanto II, tag team partner to his lifelong friend Jose Eusebio, the original El Espanto. The team became major stars, launched by a 34-straight skein of victories at Arena Mexico, and at one time held the Mexican national tag team titles. So hot did they become that they were even teamed often with the legendary El Santo in trios matches, until Cisneros turned on Santo in a June 1962 bout to begin a blazing feud.
The pair’s biggest matches in Fernando’s opinion were against Lou Thesz and Blue Demon in Mexico City, and Thesz and Huracan Ramirez in Puebla. Thesz, he felt, gave him one of his proudest moments when he stated that he had great qualities and a good wrestling base. It was high praise indeed, coming from Lou.
Espanto II lost his mask to Ruben Juarez on September 6, 1963 in a hair-vs-mask match. Both he and Espanto became bare-faced, as shortly after El Santo stripped Espanto of his hood. They continued to team until Espanto was tragically killed by a man mistaking him for someone else on May 30, 1968, on the eve of a major European and Japanese tour. The loss of his friend and partner devastated Cisneros, but he continued to wrestle on a reduced schedule, often teaming with El Espanto III, Miguel Vasquez. Cisneros retired in 1979 after 27 years in the ring.
ANTON GEESINK 08/27/10
Antonius Johannes “Anton” Geesink, an Olympic gold medalist and three-time world open-class champion in judo who made the transition to professional wrestling, passed away in his native Netherlands on August 27, 2010. He has been in intensive care for several weeks before his death at age 76.
A huge man in judo terms at six foot six and well over 250 pounds, Geesink captured 21 European judo titles between 1952 and 1967. At the 1961 world title tournament he took the top title, which up until then had always been won by a Japanese athlete, and repeated the victory in 1964 and 1965. He was one of a handful of living 10th-Dan grade judoka.
He retired from competitive judo in 1967. A teacher by profession, Geesink taught at the Dutch Royal Military Academy and other institutions, and continued his involvement in judo by instructing and coaching, and authoring 11 books on the subject.
In October 1973, Giant Baba recruited Geesink to join his All Japan Pro Wrestling promotion. Trained in Amarillo, Texas by Dory Funk, Jr. and Terry Funk, he adapted quickly and moved rapidly into major matches in Japan. He wrestled from 1973 to 1978, and was a popular figure throughout the island nation. His notable opponents included Bruno Sammartino, Dory Funk, Jr., Jumbo Tsuruta, Gorilla Monsoon, Dick Murdoch and Sgt. Slaughter.
Retiring from wrestling in 1978, he was appointed to the Dutch National Olympic Committee in 1987, and was a member of the International Olympic Committee. The Emperor of Japan recognized his accomplishments by awarding him the Order of the Sacred Treasure, and he received other high honors in France and at home. His hometown of Utrecht, The Netherlands named a street in his honor — the same street on which he lived until his death.
“TOUGH” TONY BORNE 08/27/10
Anthony Wayne Osborne, who hammered out many years of wrestling history as Tough Tony Borne, passed away at his home in Milwaukie, Oregon on August 27, 2010. He suffered from heart disease and had a pacemaker implanted earlier in the month, but his condition continued to decline until his death at age 84.
“Tough” was his nickname, and tough was his game over a career that spanned some 30 years. On the small side for a wrestler, he packed so much explosive energy, rampaging offense and bombast into his matches that watchers simply forgot his size, even when he battled the big men of his era. Tony Borne was indeed larger than life.
Born in Columbus, Ohio on July 13, 1926, Tony wrestled amateur in high school and then in the U.S. Navy. Columbus promoter Al Haft, a shrewd evaluator, saw real potential in him and he began his pro training under Ali Pasha. Karl Pojello, the longtime manager of Maurice Tillet, The French Angel, mentored him carefully from there and Tony readily adapted to the pro ring.
He made his first big splash in Mexico in the 1950’s, especially with a hair-vs-hair match against Black Shadow in Mexico City that drew 25,000 screaming fans. Another 15,000 watched as he battled lucha libre legend Blue Demon on July 10, 1957, in one of their many wild collisions. Well-seasoned and confident in his abilities at that point, Borne returned to the U.S. to do battle in the Omaha, Utah, Detroit, Portland and Texas territories, ultimately including matches against NWA world champions, Lou Thesz, Pat O’Connor and Gene Kiniski..
Texas, famed for its wild ring action, was fertile ground for Borne. He hit the state like a summer tornado, slugging it out non-stop with legendary tough guys like Dangerous Danny McShain, Antone “Ripper” Leone, and Bull Curry. He held the unique Brass Knuckles Championship on four different occasions, and half of the World and Texas tag team crowns. In Amarillo, he allied with a manager, crafty Leo “The Lion” Newman, a veteran grappler who actually kept African lions as pets at his Missouri home. The two hit it off well from their first outing, and together, doubled the heat they could draw.
But the capstone to Tony’s career came when he settled in Oregon, where he’d first wrestled in the 1950’s. The Pacific Northwest was a wrestling hotbed, and the heat went up even higher when Borne unleashed his wild offense. No matter the opponents — 350-pound King Curtis Iaukea or wildman Maurice Vachon or anyone else — Tony carried the fight to them, and it all made for some of the wildest excitement in wrestling.
From Vancouver to the California border he reigned supreme for years, holding the PNW heavyweight title nine times, sharing the Canadian tag title and another version of the World tag belts three times, and the PNW tag title an astounding 20 times. His classic tag team in PNW was an unlikely union with Lonnie “Moondog” Mayne, a familiar opponent who finally became an ally, and together they held the PNW tag crown 11 of those 20 times.
Borne in the ring was all action. His trademark finisher was a thundering bombs-away leap from the top turnbuckle, often after he’d set his opponent up with a barrage of left-handed solar plexus punches, his other major weapon. Up close, he’d often grind his bearded chin into a foe’s eye, or clamp on a reverse chinlock. Tony chattered continually in the ring, growling “I said, say it !” whenever he had his man locked in a submission hold.
Always willing to give back to the business, he exerted a great dressing room influence on budding talents in the PNW area. Roddy Piper, Rick Martel, Buddy Rose, Lonnie Mayne, Rip Oliver and others benefitted considerably from his counsel, and in their turn became top names.
Tony had his final match in October 1981. He’d moved from the top of the hate parade to total fan adulation; after all, he was now a local, having lived in Oregon for many years, and how could you not like a local guy who had time to talk with kids and gave you a big smile? He opened a real estate agency, a clever move given his years of TV exposure throughout the area, and did very well with it.
In retirement, Tony became a superintendent for the American Kennel Club, and enjoyed keeping the the family’s yard and gardens in top shape. He kept in close touch with his son Matt ??s wrestling career, as Maniac Matt Borne, Big Josh in WCW, and the original Doink the Clown in WWF. Tony was honored at the 1997 CAC reunion in Los Angeles with the Men’s Wrestling Award.
SKANDOR AKBAR 08/19/10
Jimmy Wehba was a friend and often a mentor to untold numbers of his fellow wrestlers, a seasoned pro whose wrestling roots ran back over 50 years. He wrestled, he managed, he promoted…and he was revered by all those fortunate enough to share the long hours of travel, the dressing room and the ring with him.
“The General” Skandor Akbar, was a master of his craft. He personified the heel side of wrestling, taking every unfair advantage to achieve triumph. As a wrestler and later a manager, he drove wrestling fans into a frenzy of fury matched by few others. He was the antithesis of Jimmy Wehba: cold, cunning, calculating, evil
Jimmy and The General were of course one and the same person. Their long saga, in the ring and out, came to a sudden end in Garland, Texas on August 19, 2010 when “Ak” passed away in his sleep sometime through that night, at the home he ??d occupied for more than 40 years. He had battled prostate cancer recently, along with the ravages of aging.
Born Jimmy Saied Wehba on September 25, 1934 in Wichita Falls, Texas, he came by his later identity “Skandor Akbar is Arabic for Alexander the Great” in a way legitimately. His father Jim was from Lebanon, and his U.S.-born mother Mary was of Arabic descent as well. Raised in Vernon, Texas, he did a two-year stint in the U.S. Army, serving mostly in Germany. A cousin owned a gym, and Jimmy gravitated into weightlifting early, a natural pursuit with his squat, powerful frame. Another cousin was Frankie Cain, The Great Mephisto, whom Jimmy undoubtedly plied with questions about professional wrestling. It was a short step to backyard wrestling with a buddy, many years before that description became part of the lexicon, and a growing interest in taking the sport up professionally.
Jimmy began his career by refereeing, but then dropped out for several years. Returning his attentions to the ring in the early 1960’s, he became Mighty Jim, Wildman Wehba and Prince Emir before a fateful talk with Dallas promoter Fritz von Erich in 1966. Fritz suggested that with his dark complexion and threatening look, he should adopt an Arabic identity, and Skandor Akbar was born.
Usually a heel, he did work out of character in a long run as a tag team with the matchless Danny Hodge in the Mid-South territory, then jumped back to the dark side after back-stabbing Hodge in mid–match. From there on, he was a full-fledged heel. “The villain was my thing,” Akbar told the Dallas Morning News in 2000. “I tried to be a good guy, but the people just didn’t like it.”
The people didn’t like it either, when Scandor unleashed his savage arsenal on the fair-haired set, but it was the right kind of heat. They turned out to see him in riled-up droves, screaming for his scalp. It was music to Akbar’s ears, along with the jingle of cash coming into the box office. He’d made the right decision, and never looked back, even though his tires were regularly slashed, his windshield smashed, and projectiles of every kind were thrown at him.. He even had to wear a bulletproof vest on occasion.
