Don “Lumberjack Luke” Morrison 12/31/08
Don Morrison passed away at the age of 66 on December 31, 2008 at his home in Port Townsend, WA, it was announced by his wife, Shari.
Don worked as Lumberjack Luke, Crazy Luke and Beautiful Brutus. He was born in Kelona, BC on December 19, 1942 and was extremely popular throughout Canada, the Gulf Coast and the Pacific Northwest as well as other territories. After leaving wrestling in 1980 while working for Diamond Belt Wrestling in Idaho, he opened a dry cleaning business in Port Townsend which is still in operation and will be run by his widow.
Don suffered from stomach and nerve illnesses, but was a regular attendee at the Northwest Wrestler’s Reunion and kept in close contact with many of his mat partners. He was a long-time member of the Cauliflower Alley Club.
There will be a memorial held in Port Townsend, WA on March 28, 2009.
Roland “Rollin Hard” Montgomery 12/26/08
Roland Montgomery, who wrestled for IWA Mid South as Rollin’ Hard from 1996 to 2003 passed away the day after Christmas following a three-year battle with cancer. Even after his cancer diagnosis and chemotherapy, he returned to the ring in 2006. He is survived by a wife and two children.
Mike Bell 12/14/08
Mike Bell, a native of Poughkeepsie, NY passed away on Sunday, December 14 at the age of 37. Bell was a former contracted performer for ECW and appeared on television for WWE as late as 2003. Bell was heavily featured in the documentary, “Bigger, Faster, Stronger” which was completed by his brother, Chris.
Raymond Aschenbrenner 12/10/08
Raymond Aschenbrenner, the husband of CAC honoree Ethel Brown, passed away on December 10 in Atlanta, GA. Raymond and Ethel have attended several CAC Reunions.
Steve Bradley 12/04/08
Steve Bradley, who wrestled in numerous independent promotions through the 1990s passed away on December 4 just six days shy of his 33rd birthday. No information on cause of death is available at this time.
Bradley made his pro debut in 1991 at the young age of 15 and worked throughout the East Coast. In 1998, Bradley signed a developmental contract with the WWF(E) and was assigned to Memphis-based Power Pro Wrestling, Puerto Rico’s IWA, Memphis Championship Wrestling, Ohio Valley Wrestling and Heartland Wrestling Association during his time in developmental. Bradley was released from his contract in July 2002.
Bradley held titles in ECWA, HWA, IWA, MCW and PPW. Additionally, he was rated #83 in the 2002 PWI 500.
Charles Buffong 11/27/08
Charles Buffong, a native of the Caribbean island of Antigua, passed away suddenly in Calgary, Alberta on November 27, 2008. He had apparently attended the funeral of his son earlier in the day, and fell victim to massive heart failure.
The well-built Antiguan began his career in Georgia Championship Wrestling in 1980, and shortly thereafter moved on to Calgary. He wrestled periodically for Stampede Wrestling from late 1980 until the end of 1983, teaming on occasion with both Gerry Morrow and Rudy Kay. During that span, he also appeared on Canada’s west coast.
In what must have been his all-time career highlight, Charles received a thunderous welcome home when Stampede Wrestling toured Antigua twice in 1982, with reportedly some 5,000 fans massing at the airport for their initial arrival.
Hogan Wharton 11/05/08
Hogan Wharton, who had relatively brief parallel careers in wrestling and football, passed away on Wednesday, November 5, 2008. He succumbed to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, at age 72.
Wharton was a standout amateur wrestler and All-American footballer at the University of Houston. Though claimed by San Francisco in the 11th round of the 1958 draft, he played all four years of his pro career with the Houston Oilers, from 1960 to 1963. Hogan wrestled frequently in the Houston territory in the off-season, often tag-teaming with Pepper Gomez or Adnan Kaisy. Following his athletic exploits, he settled into a 40-year career in the pipe fabrication industry.
Joe Ball 11/04/08
Joseph A. Ball Jr., who was a retired police officer and a former pro wrestler passed away in Louisville, KY. Ball was an US Army veteran and a 4th degree Knight of Columbus. During his wrestling career, Ball worked mainly in the Louisville area in the early 1970s and formed a tag team with Billy Helm.
Margaret Garcia 10/29/08
Margarita Gaitan Strong, known to fans of ladies wrestling as Margaret Garcia, passed away from complications of a circulatory disorder on October 29 at the age of 66. Garcia, one of 12 children, grew up on a farm in Texas and, at age 19, traveled by bus to South Carolina where she learned to wrestle under the tutelage of Lillian Ellison (The Fabulous Moolah). After leaving the wrestling ring, Garcia served a stint in the Air Force. She and her husband, John, settled in McDade, where they provided a home for their three children and more than 30 children over the years. Garcia was a life member of the Cauliflower Alley Club and was a Ladies Wrestling honoree in 2004.
S. D. Jones 10/26/08
Conrad Efraim, who wrestled for 21 years and was a mainstay in the northeast as S. D. “Special Delivery” Jones has passed away in Antigua. Jones suffered a stroke several days previously and had been hospitalized since then. He was 63 years old.
Leah Maivia 10/19/08
Leah Maivia, widow of High Chief Peter Maivia, passed away on Sunday, October 19 at the age of 81. Ms. Maivia continued promoting the family’s Polynesian Pro Wrestling territory out of Hawaii from the time of her husband’s death until 1988.
