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akron armory by dale pierce

VIEWS: 122 PAGES: 23

									           THIS SATURDAY NIGHT AT THE AKRON ARMORY                                            Steele would later go on to stardom in the WWF, retire to Florida and make a
                        BY DALE PIERCE                                                        decent living working the convention circuit.

Remembering old Akron Armory is easy for people my age or beyond, for it was                  REMEMBERING BULL CURRY “Shut up! Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!” This
the place to be every Saturday night, if you wanted to see hot wrestling action.              was the constant cry that echoed from Bull Curry’s mouth as he held his ears and
These days are gone. Like Chippewa Lake, Fallon’s Play Land, Jack Horner’s                    tried to block out the jeering of the crowd “Stop it! Stop it! Stop it!” These were
Restaurant, Meyers Lake and Thacker’s Hamburgers, this building went by the                   the words Bull would shout out as he grabbed the side of his head and cowered in
wayside. Shadows from the past still remain. On the hill a few blocks above Main              the corner when his opponent gained an upper hand. You could hit him in the
Street, the lone statue of the guardsman still holds his vigil in a park. The                 stomach, step on his feet or kick him in the balls, but no matter where he should
building he once stood sentinel to was long since been demolished. I used to go to            have been hurting, it always registered by his ear. These trademarks made Bull
the old arena every summer when we made the trip back to Akron from our                       Curry one of the most hated villains in Akron. He was uncanny as far as his
Phoenix home. Booing the heels such as Kurt Von Hess or Killer Tim Brooks                     behavior went, but when combined with his appearance, to see him was to loathe
became as much a part of our annual June rituals as did family reunions. Walter               him. Curry had thick black hair, resembling someone who was part man and part
Moore was the promoter there for as long as I can remember. He was running                    buffalo. He had one massive eyebrow running across his forehead, a mangled
back when my father was going there, before I was even born. I have never been                nose and a number of scars from previous battles. He added new meaning to
able to pin down an exact death date for him, as he evidently left Akron when he              ugliness. There wasn’t really much to Curry’s style. He would stomp, hit, slam
quit promoting and headed for Florida. By all accounts, however, he outlived the              and kick, until his opponent could take no more and fired back. Then, just when it
actual building he worked to fill. The armory was torn down in the early 1980s.               appeared he would be beaten, he would do something illegal to win, such as
In any case, let’s take a look back at some of the people and tales from this arena,          pulling a pair of brass knuckles from his trunks and decking his enemy, all
which like the old Phoenix Madison Square Garden, Sunnyside Garden, Tucson                    conveniently hidden from the referee. Bull was a master at using dirty tactics, yet
Gardens, Cleveland Sports Arena and others from the past, live on only in                     his son, Fred, was a scientific star, known for the delivery of rapid dropkicks and
shadows. Let the ghosts of memories gone by come to life once more. Like much                 other sensational moves. It was odd to see the pair on the same card, with one
of the wrestling world itself, there is no rhyme or reason to the order of things             being jeered and the other cheered so wildly. Bull Curry died in 1985. He was
within this text. What I present is a hodge-podge of materials related to wrestling           buried in Hartford, Connecticut.
at this old building, in the order I felt like writing it all. If the reader happens to
be looking for a specific wrestler, he or she might have to skim through the text.            REMEMBERING JIM WRIGHT Big Jim Wright sometimes fought cleanly and
If his or her favorite wrestler has been ignored, all I can suggest to do is hope for         sometimes broke the rules; depending on which role was to his advantage in
better luck next time and tell others about this book anyway. If the sales are high           whatever territory he happened to be in at the time. For many years, he traveled
enough, I might do a sequel. So, let the bell sound and let’s call the memories               throughout the USA and Canada, facing all comers. Some of the opponents he
back to life again.                                                                           squared off with included Don Arnold, Lou Thesz, Pancho Pico, Morris Shapiro
                                                                                              and others. During the 1950s, Wright made a swing of the Midwestern states. He
REMEMBERING DON ARNOLD During the 1950s, Don Arnold traveled the                              worked the Ohio circuit for a time, including appearances in Akron, Cleveland
entire USA, usually as a popular “baby face” or “good guy” on the wrestling                   and other major cities. It was not in Ohio, however, that Jim Wright stepped into
circuit. He worked Ohio as one of his varied stops and had some shows in Akron.               legend. In 1963, he was taking part in a tag team match at the old Phoenix
A muscular veteran who entered wrestling after World War II, Arnold was a                     Madison Square Garden in Arizona, when something went terribly wrong. After
handsome man with great charisma. He also had many fan clubs, a huge                          being slammed and pounded in the ring, he made his way to his corner and
following among female admirers and a string of ex-wives to prove it. Usually, in             tagged out. Looking somewhat worse for wear, he slumped on the ropes, where
his Midwestern stints, he was paired up with hated villains such as Johnny                    he collapsed without warning. He grabbed his chest, evidently suffering sudden
Valentine, Bull Curry and the evil “Nazi” grappler, Hans Schmidt. For a finishing             chest pains. He fell from the ring apron, striking his head on the hard wooden
move, Arnold often used an airplane spin, lifting an opponent over his head and               floor. He was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital. Either the heart attack
whirling him about before dropping him on the mat. He would then score an easy                he’d suffered or the blow to his head would have been enough to kill him, but the
pin. In spite of decades spent as a hero, Arnold would end his career as one of the           one-two combination was mortal for sure.
most hated heels around. Venturing toward the warmer climate of California, he
worked under a mask as Doctor Death in the Los Angeles area and as himself in                 REMEMBERING BILL BETHUNE Whatever happened to Bill Bethune would
Phoenix. He proved as capable as a man breaking the rules as he ever was                      be a question on par with whatever happened to The Flying Dutchman, as he was
following them. “The name of Don Arnold just brought instant heat,” commented                 on the wrestling scene for a short time in the early 1970s and dropped out of sight
wrestler Flying Billy Anderson at an old-timer reunion in Arizona during the                  as rapidly as he arrived. He made various appearances in Akron and other towns,
1990s. “Jody Arnold, an area wrestler of great capability himself, made a career              usually working in preliminary matches, but holding his own in these. He even
as the “nephew” of Don Arnold, with Don of course being in on introducing him                 gained some wins. For some reason, he appeared to be being groomed for bigger
to the Phoenix fans. Jody was hated right from the start, simply because people               things, but these never materialized. Physically, Bethune looked much like a
believed him to be related to Don Arnold.” It was a classic example of passing                heftier version of David Selby when he played Quentin Collins in Dark Shadows.
the torch. On his way out, Don helped someone “get over” who was on his way in.               He had these bushy sideburns that looked like two sweep brooms glued to each
Outside the ring, Don Arnold continued to live a strange and untraditional life. A            side of his face, slick black hair and a penetrating look in his eyes. Like Quentin,
naturalist for many years, he retired to a nudist colony, where he would                      one could have expected him to turn into a werewolf at some point during his
eventually pen a book on nudism. Likewise being a militant atheist, he took part              bout. Where Bill Bethune vanished to would be anyone’s guess. This remains one
in a number of meetings and protests headed by nonbelievers in the San Diego                  of the mysteries of the ages.
area, speaking for the separation of church and state. As of this writing, he is still
alive and back with one of his past wives in a nudist colony.                                 REMEMBERING FRED CURRY Like Bull Curry, mentioned before, Fred
                                                                                              Curry had a long career in the Midwest. Unlike his father, he had normal
REMEMBERING GEORGE STEELE “Good. I’m glad they tore the place                                 eyebrows, though he had the same curly-buffalo type of hair. He also differed in
down. I hated walking up all those steps.” Clearly, not everyone loved the Akron              his style, for he followed the rules, was relatively polite to fans, at least when the
Armory, as George Steele said in a phone conversation with me several years ago,              cameras were rolling and utilized flying moves that were considered sensational
making note of a number of steps greeting people from the front entrance While                in his day. During his various Akron appearances, Curry feuded with the top
teaching school up in Detroit by day, Steele worked the Ohio/Michigan circuit by              heels, but most notably Killer Tim Brooks. He and Brooks had one particularly
night and on weekends. Since the traditional night for wrestling in Akron was on              savage bout at the Armory in 1974, which ended in a double pin, setting up for a
Saturday, he was seen there often. One of the most torrid bouts Steele had in                 well-packed rematch. I make note of Curry’s attitude with the fans and how,
Akron was a confrontation with Tony Marino in the mid- 1970s. Both men                        sometimes, it could leave a little to be desired. This relates directly to an incident
seemed a little disturbed they were on the opener, rather than a main event and               when I was a kid seeking autographs. After one of his matches, I approached
sought to give everyone the wildest bouts of the night. Wild, it was. Steele lived            Curry for a signature. “If I sign one, I’ll have to sign them all,” he grumbled,
up to his reputation for using foreign objects, by pulling a large bottle opener out          evidently wanting only to get back to the locker room. He then looked around,
of his trunks, whacking his opponent with it, hiding it and repeating the routine             realized there were no other kids seeking autographs except me and signed the
again. Finally, Marino exploded and fought back, like Popeye gulping spinach for              book.
strength after swallowing all the bullshit he could from Bluto. He ended up
chasing Steele back to the locker room and hurling a broom at him as he fled. The             REMEMBERING RONNIE LEE Ronnie Lee was an Akron talent, born, raised
broom hit the light fixtures above the dressing room door and nearly broke them,              and trained to wrestle in that town. Though he appeared in preliminary matches
which would surely have come out of the wrestler’s paycheck had he been less                  on many of the Sheik’s cards, he was seen in Akron quite often, either wrestling
fortunate. His luck held out and the lighting system was not demolished. George               or at least utilized as a referee. “We’re going to have to fly him in,” was a joke
                                                                                              circulated inside the locker room, for in truth, he only lived a short distance from

the Armory and subsequent buildings where shows were later held. Lee outlasted                   the weekdays, he worked at a boiler factory in Barberton. His skills as a
the Akron Armory, to be “flown in” for cards operated by Domenic Denucci and                     metalworker were well-known though, as he constructed a number of rings for
Bruce Barker at the Firestone Union Hall in the early 1980s. Bad knees forced                    varied promotions after the Akron Armory closed down. In the ring, the
him out of wrestling and he eventually retired to Florida.                                       mannerisms were predictable. The war dance, the chops for a finisher, the
                                                                                                 feathers and the victory cries. Though he was out of wrestling for several years
REMEMBERING THE TERRIBLE TURK Ali “The Terrible Turk” Baba                                       and in his 80’s at the time, Don Red Cloud showed up at a MEWL card in
might well have tempted fate, as three previous terrible Turks all died unpleasant               Alliance in early 2006 and greeted a few of the older people he knew. He then
deaths. There was a Terrible Turk who drowned in a boating accident when,                        announced his plans to move to North Carolina. He has since evidently done so.