Ak rounded out his active wrestling career in the latter 1970’s. He’d been in California and the Pacific north-west, across the south-west and south-east, and had a run in Vince McMahon Sr.’s WWWF. He was far from being finished in the ring, though; he plunged full-time into managing the wildest characters he could find. It was the heyday of the managers, and Scandor Akbar stood tall in the midst of the great ones. He was the scourge of the South, leading his various charges into no-quarter battle, often as “Devastation Inc.”, in Mid-South, UWF, GWF and WCCW.
One tally named 48 wrestlers who appeared under the Akbar banner, probably incomplete but likely a record number for a single manager. The rampaging alliances included Abdullah the Butcher, Dick Murdoch, Killer Tim Brooks, Cactus Jack and scores more of wrestling’s roughest and toughest over the years. Led by Ak, the unholy alliances topped the hate parade year in and year out.
Akbar expanded his horizons to include promoting as well, and after the demise of the territories, he made many guest manager appearances for independent promotions. He loved reuniting with old friends, becoming a regular at Red Bastien’s Texas Shoot-Out reunions.in Dallas, and visiting the Gulf Coast Wrestlers’ Reunion in Mobile. Though 75, Ak had been booked for an indy show on the weekend of his passing, one of many such dates he was happy to fulfill.
Young wrestlers with whom Ak travelled hundreds of thousands of miles between venues enjoyed a rare privilege as the veteran mentored them, about wrestling and about life. Iconic announcer Jim Ross and superstar Steve Austin are only two of the many who pay sincere tribute to Ak’s wisdom and knowledge, generously shared with them during long road trips in their rookie years. The car was a rolling classroom, and one can only guess how many “students” like Jim and Steve absorbed the lessons Ak taught in it over the years. Jim has written a very personal and heartfelt blog that tells the story, and it’s a more than worthwhile read; see http://www.jrsbarbq.com/blog/general-scandor-akbar-passes-loss-another-dear-friend-and-mentor .
Ak loved the business with a passion, an intensity, all too rarely seen. He was in many ways a throwback to an earlier era, and the world of professional wrestling is the richer for having had him in its midst for so many years.
He is survived by his son Daryl Wehba and grandson Trevor Wehba of Duncan, Oklahoma, sister Dianne (Ken) Cluley of Wichita Falls, and a large extended family. Funeral services were held in Wichita Falls on August 24.
“NIGHTMARE” TED ALLEN 08/19/10
Ted Allen was far from a familiar face in the wrestling ring, since he most often worked under a mask, but he was indeed a familiar name in the southern states over the 35 years of his career. The veteran wrestler passed away suddenly of an apparent heart attack on August 19, 2010, at age 54, in Cartersville, Georgia.
Allen showed a range of talents in his school years, in athletics, editing the student newspaper, and behind the microphone commentating school sports. He became the ring announcer for wrestling cards in his hometown of Cartersville during his mid-teens, and from there, pro wrestling put an inescapable hammerlock on the rest of his life.
Ted began his active career in 1975, juggling wrestling dates with daytime job duties, under the name Ted Atlas. CAC lifer Charlie Smith introduced him to the Atlanta office several years later, and he went full-time as Ted Allen. In 1981, he paired up with Danny Davis under the hoods as “The Nightmares” for three months, but had to end the alliance prematurely.
Feeling a new level of confidence behind the mask, Ted spent several months as MX-1 in Stampede Wrestling in Canada and as The Power Ranger in Jim Cornette’s Smoky Mountain Wrestling. As the territorial system dwindled, he retained the hood but campaigned as Nightmare Ted Allen, making no secret of his identity in a departure from the secrecy usually associated with a masked man. He branched out into training as well. Arn Anderson of Four Horsemen fame took his initial training from Ted, as did the late Big Bossman Ray Traylor, Bull Buchanan, Scotty Riggs, Ranger Ross and referee Pee Wee Anderson.
Hand in hand with wrestling and training went development of his own Peach State Wrestling promotion in Rome, Georgia from 1989 to 1991, custom construction of wrestling rings, and operation of a furniture moving company.
Ted Allen had an immense love for wrestling, and fully enjoyed the camaraderie of the boys. “I was really fortunate to break in when I did”, he told his close friend Scott Teal. “I got to work with so many guys that were just great.” His love for the business showed clearly in his regular attendance at the annual Gulf Coast Wrestlers’ Reunion, and his membership in CAC. Just days before he passed away, Ted had attended the NWA Legends Fan Fest in Charlotte, NC where he renewed many friendships and as always enjoyed himself immensely.
In lieu of flowers, Ted’s family – his two children, and three grandchildren – has requested that donations be made to Gulf Coast Wrestlers’ Reunion, 6609 Old Pascagoula Road, Theodore, AL 36582.
JEREMY WOOD 08/18/10
Jeremy Wood, an Iraq veteran and newly-recruited professional wrestling trainee, passed away on August 18, 2010. He reportedly collapsed during a training session in Newport, Arkansas on August 12, was hospitalized immediately, and expired in the hospital five days later. It is unclear at this point whether his death resulted from a training injury, or an unrelated medical emergency.
LANCE CADE 08/13/10
Lance K. McNaught, who spent the majority of his 11-year ring career with World Wrestling Entertainment, passed away in San Antonio, Texas on August 13, 2010. The 29-year old wrestler was apparently cut down by heart failure.
Born on March 2, 1981, Lance began his ring training at age 18 under WWE headliner Shawn Michaels in San Antonio. His professional debut took place in Japan’s FMW promotion in 1999, where he took the name Lance Cade and often teamed with rising star Bryan Danielson. Returning to the U.S. in 2000, he signed with WWE’s developmental program the following year, and spent the next couple of years honing his craft in Memphis, Cincinnati (HWA) and Louisville (OVW) rings.
Called up to the Raw roster in June 2003, and renamed Garrison Cade, he teamed regularly with Mark Jindrak for the next year. A knee injury cost him months on the sidelines, then he returned to Ohio Valley Wrestling to wear off the ring rust. He resurfaced on Raw in August 2005 as Lance Cade, allied with Trevor Murdoch in what became a long-running tag pairing. The Cade-Murdoch tandem held the WWE World Tag Team Championship on three separate occasions over the next three years. Lance next allied with Chris Jericho, until being released by WWE in late 2008.
Lance spent the next year on the independent circuit, and with the Hustle and All Japan promotions overseas. He returned to WWE in September 2009, but was relegated to Florida Championship Wrestling until being released again in April 2010. Since then, he had appeared for All Japan and was scheduled to return there in August 2010.
Cade had not been well in the week before his death, and was hospitalized for breathing difficulties on August 10. He discharged himself the next day, and passed away two days later. He is survived by his wife, two daughters and a stepson.
ARPAD WEBER 08/02/10
Arpad Weber, who in his time was billed internationally as Hungary’s top wrestler, passed away on August 2, 2010 following multiple heart attacks. He was 67.
Born in Budapest, Hungary on September 9, 1942, Arpad Lazlo Weber wrestled widely in European rings before launching his overseas career. He excelled in singles matches, and carved out a tag team reputation with Josef Molnar as The Hungarian Horsemen. Crossing the ocean, Arpad wrestled in Florida, in Mexico where he was known as “El Toro Europeo”, the European bull, and for New Japan in the 1970’s. His European style set him apart from the crowd, especially in Mexico. In later years he promoted successfully in eastern Europe.
STEVE STANLEE 07/02/10
Steve Stanlee, elder brother of the late Gene “Mr. America” Stanlee and a widely-known wrestler in his own right, passed away in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin on July 2, 2010. He had recently reached the remarkable milestone of 90 years of age.
Paul Oswald Zygowicz, born on February 28, 1920 in Chicago, was one of nine sons and six daughters. He and brother Eugene — later to become Gene Stanlee — took up amateur wrestling and bodybuilding while in school, and pursued both zealously. Paul was trained as a tool and die maker, specializing in machine design. Both enlisted in the U.S. Navy as World War II flared, and Paul spent four years to achieve the rank of Machinist’s Mate, First Class, including a tour of duty on the USS Birmingham, He was discharged in late 1945.
Following the war, the brothers worked endlessly to hone their bodies to championship proportions, climb the ladder in power lifting competitions, and crack the pro wrestling ranks. He took the name Paul Stanlee for his initial campaign in Georgia Championship Wrestling in 1947-48, then moved on to Toronto under the new identity of Steve Stanlee.
Steve adopted blond hair, dazzling ring jackets and a calculated flamboyance for a lengthy run in the northeast U.S., followed by a stint in California in the mid-1950’s. He teamed with brother Gene in those early years, and the physically impressive pair made a solid impact in the early years of television. They didn’t team often, however, preferring to pursue their separate paths. Steve often appropriated the “Mr. America” moniker long associated with Gene, but didn’t catch on with the public as strongly as Gene did. Nevertheless, he may be the better-known brother as he had a considerably longer ring career.
The late 1950’s found Steve once again on the east coast, under the banner of Capitol Wrestling. He most often worked singles matches, until allying himself with another “brother” – towering Bob Stanlee – Bob Merrill, who also worked as Giant Evans and Sky Hi Krueger as The Stanlee Steamers. Early in the 1960’s, Steve won the NWA Ohio heavyweight title from Frankie Talaber, his only recorded championship. He had a number of bouts for the NWA world title over the years as well.
Brother Gene retired in the early 60’s, but Steve elected to forge ahead. He spent several years with the WWWF in the mid-60’s, some months in Hawaii, and then had a final run in Georgia toward the end of the 60’s.