Jack Reynolds 10/16/08
Jack Reynolds, a well-known radio personality in the Cleveland area for over 30 years, passed away in the early morning of October 16 after being hospitalized for heart bypass surgery and an intestinal operation. Reynolds was the host of the wrestling program in the Cleveland-Buffalo area and would later work for the World Wrestling Federation doing play-by-play for All Star Wrestling and was the original co-host (with Jesse Ventura) of Prime Time Wrestling before Gorilla Monsoon joined that announce team.
Pee Wee James 09/16/08
Raymond Sabourin who began wrestling in 1948 passed away on September 16 at the age of 75. Christened Pee Wee James during his career, Sabourin made several tours through Canada, the US and Japan during his career which ended in 1968.
Rick Renslow 09/03/08
Rick Renslow who wrestled in the AWA as The Wild Alaskan passed away on September 3 at the age of 53. For several years, Rick was a regular attendee at CAC Reunions and was close friends with most of the “Minnesota crew.” Rick is survived by his wife, Stephanie; children, Erin and Meghan; mother, Diane; and siblings, Debbie, Kelly and Jim.
Walter “Killer” Kowalski 08/30/08
It is with heavy hearts that we report the passing of Wladek (Walter) “Killer” Kowalski, a life member of the Cauliflower Alley Club and a Director Emeritus. Kowalski, aged 82, was one of the top villains of professional wrestling from the 1950s through the 1970s.
Kowalski, who is perhaps most widely remembered for the kneedrop that tore off part of Yukon Eric’s ear, was also a champion in several promotions throughout his career. A master of the clawhold, Killer had legendary battles against the likes of Bruno Sammartino, Whipper Watson, Yukon Eric, John Tolos and Mad Dog Vachon. Despite his in-ring persona of a “killer”, he was, in fact, a kind and warm person outside the ring. In the business of professional wrestling, there are very few people about whom one hears nothing negative; Killer Kowalski was one of those people.
In addition to wrestling, Killer was well regarded as a trainer of young wrestlers. Some of his graduates include Perry Saturn, John Kronus, Triple H and Big John Studd.
Kowalski was a strict vegetarian and credited his excellent physical conditioning and longevity to his diet. He was married for the first time in 2006 to Theresa who was his constant companion in his later years. With bad knees from his many years in the ring, he was confined to a rehabilitation center over the last period of his life.
Kowalski is one of the most decorated men in the history of professional wrestling, having been inducted to the WWE Hall of Fame (class of 1996), the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame (class of 2003), the Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame (class of 1996), the National Polish-American Sports Hall of Fame (class of 2007) and being the recipient of the 2002 Iron Mike Award from the Cauliflower Alley Club.
“Golden Gladiator” Ron Hill 08/27/08
Ron Hill was born in Brockton, Massachusetts on August 18, 1935. He was bitten by the wrestling bug while attending the matches at the Ancient Order of Hybernians Hall. The first match he saw was a scientific match between Sandor Kovacs against Jackie Nichols, with the main event being Marv Westenberg, who was wrestling as Mr. X, against Frank Sexton.
Ron began working out in the ring at the Brockton Music Hall Arena, which was owned by the father of his friend, Donnie Putignano. Ron and Donnie would work out together and developed a repertoire of holds based on what they had seen at the live matches.
The local promoter in Brockton was Joe Belino. Joe would sit in the stands before the people came in and watch Ron wrestle. Belino got most of his talent from Boston promoter, Paul Bowser, and his big star at the time was Guy LaRose, who later became Hans Schmidt. Belino offered to put Ron and Donnie in a novice match on February 14, 1952, provided they sell some tickets on the streets beforehand. They did and went 15 minutes broadway. Before returning the following week for a return match against Donnie, Ron was invited to wrestle Les Ruffen in Ludlow by promoter George Lenihan.
Ron got his next break when Tony Santos saw him wrestle. Ron eventually went to Boston for Santos and wrestled for several years as Cowboy Ronnie Hill. After wrestling in Florida and Texas, he went to work in Atlanta, Georgia, for Lester Welch. Shortly afterwards, Ann Gunkel broke away from the NWA and formed the All-South Wrestling Alliance, and took all but two of the NWA wrestlers with her. At the invitation of Dick Steinborn, Ron jumped from the NWA (after a few weeks in Texas) and went to work for Ann Gunkel’s opposition group as the Golden Gladiator.
Ron didn’t wrestle in many of the big territories, but he was a good draw for the promotions where he worked. In Mexico, he and El Indio drew 10,000 people for a match with Ron’s light heavyweight title at stake.
Ron left the wrestling business in 1980 and had his last match with Boris “The Great” Malenko. Ron was promoting his own shows at the time, featuring shoot matches on the undercard and veteran pros in the main event. He promoted shows in Florida, Texas and Massachusetts. After quitting the business, Ron cut an audio tape called Please Don’t Call it Wrestling, talking about the whole structure of the wrestling business. He was on WNWS in Miami for four hours. After the segment aired, he took a lot of heat from the Tampa wrestling office for exposing the business.
In the early 90s, Ron wrote his autobiography titled, When Professional Wrestlers Had Cauliflower Ears. It was probably the first inside look at the wrestling business ever published, taking readers into the dressing room, into the ring, and into the cars to and from the arenas. He also wrote two other fictional manuscripts based on his career as a private investigator.
