RIP TITO MONTEZ , MAN OF THE PEOPLE
He began his pro wrestling career at the tender age of 16, and by the time he retired some 30 years later, Tito Montez had solidly cemented the bond between himself and fans in western America.
Tito passed away at age 78 on January 30, 2013, in Oregon.Â He had suffered with Alzheimerâ??s disease for some time, and succumbed to complications of it.
Born Edward Montemayor in Texas, he caught the wrestling fever early, largely trained himself, and debuted in San Antonio in about 1950 against veteran Herbie Freeman.Â Smaller in stature than the usual matman, the youngster more than made up for any physical shortfall with sizzling speed, a never-say-die style and a sincere and sparkling personality.Â He developed fast and toughened up quickly, and made his first foray into the Arizona territory in the 1958-59 season as Tito Montez.Â The bond with the fans formed fast, but little did anyone suspect that Montez would wind up being the all-time fan favorite through his subsequent runs there in 1960-62, and 1969-77.
In the highlight of his career, Tito was on top on a card that holds the all-time Arizona gate record, 14,000 in Phoenix Municipal Stadium.Â Not only that, he won his match, refereed by legendary boxing hero Joe Louis.Â He held the state heavyweight championship on six occasions, and is a member of both the Oregon/Washington Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame, and the Western States Wrestling Hall of Fame.
Another favorite area was the Pacific Northwest, and Don Owensâ?? bustling Oregon promotion.Â Tito was there a number of times, appearing variously as Eddie Sullivan, Eddie Montez, Eddie Oâ??Hara and Tito Montimayor.Â Â Regardless of the name he used, his tearaway style was an instant hit and lodged him lastingly in the minds and hearts of the PNW faithful.
The recipient of CACâ??s Menâ??s Wrestling Award in 2003, Tito displayed his lasting sense of gratitude when he requested that his sister, Marie Johnson, present the honor.Â Marie had actively supported his desire to become a pro wrestler all those years ago, even driving him to matches around Texas when he didnâ??t have a driverâ??s license in his youth.
A long-time member of CAC, Tito was easy to spot at the reunions in his black cowboy hat, colorful garb and plenty of gold.Â Though the image might have seemed a little flashy, Tito was not.Â He was sincere and down to earth, the common man, and enjoyed talking with fellow wrestlers and fans alike.Â On the reunion floor he was almost always with Maggie, his wife and business partner in T&S Carpet Cleaners in Oregon in his final years, and together they made a handsome and striking couple.