Gene Stanlee passed away on September 23, 2005 at the age of 83, after a lifetime of the healthy living the brothers pursued since their school years in Chicago.
EL SCORPIO 06/25/10
Rafael Nunez Contreras, one of the most famous masked luchadores to appear in Mexican rings, passed away ON June 25, 2010 at the age of 57, in his native Mexico..
El Scorpio’s career began at a young age in the late 1960’s, and continued into the 1990’s. Through all of those years, he never lost his mask. Scorpio reached the apex of his career on April 30, 1985 when he defeated the famed UWA world champion El Canek to seize the prestigious title. His son Rafael wrestled under a mask as Scorpio Jr., but lost his mask and to this day continues to wrestle successfully under other names.
TONI ADAMS 06/24/10
Toni Leah Gant, former wife of the late Chris Adams and a feature ring attraction in her own right, passed away on June 24, 2010 in Louisville, Kentucky. She was 45 years of age, and reportedly suffered from post-operative abdominal problems that led to a fatal heart attack.
A native of Corpus Christi, Texas, Toni began as a production assistant in Fritz von Erich’s World Class Championship Wrestling (WCCW) in 1984. She married Chris Adams, a well-established area star, in 1985, shortly after his divorce from Jeanie Clarke. She soon graduated to doing TV spots and interviews for WCCW and then Bill Watts UWF. Returning with Chris to WCCW, Toni began managing him in 1989, and became embroiled in feuds with P.Y. Chu-Hi (Tojo Yamamoto), Phil Hickerson and Billy Travis
Toni’s landmark feud exploded in 1990, as a manager and then a wrestler. Chris Adams conceived the entire scenario, eventually pitting he and wife Toni against his standout trainee Steve Austin, the future “Stone Cold” of WWE fame, and ex-wife Jeanie Clarke, who would shortly after become Austin’s wife. The feud raged throughout the territory for almost a year, one of the most memorable and successful in the region’s mat history.
Toni and Chris divorced in about 1991, but remained in touch until Chris’s death in 2001. They had one son, Chris Adams Jr., born in 1988. She resumed her wrestling career in 1993, working in Tennessee’s USWA as a wrestler and a manager/valet, Nanny Simpson, then later in the Global Wrestling Federation. After managing Brian Christopher, Scotty Flamingo, Koko B. Ware, Rex Hargrove, Tony Falk, Rod Price and Iceman King Parsons, Toni retired permanently in 1995.
COWBOY BOB BRADLEY 06/24/10
Cowboy Bob Bradley, one of the last survivors of the golden era of midget wrestling, passed away in Amarillo, Texas on June 24, 2010. He was 75.
The “Cowboy” handle paid tribute to Robert Claton Bradley’s roots in the Lone Star State. Born in Dickens County, Texas on February 11, 1935, he graduated from high school in Roaring Springs. After a single semester at West Texas State in Canyon, the school that’s produced so many outstanding wrestlers from the Funks onwards, Bob opted to join the pro wrestling ranks.
Virtually always the crowd’s hero, Bob toured widely with the Bert Ruby-Harry Light troupe out of Detroit from 1954 to his retirement in 1970. In that 16 years, he criss-crossed the U.S. and Canada many times, and appeared in several foreign countries alongside Sky Low Low, Little Beaver, Major Tom Thumb, Fuzzy Cupid, Irish Jackie, Tiny Tim and many others. Like his contemporaries, he blended slam-bang wrestling action with a healthy dose of comedy that always left crowds superbly entertained.
Following his retirement from the ring, Bob spent many years in Las Vegas as a widely-known blackjack dealer, mainly on Fremont Street.
He is survived by his daughter, Tammie Bylina and husband Jim of Las Vegas, three brothers and six sisters, three grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
BIG MIKEY 06/18/10
Bert Ruf Jr. of Winnipeg, Manitoba, who wrestled primarily under the name Big Mikey in Canadian independent promotions, passed away on June 18, 2010. He was 44, and succumbed to cancer.
Born in Winnipeg on April 29, 1966, Bert excelled on school athletic grounds and twice won an award for All-Around Sportsman. He was trained as a wrestler by Terry Tomko, and debuted in his home city in 1991 for the Canadian Wrestling League. Best known as “Big Mikey”, Bert wrestled regularly from 1991 to 1994 for various promotions in Manitoba, including brief runs as Mike Cross, Mike Manson, the masked Executioner, and in a short-lived comeback in 2001 as The Mutilator.
Most often a face, Bert always had a friendly gesture and a hearty laugh for his ring colleagues and his fans. In later life he was employed by Purolator Courier.
J. J. JENKINS 06/18/10
Jerry Jenkins, who both wrestled and managed on independent shows, passed away on June 18, 2010. He was 66 years of age, and died after a long battle with cancer.
Jenkins was a fixture in the American Championship Wrestling promotion out of Boaz, Alabama for over 20 years, under the name of J.J. Jenkins. He was always ready to help out young talent, and had a dressing room reputation for ribs he pulled on the boys.
CHUCK ETCHELS 06/08/10
Charles “C.P.” Bender, who wrestled in Florida indies as Chuck Etchels, passed away on June 8, 2010 after a long bout with cancer. He was 35.
Raised in Salem, New Hampshire, C.P. moved with his family to Florida in 1993, and extended his long-time love of wrestling by becoming involved with the Crude Wrestling Alliance (CWA). His ring name was adopted from famed auto racer and friend Chuck Etchells. He also did a run as a masked ninja warrior during Etchels’ “absence” from the CWA, and later as a manager and referee.
TRENT ACID 04/18/10
Michael Verdi, who competed widely in the independent world as Trent Acid, passed away suddenly on June 18, 2010. His grandmother discovered the body of the 29-year old wrestler at his residence in Philadelphia.
Born on November 12, 1980, he attended various wrestling schools as a teenager, His first significant indy appearances were for Combat Zone Wrestling in 1999, where he often tangled with another up-and-comer, Johnny Kashmere. The two finally allied as a long-running tag team, a rarity in the indy world, dubbed The Backseat Boyz. They appeared often in CZW, copping tag team titles three times, and also in Ring of Honor where they ruled the tag team roost on a single occasion.
Acid held his share of singles titles as well, in CZW, USA Pro Wrestling, USA Xtreme Wrestling, Pro Wrestling Unplugged, Pro Wrestling Syndicate and Juggalo hampionship Wrestling. He worked against some of the prime names in indy world, such as Samoa Joe, Messiah, Homicide, Jimmy Jacobs, Alex Shelley,Devon Moore, Justin Credible and more.
Though not a big man at 5 ’11″ and 180 pounds, Acid had an impressive set of skills, but failed to capitalize on them. Reportedly, serious drug problems blocked his progress past the independent level, and indeed kept him from rising to the level of stardom there that he could have. On April 2, 2010 he was arrested for possession of heroin, and had just completed a rehabilitation program days prior to his passing.
GRIZZLY SMITH 06/12/10
Depending on the time and the place, he was Jake Smith. Grizzly Smith. Tiny Anderson. Ski Hi Jones. Tiny Smith. And through much of the 1960’s and into the very early 1970’s, “Griz” was the slightly taller half of The Kentuckians tag team so wildly popular with the fans.
Aurelian “Grizzly” Smith, the father of a noted American wrestling family, passed away in Amarillo, Texas on June 12, 2010. His death at 77 years of age was attributed to complications of Alzheimer’s Disease, of several years’ duration.
Smith was born in Whitesboro, Texas, just north of Dallas, on August 6, 1932, one of four children. He grew and grew, to somewhere around the 6’10″ mark and 300-plus pounds. Professional wrestling was almost a foregone conclusion at that size, but he began his working life in the Texas oil patch, then gravitated to part-time ring duties as Jake Smith in the latter 1950’s. The ring became a full-time occupation and as Grizzly Smith, he moved on to Oklahoma in 1960. There, he paired up with Texas friend and another mammoth of a man, Carl Dennis “Man Mountain” Campbell from Daisy, Virginia. At Smith’s suggestion, the pair adopted a new home state, a countrified “aw, shucks!” persona with overalls and plaid shirts, and began campaigning under the moniker The Kentuckians. Smith became Tiny Anderson, and later Tiny Smith, while Campbell adopted the handle Luke Brown.
Success in the Carolinas, Georgia, Florida, California and Texas followed, along with side trips to several other territories. The pair held the southern, midwest, U.S. and world tag titles at various times and places, and Griz as Ski Hi Jones later shared the Canadian tag crown with Don Leo Jonathon in Vancouver. On his own he captured the WWA version of the world title from Freddie Blassie in Atlanta, and the Texas heavyweight title from The Spoiler, Don Jardine.
Far and away The Kentuckians “greatest ongoing feud” and best run business-wise — was with the original Assassins, Jody Hamilton and Tom Renesto. The pair teamed up under black and gold masks in 1961, and not long after, had their first collision with The Kentuckians. Hamilton recalls that their strategy was never to take the big men off their feet, making them seem not just another team to be beaten down, but invincible towers of power. The formula worked to perfection in the Carolinas, Florida, California and British Columbia. In each locale, The Assassins came in first, got the fire going, then Griz and Luke arrived and the weeks-long war was on again.
As the 70’s progressed, Smith pared down his active schedule and moved into the backstage scene. He booked and promoted for Bill Watt’s Mid-South and later UWF promotions, then hooked up briefly as a road agent with WWF and finally WCW. Retiring from wrestling, he relocated to New Orleans and worked in cemetery maintenance. The day before Hurricane Katrina, Griz injured his leg at work, and in the ensuing interruption of medical services, couldn’t get it treated. He finally obtained medical care in Texas and was fortunate to save the leg, but lost all of his belongings in the massive flooding. Griz had lately been living in Amarillo, and suffered the onset of Alzheimer’s in recent years. He was inducted into the NWA Wrestling Legends Hall of Fame in Charlotte in 2008, but was unable to attend; his son Michael graciously accepted on his behalf from presenter Magnum T.A.