Ron and his wife, Betty, retired in Auburndale, Florida. Ron and Betty have two children, Ronnie and Rick, while Ron has two other children, Cindy and Ron, from a previous marriage. At age 70, he was still working out and stayed in good shape. He passed away in the morning of August 27 due to complications following hip surgery. Hill was 73 years old.
Ole Olsen 08/21/08
Albert “Ole” Olsen, a true wrestling institution of bygone years in his native Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, passed away on Thursday, August 21, 2008. He was 85 years of age, and had been in good health until suffering a massive stroke the previous evening.
Born on September 10, 1922 in rural Manitoba, Olsen took to the amateur mats at the end of World War II, and dominated the YMCA scene through the late 1940’s. He was in the running for the 1948 Canadian Olympic team, alongside a young and feisty Maurice Vachon, but lost in his final qualifying match against Fernand Payette. In the latter 1940’s George Gordienko, who became one of the very finest pro wrestlers of the 20th century, had the groundwork for his peerless style laid thanks to Ole’s rugged early training. Roy McLarty, Gordon Nelson, Al Tomko and many lesser lights learned their amateur moves from him as well, and went on to long and successful pro careers.
In 1950, Olsen migrated to the pro ranks himself after training in Minneapolis under Tony Stecher and Wally Karbo. He had not long before signed on as a firefighter in Winnipeg, and his dual role meant that he didn’t often travel far from his Winnipeg home base. “The Fighting Fireman” was highly regarded, though, and always a great addition to any card. As the years passed Ole became disenchanted with the city’s promotion, and in the late 1950’s left the full-fledged pro world to wrestle and promote in what we would now call the local independent promotions. With Winnipeg a hotbed of small promotions, he continued in this role until retiring from the ring in the late 1960’s. Olsen’s firefighting career continued, though, until he retired as a captain in 1987, with nearly 40 years of service to his credit.
Sonny “Roughhouse” Fargo 08/20/08
Jack Louis Faggart, Sr., a referee known as Sonny Fargo and wrestler known as Roughhouse or Nuthouse Fargo, passed away at about 9:00 in the evening on Wednesday, August 20. Fargo was 80 years old at the time of his death. Fargo was the legitimate brother of Henry Faggart, better known as Jackie Fargo to fans through the Tennessee area. About once a year, Jackie would bring in his “crazy” brother for an angle that was always a hit with the fans. Fargo had suffered with diabetes for the last years of his life; however, cause of death is not known. Linn-Honeycutt Funeral Home is assisting the Faggart family with final arrangements.
Patrick Miller 08/17/08
Patrick Miller, a regular for NWA Main Event Wrestling was killed in an automobile accident on August 17. No further information is available at this time.
Inita Marie Conway 08/06/08
Inita Marie Conway, the widow of Tiger Conway Sr, passed away on August 6 at the age of 78. The Conway family are longtime members and supporters of the Cauliflower Alley Club and both Tiger Conway Sr. and Tiger Conway Jr. have been honored by the Club for their contributions.
Mike Blazer 08/05/08
Myron Blaser who wrestled as Mike Blazer passed away on Tuesday, August 5 after a long batter with liver cancer. Blazer was born in Green Bay, WI in 1922 and was a Wisconsin State champion and also held the Midwest title. Blazer started wrestling on the carnival circuit before breaking into the pro ranks. After his retirement from the ring, he owned Mike Blazer Saw Service until 1984; however, continued working in that business part-time until this year.
Jose Luis Amezcua Diaz (Alfonso Dantes) 07/30/08
Jose Luis Amezcua Diaz, better known as Alfonso Dantes, passed away today at his home in Manzanillo, Mexico. Dantes was born April 13, 1943, making him 65 years old. Dantes was a star in Mexico and Southern California having held the NWA Light Heavyweight Title on five occasions. Dantes also held the Americas Tag Team Titles with Mil Mascaras during Lucha Libre’s Los Angeles heyday in 1969.
Lynn Toney 07/25/08
Lynn Toney who worked as an announcer for Gulf Coast wrestling passed away on Friday, July 25 at age 83. In addition to his announcing for GCCW, Toney also hosted “The Lynn Toney Show” for 10 years before going into news and weather reporting, followed by “Popcorn Theater.” Lynn was an ordained Baptist minister and a member of Masonic Lodge No. 42 and the Scottish Rite. Condolences and memories can be shared at Rose Lawn Funeral Home.
Art Dominguez 07/24/08
Art Dominguez, also known as Salvadore Dominguez, passed away on July 24. Dominguez was a star on the west coast, in Georgia and in other areas of the Southeast. No further information is available at this time.
Frenchy Roberre 07/13/08
Yvon Losier who wrestled from the 1950’s through 1968 as Frency Losier and Frenchy Roberrepassed away on Sunday, July 13 in Portland, OR. He had been confined to a nursing home preceding his passing. Most of Roberre’s career was spent in the Pacific Northwest; however, he also had runs in the Gulf Coast, Texas and California areas. After retiring from wrestling, Roberre operated a tavern in Portland. Roberre had attended both the Gulf Coast and Northwest/Issaquah reunions.
Juan “The Party Man” King 07/12/08
Juan E. Pugh, aged 51, of New Bedford, MA passed away on July 12. Pugh wrestled for many years with independent promotions throughout the Northeast.