legend has it, he was weighed down by a money belt he refused to remove as he
tried to swim to safety. Another Terrible Turk was the victim of tragedy. This                   REMEMBERING JIMMIE BANKS Jimmie Banks used a number of aliases as
Terrible Turk was killed some years down the road, when he died in a car crash                   well as his own real name when wrestling. In other places he was known as Sugar
outside Phoenix, while driving the back roads to a show. The third Terrible Turk,                Bear Brown, Ape Man Andrews, Kasavubu and a few more handles. This rotund
known better as Ali Pasha, dropped over dead from a heart attack in a                            black wrestler had loads of charisma, when either working as a hell or a baby face;
Pennsylvania locker room, after finishing a match, while a host of horrified                     depending on where he was needed. Aside from cards in the Akron area, Banks
wrestlers looked on. This particular Terrible Turk defied the odds and hopefully                 made it to the WWF televised tapings and occasional house shows as an opener.
lived or is living a happy life away from the ring. Many fans during his main run                In the independent world, however, he was a much bigger star. He proved to be a
in Akron, however, undoubtedly would have liked to have tied a money belt                        top draw for Ken Jugan’s Three-Rivers Wrestling in the late 1970s, which ran
filled with silver dollars to his waist and thrown him into the center of Summit                 spot shows throughout Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia. In 1982, Banks
Lake. A stocky, bald villain with a thin mustache, Ali “The Terrible Turk” Baba                  took ill and died from kidney failure. He was buried in Akron. Shortly after his
certainly looked like something from Tales of the Arabian Nights, but                            death, a group of wrestlers got together at the Firestone Union Hall and held a
appearances alone were not enough. He had his share of wins, but more than a                     memorial card in his honor to raise funds for the family. The Masked Convicts,
fair amount of losses as well. Nonetheless, he proved himself to be a capable heel               Bill Coleman, Tom Lynch, Malcolm Monroe, Bobby Golden, Ed Bonzo, Larry
who gained decent heat from the fans. Often, he would have to make a run for the                 Winters, Marcial Bovee and Zebra Kid were some of the participants.
locker room to avoid cigarette butts, popcorn boxes, coffee cups and other
assorted missiles hurled by fans from striking him right on his hairless head. A                 REMEMBERING DON KENT Don Kent came to stardom in the early 1960s,
flying carpet would have come in handy during such moments.                                      though he had been wrestling professionally since 1956, when he left his
                                                                                                 Midwestern home base for the American West. In the Phoenix area, he became a
REMEMBERING HANS SCHMIDT After World War II it became the thing to                               regular, at least during the winter months, where he feuded with all the top
hate the German and the Japanese, long after the fighting ended. Wrestling                       regional stars. Pancho Pico, Ray Gordon, Frankie Cain, Cowboy Bob Ellis and
jumped on this by creating a number of pseudo-ethnic villains, many of whom                      Luis Martinez all had lengthy feuds with him, but the greatest series of all came
never visited Tokyo or Munich in their lives. Hawaiian grapplers, Charlie Kalani                 facing Tito Montez. For nine weeks straight, Kent and Montez packed the old
and Harold Sakata became Toru Tanaka and Mister Moto. Jack Adkisson became                       Phoenix Madison Square Garden, meeting in every type of match imaginable.
Fritz Von Erich and Karl Something Or Another, who actually served as a                          Finally, Montez pinned Kent in a cage bout and with the fans finally going home
frogman in the war, became a Nazi reject named Karl Von Hess. On the same                        happy, the attendance was down the following week. Eventually, Kent would
scripting, Guy Larose, who had been born in Canada on February 7, 1925,                          return to the Ohio area and though he had been born Leo Smith in Indiana, he
became Hans Schmidt. As a smirking, stomping Nazi, Schmidt built up an                           decided to become an Australian. Teaming with another man with an
alarming string on wins. Occasionally, he was disqualified or went to a draw, but                international identity crisis, one Giacoma Costa, who had become Al Costello of
the hype was never having him pinned until Argentina Rocca did it on national                    Sidney, they formed a legendary tag team. The Fabulous Kangaroos became their
television, thus creating a natural feud that would run for years. During the late               collective identity and they caught on. Brandishing boomerangs, fake accents and
1950’s, one major wrestling magazine defined Schmidt as “too rough for ratings”                  silly outback hats, they mauled their way to the World Tag Team title after a win
and refused to place him in their top ten list, designating him to a category all his            over Ben Justice & The Stomper in a special tournament. They would continue to
own. Schmidt headlined in Akron for many matches, but one of the strangest                       wrestle as partners for several years, but would see singles action as well. The
came in October of 1954. During this encounter, without any real rhyme or                        addition of George Cannon as their manager gained them even more heat with the
reason for doing so, Schmidt was able to convert the loathed Buddy “Nature                       spectators. It was reportedly this third man who created “The Kangaroo Victory
Boy” Rogers to a roll of instant “baby face” just by stepping into the ring with                 Dance” which involved his men joining hands and shaking each other after each
him. In this battle of evildoers, the crowd went with Buddy from the start and the               win. The gesture looked ridiculous, but drove the spectators into a murderous
blond bad guy played it to the hilt. At the start of the match he gave his                       rage. As a single, Costello seemed to find more action in Akron, while Kent was
characteristic strut, walked over to the corner where Schmidt stood watching and                 used more often in Canton, Detroit and Toledo. Some of his bloodiest brawls
went on to spit in that direction, before walking away. Schmidt retaliated by                    were not at the Armory, but in Canton’s War Memorial Auditorium, later the
walking up to Rogers and slapping him backward. Not to be outdone, Rogers rose,                  Civic Center, where he had some particularly brutal matches with Domenic
dusted himself off, went back to where Schmidt was waiting for him, stared him                   Denucci. In the summer of 1993, Don Kent took sick and died from leukemia. He
down and flattened him with a punch. All of this action took place before the                    was laid to rest within the Memorial Park Cemetery in Battle Creek, Michigan.
opening bell, which seemed to signal the start of a new World War. Rogers
managed to win the first of three falls, but Schmidt took the second via the use of              REMEMBERING LUIS MARTINEZ “What do Zoltan the Great and I have in
a wicked swinging neck breaker. In the third fall, all hell broke loose, with the                common, besides being wrestlers and managers who started out as ringside
ring falling apart. The two then took turns pounding the crap out of each other                  photographers?” asked The Time Traveler at in independent card in Dover, Ohio
with the broken turnbuckle, using it like a Flintstone club. Some record books                   during the summer of 2007, speaking to a group of newer grapplers, all old
have indicated Rogers scored a pin in this important third fall, but surviving 8mm               enough to be his children. “I’ll tell you. We both admired Luis Martinez. Zoltan
movie footage from the bout, though dark; implies Schmidt was disqualified. One                  got his in with wrestling by running a fan club for Martinez and I was one of the
way or another, Buddy walked away with the win and at least momentary                            members when we were both teenagers. Later, in 1984 or so, we both ended up
popularity with the fans, while the “German” was as hated as ever. Twenty years                  going into Canada, where Luis was running cards, working for the man we
later, Schmidt was still making the rounds, including stops in Akron at this very                idolized.” The Time Traveler was born in Akron, but spent most of his career in
same building he used to fill long before. During the summer of 1974, he and Big                 the Wild West, before returning to Ohio in 1998, where he remains active to this
Bill Miller wrestled each other for old time’s sake in what would have been a                    day. “Martinez was always a top draw in Tucson and Phoenix. When I was a
main event anywhere in the world some years before. Thought his bout was an                      teenager, I saw him do a series of matches when the Sheik tried running in the
opener, the two went all out, proving they still had their talents of old. They went             area. The one bout where Martinez fought Sheik was one of the bloodiest things
to a fifteen minute draw. Schmidt eventually retired, moved back to Canada and                   I’d ever seen. It started with Sheik cutting the shit out of Martinez and bloodying
tried to live as quiet a life as he could. As of this writing, he is still around, but far       him with that damned pencil of his. Martinez rolled out of the ring and did one of
withdrawn from wrestling. During his long career, Schmidt had many notable                       the greatest things I’d ever seen, for pumping up the crowd. He started running
feuds aside from those with Rocca, Miller and Graham as noted previously. Other                  around the ring to build up steam. Once he did it, then twice, while the people
lengthy programs included match-ups with Tiger Jeet Singh, Dick the Bruiser,                     applauded. They’d seen him do the very same thing years before at the Phoenix
Billy Watson, Don Arnold, Cowboy Bob Ellis, Vern Gagne, Lou Thesz, The                           Madison Square Garden and knew what was coming. He grabbed the
Mighty Igor, Tony Marino, Luis Martinez and Dick Hutton in various parts of the                  timekeeper’s hammer, came back in and started pounding the hell out of Sheik. It
USA. He even had a feud with fellow “Nazi” star, Baron Von Raschke at one                        was quite a comeback.” The Time Traveler stopped and continued the tale. “So
point late in his lifetime.                                                                      they both bloodied each other and just started brawling all over the place. After
                                                                                                 that, they started throwing all kinds of shit into the ring. Tables, chairs, the bell!
REMEMBERING DON RED CLOUD Don Red Cloud had the physical                                         All the other wrestlers came into the ring and did the separation, but Sheik broke
features of a cigar store Indian, but his real name was Herman Watson and during                 free and was doing that silly walk of his, pointing up at the lights and acting like

an idiot. Martinez came back through the cheap seats, rushed the ring again, and            whom he grew up watching as a little kid. Others tend to agree. “I think personal
pounded him one more time before he headed for the hills. It was one of the best            problems all hit him at once,” commented retired independent manager, Rainbow,
bouts ever and that made me a follower. I joined the Luis Martinez Fan Club that            “At least by what I have heard. He ran into trouble. If so, it’s a pity, because the
week.” Zoltan, on the other hand, grew up watching Martinez in the                          guy was evidently great in his time. I never saw him in action, but know who he
Ohio/Pennsylvania area, facing the likes of Don Kent, Ripper Collins and of                 is from the old pictures and a couple old videos that were taken off televised
course, the Sheik. Few wrestlers ever were able to “work a crowd” like Martinez             tapes and have made the rounds. Some of his matches with Bulldog Brower
and get them utterly behind his every move. Be it in the west, facing the likes of          survive to this day and there’s a lot that can be learned from them. The man had a
Don Arnold, Chuck Karbo or Sweet Daddy Watts, the Ohio area, facing Sheik,                  knack for getting the people up and behind him. In Ohio, I don’t think there was
Brower or Bull Curry or even up in Canada for his bloody feud with Scrap Iron               anyone more popular than he was. He was just so over with the fans, it was unreal.