Smith’s three surviving children made it on their own in the wrestling business. Aurelian Smith Jr. became Jake “The Snake” Roberts, while second son Michael wrestled as Sam Houston. Daughter Robin made it into the ring too, as Rockin Robin. All three have been closely identified with WWF in past years.
Rocket Monroe 06/07/10
Maury High, perhaps better known to wrestling fans throughout the southern United States as Rocket Monroe, passed away on Monday, June 7, 2010. He had spent a few days of the previous week hospitalized with an infection, and was discharged over the weekend. He was the lone remaining member of the Brothers Monroe.
High was once a promising young football player at Somerville High School in Tennessee. His dream of playing professional football came to a crashing halt when he suffered a serious knee injury before being able to enjoy the perks of an athletic scholarship at Memphis State University, now known as the University of Memphis.
After graduating high school and in search of a new dream, hunting buddy Johnny Alexander invited High to join him at a workout. Alexander was wrestling for Jim Holly, who not only wrestled but was also promoting in opposition to Nick Gulas at the time.
Rocket hung up his boots in 1980, finishing up his career working on the occasional spot shows around Georgia and could often be seen putting over the younger up-and-coming stars on WTBS’ Georgia Championship Wrestling program.
High was preceded in death by a son Heath. He is survived by wife Denise, and their children Michelle, Justin, and Heather, as well as Tommy, Bobby, and Rita, from a previous marriage.
RUSHER KIMURA 05/24/10
Masao “Rusher” Kimura, for years a headliner against many of the top names in Japanese wrestling, passed away in his homeland on May 24, 2010. Born in the northern city of Hokkaido on June 30, 1941, the veteran grappler was 68 years old. His death was attributed to pneumonia, and complications of kidney failure.
Kimura made his ring debut on April 23, 1965, against Sarukichi Takasakiyama. He spent his first year or so in his native country’s first pro promotion, JWA, the Japan Pro Wrestling Alliance founded by Rikidozan. After a short stint in the original Tokyo Pro Wrestling in 1966-67, he moved on to IWE, International Wrestling Enterprise. IWE would remain his home base until 1981, and it was there that he climbed the ladder to fame.
In 1970, Kimura and Dr. Death Canadian veteran Stan “Moose” Morowski clashed in the first-ever steel cage death match in Japan, held in Osaka. The match became Rusher’s specialty, so much so that he gained the informal title Kanaami no Oni, Monster of the Steel Cage. Another first took place two years earlier, when he was part of the first hair match in the island nation. During his tenure in IWE, he had many matches against top-line Japanese and foreign stars, and became known for his signature offensive moves, the bulldog headlock and the Rusher lariat. Kimura also became a master at the microphone during those years, one of the very first in Japan to develop that skill and apply it effectively,
After IWE’s closure in 1981, Kimura moved to New Japan for three years, and had a lengthy feud with Antonio Inoki. He did a short run with the original UWF in 1984, then transferred his loyalties to All Japan for a 16-year run. After feuding with Giant Baba regularly through the early years, he later became Baba’s tag team partner. As he aged, Kimura became a mid-card regular, often in comedic matches that finished with a promo in which he focused his barbs on his old partner, Baba. He moved to Pro Wrestling NOAH for the final four years of his career, and retired from the ring in 2004.
During his long career, Kimura held several titles, both tag team and single, and took part in a number of high-profile tournaments. He made limited appearances in North America, under his own name, The Great Kimura, or Mr. Toyo. He was an ideal opponent for the gaijin ?? American and Canadian wrestlers — in Japan, as he spoke English fairly well and could easily communicate with them.
JET MONROE 05/12/10
Gary Brumbaugh, the real-life brother of tough-as-nails ring legend Sputnik Monroe (Roscoe Monroe Brumbaugh), passed away on May 12, 2010.
Sputnik and his original “brother” Rocket (Bill Fletcher) brought Gary on board as their manager during a tour of New York in the early 1960’s. He became Jet Monroe, complete with the trademark white streak through the front of his hair, and his interfering ways during their bouts hiked their heat up even higher. “When we put my blood brother Gary in as Jet Monroe, that put the icing on the cake!” exulted Sputnik, in an interview with Georgia Wrestling History many years later.
At the end of the New York run, Rocket departed for Phoenix while Sputnik and Jet moved on to Atlanta. They got their fair share of heat there, then Jet left for Mobile and Sputnik moved west. The brothers reunited briefly in Phoenix, then Jet reverted to being Gary Brumbaugh, took a management position with Walgreen Drugs and dropped out of the business. Sputnik passed away in Florida on November 2, 2006.
EL SUPREMO 05/04/10
Salvador Cuevas Ramirez, El Supremo of lucha libre fame, passed away in his hometown of Tijuana, Mexico on May 4, 2010. His death was reportedly due to a heart attack.
Born on July 8, 1950, Cuevas made a rather late start to his career on July 6, 1976, after training under the legendary Diablo Velazco. His initial character, El Magnifico, was short-lived. In March 1977 he donned a golden mask and changed his identity to El Supremo, “The Supreme One”. His trademark finisher was the Supremo Special, a figure four necklock.
The highlight of his career came on May 4, 1980 when he defeated Kato Kung Lee to seize the NWA World Welterweight Title, one of the most prestigious titles in Mexico in that era. He held the title for only a month before dropping it to Lizmark on June 6. A taste for championship gold led him to defeat Franco Columbo on February 1, 1981 for the Mexican National Welterweight title, which he held for 422 days and through many title defenses in EMLL’s major arenas.
El Supremo was finally unmasked on December 8, 1992 as a result of a “Lucha de Apuesta” loss to Pierroth, Jr in Mexico City. The rules of this special match provide that the loser must unmask, and reveal his true identity. He continued to wrestle until 1995.
KINJI SHIBUYA 05/03/10
He was born in Utah, raised in California, schooled in Hawaii, and he never set foot in Japan for any longer than it took to change planes en route to Australia. Yet he spent over a quarter of his life as the quintessential oriental menace; the salt-throwing, sly, smirking and slippery Japanese heel that everybody loved to hate.
Robert Shibuya was variously Kenji (or Kinji) Shibuya, and early in his career Mr. Hito, for 23 years of a long and fruitful life that spanned 88 years. He passed away with his family at his side on May 3, 2010 in Hayward, California.
The future Kenji was born in Utah on May 16, 1921, one of five sons of Kinkichi and Kura Shibuya. The family relocated to Los Angeles, where Kenji took his early education and was a standout on the L.A. City College football squad. Advancing his education at the University of Hawaii, he was a four-year football star, then played semi-pro ball with the Honolulu Polar Bears and Honolulu Warriors.
Kenji’s football fame brought him to the attention of Al Karasick, the veteran wrestler and promotional power in the islands, in 1952. Karasick undoubtedly saw a future drawing card in the young man, and suggested he try wrestling on for size. Shibuya liked what he saw, and his career was launched at the age of 31.
After his baptism of fire in Hawaiian rings, Kenji headed for Minneapolis and then Calgary, both territories where he could refine his craft against tried and true veterans. For some unknown reason, he began in Edmonton, Alberta as The Mighty Kojo, but used the Kenji Shibuya identity elsewhere in western Canada, and eventually in Edmonton. Vancouver beckoned as well, and Shibuya ever after looked back on the two Canadian territories as having offered some of the best experiences of his life.
From there, the wrestling world was Kenji Shibuya’s oyster. He spread his wings, to Australia, eastern Canada, all over the U.S., and particularly to San Francisco. There, he was a wrestling institution, headlining many cards in the storied Cow Palace as a single and tag team warrior. He was undoubtedly the top Japanese wrestler of the 1960’s, and Dave Meltzer of Wrestling Observer lists him as one of the top ten stars in the entire industry in that timeframe.
In fact, tag team warfare became almost his specialty. He teamed early on (as Mr. Hito) with the redoubtable Mr. Moto, then with rising star Mitsu Arakawa, and following that with Mr. (Masa) Saito. The crowds flocked in to see the stealthy Japanese get their clocks cleaned, but it seldom happened and fans had to come back again and again in hopes of someone – anyone – triumphing over them.
After 23 years of traveling and wrestling, and no longer a young man, Shibuya capped off his career. He opened a business in Vallejo, California, and given his oriental features and villainous look, attracted the attention of Hollywood. Always playing the heavy, he took roles in such TV hits as Kung Fu and the short-lived Mr. T. and Tina, and the films Hammett and Days of a Bawdy Ballad. He especially enjoyed meeting the stars, and counted several as friends.
In retirement, Kenji did a 180 degree turn from the turmoil of arenas to the peaceful pursuits of his garden, and raising the ornamental Japanese carp, koi. He attended many Cauliflower Alley Club functions, and always enjoyed reuniting with old friends and foes alike, until his health began to fail.
David Kistulenic, who wrestled as Screamer of the Dream Warriors in the early to mid-1990’s, passed away on April 26, 2010.
The Dream Warriors, a solid attraction for Windy City Wrestling of Chicago, were actually brothers. David was Screamer, given to maniacal outbursts at the top of his lungs when the pair did promos. Dennis Kistulenic was Brood, the more composed of the two but nevertheless heavily threatening whenever a microphone appeared.