Harold Harris 07/08/08
Harold Harris who worked as Monbassa and as Francis Alexander Gibbons passed away Tuesday July 8th.Harold is remembered mostly as manager of the Blackbirds (Iceman Parsons and Brickhouse Brown), played a significant role in the transition from World Class to USWA Dallas.
Armando Ramos 07/06/08
Boxer Armando Ramos who enjoyed a meteoric career in the boxing ring, winning the lightweight title at 20, then spent his later years helping kids avoid the twin demons of drugs and alcohol died Sunday. He was 59.
Ramos was the Oscar De La Hoya of his day, a talented, handsome L.A. fighter who attracted fans of both sexes. He turned pro in 1965, three days after his 17th birthday, but was finished a decade later. Ramos wound up with a record of 37-11 with one draw and 23 knockouts.
Ramos, who was honored by the Cauliflower Alley Club several years ago and was just inducted into the California Boxing Hall of Fame two weeks ago, died at his San Pedro home of natural causes, according to his wife, Sylvia. Ramos suffered from a chronic back injury and diabetes.
Gene Cyr 07/05/08
Harvey E. Cyr, Sr. of Lynwood, WA passed away at the age of 75 after a lengthy illness. Cyr was a professional wrestler in the Pacific Northwest in the early 1960s. He had been trained by a very young Bobby Shane and, during his wrestling days, stood 6’2″ and weighed 275 lbs.
Oscar Norberto Rodriguez June 2008
Oscar Norberto Rodriguez was born in 1936 and, in 1953, as wrestling was first beginning to take off in Chile, he dropped out of school at the age of 17 and began to train with los Titanes del Ring. Over his years in wrestling, he took on such personas as Angel Rojo and The Death. After the promotion lost television in 1981, he was responsible for revitalizing wrestling in Chile in 1997 and again in 2000. In addition to wrestling, Rodriguez was one of the country’s most prolific trainers of young wrestlers.
Note that it is not entirely clear how or why, but it appears that Rodriguez also went by the name Miguel Angel Fanfani. Rodriguez was diagnosed with cancer this year and he passed away in June. Anyone with any further information, please contact Wes Daniel.
Igor Volkoff 06/28/08
Nedelko “Ned” Babic, who wrestled for 15 years as Danny Babich and later as Igor Volkoff, passed away in Chilliwack, BC on Saturday, June 28, 2008. He was 71 years old.
Danny was born in Bosnia on April 12, 1937, but little is known of his early life or the route he travelled to become a pro wrestler. He emigrated to Canada, surfacing first with Stampede Wrestling in 1970 as a mid-card face. He may have been trained, at least in part, by Stu Hart. From 1971 onward, he alternated fairly lengthy runs in Stampede under the Babich identity until 1978, and Sandor Kovacs’ Vancouver territory as Igor Volkoff. He also had a brief stint in the A.W.A. in 1974 as Hugo Babich, a quick run in Quebec in 1973, and various appearances with Portland Wrestling. Danny continued to work regularly on the Canadian coast until 1984, when he retired.
He proved versatile, transforming from face to heel several times in both territories. On the Stampede circuit, he teamed often with Michel “Mad Dog” Martel and later Gil Hayes. In British Columbia, he wreaked havoc throughout the area’s arenas for years, before turning face toward the end of his career. He teamed on occasion with Al Tomko, who had taken over the Vancouver promotion in 1977 and frequently main-evented his own cards, and shared the tag team titles on four occasions. Danny was a dependable and low-maintenance hand, and in person a quiet, friendly and down-to-earth individual with a certain amount of reserve. He is survived by a sister in Bosnia, and nieces and nephews in the U.S and Bosnia.
Joe Lesperance 06/28/08
Joe Lesperance, the longest-serving referee across the Saskatchewan portion of Stu Hart’s Stampede Wrestling promotion, passed away in Regina on Saturday, June 28, 2008 at the age of 80.
Joe began his wrestling journey in the amateurs, then spent a half-dozen years competing part-time in semi-pro ranks across western Canada in the early 1950’s. He began refereeing for Stu Hart in 1956 on the weekly Regina cards, and often in Saskatoon and other centers across Saskatchewan that Stampede Wrestling visited. Joe’s wrestling background enabled him to fit easily into the matches, be in the right place at the right time, and take a solid bump when the occasion demanded. One of his favorite recollections has always been Maurice Vachon, incensed over his “unfair” officiating, firing him over the top rope on many an occasion — usually with some muttered parting comment that had Joe grinning as he took flight to the arena floor.
Many years before the heel ref became a staple, Joe angered towering babyface Tex McKenzie with some of his decisions, to the point where Tex dared him to wrestle. Six foot seven, 265 pound Tex steamrollered five foot seven, 180 pound Joe, naturally, but the pair mounted an entertaining match. On another occasion, Dave McKigney decided on the spot that Joe would make a dandy opponent for his wrestling bear, Terrible Ted, after Ted’s scheduled foe walked away from the bear’s rough-housing.
Joe packed up the refereeing role on turning 50, but couldn’t resist doing one final match in late 1997 for Wild West Wrestling in Regina. CAC members John Cozman (as the heel Principal Richard Pound) and long-time Stampede favorite Leo Burke were the contestants. Getting in close to break up a mid-ring melee between the two, Joe caught a wild punch from Leo, and sold it to the hilt with a solid bump…..and a DQ on Leo that of course set up a rematch.