Scranton that served as his last hurrah, he was always beloved by the people. No            Whatever did happen for sure, to spell the end of his era here, remains a real
one seems to ever recall him fighting as a bad guy. Martinez had numerous bouts             shame. He would have had to have been one of the most popular wrestlers to ever
in Akron over the years, facing the team of Fidel & Raoul Castillo in a wild feud. .        show his face in this area.” During the early 1970s, Powers worked the main
After retirement, Martinez disappeared from view and no one seemed to know                  event against Johnny Valentine in a massive mega-show held at Cleveland
what happened to him. There was gossip in the 1990’s that he had died and                   stadium, which featured wrestling action in three rings at once. It was a
another rumor had him living at a hospice in Chicago, with no memory of who he              forerunner to Wrestlemania, long before the WWF/WWE ever dreamed of
was or having ever been a wrestler. Neither tale proved completely true. In late            running their super shows. Aside from being a talented wrestler in his own right,
2005, two wrestling fans tracked Martinez down, visiting him at the nursing                 Powers also trained several people for the ring.
home where he stayed. Though he hardly spoke a word, he evidently recognized
his former friends. Testing his mental state, they asked him various questions,             REMEMBERING BOBO BRAZIL Bobo Brazil and Bearcat Wright were two
such as if he held memories of certain wrestlers. When names such as Bulldog                wrestlers who broke the color barrier in pro wrestling, when segregation was still
Brower, Bull Curry and Don Kent came up, Martinez made the sign of the cross,               very much alive. In many places, blacks were forced to wrestle other blacks, with
indicating he knew they were deceased. The only actual word that left his lips              intra-racial pairings being unheard of. Brazil not only faced a number of white
was a fond “Jimmy” when the name of Jimmy Valient came up. To be certain the                opponents at a time when such wasn’t done, but became a popular hero to all
wrestler still had some grasp of the situation at hand, one of his visitors asked for       races and remained so throughout his career. A tall, happy man, with a deep voice,
an autograph. Luis Martinez signed his name on a piece of paper and though the              flashy dressing style and love for big cigars, he made quite an appearance outside
writing was scarcely as flowery as it once had been, it was obvious the aging star          the ring as well as in it. His “Koko Butt”, which he named his head-butting
was aware of his identity, as well as his past. When asked how old he was, he               finishing move, was felt by many a bad guy around the world. Midwestern fans
would give no physical answer, but when 60, 70 and 80 came up, he simply                    were treated to continual matches pitting Brazil with The Sheik. They met not for
raised is thumb higher. At 90, he stopped and grinned. Though no one was certain,           months or years, but decades, trading wins and slamming the hell out of each
this would probably be close to correct, which in turn would have meant he was              other in front of many packed arenas. One of their greatest encounters came at
over 70 when he called it a career. “How he could have such great matches like              Cobo Hall in Detroit, which sadly saw Brazil losing the United States
some of the ones I have seen on tape just amazes me,” commented independent                 Championship back to The Sheik in a bout with Joe Louis as the referee. Brazil
wrestler Stinky the Garbage Man, who never saw or met Martinez live, but knew               made various appearances in Akron over the years, facing others who worked the
of his reputation. “They say he was blind as a bat without his glasses and                  Sheik’s territory (few people knew Sheik was the main promoter in the
whenever you see photos of him in his street clothes he has these really thick              Michigan/Ohio area, as we will deal with in more detail during his specific
spectacles like Mister Magoo. I heard he could really pack the beer away too, but           biography). Walter Moore sensed the popularity this man had and booked him
no matter how much he poured into himself, he was never seen physically drunk               whenever possible, but since the Akron promoter was never really keen on blood,
or abusive to anyone.” “That sounds about right,” confirmed The Time Traveler.              he always seemed to pit him against someone besides The Sheik. The late Champ
“When Zoltan and I went up to Canada, he brought him a case of beer and it was              Thomas spoke of working with Brazil on a carnival circuit before the latter really
gone within one evening, but he held himself together. He was also one hell of a            hit it big. He also produced pictures of the two of them facing each other to prove
cook. He made the best spaghetti I ever ate when we were up there. He cooked                the tale was no fabrication. “It was early in his career and the race issue was a big
for the whole crew.”                                                                        thing then,” Thomas explained. “What we did was use Brazil as a plant, having
                                                                                            him look like a mere fan coming to challenge wrestlers and since we were part of
REMEMBERING LORD ATHOL LAYTON Lord Athol Layton was used                                    a traveling show, no one ever caught on to what we were doing. I’d be there, with
primarily as a heel in the early part of his career, sipping tea and downgrading the        a line of other carnival wrestlers, with all of us supposedly taking on anyone
Americans as savages as opposed to the much more cultured British. He later                 brave enough from the people milling past the tent where our shows were held.
made a turn to become a popular fan favorite and later still, an announcer, before          When Brazil would come up and say something like “Do you all wrestle colored
he died from a heart attack. There are two things few wrestling fans ever realized          folks?” I would go into my act. “No! No! I’m not fighting some nigger! You
about him. Layton played the repentant thief on the cross next to Jesus in The              aren’t putting me in a ring with that black nigger! You send him packing now!
Greatest Story Ever Told, begging for the chance to have his sins washed clean              I’m not fighting some nigger!” Thomas then explained the reasoning behind this
and asking to be remembered in heaven. If you are a Bible reader you will know              supposed bigotry. The people would all be coming up to see what the fuss was
how the story goes. Layton was also an enthusiastic and devoted member of the               about and the carnival owner would step in, telling Brazil even though he was
Masons, holding membership in a lodge in Canada. During the latter days of his              black, he could face any of the wrestling stars he wanted and try to beat them. “I
career, Layton wrestled only when provoked. Usually a heel would attack him                 want him,” Brazil would then say, pointing right at me. “I want that man what
while being interviewed, which would drive him to the act of ripping off his                don’t like colored folks.” The bout would be set, the fans would all follow into
commentator’s jacket, firing judo chops and challenge the instigator to a bout.             the tent and buy the build up. Brazil would have his match with me and usually
The trend was repeated over and over again in Michigan, Ohio and Canada.                    win. Then, we would pack up and repeat the same thing in the next town.”
                                                                                            Thomas grinned happily when reflecting back on the performance. “Of course, it
REMEMBERING JOHNNY POWERS Johnny Powers enjoyed such                                        didn’t really matter to me what color Brazil was. It was all an act to get people
popularity for so long in the Ohio area, many fans forgot when he had blond hair            into the tent to see the matches and it worked, over and over. I’ve never been a
and wrestled as a villain under the guidance of Bobby Davis, who previously                 racist toward anybody in reality, but the audience didn’t need to know that”
managed Buddy Rogers and saw him as the next best thing to come along. He                   While the notorious “N word” is taboo in today’s society, such was clearly not
even used his own form of the Rogers trademark, a devastating Indian Death                  the case back then. I include the quote directly as Thomas made it to me to show
Lock that became a Powers Lock when he clamped it on A feud with Bulldog                    just how much times have changed and with it, the wrestling world. This also
Brower, however, turned Powers into an endearing fan favorite, especially when              shows directly, how Brazil capitalized on a bad situation and used it to his benefit.
he became the first man to make Brower submit in a match. Powers was always                 He again, helped pave the way to an end of racism in wrestling. This story will
more popular in Cleveland than in Akron, filling the Cleveland Sports Arena on              continue later, with the section on Bearcat Wright. Joe Savoldi would later be
numerous occasions. He likewise developed a series of health spas in the early              credited for taking Brazil out of the carnival circuit and placing him in house
1970’s, before a nasty divorce sent him into financial ruin. He eventually headed           shows. Brazil continued to wrestle until the point where he was physically
back to his native Canada and stepped away from wrestling. Powers did make                  incapable, as did his eternal rival, The Sheik. It is said that during one of their
various appearances in Akron over the years. On one wild evening before the                 final encounters, when asked for identification when applying for a license, Sheik
screaming crowd, he wrestled one of his arch-rivals, The Sheik, in a savage                 showed the athletic commissioner some form of senior citizen card. The beloved
Armory Bout. The match was an absolute brawl. On another occasion in 1973,                  Brazil died in 1998, following a long illness, in Benton Harbor, Michigan. . . .