Peggy Ann Kawa-Baker 04/24/10
Peggy Ann Kawa-Baker,58, of Danielson, CT, died unexpectedly Saturday April 24, 2010 at home. She was the beloved wife of Douglas “Ox” Baker, they were married February 14, 1992.
She was born January 14, 1952 in Windsor, CT, daughter of the late Frank and Veronica Kawa.
She made her home in Danielson for the last 9 years, and worked for US Security at Staples Distribution Center in Plainfield, CT. She was a professional clown and was Ox Baker’s personal manager.
She leaves her husband Douglas, son Jarren David Wilcox of New Britain, daughter Jenny Lynn Daley of Sumter, SC, brothers, Frank Kawa and Fred Kawa, both of CT, nine grandchildren and one great granddaughter. Predeceased by siblings John and Patricia.
GORGEOUS GEORGE GRANT 04/21/10
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, the original Gorgeous George “George Wagner” must have been flattered indeed by George Grant.
Perhaps the best-known imitator of the original George, and later a very well-known evangelist throughout the south, George Grant passed away in Dorn Veterans Hospital in Columbia, South Carolina on April 21, 2010. He was 85.
Originally from Honey Grove, Texas, George was a World War II Navy veteran. He labored on undercards through his first few years, including a stint with Jack Pfefer’s touring troupe, husky, bearded and long-haired, and far from “gorgeous”. His turning point came in Marietta Georgia in 1952, where he lost a mask vs beard match to the Green Hornet. His newly-shorn face as smooth as a baby’s, Grant was razzed unmercifully by the raucous crowd. Apparently, long-haired and bearded was one thing, but in their view, he was now just a long-haired sissy.
George saw dollar signs in the crowd’s reaction, “if they thought he was a sissy, he’d really serve it up right. Out came the peroxide bottle, satin and lace and feather robes, looking suspiciously like ladies” gowns were created, gold bobby pins were ordered and a manservant enlisted. Presto! Gorgeous George Grant was born, and hit all the centers that were too insignificant for the original to bother with.
George Grant 04/21/10
Coincidentally, the original George passed away on December 26, 1963, and earlier that year George Grant ended his wrestling tours. Gone were the long, curly blond hair, the robes and the Georgie pins. He appeared in his final few matches with dark hair, his body unadorned with robes, just plain George Grant.
Two years later a dark-haired and distinguished-looking Grant moved to York, South Carolina, joined a local church, and soon began to tour as an evangelist. He spoke often at conferences and revivals, and became widely known throughout the southern states for many years.The Cauliflower Alley Club extends its condolences to George’s daughter Melody and other family members, and to his friends.
MR. HITO 04/20/10
Katsuji Adachi, known far and wide as Mr. Hito during much of his 32 years in the ring, passed away on April 20, 2010 in Osaka, Japan. His death was related to his long-standing diabetes.
Hito-san, as he was often respectfully addressed by young boys through to veteran matmen in the latter stages of his career, was a tried and true warrior in Japan and North America. He spent about half of his active career in each area. Born in Osaka, Japan on April 25, 1942, he entered sumo training in 1956, at the tender age of 14.
After a number of years spent pursuing this martial art, he migrated to professional wrestling in the late 1960’s, signing on with Nihon Puroresu Kyokai, or the Japan Wrestling Association (JWA). He appeared in the promotion ??s New Year Champion Series in January 1970 and the Golden Series in July.
North America beckoned in 1973, and his first landfall was the NWA Central States area where he took the name Tokyo Joe and teamed with Kung Fu Lee under the management of long-time CAC member Al “Percival A.” Friend. A highlight of his run there was participating in a rare 12-man Battle Royal at Kiel Auditorium in St. Louis with Lee, Jumbo Tsuruta, Andre the Giant, Bill Miller, Reggie Parks, Dory Funk, Jr. and others.
Stu Hart ??s Stampede Wrestling was the next stop, along with an identity change to Mr. Hito since another Tokyo Joe, Joe Daigo, had recently appeared there. Hito clicked big with Stampede devotees, wrestling with a drive and toughness they appreciated. Even though he turned heel on several occasions, and although fans showered him with boos, they still realized his true worth.
Hito held Stampede’s North American championship twice, and its International Tag Team title on eight occasions. His tag partners included Big John Quinn, Gil Hayes, Heigo “Animal” Hamaguchi, Michel Martel, and Jim Neidhart, but his standout partner was fellow Japanese grappler Kazuo Sakurada. The pair held Calgary’s International tag belts twice, and on a rare venture away from western Canada in 1979-80, captured both Championship Wrestling from Florida’s and WCCW’s tandem titles.
During his Stampede campaign, Hito spent considerable time training budding Japanese talent sent to the territory by Antonio Inoki’s New Japan group, and promising local talents as well. He was especially high on young Hiroshi Hase, Keiichi Yamada, and Jushin “Thunder” Liger — and they became world-class talents. The same held true for Chris Benoit and Dynamite Kid.
In tandem with Kazuo Sakurada, Hito developed the basics in Stu Hart’s son who would become “The Hitman” Bret Hart. Bret paid particular tribute to Hito as his trainer and mentor in this way: “People often say to me, where would wrestling be without Bret Hart. But my answer to that is, where would Bret Hart be without Mr. Hito.”
After 32 years on the mat, Mr. Hito retired in 1988. He remained in Calgary for 15 years, then in 2003 returned to his native Osaka where he worked at his sister’s restaurant. His diabetes did not treat him kindly, and he had his right leg partially amputated in October 2009. Hito’s condition continued to decline, until his death on April 20, 2010.
STEVE STACK 04/20/10
Steve Stack, the very capable television commentator in Amarillo and San Antonio, Texas, passed away on April 20, 2010. He was a victim of Alzheimer’s Disease.
Stack began his association with wrestling in Amarillo as the main voice on their TV show. He later moved on to San Antonio and Joe Blanchard’s promotion, where he commentated Southwest Championship Wrestling. The show was picked up by the USA Network on December 5, 1982, and had a highly-rated run before being replaced by WWF programming in the mid-eighties. Stack is remembered as a solid commentator, and had a very good reputation in the business.
Gene Kiniski 04/14/10
He styled himself Canada’s Greatest Athlete in the 1950’s, long before it was fashionable to be quite so self-aggrandizing before the general public. Promoters dubbed him Big Thunder, acknowledging his rambunctious ring behavior and his in-your-face style on the microphone. The press dubbed him Genial Gene and Gentle Gene, a tongue-in-cheek poke at the blustery, bragging and boisterous interview style of the “bad guy” who, in truth, they always loved to interview. There was never a dull moment when Gene Kiniski was in the room, or out front in a wrestling arena.
The big Canadian, who passed away in Blaine, Washington on April 14,2010, lived up to all these sobriquets and more. Gene lit up the wrestling sky through many of his 40 years in the ring, battling the biggest names decade after decade. He wrestled a long string of NWA world champions scores of times: Lou Thesz, Dick Hutton, Pat O’Connor, Buddy Rogers, Dory and Terry Funk, Harley Race, Jack Brisco, Giant Baba, and Whipper Billy Watson. His epic running battle with Watson raged across every province in Canada and into the U.S. for several years, and was familiar to virtually every Canadian over ten years old thanks to Gene’s never-ending barrage of bombast on the airwaves.
And of course, Gene held the NWA belt himself from January 7, 1966 to February 11, 1969, capturing it from Lou Thesz in Toronto and finally dropping it to Dory Funk, Jr. in Tampa. The NWA kings of that day worked harder than anyone in the business, and Gene kept up a killing pace all over North America and Japan for three solid years. That pace exhausted him totally, but after a short break to recharge, he hit the trail again and wrestled for another 13 years.
Gene was born in Edmonton, Alberta on November 23, 1928, one of six children of Julia Kiniski who, years later, gained considerable fame as a strong, outspoken and sometimes feisty voice on Edmonton’s city council. Gene’s brother, Julian became the long-serving and widely-known weatherman on the CBC-TV station in the city. Between the three of them, Kiniski was a household name in the Alberta capital.
Big and brawny even at a young age, Kiniski captured the attention of a scout for the Edmonton Eskimos, of what would ultimately become the Canadian Football League. Also on the team were Stu Hart and wrestler/zoologist Al Oeming, the pair who promoted pro wrestling in Edmonton at the time, as well as future wrestlers Wilbur Snyder and Joe Blanchard. Young Gene impressed the club enough that at the end of the 1949 season he earned a scholarship to the University of Arizona, enrolling there in September 1950 and joining their football squad. Returning to Edmonton for the 1952 season, he tore up a kneecap in the first league game, returned to Arizona for the balance of the year, then came home again for the Eskimos’ 1953 season.
While he was at the University of Arizona, wrestler/promoter Rod Fenton introduced him to the sport and Dory Funk, Sr. and Tough Tony Morelli undertook his training. Gene debuted on February 13, 1952 in Tucson, defeating Curly Hughes, and he was off and running throughout Arizona, New Mexico and west Texas. Back in Edmonton for the 1953 football season, he wrestled but a single match for promoter Stu Hart, downing veteran Toar Morgan on September 22, and at season’s end retired from the gridiron and headed back to Arizona. Wrestling full-time now, he moved on to California in 1954, and cracked the big leagues with a November 3 title bout against Lou Thesz, the first of many.
Texas was the next stop, where he campaigned as Gene Kelly and roughed up everybody in sight. Gene next cut a wide swath through Ontario and Quebec, and it was there that he ignited his running battle with all-time Canadian hero Whipper Billy Watson, and became a national name. The two collided several hundred times in succeeding years, all across the nation, fan interest spurred by several of their explosive matches being televised nationally from Toronto.