“He took the bump perfectly, and sold it like the pro he was,” Leo recalls. “I know I won’t be bumping that way when I’m 70 years old!”
Joe had joined CAC and planned on attending this year’s CAC reunion, particularly to visit with the Vachons and Reggie Parks, whom he’d also frequently reffed many years ago. In fact, he recalled several months ago that Reggie was in the first bout he ever refereed for Stampede. Parks kindly took the “nervous novice”, as Joe described himself — he hadn’t been smartened up, or even given the finish — aside before the match, reassured him it would all go well, and that the boys would take care of him.
Lymphatic cancer flared up with a vengeance about a month before our reunion, though, and sadly cut off Joe’s hopes of joining us.
Oni Wiki Wiki 06/23/08
Wallace Lam Ho, who wrestled as Oni Wiki Wiki, died at the age of 88 on Monday June 23, 2008. Ho was born on April 1, 1920 and went on to be an All-American football player at University of Hawaii. He was featured in the Guinness Book of World records for his barefoot kicking as a collegiate football player.
Wiki wrestled in the 60s in Hawaii, as well as the Mid Atlantic NWA territory. Wiki also wrestled on the Leroy McGuirk circuit and was the matchmaker for the Shreveport shows on Monday nights. For several years Wiki had dealt with Dementia.
The Great Kusatsu 06/21/08
Masatake Kusatsu, who wrestled as The Great Kusatsu from 1966 until 1980 throughout Japan, passed away on June 21, 2008 following a year-long battle with esophageal cancer.
Kusatsu was a member of the Japan national rugby team before joining the JWA in August of 1965. He had his debut match on March 21, 1966 for JWA; however, jumped to IWE that same year. Kusatsu was the top Japanese star of the IWE until suffering a knockout in a match against Lou Thesz on 1/3/68 that forever changed the fortunes of Kusatsu’s career as well as the IWE organization.
Kusatsu suffered a torn achilles tendon in 1980 and was still on the disabled list when IWE closed down in 1981, signalling the end of his wrestling career. After retiring from the ring, Kusatsu worked as a sales manager for several non-wrestling-related companies and was briefly a television commentator for the SWS promotion.
His son, Kenji, fought in K1, also under the name Great Kusatsu, for a period of time.
Jimmy Jackson 06/17/08
Jimmy Jackson, a wrestling competitor at the 1976 Montreal Olympics where he reached the third round, a three-time consecutive NCAA champion (1976-1978) at Oklahoma State and a three-time World Cup champion passed away in East Lansing, MI at age 51. Jackson had a brief professional career working for Bill Watts’s Mid South Wrestling. He was a 2007 inductee to the Oklahoma State University’s Athletics Hall of Honor. Jackson is survived by his wife, Katie, two step-daughters and four grandchildren.
William Connell 05/31/08
William “Bill” D. Connell Sr. passed away on Saturday, May 31 in Concord, NC. Connell was a Vietnam War veteran, having served in the US Navy and was a renowned motorsports broadcaster including hosting his own regional television show, “The PROS in Motorsports.” In addition to motorsports, Bill also did local promos for several years on “World Wide Wrestling” for Jim Crockett Promotions in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s.
“Diehard” Steve Szoke 05/27/08
Steve Szoke who was a professional wrestler and minister died after a battle with cancer on May 27. Szoke was a graduate of Lincoln Christian College in Lincoln, IL, class of 1998 and formerly served on staff with Cross Point Christian Church in Sugar Grove, IL. Szoke was the founder, promoter and main attraction for Merrillville, IN based Fire Pro Wrestling, which he started in January 2006. He also founded the Impact Christian Church in March 2007. Szoke was married to wife Candy and had a daughter, Jada.
Rudy Kay 05/26/08
Jean-Louis Cormier, 65, known throughout the wrestling world as Rudy Kay, passed away at 4:00 a.m. EST Monday in Moncton, New Brunswick. He succumbed to septicemia, ironically the same disease that came within a hair’s breadth of claiming his brother Leonce a half-dozen years previous.
His eldest brother, Yvon, campaigned for many years as The Beast. Jean-Louis was the next into the business, wrestling as Rudy Kay and Rudy Martin, and in his early career often managing The Beast. Younger brother Leonce became the world-travelled Leo Burke, who also worked as Tommy Martin in the U.S. He was followed onto the mat by Romeo, known variously as Bobby Burke, Bobby Kay and Terry Martin. A fifth brother, Malcolm, held down referee duties in the brothers’ home territory.
Jean-Louis and Romeo also co-owned the Eastern Sports Association promotion that blanketed Canada’s maritime provinces from 1969 to 1976, under the banner of International Wrestling.
The brothers had all retired, Leo taking up residence in Calgary, Alberta and the others living in their hometown, Memramcook, New Brunwick, just outside Moncton. Their home community held a tremendously-successful “recognition night” for them in May 2006, a huge outpouring of affection for their favorite sons. Yvon, Jean-Louis and Romeo showed another side of their talents at the event, taking to the stage with a bluegrass band to entertain with their long-beloved country and western and Acadian songs, the perfect main event to a perfect night.
The event made it crystal-clear that the Cormier family is highly respected, not only by their homefolks, but within the wrestling community and by all who came into contact with them over the years. They’re real folks, genuine and caring, and all who come to know them are the better for the experience.