Powers faced Eric the Red in a bout that had the people sitting on the edge of
their seats. Powers lost his North American championship that night to his hated            REMEMBERING DR. JERRY GRAHAM “If you hear a story about Jerry
enemy. Though he has not been seen in Ohio in many years, people still talk                 Graham, it’s true. No matter how weird it is, it’s true.” These were the words of
about him. Contemporary wrestler, J.T. Lightning, doesn’t seem to have too                  Eddie Sullivan several years ago at an old timer’s reunion in Arizona, where he
much good to say about anyone, but he always speaks highly of Johnny Powers,                and Phil Melby continued to tell tale after tale about the peculiar, yet

exceptionally capable villain. While big on talent; his battles with mental illness       bringing the saga, both good and bad, to an end. “Ohio fans just hated him,”
and alcoholism proved to be his undoing, again and again. Be it blamed on                 explained Crumby. “I was a little kid at the time and I hated him. He was this big,
experiences in World War II that caused flashbacks, an addiction to booze or              fat, obnoxious bastard who just acted like he was better than everyone else.
other factors, Graham was considered a liability to most promotions. “The offices         Instead of going out there and hollering, he was real slow and deliberate during
would book him and use him as long as they could, but they eventually let him go,         his televised interviews. He spoke calmly, but with this voice that just sopped
time and time again, because he would do something foolish to screw it up for             with arrogance. He had people hating him, just by his way of talking. It carried
himself,” Sullivan continued. “He wasn’t stupid by any means. In fact, I believe          over into his matches, which was the general idea. From everything I’ve heard,
his doctorate was real. I know he was a licensed hypnotist and when sober                 Ohio wasn’t the only place where this happened. They hated him all over the
enough, made a great motivational speaker. The funny thing is, he couldn’t                USA, in Japan, in Australia and God knows where else! He was one of the best
motivate himself.” “I went to Grand Canyon College with Graham’s real son,                villains ever. It’s just a damned shame he couldn’t keep himself together. His
Tom,” commented The Time Traveler. “He told me some interesting childhood                 personal life was a constant disaster and that’s what kept him from going further
stories. There was a big rift between the two of them, but I think before the end         than he did.”
came he did manage to track his father down and make some sort of peace with
him. I do distinctly recall he never called his father “dad” in out conversations,        REMEMBERING MAN MOUNTAIN DEAN A gigantic, bearded man who
but simply referred to him as “Jerry” whenever he told any stories. There was a           always mauled his opponents, Man Mountain Dean enjoyed a national run during
lot of heat there, but I guess in the end things balanced out.” The Time Traveler         the 1950’s. He also may be seen as one of the many grapplers engaging in a tug-
and California promoter Ed Ahrens, along with Johnny Legend, Rainbow and                  of-war with a gigantic ape in Mighty Joe Young, where he, Primo Carnera, The
Vandal Drummond, were five of the only people to visit Graham in the hospice              Angel and others come out on the losing end of the contest. In the wrestling ring,
where he died in 1997. At the time, the rotund wrestler was out of his head and           Dean had a mangling style that won him more jeers than cheers. The Akron
rambling. “He could only recognize you now and again, but he would eventually             Armory was one of the many scenes where he delivered his brand of mayhem
fade out,” Traveler went on. “The nurses were saying you had to speak only                from time to time. Dean was born Frank Leavitt in 1891 and died in 1953. He
English around him as hearing any other language would send him into fits. He             was laid to rest at the Marietta National Cemetery in Marietta, Georgia. .
would shit the bed, roll it up and throw it at them. I can’t help but think what a
sad end it was to his career. He was also rambling on about how many old                  REMEMBERING BULLDOG BROWER Bulldog Brower was an odd case, for
wrestlers had visited him, when in truth, there had only been us and I think              he was usually jeered and reviled, especially in Akron, thought here were times
Drummond earlier. We only went once ourselves, because it was just so                     when he was cheered madly by the every same crowd. It depended on what
depressing.” The Time Traveler managed Graham and Ed Ahrens used him on                   wrestler he was pitted against. If he faced Johnny Powers or Moose Cholak, he
California cards for whatever name value was left with the oncelegendary star.            was booed. If he faced The Sheik or Waldo Von Erich, he could do no wrong.
Graham worked for them as he desperately needed money. An ironic ending for a             Born Richard Gland in Canada, Brower was build like the proverbial brick
man who once lit cigars with burning twenties in public and rented entire hotel           shithouse. He was known for his extreme strength and for delivering one of the
floors for wild parties! Though originally a solo act as a wrestler, Graham               most murderous-looking punches in the game, where he would contort his whole
brought several “brothers” into the wrestling game and teamed with them,                  body, twist himself around like a corkscrew and let the blows fly. “I remember
including Luke (Grady Johnson), Billy (Wayne Coleman) and Eddie (Ed Gossett).             one summer in 1971 or so, when the Armory was closed for repairs. Wrestling
He helped train many others to wrestle and for a brief time, operated a wrestling         was held at the old Loews Theatre, now the Civic Theatre in Akron and Brower
school in Phoenix. Midwestern America proved to be an area where Jerry was a              was undergoing one of his stints as a good guy. He faced Waldo Von Erich and
big draw, as were his respective pseudo-brothers, though again, he was                    hurled the German into the ropes. On the rebound, he hit him with one of those
considered a liability. Further east in New York, he wore out his welcome for             punches and knocked Von Erich at least two feet into the air. It was the
many years after he caused a massive riot at Madison Square Garden, when he,              damnedest thing I’d ever seen. Brower lost that bout by disqualification, but the
Dick the Bruiser, Ed Carpentier and Argentina Rocca engaged in a blood bath               people cheered him like Jesus back from the grave.” A few years later, the very
that drove fans past the breaking point. “In Ohio, Graham’s last big run came in a        same crowd would be hollering for Brower’s scalp when wrestling returned to the
feud with Tony Marino,” stated Bob Crumby, a Dover-based fan. “They did this              Armory and Bulldog was selected as the man to face Andre the Giant in a special
thing where he and Marino had a bout in Detroit, where they both ended up                 showing. This time, there was no doubting who was or wasn’t the bad guy in the
bloody. This was shown on television and used to launch a series of matches all           encounter. The match took place on August 10, 1974, amid much hype and saw
over the place. It was going great and then, all of a sudden, things ended without        both men counted out in this wild brawl. Brower was likewise known for biting
any conclusion. More than likely, Graham got fired again.” “He was always                 his opponents like a dog, as his nickname suggested. He would also hide things
getting fired,” Eddie Sullivan confirmed. “There was this time where he was               like plastic knives, brass knuckles and chains in his trunks, to use at an opportune
brought into a new territory and the promoter set him up in a motel. He put his           time on his opponent, or when feeling more direct, would use a folding chair like
two sons in a room directly across from him and ordered them not to let him               a club. When he felt like using holds, he won most of his matches with a
leave the room to buy booze. Anyway, Graham got hold of a maid by opening the             backbreaker or on some occasions, with a simple full nelson. Aside from his
bathroom window and gave her money to buy two bottles of booze, which he                  unsuccessful bid to beat Andre, Brower had several encounters at the Armory
started drinking on. Now this promoter had also purchased a new suit for him to           with Johnny Powers and other names. During his Armory runs, he was usually
wear when showing up at the card, but after drinking, he decided he didn’t like           the heel, such as another time when he brutally mauled Ron Martinelli in an
the color, so he flagged down the maid through the back window again and paid             opening bout. Brower’s career was not limited to the Midwestern states, as he
her to go get some blue dye. He dyed the suit in the bath tub and put it on, still        appeared throughout America, Canada, Japan and Australia. Other opponents
soaking wet and dripping dye all over the place. The two sons knew they were in           included Bruno Sammartino and Pedro Morales at a time when the WWE was
for it when they went to get him and there he was, drunk as a skunk, with this            still the WWF and before as the WWWF. In various towns along the way, for a
ruined suit on, staggering in front of them.” There was evidently another time            number of different promoters, he was considered a draw. He was used well in St.
where the promoters billed him as a wild man and kept him inside a truck until            Louis by Sam Muchnick. Brower likewise became famous for his psychotic
the show. They backed the truck into the arena, opened it and there he was,               interviews, where he would scream, rant and behave like a man with a red brick
passed out beyond the doors. Again, he was fired. “There was this other time              for a brain. He was one of the best villains ever on the mike and his style was
where Graham was paid to haul a trailer with a trained bear to the arenas, because        copied by many. As he grew older, a diabetic condition continually grew worse
he drove this big pink car with a lot of power to it,” explained Phil Melby. “Any         for Brower, who eventually died from complications related to the ailment. He
way, one time the trailer broke down, so already drunk; Graham took the bear out,         passed away in the 1990s. . An era came to an end.
put it in the seat next to him and drove it to the arena like a human passenger.”
Why was a person like Graham never placed in a mental institution, rather than            REMEMBERING CHUCK RICHARDS Essentially, Chuck Richards made a
simply fired or arrested? “He was institutionalized in Phoenix for a while,”              career out of doing “carpenter work” in the wrestling world or losing on a
explained wrestler Mike Gordon. “He freaked out in the hospital when his mother           continual basis to make other men look better. Like a carpenter constructing a
died, went back to his car and got out this shotgun. He came tearing back into the        house, he built up his opponents in the eyes of the fans, making them look like
hospital, scooped up his mother’s corpse under one arm and with this gun in the           monsters by what they did to him. He laughed all the way to the bank. Richards
other, was just batting everyone away from him. It was a miracle he didn’t kill           seldom had matches at the Armory itself, as his main function was to lose on the
someone. Anyway, he got outside, saw all the police there and realized what hew           televised tapings at the studio instead, where Johnny Valentine, Hans Schmidt
as doing might not have been too good of a thing. They put him in the nut house           and others continually stomped him to the brink of death. In spite of his beatings,
for a while after that one, but eventually he was let go.” At the time of his death       suspiciously enough, he was always coming back for more, as sound of sight and
in California, Graham’s mental condition certainly had not improved, as noted             limb as ever. No one caught on. The lengthy list of losses underplayed just how
before. “You guys should have told him Fred Blassie was in the lobby, waiting to          capable a grappler Richards really was, which was proven when he trained his
see him,” Commented Bubba Storm when hearing an account from Ahrens and                   grandson, Chris Candido, to become a wrestler. Candido, like his grandfather, is
Time Traveler. It was no secret Blassie and Graham legitimately hated each other          deceased, but became a major star in his time. Chuck Richards died several years
for many years. Following several strokes in 1997, Graham passed away,                    ago from cancer.