Gene went next to Minneapolis and the AWA, then to Vancouver where he established a home base and worked many events for his old mentor, Rod Fenton. A lengthy run in the WWWF, capped off by a main event against Bruno Sammartino in Madison Square Garden in 1964, and then a stint in the midwest came next, just before his ascension to the NWA title. Japan tours were interspersed with North American dates over the years as well.
Kiniski was most definitely a heel champion, roughing it up at will against every challenger, his style reminiscent of Wild Bill Longson in the 1940’s. Gene was completely comfortable in that role, never at a loss for words to get the local contender over, but always leaving no doubt as to just who was the true champion, in his view.
In the late 1960’s, as Gene’s NWA title reign was winding down, he and Sandor Kovacs took over the NWA All-Star promotion based in Vancouver from Rod Fenton. Gene was often on the road across the continent in the 1970’s, but the territory thrived with the top talent the duo imported and Gene’s presence on the cards from time to time. Kovacs retired from promotion in 1977, and Gene carried on until 1983 when he sold out to Al Tomko.
He curtailed his wrestling from the latter 1970’s on, tag teaming occasionally with sons Nick and Kelly, taking a few singles matches, acting as a special referee for world title bouts, and promoting Stampede Wrestling and AWA events on Canada’s west coast. Gene’s final ring appearance was in Winnipeg, Manitoba on February 25, 1992, teaming with a youthful Chris Jericho and Lance Storm in a no-contest brawl with Bulldog Bob Brown, Don “The Natural” Callis and Champagne Gerry Morrow.
Away from the ring, Kiniski appeared in three movies: Paradise Alley with Sylvester Stallone in 1978, Double Happiness with Sandra Oh in 1994, and Terminal City Ricochet.with Peter Breck in 1990. Coincidentally, Gene had met Peter Breck almost 25 years earlier at a Calgary Stampede social event, when he was NWA champion and Breck was starring in TV ‘s “Big Valley” series in the late 1960’s.
Gene was honored by the Cauliflower Alley Club in 1992, and inducted into the George Tragos/Lou Thesz Hall of Fame in Newton, Iowa (now located in Waterloo) in 2004.
Gene Kiniski 04/14/10
Gene Kiniski was one of a kind, and they don’t make them like that any more. He was made for wrestling, and wrestling was made for him. Big, brash and bold in the ring and facing the media, he wasn’t all that different outside of it, just a little quieter but no less talkative. A man of strong conviction, Gene spoke his mind and marched to his own drummer. And a magnificent march it was, as Big Thunder rolled across the wrestling world.
Chris Klucsaritis “Chris Kanyon” 04/02/10
Chris Klucsaritis, who wrestled as Chris Kanyon, passed away last night at his apartment in the Sunnyside section of Queens, NY. He was 40.
Klucsaritis was trained locally in New York by Bobby Bold Eagle, and later in Columbia, SC by Lillian “Fabulous Moolah” Ellison at her home gym in Columbia, SC. He debuted in 1992, and wrestled the majority of his career for WCW.
He started with Mark Starr as part of a tag team “Men at Work,” and later developed the Mortis gimmick. His highest profile role, including holding the WCW tag team titles, came with Diamond Dallas Page and Bam Bam Bigelow as the Jersey Triad. During that same period, he worked in Hollywood on movie “Ready to Rumble”.
Tiny Tim / Little Brutus 04/01/10
Better known in the ring as Tiny Tim, and after his heel turn as Little Brutus, Jean-Jacques Girard died in Montreal, Quebec on April 1, 2010. His passing at age 73 was due to complications of an earlier surgery.
In the beginning, there were Sky Low Low, Pee Wee James, Tiny Roe and Major Tom Thumb. Then Fuzzy Cupid, Saile Halassie, Mighty Schultz and Ivan the Terrible. Little Beaver, Irish Jackie, Lord Littlebrook and Pancho the Bull. Girard joined their ranks in 1954, after his father journeyed from their small town Quebec home to the bright lights of Montreal to approach midget impresario Jack Britton on his son’s behalf.
Britton had developed the midget troupe in the late 1940’s. Midget wrestling was catching on in a big way across North America, with its combination of smaller-sized athletes, fast ring action and a generous dose of humor. Britton was always interested in swelling his talent roster to satisfy public demand, and on meeting the 16-year old, invited him to join his troupe at their Detroit headquarters. Just 3’5″ and about 10 pounds lighter than his later 95 pounds, Jean-Jacques took to the training regime quickly and was soon ready for the road. Britton’s promotional partner Bert Ruby’s wife suggested the ring name Tiny Tim, and off he went.
The midgets criss-crossed North America innumerable times, mostly by car. They were in such demand that they appeared in any one area for only two or three weeks, and being something of a novel attraction, had no intention of wearing out their unique appeal. Their fame spread rapidly, and by the latter 1950 ??s they were touring in Japan and the Far East, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Europe and the British Isles.
Tim adapted quickly to the lifestyle. He spoke only French when he began wrestling; many of the midgets were also from Quebec, so the by-now bilingual veterans like Sky, Beaver and Pee Wee willingly helped out as he learned English. Managing the demands of continual travel became routine, and Tim ranked high among the world travelers. Paris and Tokyo became as familiar to him as Toronto or Kansas City, quite an experience for a young man from rural Quebec
About eight years into his career, Tim felt the need for an overhaul of his style. He roughed it up considerably, adopted the name Little Brutus, and switched his allegiance to the heel side. The acknowledged “King of the Midgets”, Sky Low Low, became his most frequent tag team partner, and the pair meshed perfectly.
Jean-Jacques remained Little Brutus until semi-retiring after 20 years on the road, and for the next four years as he took limited bookings within easy reach of his home in Iberville, Quebec. He also took a position as a police dispatcher in Quebec in 1974, and continued at that demanding work until fully retiring in the mid-1990’s. He lived quietly, far from the public eye, and his passing in April 2010 escaped any public notice.
The midgets of the 1950’s, the originals, were a unique and colorful chapter in history of professional wrestling, as devoted to their art as their larger counterparts. Midget wrestling still exists, but it no longer seems to possess that magic combination of athleticism and humor that it originally displayed over much of the world. That old guard is virtually gone now. The passing of Little Brutus very likely leaves only 81-year old Eric Tovey, Lord Roger Littlebrook, as its sole survivor. The original midgets brought a special brand of wrestling to millions around the globe, live and on the then-new medium of television. It’s no exaggeration to say they were loved everywhere they went, and they will long be remembered by the wrestling world.
Tom “THE BUTCHER” Burton 03/29/10
Retired pro wrestler Tom Burton died in the am hours on March 29th. He was married to women’s wrestler Candi Devine.
Burton worked in a number of territories, including short stays in WWF and WCW, but had his most successful run in Tennessee as part of the “Dirty White Boys” tag team with Tony Anthony. Tom was well known in Japan as a regular during the glory days of the UWFI promotion in the 90s.
Kenneth Laymon 03/26/10
Independent wrestler Kenneth Laymon(45), who worked as Kenny Valentine was involved in a fatal wreck in the early morning hours, Friday in Kentucky. Layton was from Carbon Hill Alabama. It is believed he was 45 years old.
Mikel Scicluna 03/20/10
Mike Scicluna started wrestling during the 1950s, and used the name Mike Valentino early in his career. Scicluna worked primarily in Canada until 1965, when he ventured to the World Wide Wrestling Federation, using his most famous moniker “Baron” Mikel Scicluna.
Scicluna was famous for entering the ring with a cape over his shoulders, indicating that he was of Maltese royal descent. Scicluna was also known for being a master of the “foreign object”, mainly utilizing a roll of coins to bash opponents out of sight of the referee. He enjoyed success as a tag team wrestler, winning the WWWF United States Tag Team Championship with Smasher Sloan on September 22, 1966 in Washington, D.C. (though they eventually lost the belts in the same city to Spiros Arion & Antonio Pugliese), then the WWWF World Tag Team Championship with King Curtis Iaukea on February 1, 1972 in Philadelphia.
In singles competition, Scicluna defeated Spiros Arion for Australia’s IWA World Championship on June 15, 1968, and would challenge Bruno Sammartino and Pedro Morales for the WWWF Championship from time to time. One of his biggest career wins was pinning Waldo Von Erich (who was also a heel) in 6 minutes at Madison Square Garden, prior to two Garden title matches with Bruno Sammartino. In the first match at MSG vs. Bruno he was disqualified; Sammartino scored the pin in a rematch. Scicluna went on to lose a series of matches to Spiros Arion. In June 1976, Scicluna found himself part of history, as the opponent for Gorilla Monsoon on the night Monsoon engaged in an impromptu tussle with boxing great Muhammad Ali. Scicluna was wrestling Monsoon in a televised match, and was sent over the top rope to the floor after receiving a Manchurian Chop. Scicluna waved off his opponent and walked off, taking a countout loss. From there, Ali entered the ring from the audience and tried to jab at Monsoon. Monsoon responded by dropping Ali with an airplane spin. This angle was part of the buildup toward Ali’s infamous boxer vs. wrestler match with Antonio Inoki later in the month.
Scicluna retired from active competition in 1984. He was inducted into the WWF Hall of Fame in 1996. In retirement, he lived in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He died March 20, 2010 after a long battle of cancer. He was 80 years old.
Francois Miquet (Corsica Joe) 03/14/10
Francois Miquet,better known to wrestling fans as Corsica Joe has passed away. He was 90 years old. Miquet passed away on Sunday, March 14, 2010.