Chief White Owl 05/23/08
George A. Dahmer, who wrestled as Chief White Owl, passed away May 23, 2008. He was born June 19, 1935 in Wilmington, OH and had been a resident of Boynton Beach, FL for 24 years after moving from Ohio. Dahmer was a professional wrestler for 32 years, wrestling throughout the country.
Susan “Pebbles” Adams 05/23/08
Susan Adams, formerly known as Pebbles when she worked as Chick Donovan’s valet, passed away on May 23. She was also married to Donovan at one point.
Kurt Von Stroheim 05/19/08
Lawrence C. Grattenthaler who wrestled as Kurt Von Stroheim (not the original) and Red Baron passed away at 76 years of age.
Ricky “The Crusher” Cortez 05/16/08
Ricky “The Crusher” Cortez (Ricardo Bermudez Cortez) passed away May 16th, from a massive heart attack in Detroit at the age of 83. Cortez got his break in wrestling by the late Bert Ruby and was a mainstay in Detroit through the 50’s,60’s & 70’s. Cortez was well known for his feud with young Bruno Sammartino. Cortez was inducted into the Midwest Championship Wrestling Hall of Fame on February 19, 2005.
He was an avid body builder. And one of his many gym friends was the late, Dick “Mr. Michigan” Garza who later became known as Mighty Igor.
John Phillip Law 05/13/08
John Phillip Law, an actor with over 100 movie roles to his credit passed away at the age of 70 on May 13. Law was a CAC member, a 1992 honoree and was also a prior member of the CAC’s Board of Directors. Law is best known for his roles as the blind angel Pygar in the science fiction classic Barbarella and as news anchor Robin Stone in The Love Machine. He was once married to actress Shawn Ryan.
Penny Banner 05/13/08
The CAC has received word that Penny Banner passed away during the night, peacefully in her sleep, at her daughter’s home in North Carolina. Penny was one of the most decorated women in the history of professional wrestling. Her accolades have included being the first recipient of the CAC’s Art Abrams Lifetime Achievement Award, being inducted into the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame in New York and she will be the first woman inducted to the George Tragos/Lou Thesz Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame in Waterloo in 2008. Penny served on the Board of Directors of the Cauliflower Alley Club for many years and worked tirelessly to ensure that all remembered the women of our sport.
Penny was a bright spot of the CAC Reunions for many. Her smiling face and warm personality were important to our Club and you could always plan on buying a belt raffle ticket from “the lovely Penny Banner.”
Leo Garibaldi 05/12/08
Leo Garibaldi, the son of legendary Gino Garibaldi and nephew of Chick Garibaldi, and a successful professional wrestler and referee in his own right, passed away on the afternoon of May 12. Leo was at home with his wife, June, at his side. Leo was born July 19, 1929, making him 78 when he passed.
Leo was a graduate of the New York Military Academy in 1947, where he was captain of the school’s wrestling team. At the age of 18, Leo was thrown into the ring as a substitute and thus began the career of a legend. It has been said that Leo was popular enough that he could have run for mayor of Los Angeles and won.
Judy Grable 05/08/08
The CAC was informed today that Nellya Burres-Baughman, who wrestled as Judy Grable, died at approximately 2:40 this morning. Grable was a top wrestler on the women’s wrestling scene for many years. It was in a tournament in 1956 that, it is claimed, where Fabulous Moolah defeated Judy Grable to win the Women’s Title that Moolah would go on to hold for many years.
Fuji Nozawa 05/07/08
Shuji Joe Nozawa, aka “Shu” was born in Los Angeles on December 28, 1922, and passed away peacefully in his home in Rancho Palos Verdes on May 7, 2008.
After graduating from Los Angeles High School in 1941 where he played first string on the varsity football team, he attended UCLA for one year until he was sent to Manzanar Internment Camp during the War (WWII). He then served in the US Army for the relief efforts in Japan. Over the rest of his life, friends, family, and fans all followed his career as a professional wrestler, Japanese-American actor and stuntman, and real estate tycoon (all by the nickname Fuji). His roles in such classic movies and television shows as “The King and I”, “Wackiest Ship in the Army”, “Beverly Hillbillies”, “Mission: Impossible”, “The Wrecking Crew”, “Time Tunnel”, and many others, pioneered the path for other Asian-American actors to follow.
While Shuji lived across the country during his wrestling touring days, he resided in his hometown of Los Angeles for the past few decades, building, contracting, managing, and selling properties ranging from apartment complexes to golf courses around Southern California. Some of his favorite pastimes included fishing, golfing, reading, and joking with loved ones (or pulling pranks at Thanksgiving!).
He left this earth with a very peaceful, dignified last breath; one would expect nothing less of such a great man. Shuji is survived by his wife, Napaporn; and his two daughters, Annie and Bonnie.
Yvon Robert Jr. 04/30/08
Yvon Robert Jr., the only son of Yvon Robert, passed away on Wednesday, April 30. Robert was the only son of legendary Quebec area wrestler, promoter and former world champion, Yvon Robert.
Lee Campione 04/22/08
Lee C. Campione , age 88, of Corunna, MI, passed away Tuesday, April 22, 2008.
Lee owned and operated several local area Campione sports bars and was also a former light-heavyweight contender in the 1940s, having boxed exhibition bouts with three of the greatest fighters of all-time, Gus Lesnevich, Tony Zale and Joe Louis. Campione would later promote shows for The Sheik’s Detroit territory in his hometown of Owosso, Michigan. Whenever Sheik needed to run the town, Lee was there for him and promoted the town to a sellout and a good payoff for the boys.