                                                                                            in the 1960s. Though they posed as kin, they were actually gay lovers, a fact that
REMEMBERING GEORGE DRAKE In recent years, wrestling deaths due to                           was kept secret at the time, but later became public after both passed away. As
suicide or accidental drug overdoses have become commonplace. Mike Awesome,                 The Hell’s Angels they caused numerous riots and near riots throughout Ohio,
the Von Erichs, Louie Spicolli, Bob Salle, Curt Hennig, Tojo Yamamoto,                      where they headlined many cards. They even had a run with the World Tag Team
Crybaby Edwards, Crash Holly and many others have gone out in tragic form.                  title. Eventually seeking an escape from the cold, the pair opted to work in
Yet, violent death has never been new to wrestling. Since it happened long before,          Arizona during the winter months, returning to the Michigan/Ohio circuit in the
the George Drake scandal has been forgotten by most historians and remains                  summers. Finally, in 1969 or so, they decided to stay in the Phoenix area, where
unknown to modern fans. In its time though, it sent shockwaves through the sport.           they became he Comancheros. Under this new name, their reputation for violence
George Drake was a handsome bodybuilder who worked in numerous parts of the                 grew. Wishing to gain mega-heat from the fans was their goal and they obtained
USA, showing great charisma and building a massive base among the spectators                it every Friday night at the old Phoenix Madison Square Garden. Sometimes they
in numerous territories. In spite of his incredible drawing power, however, there           went overboard. There was the time the boys burned an American flag on
were issues behind the scenes no one knew about and were never fully disclosed.             television to get heat with the marks. The action got heat alright and also got
Wrestling was far more secretive back then and whatever the real reason George              them kicked off the air, forcing the promoter to go to the Channel 21 UHF station
Drake did what he did may thus, never be known for sure. On December 28, 1967,              instead. My past booklet, Riot at the Garden, also deals with their harrowing
however, he took his own life. During the early 1950s George Drake had a                    Phoenix matches facing Pancho Pico and Ben Justice, the latter of whom they
successful Akron run, where he saw himself facing Al Cortez, Bill Miller, Speedy            helped get booked from the Michigan/Ohio circuit, to enhance a feud. This
Lazare, Tarzan North, George Macroicostas and others. As was usually the case,              foursome caused at least one riot that resulted in a massive fight between
he was over big with the crowd. George Drake’s real name was Ronald Hogg.                   spectators and fans, when all four men ended up bleeding and the crowd exploded
                                                                                            in mob fury. The end was near for Ron Dupree, however, as he suffered from
REMEMBERING DICK BEYER Dick Beyer was a run-of-the-mill baby face in                        heart trouble and was forced to give up wrestling. He returned to the Midwest,
Akron during the late 1950s and early 1960s, who had ability, but nothing truly             where he had a few matches as The Hell’s Angel, but his health was failing him.
special to set him apart from all the other grunters on the card. Record showed             Harris/Paul Dupree became Chris Colt, with Dupree adopting the manager role.
Beyer engaging in a brief feud with Waldo Von Erich during his Akron run in                 The name was not derived from the character of the old Colt 45 television show
1960, which included two torrid draws. In spite of this push, though, he still              as many believed, but the name of a popular gay magazine the two always read.
seemed to lack that special spark needed to become a superstar. Later, Dick Beyer           The Colt/Dupree faction returned to Arizona, where Ron made an attempt to try
would indeed find that needed change in style and routine, when he donned a                 wrestling again. For a while they teamed up and then feuded with each other. Colt
mask. In a white hood with red trim, he became The Destroyer and stepped into               took a new partner in the form of Bobby Mayne (Jaggers) and Dupree teamed
international fame.                                                                         with his former rival, Tito Montez. From Arizona, they drifted into the
                                                                                            Washington area for Dean Silverstone and there, Dupree was forced into a ring
REMEMBERING AL ALBERTSON Little data seems to be available on Al                            announcer role. His health was just too bad for anything else. On October 17,
Albertson, except for his working the preliminary bouts on various shows in the             1975, he stepped into the ring in Tacoma to announce a bout and fell over dead
Midwest, where he made a decent living. Results show him losing to Don Arnold               from a heart attack. Relatives evidently had the body sent back to New Jersey by
in Akron on December 7, 1958. They repeated the same match in Cleveland two                 train and laid it to rest somewhere in that state. Chris Colt, having lost his friend,
weeks later.                                                                                partner and lover, came totally unglued after this incident. He drifted through
                                                                                            many territories, traveling as far as to England, but was continually fired due to
REMEMBERING OX BAKER Ox Baker became infamous after two men,                                drinking or other episodes of bizarre behavior. He even did a brief stint back in
Alberto Torres and Ray Gunkle, died following matches with him, though in                   Ohio, returning as a single to the Akron Armory to face John Boy Ruffen and
neither case was he truly responsible for their deaths. Promoters, however, were            others. By the early 1990s, he had faded from view. Gossip had him dying or
happy to bill him as a killer, particularly in Nebraska, where Ramon Torres was             dead from AIDS, but no one seemed able to confirm this. Up into the 2000s, there
brought in to avenge the late Alberto’s death with a spectacular feud. Baker                was a weird cult following, still thinking him alive someplace, like Elvis. On the
looked menacing enough, with a shaved head, pointy eyebrows and a bulky                     summer of 2007, the truth became known, when a relative named Chuck Haggard
mustache. He was muscular, had a hairy body and a voice that sounded like it                emerged on the net. He had found some of Colt’s old papers, which he was
was spoken through a throat previously punctured with a railroad spike. His                 writing when he knew he was dying. The relative evidently planned and still
dreaded heart punch was the talk of the town and was publicized to the hilt as              plans to publish this set of notes about the life of one of wrestling’s most
potentially lethal. Baker made the rounds in Akron, Canton, Toledo and other                controversial stars. Colt did in fact die in 1996. He rests in some cemetery in
Ohio towns, but it was not in any of these places where the incident he is most             Roseburg, Oregon. “The Hell’s Angels were hardcore twenty years before fans
remembered for and might wish best to forget took place. It was in Cleveland,               used this as a word,” explained The Time Traveler. “They were doing the blood,
after manhandling Ernie Ladd, that he caused the riot to end all riots. The fans            the brawls and the throwing each other off of balconies long before Shawn
erupted in violence after seeing this leering heel deliver a number of heart                Michaels, Cactus Jack, New Jack or all the others seen in more recent times.
punches to his beloved black opponent. Fearing Ladd’s life was in danger and                They knew all the tricks and continually found new ways to do things. They were
totally swallowing the hype, they swarmed the ring, hurling chairs in all                   masters of brutality and the people just hated them with a passion. Be it as The
directions. Baker was reportedly hurt in the fray and Ladd, who should have been            Hell’s Angels, as Colt & Dupree or as The Comancheros, they were two of the
unconscious from all those punches, suspiciously recovered to make a charge for             best heels the wrestling world would ever see. The sad thing is this. They were
the locker room. There have been various articles where Ladd spoke of the riot              fantastic to see in action, but there are so few tapes around depicting them in the
prior to his death. Baker has mentioned it too, while making the rounds at                  ring. People today just don’t know what they missed by not seeing these two
conventions and autograph shows. “I’ve seen a copy of this riot, but the quality is         crazies at their best.” “When Ronnie (Dupree) died, Colt lost it,” The Time
really poor,” commented currently active Ohio independent wrestler, Durty the               Traveler continued. “He just started getting goofier and goofier. There was
Clown. “The thing is, every place else he went, Ernie Ladd was a heel, but in               another time back in Phoenix where he had a flashback from an acid trip right in
Cleveland he could do no wrong. When Baker was pounding the hell out of him,                the middle of a cage bout. He thought he saw giant spiders crawling up the cage
the fans honestly thought they were about to see a death in the ring and they acted         and freaked out. He climbed out of the cage and started picking people off right
as they felt was necessary. It was the wrong action to take, believe me and it’s a          and left. The security guards went crazy and started spraying mace at everyone in
wonder some of these fans didn’t get killed instead of Ladd. You can’t really see           sight. It made form one of the most dangerous riots ever. In the locker room, Colt
everything going on, but it was a scary moment for the participants and anyone              went nuts again and trashed the place. It was just an ugly scene.” In the Ohio area,
else on the arena floor, caught up in the crossfire. It was an experience I hope I          The Hell’s Angels feuded with many tag team combinations, including Fred &
will never have to encounter. Anyway, I just think it’s odd that here’s this guy            Bull Curry, Chief White Owl & Luis Martinez, The Kangaroos, Rocky Johnson
who was utterly hated everywhere else, but in Cleveland the people loved him                & Ben Justice and many others.
and came to his aid in the only way they knew how.”
                                                                                            REMEMBERING BUDDY ROGERS Buddy “Nature Boy” Rogers has gone
REMEMBERING REGGIE PARKS Reggie Parks was always a bigger draw in                           down in history as one of the world’s greatest wrestlers. Among villains, he was
the Omaha area than in other places, though he did travel the USA. A big,                   and still is considered the master of masters. His strut, his arrogance and his
muscular man, he had some Ohio shots. One program shows him holding Waldo                   mannerisms have been duplicated by many over the decades, yet he remains the
Von Erich to a draw on September 9, 1960. Parks moved to the dry climate of                 prototype, as well as the original. Born Herman Rohde in Camden, New Jersey,
Arizona in the 1980’s, where he started a carpet cleaning business and made a               Rogers started out in the carnival circuits and quickly rose to stardom in his
fortune on the side as a maker of championship belts.                                       chosen profession. Later in his career, he would beat Pat O’ Conner for the World
                                                                                            championship, before a packed house. “To a nicer guy, it couldn’t have
REMEMBERING THE HELL’S ANGELS Russ Grobes and Chuck Harris                                  happened,” he proclaimed in his gravely voice, as he hugged the belt close to him
became Ron & Paul Dupree, collectively known as The Hell’s Angels, a hated                  in a post-match interview. Long before winning this coveted crown, Rogers had
biker tag team with an arsenal of dirty tricks to rival those of any psychotic killer       numerous bouts in Akron, where he was jeered by the entire arena. At times, he

retaliated, like one evening when angered to the breaking point by a mouthy                two, usually as part of an angle. One such happening did in fact take place at the
female fan; he stepped out of the ring in the middle of the match, strutted toward         Akron Armory. Tired of his interference while managing Erik the Red, Johnny
her, grinned, then grabbed her purse and dumped the contents out on the arena              Powers insisted Angelo be handcuffed to Haystacks Calhoun during an Akron
floor. Afterward, he casually handed the purse back to her and went on with his            encounter. Naturally, Eric still won by cheating, which led to a tag team bout
match. One of the few times he was actually cheered at the Akron Armory came               pitting Eric and Angelo versus Calhoun and Powers. This time, the good guys
in 1954, when he was matched against Hans Schmidt. It was not so much the fact             won out. Angelo passed away several years ago. His real name was supposedly
people suddenly loved the cocky Rogers, but they hated the “Nazi” even more.               Henry Pardi
Selecting the proverbial lesser of two evils, Rogers became a momentary fan
favorite as he did battle with the “German” heel. Like Gorgeous George, Rogers             REMEMBERING EDDIE CREATCHMAN Like Tony Angelo, Eddie
took to wearing a number of flashy robes and ring jackets for an entrance. He also         Creatchman was better known as a manager, though before stepping into this role,
took his sweet time to make his way from the locker to the ring, sometimes up to           where he found his greatest fame, he was a wrestler, ring announcer and referee
five minutes, with these intentional delays making the people all the madder. He           at various intervals. At various times during his managerial run, Creatchman
developed a particularly grating walk which set the people off right from the start,       worked in the corner of Ox Baker, The Sheik, Killer Tim Brooks, The
before his matches were even underway. “Rogers was the master,” commented                  Magnificent Zulu and others. His microphone skills rivaled those of any other
Mike Gordon. “He could bring the heat up to the point where people were ready              talker in the game. He was so hated by the fans, he was often the target of “mark”
to kill him, then in an instant he could bring it back down and avoid a riot. He           attacks, as happened one time in Detroit during a particularly wild match with
was the master of psychology in the ring. He knew exactly what buttons to push             The Sheik and Art Thomas. Fans jumped the ring, only to be subdued and one of
with the fans and when.” Though Rogers was known for a devastating finisher                them actually made a grab for the manager. Perhaps due to budget restrictions,
called the Indian Death Lock, which was applied to the legs to force a submission,         Creatchman worked regularly in Detroit, but seldom drifted to Canton, Akron or
he also used a pile driver on his opponents on a regular basis. During his long            other towns on the circuit, though he frequently did television promos geared for
career, Rogers had many great matches and feuds, facing all of the top names in            matches where his men were booked. Only when part of an angle or program,
his era. Bruno Sammartino, Bill Miller, Duck Hutton, Johnny Valentine, Lou                 where his presence was absolutely needed, was he ever seen at the Akron Armory.