He traveled all over North America from Washington to Calgary to Montreal. That is where he would meet his future tag team partner Corsica Jean (Jean-Louis Roy, Sr.) in 1948, but it wasn’t for a few more years they became a solid item in Tampa. The two held many regional tag team titles for the NWA in the ’50s and ’60s. In 2008, the Corsica Brothers were inducted into the NWA Hall of Fame.
For over 45 years, he was married to pro wrestler Sara Lee. She passed away in 2008 at the age of 76.
Jerry Valiant (John S. Hill) 03/11/10
John Hill 68, of Franklin, Indiana, formerly of Nineveh, passed away Thursday, March 11, 2010 at Franklin Meadows. He was born July 8, 1941 in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada to William and Kathryn (Graham) Hill. He married Carolyn F. Hill on April 5, 1964 in Indianapolis; she survives.
John began his professional wrestling career in the United States with “Dick the Bruiser” in 1961. Throughout his career he traveled the world and wrestled in every state of the United States, province in Canada, in Japan, China, Saudi Arabia and Australia. He held 19 Championship titles throughout his career in the 1960’s, 1070’s, and 1980’s. Wrestling under the names of “Gentleman” Jerry Valiant, Guy Hill, “The Stomper”Guy Mitchell. He also was the owner of Hill’s Landscaping for 14 years in the Sweetwater and Cordry Lake communities. He also was employed by David R. Webb and Company in Edinburgh.
Coincidentally Johnny & Jimmy Valiant was together in Atlanta Ga. when they heard the news of John’s passing.
John enjoyed volunteering as Santa Clause for different organizations in central Indiana.
Survivors include his wife, Carolyn F. Hill; a son, Jonathan S. Hill; three brothers, Clarence Hill of Ireland, James Hill and George Hill (wife Arlene) of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada; two sisters, Margaret Butler and Betty Elliott (husband Jim) of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.
Sandy Scott 03/11/10
Sandy Scott, half of one of the longest-running tag teams in wrestling, passed away on Thursday, March 11, 2010 in Roanoke, Virginia, at the age of 75. He was stricken with pancreatic cancer in 2009, and though it was done immediately, radical surgery could not contain the deadly disease.
Born Angus Mackay Scott in Hamilton, Ontario on May 27, 1934, he followed his older brother George into pro wrestling in late 1953. After working small-time events in his native Ontario for his first few months, he joined George in Stu Hart’s Stampede Wrestling territory in June 1954. The family tag team, a real one, in this case, during a time when most “brother” tandems each had their own set of parents’ was launched.
Adopting the catchier first name Sandy, he and George clicked immediately with their smooth, speedy style. They headquartered in Calgary for the next half-dozen years, and became a wildly popular pairing there and in the mid-Atlantic area, Oregon, the upper mid-west, New York and Ohio, British Columbia and Ontario. The also did a swing through Japan in 1962, and two tours of Australia in 1966 and 1968. The brothers’ aerial attack, featuring dropkicks and flying head scissors in a time when much of wrestling was still ground-based, soon earned them the nickname “The Flying Scotts”.
George and Sandy capitalized on their growing reputation, opening a popular Calgary restaurant, The Scott Brothers Paddock, venturing to other areas of Canada and the U.S., and facing many of the top teams of the day. In Calgary alone, they faced the Miller, Tolos, Neilson, Mills, Kalmikoff, Smith, Vachon and Gallagher clans, Fritz von Erich and Karl von Schober, Iron Mike DiBiase and Danny Plechas. Many more teams lined up against them elsewhere, particularly in the Carolinas.
After a long and successful run together — The Flying Scotts shared tag team honors on 16 occasions in Canada, the U.S. and Australia — Sandy and George parted company in 1970. Sandy worked widely as a solo and with other tag partners, notably Jerry Brisco, almost exclusively in the Mid-Atlantic area. Through it all, he never forsook his scientific style going into a match, but he could and did roughen up his approach when his opponent’s behavior demanded it.
With the 20-year mark of his career approaching, Sandy looked to the future and a change in his role in the wrestling industry. He had a strong relationship with the Crockett family, and began taking an active part in many facets of promotion, booking towns and venues, handling public appearances and advertising, and tending to the myriad of details that the promotion’s success depended upon. He had an on-air persona as well, as a special representative of the NWA, and was instrumental in many of JCP’s major angles.
Following his last matches in 1976, Sandy continued his promotional role full-time. When World Championship Wrestling bought out JCP, he transitioned to the larger company, adding the role of on-air host of WCW World Wide to his duties. In 1991, he moved to Jim Cornette’s fledgling Smoky Mountain Wrestling out of Knoxville, Tennessee, and continued with the company until its demise in 1995.
Throughout his 20-plus years of active wrestling, and another 20-plus years of work in small and large promotions, Sandy Scott had done it all, and done it very well. He was inducted into the NWA Wrestling Legends Hall of Heroes in 2008, a fitting tribute indeed.
Sandy is survived by his wife Sandra, sons Drew and Sandy, daughter Tracey and grandson Coleton.
Angelo Poffo 03/04/10
Angelo Poffo, 84, the father of Randy “Macho Man” Savage and Lanny Poffo, passed away in his sleep this morning, March 4, 2010.
Angelo began his wrestling career in 1948, and several years later paired up with Bronco Lubich as a wrestler-manager tandem that lasted through the 1950’s, and ranked as one of the hotter attractions of the day. In the 1970’s and ’80’s, he operated his International Championship Wrestling promotion, running events in Tennessee, Kentucky and Arkansas. He retired after nearly 35 years in the ring.
Poffo held the U.S.Navy record for consecutive sit-ups for many years, after logging 6,033 rapid-fire repetitions over a period of four hours 10 minutes. Given that kind of dedication to physical conditioning, it’s little wonder that he was attracted to wrestling several years later, and made it his life’s work.
Jimmy Valiant’s first ring jacket came from Poffo. Jimmy stated today,“Angelo sold me my first ring jacket in the 60s. I paid $25.00 for that beautiful red sequin jacket from Angelo. I always admired the jacket when he wore it to the ring with his tag team partner, Chris Markoff. They were a great tag team known as The Devil’s Duo, who were WWA tag team champions. Chris had a green sequin jacket same style as Poffo’s. Brother, under the lights in the darkened arenas with their blonde hair they looked great. At one time, Angelo’s hair was, in deed, platinum bleached blonde.”
MOOSE MAHONEY 02/21/10
Tony James Mitchell, a fixture on the Alabama and Georgia independent scene as Moose Mahoney, passed away in Scottsboro, Alabama on February 21, 2010. He was 44 years of age.
Big and burly, Mahoney threw his weight around the ring with gusto all through his career in the deep south. He also promoted cards in the area, and played an important part in bringing Ultimate NWA to his hometown of Scottsboro.
Ultimate NWA paid final tribute to Moose during an event a week after his passing. The traditional ten-bell salute was tolled before several hundred Scottsboro residents at the local National Guard Armory.
George “Red” Eakin 02/21/10
Eakin passed away Sunday morning, Mr. Eakin succumbed after a lengthy battle with cancer. He was 81.
Eakin was an outstanding amateur wrestler, born on September 19, 1929 in Winnipeg, who first delved into the pro ranks in Winnipeg’s active club scene in 1952 for the Crescent Boxing and Wrestling Club’s summer match series at the North Main Drive In. Some of his earliest “semi-pro” successes took place under that club’s banner, where we excelled in both singles and tag team competition, forming a successful partnership with the popular Johnny DePaulo.
However, it was under Gordon Mackie’s Madison Wrestling Club banner that George saw his greatest success. Between 1952 and 1968, Eakin wrestled 401 matches out of the club’s 632 events. More than 100 of those were in tag team action with frequent partner, Frenchy Champagne. Eakin held the Madison Club heavyweight title nine times, trading the title with the likes of Moose Morowski, “Bulldog” Bob Brown, and Lorne Corlett (who gained greater fame world-wide under the surname Von Steiger). Eakin did equally well in tag team competition, holding the Madison Club tag titles on six occasions – five times with Frenchy Champagne and once with Buddy Sprott, who is best known for his work internationally as Ricky Hunter (aka The Gladiator).
At 6’0″ and 218 .lbs, his skills on the mat attracted attention and Eakin did train briefly with Verne Gagne in Minneapolis with aspirations of a full time pro career. However, he was discouraged by the lack of job security, and with a career as a fireman in Winnipeg, he elected to stay close to home. In addition to his occupational and wrestling pursuits, Eakin is regarded as an outstanding football player and as a member of the Norwood-St. Boniface Legionaires, won the Canadian senior championship. George also served as a lineman for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers football club for many years.
Eakin’s last match took place in Brandon, Manitoba on November 15, 1974 when he teamed with a young Roddy Piper to oppose Joe Carona and The Scorpion.
Ron Martinez 02/18/10
Former ring announcer and tv commentator Ronald Martinez, of Tampa, Fl, owner of P.M. Video & Tape Company passed away, due to a fatal heart attack in his home on Feb 18th.
Ron, along with the late Jack Reynolds, covered the NWF and IWA wrestling out of Cleveland, Ohio. Ron was a brother-in-law of the late wrestling great Ilio DiPaolo and he was the son of the late wrestling promoter Pedro Martinez.
GILBERT GUERRERO 02/15/10
Gilbert Guerrero, a familiar figure on Midwestern undercards of the 1970’s and early 1980’s, passed away on February 15, 2010 at age 69.
Born July 18, 1940, Gilbert – no relation to the Gori Guerrero wrestling clan – got his start on Dick the Bruiser and Wilbur Snyder’s World Wrestling Association cards out of Indianapolis. He also worked briefly for Angelo Poffo’s ICW promotion based in Lexington, Kentucky. Guerrero was a regular enhancement talent on AWA and St. Louis television shows.