The attached picture is Lee holding an autographed picture of Joe Louis after he fought him in the 40’s.
Rocky McGuire 04/11/08
The CAC has been informed that Norman “Rocky” McGuire has passed away.
Rocky began his association with the Gulf Coast territory as a referee in the mid 50s. He later served as figurehead promoter for Buddy Fuller. When Fuller sold out to Lee Fields in 1960, Rocky went with Buddy to Arizona. After a failed attempt at promotion out west, Rocky returned to the Gulf Coast and became Lee’s booker and promoter. He continued in this capacity until the sale to Ron Fuller, running the Dothan end of the promotion from 1968 – 1978. He later worked as the ring announcer for Ron Fuller for the Mobile and Pensacola house shows.
McGuire was living in the Dyersburg, TN area, and is survived by his wife and two sons.
Jim Olivier 04/13/08
Jim Olivier, a television announcer and ring announcer from Lafayette, LA, passed away the morning of April 13th, 2008 at aged 57.
In addition to his announcing career, Jim hosted a successful local radio program and had a recording career that included five albums. After giving up his radio show, Jim and his wife, Anna, opened Jim Olivier’s Home Improvement Co. Cowboy Bob Kelly reports that Jim was a long-time member and supporter of the Gulf Coast Wrestler’s Reunion.
Bill Savage 04/13/08
Bill Savage, originally from Joliet, Illinois, died April 13th, 2008 in Portland, Oregon. His wife Betty was at his side.
Bill had been hospitalized for close to a year suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease. He was able to recognize wrestlers when they came to visit him, but not very many other people.
Wild Bill Savage worked in Texas, the west coast and Pacific Northwest from 1952 until 1968. He was the referee for Don Owen after he retired for approximately six years. He also worked under a mask (Texas) as the Cyclops.
Buffalo Jim 04/06/08
James “Buffalo Jim” Barrier, a colorful wrestling promoter and auto mechanic in Las Vegas was found dead in a hotel room in Las Vegas on Sunday. Jim, who had a running feud with former Crazy Horse Too owner Rick Rizzolo, was a colorful local character. The coroner has blamed the death on natural causes.
Sara Lee 04/05/08
Sara Eugene Miquet nee Ray, known to wrestling fans as Sara Lee, passed away at the age of 76 on Saturday, April 5, 2008 due to complications from Alzheimer’s Disease. Sara was a professional wrestler in the Tennessee area as was her husband of 51 yeas, Francois Miquet, aka Corsica Joe.
Barney Tucker 03/30/08
Barney Tucker passed away on March 30, 2008 at the age of 88. Tucker was the top referee for the Eddie Quinn promotion in Canada and was also the brother of wrestler Al Tucker who died several years ago. Barney was a Lifetime CAC Member and Scott Teal had recently commenced doing an Ear article on Mr. Tucker, who had perhaps one of the greatest recollections of wrestling details of any man ever working the wrestling business.
Ron Mooney 03/30/08
On Sunday, March 30, Arizona Wrestling lost one of its greatest fans and dearest friends when Ron Mooney passed away at age 51. Ron was also a CAC Life Member.
Ron was a long-time fan and supporter of Arizona Wrestling and a real friend to all who knew him. As a photographer, Ron used his time and skills to produce promotional photographs for a lot of the young wrestlers who would have had no other way to get them. He was so loved that he was the only non-wrestler invited to the annual Arizona Wrestling Legends reunion.
Carl Engstrom 03/29/08
Carl Engstrom, a former CAC Honoree, passed away on March 29, 2008. Carl and his wife of 53 years, Louise, had been residing in Waterford WI for the past five years.
Ron Slinker 03/28/08
David “Ron” Slinker, who was a championship kickboxer before turning to professional wrestling, passed away on March 28, 2008. No details of his death are available. Slinker was known for his martial arts gimmick in Florida and wrestled there on and off for over 10 years with tours of the Knoxville, Memphis, Georgia and Mid South areas in between.
Luis Magana 03/24/08
LUIS MAGANA, the Spanish voice of the Olympic Auditorium for many years passed away at age 97 this past Sunday. Luis handled the boxing and wrestling publicity for the Spanish media and did the wrestling announcing seen on the Spanish International Network for years in the 70’s and 80’s on KMEX-TV channel 34. Funeral services will be Friday at Resurrection Church, 3324 Opal Street, East Los Angeles.
Chase Tatum 03/23/08
Chase Tatum, 34, of Atlanta was found dead at his home on Sunday. Tatum wrestled for World Championship Wrestling and recently acted in the film, “Who’s Your Caddy?” Tatum won a bodybulding contest as a young man and entered a career as a personal trainer. It was in this line of work that he met a WCW personality who encouraged him to try wrestling. Chase was accepted in his tryout and wrestled for about two years including a stint as a part of the “No Limit Soldiers.”
Bestia Salvaje 03/20/08
Juan Manuel Rodriguez, better known to wrestling fans as Bestia Salvaje, died at 7:30 Thursday morning from what is believed as complications from liver disease. Bestia turned 46 in February was very sick for the past few weeks. His last known booking was in January also in Guadalajara. Bestia debuted on 6/12/83 at the same building that he had has last known match at, Arena Jalisco, and was one of the top rudos of the 90’s.