Thesz, Argentina Rocca and Don Arnold were just a few of them, aside from his              “This guy just drove the fans berserk,” commented contemporary independent
aforementioned bouts with O’ Conner and Schmidt. Rogers died in Florida in                 wrestler and promoter, Lones Oaks, “Even the name, Creatchman, had a bad
1992.                                                                                      sound to it, grating on your nerves. I saw this guy on video and the heat he got
                                                                                           from the crowd was amazing. You don’t see stuff like that too often in this day
REMEMBERING HAYSTACKS CALHOUN Born William Calhoun, this                                   and age, but people would have killed him if they could have gotten away with
gigantic grappler weighed in at over 600 pounds when at the height of his career.          it.” What the fans couldn’t do, a battle with cancer did in March of 1992, when
Becoming Haystacks Calhoun, a rotund farmer in overalls, with a horseshoe                  Eddie Creatchman passed from the earth plain into legend.
dangling around his neck, he captured the hearts and minds of fans everywhere.
He was seen regularly on the Ohio/Michigan circuit and made a number of Akron              REMEMBERING BEARCAT WRIGHT Ed “Bearcat” Wright was a warrior
Armory appearances in the 1960s through the 1970s. Supposedly, the only time               outside the ring as well as in it, bucking the system in many states as did Bobo
he was ever “heel” was during a brief stint in Canada where fellow fat man,                Brazil, where he refused to be booked only against fellow black opponents. On
George Cannon, assumed the reverse role as good guy. Calhoun was known for                 more than one occasion he was suspended for these actions, until he headed for
his big splash, which surprisingly never crushed anyone. At other times, he would          the California area, where people tended to be a bit more liberal. There, he faced
simply back his opponent into the corner and sit on him. An urban legend has               a number of opponents of all colors and even won a version of the World
Bruno Sammartino being the only man to lift Calhoun off his feet, but this in not          championship. When he returned triumphantly to the Midwest, some time later,
the case. Bulldog Brower once body slammed him and a few other men were able               segregation was becoming a dead issue. Wright appeared numerous times at the
to get at least one foot off the ground without rupturing themselves. Still, for the       Akron Armory in the 1960s and 1970s, facing varied opponents in single or tag
most part, Calhoun remained an immovable object in the ring except when he                 action. Johnny Valentine, Bruce Swaynze and Eric the Red were a few of his
wanted to move. Calhoun’s massive weight did bring about several problems,                 opponents in this arena. “Though Wright was a fan favorite for most of his career,
including a rampant diabetic condition, mush like the one that plagued long-time           few people realize just how great he was as a heel,” commented The Time
rival Bulldog Brower. The massive grappler died in December of 1989. Diabetes              Traveler. “Out in Arizona, he was given a heel run during the late 1960’s, facing
undoubtedly hastened his demise.                                                           Cowboy Bob Ellis, Tito Montez and several others. There, he used this claw hold
                                                                                           and acted like a maniac. The guy received a big time push, which ended when
REMEMBERING IKE EAKINS Ike Eakins was a tall, brutal-looking man with                      Montez beat him in a cage bout, sending him packing back to the Ohio area and
a brawling style. He wrestled like and even resembled Dick Murdoch in more                 into his baby face role again.” The Time Traveler raised his hand, which was
modern times. Throughout the 1960s, Eakins traveled the USA, sometimes in                  much smaller than Wright’s, and growled. “In his promotional stunts he would do
main events and sometimes in preliminary pairings. No matter where he was at               feats of strength like crushing apple or tearing phone books in half, all the
on the lineup, he managed to give his best effort. Usually, he broke the rules, but        emphasize his hand power, which was a straight shoot. He had fucking hands like
when needed, he would fight in the baby face capacity. Eakins proved to be a big           a yeti or some kind of monster! They were like those claw things you see in
draw in Columbus and Dayton more than Akron or Cleveland, though he made                   games where you turn a wheel and try to get a little crane to pick up stuffed
appearances in these areas as well. The wrestler’s death was uncanny to say the            elephants and shit. The power he had in his hands was just awesome and it was
least. While some speculated he had suffered a heart attack in the ring without            for real.” During his Arizona stint, Wright even managed to turn another black
realizing it and passed away later, but such was not the case. Evidently, he had           heel with whom he’d been teaming, into a baby face and create a new feud.
broken a bone without recognizing how badly he had been hurt. In his hotel room,           “Wright was teaming with this big, fat guy named Sweet Daddy Watts,” Traveler
said bone punctured a lung and he died spitting blood like something from a                explained. “On a televised taping, Watts asked Wright if he would teach him the
monster film. This spectacular and mind-boggling injury took place on October              claw hold before their next bout and Wright snapped, clamping it down on him.
20, 1968.                                                                                  What a sadistic son of a bitch, right? Well, anyway, that led to a split in their
                                                                                           partnership and a long feud with them facing each other. The Time Traveler then
REMEMBERING BARON GATTONI Though he was often billed as Italian,                           turned his voice gravely and imitated Watts. “I followed Bearcat Wright to the
Baron Gattoni was actually Jose Ricardo Gatone, from Buenos Aires, Argentina.              south side of Phoenix and there, by the Salt River riverbed I saw him by a bonfire
Gattoni made his professional debut in 1949 and continued to wrestle for many              with other people, dancing and jumping up and down,. He was doing a voodoo
years, including a number of stints at the Akron Armory. He tended to favor                ritual. The man gets his power from way beyond human understanding.” The
power moves and a devastating bear hug to win his matches. Baron Gattoni died              Time Traveler then laughed. “I’ve said some really stupid shit in some of my
in April of 1982. During his long career, Gattoni was considered to be one of the          promos, but never anything like that. I swear the crap these two came up with and
legitimately strongest wrestlers around. He faced both Lou Thesz and Bruno                 threw at each either in their interviews was some kind of inside joke.” He made
Sammartino at Madison Square Garden in New York, plus engaged in wild feuds                his best Bearcat face one more time. “The funny thing is most people who knew
with Yukon Eric and Lord Layton that spanned the globe. His son is an avid                 him outside of Arizona would probably have a hard time picturing him being
wrestling historian and has contributed to web pages, keeping the memory of his            anything but a good guy, but me, I cannot for the life of me picture him ever
father alive.                                                                              being cheered by fans.” Yet cheered by fans he was! In fact, he made a huge
                                                                                           interracial following for himself consisting of multiple races. Bearcat Wright died
REMEMBERING TONY ANGELO Tony Angelo was a capable wrestler, but                            in Florida in the summer of 1982. His legacy, however, would live on. In 2006, a
established a new career for himself as a manager and for all practical purposes,          stage play toured the Midwest with an actor playing the grappler and dealing with
remains better known for this role instead. Though decent as an actual grappler in         his struggles in The Story of Bearcat Wright.
the ring, he was far better on the microphone as a talker and thus the manager
gimmick was perfect for him, when he felt himself growing too old to physically            REMEMBERING ALI PASHA As noted before, “The Terrible Turk” seemed to
slam it out in the ring. As a manager though, Angelo occasionally did a bout or            be an unlucky nickname for most people who adapted it. Ali Pasha was no

exception. He ended up sitting down in the locker room following a Pennsylvania            subsequent video and televised releases. Rocca has numerous matches in Akron,
match, then pitching over with a heart attack that proved fatal. While he might            Cleveland and Columbus, usually dropkicking his opponents into oblivion and
have died happily, while doing what he loved best, odds are he would have liked            sending the fans home happy. “Rocca’s style was a lot more believable than the
to have stuck around longer than he did. Ali Pasha spent many years wrestling              bullshit you see in a lot of places today, where guys hit each other with
around the USA, almost always in the role of heel and performing as a Middle               everything under the sun and walk away like nothing happened,” commented fan
Eastern madman before angry, booing crowds. Oddly enough, in spite of his                  Bob Crumby. “What he’d do would wrestle and then wham, there it came. He’d
capabilities as a heel, he was also over as a popular baby face in certain sectors.        hit the guy with a dropkick and it would put him down for the pin. If not, the
Pennsylvania, for instance, saw him in mid-card and occasional semi-main events,           opponent would stagger to his feet and wham; a second dropkick put him to his
where he was cheered rather than booed by the fans. At the time of his death, he           knees. Sometimes a third dropkick would be needed, but then, rather than pin the
was enjoying a run as a good guy. Pasha made it to the Akron Armory over the               guy, Rocca would scoop him up in this supposedly weakened condition and put
years, but was never truly a regular, as he worked many different circuits, but            him in a back breaker to gain a submission. It was all much more believable than
never seemed to stick around for too long.                                                 the matches you see today.” A large funeral service was held for Rocca in New
                                                                                           York when he passed away, with people from all walks of life saying farewell to
REMEMBERING ANDRE THE GIANT Prior to the WWF taking a chance and                           the legend. His remains were cremated and the ashes given to the family.