He worked under his own name, under a mask as The Black Saint and The Black Angel, and as Gil Guerrero in the AWA. Gilbert also allied with his son Rocky Guerrero under the hoods as The Black Saints. As his career wound down, he worked in groundskeeping at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.
Charles Baillargeon 02/10/10
Charles Baillargeon, the last surviving member of the legendary Baillargeon Brothers of Quebec, passed away on February 10, 2010 in Quebec City. He fell victim to a stroke at the age of 92.
The six brothers, in order of age Jean, Charles, Adrien, Lionel, Paul and Antonio (Tony), all naturally powerful and honed by weight-lifting, began their career in the limelight as a strongman act. They toured for several years, but grew tired of the continuing trials of arranging their own shows across North America. They turned to wrestling in 1949, and while some of them had a relatively brief career – the length varied between six and 27 years – they were quite successful in tag team and singles events, and wildly popular everywhere.
Charles was born on July 8, 1917 in St. Magloire-de-Bellechasse, Quebec. His wrestling career was cut short by a major car accident after six years. When brother Paul hung up his boots and bought a hotel in Quebec City, which became very well known as Hotel Baillargeon, Charles worked there for many years.
He had recently been living in a home for the aged, and went into hospital the day before his death. Charles is survived by his wife Denise, son Jacques, three grandchildren and three sisters.
Brian Brewer “Bryan Hart” 02/09/10
“The Canadian Superman” Bryan Hart passed away Tuesday at the age of 38 due to complications from asthma. Hart had been a pro wrestler, in the Indy scene for over 12 years and mostly wrestled in Louisiana. A single parent, Hart leaves behind a daughter, Vivian.
Jack Brisco 02/01/10
We are sad to report that Jack Brisco passed away earlier today. Jack was honored by the CAC in 1996 with the Men’s Wrestling award. And then again in 2005 with the Lou Thesz award.
In the days to come, the internet will be a buzz about the outstanding career of Jack Brisco. His career is by all means a outstanding one to say the least.
I contacted Jimmy Valiant and informed him of Jacks sudden death. We talked at length about Jacks stellar career. Jimmy told of how the boys would work the match then shower and head back to the motel, or bar, or out to eat. But on several occasions, Jimmy would have his match, rush to the back, shower, and go watch Jack & Harley Race go broadways. Jimmy said, “It was poetry in motion! Harley would hold Jack up for what seamed like 5 minutes with his famous standing suplex. When Jack hit the mat he would sell, sell, sell!”
At the Kiel Auditorium (and other venues)Jimmy would watch Jack go against the likes of Harley Race, Dory Funk Jr. and the list goes on and on.
“One of the Greatest World Champions in the NWA. From High school to the Pros. I watched his matches not as a worker but as a fan. Jack’s wrestling matches taught me allot. I just loved him dearly. He was some what shy, never had much to say. But when you made eye contacted with him he always smiled back. He was always just happy go lucky. Jack ranks in the top 5 of the business. I’m gonna miss him dearly” Valiant said.
From winning two state high school wrestling championships to the coveted NWA Championship belt. Jack had done it all. Leroy McGuirk,was very instrumental in getting Brisco involved with professional wrestling. His fabulous career began in 1965.
Brisco is survived by his wife of more than 30 years, Jan.
Phillip Darrell Hedden 01/31/10
Blackjack Hedden passed away on 1/31/10 at the age of 65. Hedden wrestled in the 1970’s, wrestling for the W.W.A(Indianapolis) in the mid 70’s.
He was born on February 8, 1944 in Fordsville, KY to the late Ira Lee and Bertha Wells Hedden. He wrestled under the names, “Black Jack Hedden” and the “Russian Brain”.
GEORGIANN MAKROPOULOS 01/25/10
The wrestling world today mourns the passing of Georgiann Makropoulos of Astoria, New York. Georgie, as she was known to everyone, succumbed to a heart attack on January 25, 2010, at the age of 68.
Georgie was unique, the epitome of a “super-fan”, completely immersed in and devoted to wrestling. She became a fan immediately after her high school graduation in 1959, and not long after formed a fan club for Buddy “Nature Boy” Rogers, one of the biggest names in wrestling at the time, then a second club for Bob Orton, Sr. Georgie’s crowning achievement in this realm was establishment of a wildly-popular club for living legend Bruno Sammartino.
In the late 1960’s, she became a contributor to Wrestling World magazine, penning lengthy columns dealing with fan clubs and many other aspects of the business from the fans’ point of view. Georgie later established her own newsletter, The Wrestling Chatterbox, that had a run of over 20 years. She fitted neatly into the digital universe as it developed, continuing her writing on several popular websites. Along the way, she tracked down information on her major honorary, Sammartino, and developed an unmatched record of his lengthy and storied career.
This outstanding lady was honored by CAC at a Club event in New Jersey several years ago, even though she was not actively involved in our organization.
Perhaps Georgie’s greatest contribution to professional wrestling was her close friendship with legions of wrestlers and fans over the past half-century. Truly, she was one of a kind.
NICK PACCHIANO 01/24/10
Nicola “Nick” Pacchiano, a familiar face across the Stampede Wrestling territory in the 1970’s, passed away in Calgary on January 24 2010, at age 72.
Born in Marigliano, Italy in 1937, Nick emigrated to Canada in 1959. He worked in the building trades in Calgary, and first became acquainted with Stu Hart when he did some concrete work at Hart House. Stu sensed potential in the husky young man, and took him on board for some training in 1968. Nick made his bow in the Calgary ring that year, and early on impressed everyone with his massive strength in a compact body. He worked in the Calgary and Vancouver territories over the next several years. His last match was in late 1976, then he returned full time to the construction industry where he had a role in building many of the towers on the Calgary skyline.
Nick was always a gentleman, quiet and respectful and a pleasure to be around. He raised two sons, two daughters and a step-daughter, and had widely-scattered family in Canada, New York, Italy and Venezuela.
IDA MAE MARTINEZ (SELENKOW) 01/19/10
Ida Mae Martinez, one of the leading lady wrestlers of a half-century ago, passed away late in the afternoon of January 19, 2010. Funeral services will be held on Wednesday, January 20, in Pikesville, Maryland.
Born in Connecticut, Ida Mae Selenkow was abandoned by her mother, then ran away from abusive guardians at the age of 15. On her own, this diminutive lady became a classic example of the indomitable nature of the human spirit.
She bravely entered the wrestling profession through Billy Wolfe’s booking office in Columbus, Ohio in 1950, and by 1952 had become the champion of Mexico. Her career continued throughout the decade, as she wrestled against many in Wolfe’s stable across North America, and had particularly tough matches with Mildred Burke and Nell Stewart. After retiring from the ring in 1960, Ida Mae set out to conquer life with her eye fixed firmly on a dream.
She completed high school by earning a GED certificate in 1971, then in 1975 achieved an Associate’s Degree in Nursing. Striving further, Ida Mae obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in 1980, and as an RN became a team leader and charge nurse. The summit of the mountain came in 1990, when she earned a Master’s Degree with Honors, and was inducted into the International Honor Society of Nursing. Her subsequent work in the area of home treatment of AIDS patients, conducted through the world-famed Johns Hopkins Hospital of Baltimore, inspired her to author a paper that has become part of the medical literature.
Ida Mae served a number of years on the CAC Board of Directors. In 2006, she received the inaugural Senator Hugh Farley Award from the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame in Amsterdam, New York in recognition of her contributions to society as well as her ring accomplishments. She appeared in the documentary movie “Lipstick and Dynamite”, which chronicled the highs and lows of ladies’ wrestling in her era.
Ida Mae was also a world-acclaimed master of yodeling, a difficult musical specialty. As CAC director Tom Burke said in noting her passing, “Yodel your heart out, sweetheart!”
Katsuhisa Shibata 01/16/10
Katsuhisa Shibata, former New Japan wrestler and referee, and father of second generation pro wrestler Katsuyori Shibata, passed away earlier today following a heart attack. Shibata wrestled on the very first New Japan show on 3/6/72 and after retiring in February, 1976, would become a referee for the company.
He temporarily retired as a referee on 6/25/99 at Korakuen Hall but would return for sporadic appearances, recently officiating in Tatsumi Fujinami’s DRADITION promotion.
Ed Chuman 01/15/10
Ed Chuman, a longtime promoter in the NWA, passed away on January 15 at the age of 62. Ed was a CAC member and worked closely with Reggie Parks Championship Belts for a number of years. In addition to his promoting and work with belts, Ed also worked in the business as Dr. Sidney Hack, a chain-smoking, alcoholic physician for Carmine DiSpirito’s Mid-American Wrestling in Milwaukee and worked with Steel Domain Wrestling when it was open. Ed had battled illness for a long time.
Tony Halme “Ludvig Borga”01/08/10
Tony Halme, who wrestled under his real name with New Japan Pro Wrestling as a headliner in the early 90s, and as Ludvig Borga for WWF in the mid-90s, passed away on 01.08.10 in Finland of an apparent self inflected gun shot. Halme was 47.
Halme, a 6-3, 300-pound powerlifter and boxer, was Randy Couture’s first-ever opponent on May 30, 1997. Couture won the match via choke in 57 seconds.
James White “Jim White” 01/08/10
CAC member and past honoree, Jim White passed away Friday after a battle with cancer. Jim’s wrestling career began in 1957 in Chicago.
James also wrestled under the names of Tiny York, Red Shadow, The Scorpian. He held numerous tagteam titles with Jerry “The King” Lawler. White was honoreed at the CAC in 1997.