Gary Hart 03/16/08
Gary Richard Williams, known to wrestling fans throughout the United States as Gary Hart passed away on the afternoon of Sunday, March 16. While Gary started his career as a wrestler, he is most remembered as one of wrestling’s all time great managers and bookers.
Audrey Laskin 03/15/08
Audrey Laskin, the wife of professional wrestler and CAC member Jack Laskin, passed away Saturday, March 15th, 2008. Audrey was a frequent guest at the CAC banquet/reunions in both Studio City and Las Vegas. Recently, she was confined to a wheel chair, but continued to lead a normal life that included caring for her family. She was in her early 80s.
“Big” Al Ansel 03/07/08
A good friend of the AWA, “Big” Al Ansel, passed away the afternoon of March 7. Al had been sick with a variety of illnesses over the past several years. Many of the AWA tapes from the 70’s and 80’s have Big Al sitting at ringside near the timekeeper’s table. He would help the AWA office in so many ways, not only doing odd jobs at the various arenas from Minneapolis to Winnipeg, but he, Al DeRusha, and Jim “Iron Duke” Mitchell would work together booking various spot shows.
Don Curtis 03/06/08
Legendary amateur wrestler, professional wrestler and professional wrestling promoter Don Curtis (Beitelman) passed away after suffering a stroke several days ago. Don was a fixture in Florida wrestling for many years and is fondly remembered by all who knew him.
“Stunner” February 2008
Standout South African wrestler, Hannes Van Zyl (Stunner) has died as a result of what is believed to be a motorcycle accident. He was an integral roster member of the African Wrestling Alliance (formerly African Wrestling Federation and one of their head trainers.
Johnny Weaver 02/14/08
Johnny Weaver, a Mid-Atlantic legend, passed away on February 14, 2008 at the age of 73. Weaver, who still worked as a deputy for the Charlotte, NC Police Department, did not report for work on the morning of February 15 and his colleagues found him deceased in his home. SLAM! Wrestling has a complete obituary of this legendary wrestler here.
“The Elephant Boy” 02/06/08
Obituary by Tom Burke
We have known him under various ring names, Elephant Boy, Wildman of Borneo and Tony Olivas. However, to many, in the last ten years of his life, he was simply known as Fr. Bill, a Roman Catholic Priest of the order of Augustinian Friars.
The story of Elephant Boy comes full circle after a round about life with being a star athlete in high school, off to the seminary as a young man, leaving the cloister of that life to join the US Army at the start of World War II. It was during his time in a army camp in England that he befriend a fellow GI named, Bobby Coleman, a pro wrestler. The grappler from California started to train Bill in the art of professional wrestling and soon they were having matches for the allied troops and also in various towns around the camp. D-Day came and Private Olivas was in the midst of the action seeing fellow comrades on his right and left side gunned down. His time in the Army was extended after VE day due to his linguistic skills as he was assigned to interview POW’s.
When he returned home, he felt that he was not for the priesthood and decided to contact his former army buddy, Bobby Coleman, to see if he could get into the US wrestling scene. Contact was made and Bill was sent to Chicago. It was in the Windy City that his whole image would change when he met Jack Pfefer. The mastermind of gimmickry converted Bill Olivas into The Elephant Boy with a Slave Girl named Moolah. They worked as a duo for Jack for some 8 years.
He then went on his own and became one of the first postwar American wrestlers to campaign around the world. England and the rest of Europe, the Union of South Africa as it was known then, New Zealand, Mexico, Cuba and many other
Upon returning to the States he continued to wrestle. His life had changed since he met a lady in Arizona and they married. After his days in wrestling were over he and his wife managed a Health Spa in Ojai, California. It was during this time that Bill became active in his local Roman Catholic parish of St. Thomas. He became an ordained permanent deacon. When his wife passed away he became more involved in the church and took steps to join the order of the Augustinian Friars. He was welcomed and became a brother of the order. As years went by he felt the calling to the priesthood. His studies continued till he was ordained. A bookmark in the History of the Catholic Church in the United States since, at the time of his ordination, he was oldest man ever to be ordained a priest at the age of 76.
When he was honored at the CAC 2000 Reunion he said that he was proud of his days as a wrestler having traveled the world, seeing old friends at CAC, but that he would continue to work in the service of the Lord till the final count. The eighteen months he spent at a nursing home not just as a patient, but also as a the unofficial chaplain of the home.
His words still resound in my mind when he would always remind me that God Is Love, his motto.
He passed away on February 6, 2008.
Babe Sharon 02/06/08
Armando Aro, who wrestled in Mexico’s AAA promotion from 1994 to 1999 passed away in Juarez at the age of 55 due to heart problems. Sharon was an “exotico” wrestler and part of a trio with Sergio el Hermoso and Bello Greco. He is credited by AAA as as a forerunner of the current crop of exoticos.
Arman Hussein Date Unknown
Mike Barber, a star of the 1960s, 70s and 80s under the name Arman Hussein passed away recently in a Dallas, TX nursing home. Barber wrestled in many territories and was very highly thought by his peers. Funeral services were January 4, 2008 at Rahma Funeral Home with burial at Muslim Cemetery of Dallas, TX.
Randy Barber 01/01/08
Randy Barber, a frequent television worker, passed away on January 1. No further information is available at this time.