booking him on an extended contract, which proved to help make history, many
promoters mistakenly believed Andre The Giant to not be a wrestler for every               REMEMBERING THE OUTLAWS Long before Dusty Rhodes became “The
card, but a novelty, brought in as a special attraction like midgets or girls. This        American Dream” and one of the most popular wrestlers in history, though some
was his function when Walter Moore brought him to the Akron Armory in the                  experts constantly ask themselves why, he was a cigar-smoking heel with a crew
summer of 1974. He was there for a spot show, helped fill the place and then sent          cut, known as Dirty Dusty Rhodes. The title leaves no doubt as to what kind of a
on his way. During his much-hyped Akron appearance, Bulldog Brower was set                 wrestler he was. Adding the lumbering Dick Murdoch to the team created The
as his opponent and some fans actually went with a fearful attitude that this man,         Outlaws and together, they were a murderous pair. Though they did not go
known himself as a tremendous powerhouse, might well be the first person to                overboard with the gimmick, simply wearing a pair of cowboy hats into the ring,
ever give the famous giant his big defeat. Such was not the case, but Andre didn’t         they exhibited a stomping style right out of some saloon fight in a John Wayne
come out ahead either. Both men were disqualified when their match got out of              movie. During their Ohio stay, Rhodes and Murdoch made the rounds, plus
hand. Andre of course went on to far greater things as the years went by,                  appeared regularly on televised shows. Sometimes, Rhodes would provoke so
becoming an international star in the realm of television and film as well as the          much controversy complaints would be called into the studio. This, however,
ring. He had a major part in The Princess Bride Andre’s health was destined to             helped draw more and more people to the house shows, in hopes of seeing the
fail, due to the very same condition that made him famous. He passed away on               duo beaten down. Dusty Rhodes of course went on to great things with Georgia
January 23, 1973. He was cremated and the ashes were laid to rest on his ranch in          Championship Wrestling, which eventually became World Class Championship
North Carolina. .                                                                          Wrestling instead. He held two NWA title reigns and was for a long time, one of
                                                                                           the hottest things going. Murdoch wrestled for several promotions and even
REMEMBERING MULE MALONE Mule Malone was an alias for a wrestler                            feuded with his old partner for a brief stint. He proved exceptionally popular in
named Wally Greb and under this new name, he was usually jobbed out to                     his native Texas, where he beat the likes of James Dillon, Cyclone Negro and
various opponents. He had his losses in Akron, Canton and other places, but the            others in bloody feuds. Rhodes retired from the sport, though he still makes
most humiliating was in eight second defeat by Illio De Paulo in Cleveland.                various autograph signings. Murdoch went to sleep on his sofa and went right on
                                                                                           sleeping. He had been troubled with high blood pressure and had been bleeding
REMEMBERING EL BRASERO Jose Martinez took the alias of “El; Brasero”                       from the nose prior to his passing, for no apparent reason. His heart gave out on
which translates simply as “The Worker” in Spanish and for insiders the slang              him. Much has been written and will continue to be written about both men.
term needs no real explanation. Though his nickname was an inside joke, his                Controversial outside the ring, competent within it and charismatic in their own
wrestling style was not, as he could do flying moves that awed the fans. In 1973           ways, the sport will not see the likes of either of them for a long time to come.
Brasero faced a variety of opponents in Akron, plus had appearances in other               Their exploits continue to be written about on the internet, in magazines and even
towns on Sheik’s circuit.. Long before Rey Misterio Jr., Super Crazy and                   in books. “We are the stuff as dreams are made of,” said an actor in this play I
Halloween introduced the sensational lucha style to American crowds; Brasero               was watching a while ago called A Midsummer Night’s Dream and it might well
was doing the same thing. Spectators were amazed at some of his suicidal leaps,            apply to these two as well. They were the heel tag team promoters dreamed about,
flips and dives. On the other hand, when the need came to brawl, he could fight            yet for what it was worth, The Outlaws was little more than a stepping stone to
and slug it out with the best of them.                                                     better things for both men. Everyone has an opinion about Murdoch and Rhodes
                                                                                           it seems; some good and some bad. “The WWF made a stinking mockery out of
REMEMBERING THE GREAT SCOTT The Great Scott was in many respects,                          Rhodes,” complained Bob Crumby. “I used to see him fighting the likes of
a Buddy Rogers clone and with good reason, as they often teamed with each                  Kabuki and others up in Canton when I was a kid. That was the Rhodes I loved.
other. They had the same build, the same hair style, the same smirk and the same           He was the man who bled, kicked ass and got revenge. In the WWF they turned
strut. As if trouble needed a double, Buddy had a bookend in the form of this              him into a clown, dressing him up with those stupid spots, so he looked like a
hated heel. Like Rogers, The Great Scott had numerous matches in the old                   bumble bee. Why he went along with that I will never know, but he all but
Armory in the 1950s, as well as other places in the Ohio area, where he made the           demolished everything he ever accomplished in his run with them. Here was a
rounds, applying his particular brand of mayhem. The crowds hated him with an              great wrestler, reduced to a stupid satire of himself. I hated it. Give me those old
absolute passion. He sometimes used a figure-four leg lock of his own and again            days any time.” “Dusty Rhodes might not have been the most popular guy in the
like Rogers, would offer a defiant peacock -walk while having his hand raised.             locker room and might have had a big ego,” commented The Time Traveler. “The
Usually, he made his retreat to the locker room amid a shower of garbage hurled            thing is, you have to give him credit where it is due. If he had limited ability, as
in his direction by the fans. As is usually the case with bookend pairs, Rogers and        some sheet writers have loved to point out, he did the best he could with what he
Great Scott ended up splitting and fighting each other. The Great Scott’s real             had and worked magic with it, just like Hulk Hogan. Murdoch was the better
name was John Schweigart and he passed away in 2001.                                       wrestler of the two, I think, but Rhodes gained more glory. Both men went on
                                                                                           from humble beginnings to leave their respective marks in the wrestling game.
REMEMBERING ARGENTINA ROCCA Essentially, television made                                   They have become an integral part of wrestling history and like them or not,
Antonino “Argentina” Rocca and Rocca made television in the 1950s. They were               that’s a fact no one can change.” Fans old enough to remember Murdoch and
a marriage made in heaven. Every week, more and more viewers turned in to                  Rhodes as The Outlaws way back when might well have been surprised at just
watch. The muscular, cigar-loving grappler always wrestled in his bare feet,               how big they made it later on down the road. But then, maybe not!
dropkicked the living hell out of his opponents and piled up win after win against
all sorts of formidable foes. He beat Buddy Rogers, Hans Schmidt, Dr. Jerry                REMEMBERING JOHN-BOY RUFFIN John-Boy Ruffin was just getting
Graham and many others. He was a celebrity in and out of the ring, known for his           going big in the wrestling world, when his life was snuffed out. He was starting
physical conditioning. “I’ll still be wrestling when I’m 75 years old and live to be       to make the rounds among the independent promotions and receive bookings in
150,” Rocca boasted in regard to his tremendous physical health, but sadly, he             the preliminaries on some major shows as well when he was a teenager. This
didn’t even come close. He died in 1977 at an age far short of his goal. During his        Ohio native had a certain charisma about him that promised to develop into
career, he remained one of the most popular wrestlers ever. He also endorsed               something quite worthwhile. Unfortunately, he was killed before he could reach
numerous commercials and even a record album called The Musical World of                   his true potential. Born Gervaise Jones, the name of John-Boy was evidently
Argentina Rocca, which showed him delivering a dropkick on the cover. Though               derived from the character on The Waltons television show. Ruffin was shot
he did not sing or play an instrument in this album, simply endorsing a number of          outside a Cincinnati bar on June 19, 1982. He evidently became the focal point of
songs, the production was a hit. Rocca likewise appeared as a murder victim in             an altercation between his brother and another man, who pulled out a pistol and
the theatrical release of the horror movie, Alice, Sweet Alice, and though his             shot the wrestler in the chest. He died in the hospital a few hours after being
name still appears on the credits, his “killing” has somehow been edited out of            injured. Ruffin had some matches at the Akron Armory during the last few years

before it closed down to wrestling. In 1976, he had a particularly impressive bout          early 1970s, a controversial loss to Johnny Valentine set the stage for a number of
with Chris Colt. Though the match was a preliminary booking, he and his hippie              rematches. These were likewise considered classic confrontations.
opponent stole the show.
                                                                                            REMEMBERING SAUL WEIGNEROFF Gentleman Saul Weigneroff was
REMEMBERING RANDY POFFO Early in his career, Randy Poffo was a                              mainly known for his actions as a manager down south, particularly for the
routine good guy, while his father, Angelo, along with his brother, Lanny,                  powerful Nick Gulas promotion out of Tennessee. In Nashville, he continued to
wrestled as heels. On a few occasions, he had a bout or two at the Akron Armory             operate a sign shop for several years after retirement and write wrestling articles
and exited without pain or glory. The greatest Armory event for him came when               for magazines, up to the point of his death. His son, George, also entered the
he, his father and his brother beat Saul Weigneroff, Yukon John and Kurt Von                wrestling world to find a certain degree of success. Weigneroff did make at least
Brauner in June of 1975. In this, the Poffo clan received cheers as baby faces.             a few appearances in Akron, when he came in with his protégé, Karl Von Brauner
“What’s in a name?” Romeo or someone asked in the Shakespearean play. In                    in 1975, both as a wrestler and manager. Weigneroff could have been a great
Randy’s case it was everything. After a routine run under his real name, he                 addition to the Akron cards, had he lived closer to the action. He was, however,
became Randy “Macho Man” Savage and the rest is history. So much has been                   kept very busy in the south and evidently didn’t have great interest in staying
written about the exploits of Randy Savage as opposed to Randy Poffo, there is              away from his home base for any lengths of time. “I met him once at his sign
really no need to repeat it here. Plus, that’s another story for other arenas apart         shop in Nashville and was surprised at how short he was,” commented The Time
from the old Akron Armory.                                                                  Traveler. “He looked like a sneaky little son of a bitch, so I could see why in his
                                                                                            prime, he was such a hot item with the crowd. Down in the Tennessee area, he
REMEMBERING ERNIE LADD “I’m gonna beat you, Abdullah the Butcher.                           was talked about long after he left the game.” “I never met the man when I did
I’m gonna reach down your throat and pull out your lungs. I’m gonna pull out                my stint in Nashville with Chris Colt,” said Billy Anderson. “So in this regard, I
your heart. Gonna pull out your intestines. Gonna pull out your stomach.” Ladd              really don’t have a comment on him. Everyone talked about him though and
continued to list damned near every internal organ known to medical science                 respected him, but we just didn’t cross paths at the time. I can say that.” Though
before this televised promo for a Cleveland match with Abdullah the Butcher, the            his appearances in Ohio were rare, Weigneroff remained a top draw in his
feud of which, spilled over into Akron as well “Ladd faced Abdullah in the                  southern home base. He became one of the legendary managers in wrestling
Akron Armory on varied evenings during the 1970s,” commented the                            history and perhaps one of the greatest of all time. Oddly enough, there was
contemporary independent wrestler, Richard Jeremy, who has made it a point to               nothing terribly spectacular about his manner of dress. He did not wear flashy
study the history of wrestling in his own Ohio base. “This was one of the biggest           clothes or dark glasses like The Grand Wizard or spangles jackets like Fred
feuds around at the time, so naturally they booked it as a packaged product. The            Blassie in his managerial days. Instead, he wore a black suit, white shirt, tie and
heat was there, the intensity was there and the fans wanted to see these two go at          hat. His weapon of choice was a cane, which he could use in countless ways to
it, because there was guaranteed violence. This feud was a money-maker. People              help his men win. “Saul could work wonders with that cane of his,” said Joey
were still talking about it when MCW brought Abdullah into Canton over thirty               Rossi, a few years before he joined the legendary manager in death. “Few people
years later. Fans were going up to Abdullah’s table and asking him about his                could get heat like he did. He was great in his day and will have to be regarded as
matches with Ladd. If something stays alive for that long in the memory of the              one of the best managers ever.”
people, you know something was done right.” Though Abdullah was one of
Ladd’s main rivals, there were others in Akron and elsewhere. The funny part                REMEMBERING KURT VON HESS & KARL VON SHOTZ Karl Von Shotz
was, while seen as heel in most places, he was tremendously popular for most of             and Kurt Von Hess came on the scene when the Nazi era was drawing to a close
his Midwestern run. Born in Texas in 1938, Ernie Ladd played football for the               and such villains didn’t provoke the heat they once did, but in spite of this, the
San Diego Chargers, the Houston Oilers and the Kansas City Chiefs before                    two bald-headed heels did draw a certain amount of anger from the crowd.
making the jump into professional wrestling. At 6’ 9” and 300 pounds, he was a              Neither were; in reality, German. Kurt Von Hess was a Canadian named Bill
giant of the man who inspired awe just by walking down the aisle. Late in his               Terry while Von Shotz was really a man named John Anson. Von Hess and Von
career, Ernie Ladd became a road agent for the WWF/WWE. He also became                      Shotz had a run with the NWA Team titles. They also appeared both as a tag
heavily involved in the born-again Christian movement and attended numerous                 team and in singles action at the old Akron Armory. They did get the intended
religious conferences. He likewise played himself in an episode of That 70’s                effect there as well. Sometimes, the reaction from the public left a little to be
show. In 2007, Ladd lost a lengthy battle with cancer, though his legend lives on.          desired, as when one fan was ordered to put his sign away or leave. He was
Even after his passing, many still fondly remember him. “I love watching old                waving a cardboard poster with Kurt Von Shitz written in magic marker rather
footage of him facing people like The Sheik and Abdullah,” commented Bob                    than Von Shotz. Fortunately, no one picked up the chant the kid wanted to
Crumby in his usual, confident manner. “A lot of times these football players               instigate. Kurt Von Hess died in 1999. Von Shotz is still alive, but has drifted
really make rotten wrestlers. Ladd, however, was one of the few people to go                away from his wrestling past.
from one sport to another like that and really make it work. There were others,
but not many.” Billy Anderson, a wrestler known equally well for his part in                REMEMBERING PAULA KAYE Paula Kaye might well have been the first
training Louie Spicolli, The Ultimate Warrior and Sting, likewise had fond                  female wrestler to ever use the hardcore style. Long before Dump Matsumoto,
memories of Ladd. “I attended several Athletes International Conferences with               Bull Nakano, Jessicka Havok and Chyna, this woman fought like a man. She may
Ernie Ladd in Phoenix, Arizona, as well as Princeton, New Jersey. He was a                  well have been one of the first female grapplers to ever make a continual habit of
strong believer in the Lord. He was also a Hall of Fame member in both football             pulling chains, brass knuckles and other illegal objects from her swimsuit and
and wrestling.” One of Ladd’s finishers was simple. As a baby face, he would                using them to her advantage. In spite of her knack for cheating, however, Kaye
merely whip his opponent into the ropes and on the rebound; lift his big foot,              seldom won, usually going down in defeat to her rule-abiding opponents.
planting a boot right in the face of his opponent. As a heel, he had this “injured          Remember, crime doesn’t pay! A student of Fabulous Moolah, Paula Kaye
thumb” that was always taped and took years to “heal.” This might have been                 traveled the USA, usually paired with Sue Green. The matches tended to be
because he was constantly using it to jab into the throat of his opponent when an           routine, with Kaye gaining the upper hand through cheating, only to be pinned in
opportune time came, the ref wasn’t looking and he could gain an illegal win.               the end when her opponent fired back. In 1974, Paula Kaye and Kay Casey faced
Ladd wrestled in many parts of the world, having great bouts with The Bruiser,              Sue Green and Heather Feather in a wild girl bout at the Akron Armory. As par
Pedro Morales, and others. Ladd’s vast knowledge of ring psychology and the                 for the course, she and Casey passed a chain to each other and used it for the
ability to build interest in his matches again came through in one of his                   duration of the match. In the end, they were still defeated. Eventually, Paula Kaye
encounters with The Bruiser. Ladd boasted on television that he was going to                retired from wrestling and dropped out of view.
cripple Bruiser during their match up for his own good. He claimed the man was
a danger to himself and others because he was so clumsy, so inept and so over-              REMEMBERING LIL’ ABNER Bill “Lil’ Abner” Osborne took his ring
rated. He would be put down and out, having his career terminated for his own               gimmick from the star character of the Lil’ Abner comic strip, claiming to be
wellbeing. Ernie Ladd, was, after all, a kind and caring human being who was                from Dogpatch and dressing in hillbilly garb. He used a “stump puller” for a
always willing to help his fellow man. With friends like this looking out for his           submission hold and it looked murderous. Once he clamped it on, he appeared to
“well- being,” as Ladd put it, did Bruiser need any enemies? In any case, Ladd              be tearing his opponent in half. Osborne was not the first wrestler to use the Lil’
looked like he was going to make good his vow as he mercilessly pounded                     Abner comic strip to his advantage as years before there were two “brothers”
Bruiser in their encounter. Suddenly, his bloody and battered opponent made a               working in Arizona as The Earthquake McGoon Twins, which was also derived
comeback. The crowd roared in approval, while Bruiser advanced on the                       from the comic. The Earthquake McGoon character was likewise used in a
thenretreating Ladd. “No, no,” Ladd cried out, loud enough for several rows of              horrendous film version of the comic, again titled Lil’ Abner.
fans to hear. “You don’t understand. I was only trying to help.” Bruiser made it
plain that such help was not desired, before retaliating against his larger opponent.       REMEMBERING MARVA SCOTT Usually wrestling as heel, Marva Scott
The incident made all the magazines though, which was press both men were                   came from Columbus, Ohio. She made her pro debut in 1961. Early in her career,
hoping for. At the Akron Armory, Ladd had other feuds besides Abdullah. In the              Scott was forced to wrestle only other black women, but fortunately for her, as
                                                                                            well as wrestling, the trend changed. Down the road, she was paired with

opponents of numerous races, though oddly enough, she often seemed to prefer                 would kneel in traditional Moslem prayer, while his manager would beg the
fellow black rivals for her bouts. Scott was seen in Akron various times. Some of            crowd to be quiet, inciting the fans to further anger. Rumor has it in reality, Sheik
her opponents there were Ramona Isabel, Ethel Johnson and Lucille Dupree.                    was Catholic). The fans came whenever Sheik was on the card, expecting blood
Marva Scott died on August 15, 2003.                                                         and they got it. Moore may not have fully trusted Sheik once he hit the ring and
                                                                                             feared riots or lawsuits, which may have been another factor in his not being a
REMEMBERING LOU KLEIN Born in 1916, Lou Klein made his professional                          regular on the cards, though he worked nearby Canton and Cleveland on a
debut in 1941 and continued to wrestle into the 1970’s. He had an extremely                  constant basis. Sheik died in 2003, following a major stroke. Incredibly, he had
technical style and might have been considered somewhat of a dry personality in              continued to try wrestling way past his prime and was active in some form or
the ring, but his knowledge of holds could be rivaled by only the best in the game.          another, close to the point of his death. A few years prior to his passing, he
For years, he ran Lou Klein’s Wrestling School out of Detroit and turned out a               suffered major burns on his arm while touring Japan. Another Japanese stint saw
number of stars, many of whom worked for The Sheik. Klein died in 1979 from                  him suffering a heart attack while getting into a cab to head for a show. “The
the effects of a heart attack. He was buried at the Evergreen Cemetery in                    Sheik had many things about him that other wrestlers copied,” explained
Okeechokee, Florida.                                                                         wrestling historian and independent referee Earl Robinson. “He had these curly
                                                                                             boots with points on them, that other Arabs like The Iron Sheik used later on. He
REMEMBERING RICK LUKA Rick Luka was a big guy, but was used in                               had that prayer rug that he would take to the ring with him and pray on before his
opening matches and predominately for carpentry work to build other opponents.               match. He had that Arab head gear. He had trunks with a camel logo. If you look
Had he been pushed right, he could have possibly been a top draw on his own.                 around, you’ll see several other wrestlers who came after him, who borrowed
This, however, was not to be. He invariably came out on the losing end of things.            some of these things. They are still doing so today. With all the conflict in the
More often than not, Luka was used on televised tapings, where he would lose to              Middle East, Arab villains are a hot item once again, so look for more of the
a number of smaller opponents. In Akron, the story remained much the same at                 same.” Does Robinson feel The Sheik to be the greatest heel of all time? “I’m a
the house shows as it did on the small screen.                                               Bruiser Brody admirer, myself,” Robinson concluded. Others would disagree,
                                                                                             going out on a limb to portray Sheik as the best heel ever. It is hard to not find
REMEMBERING AL COSTELLO Like his partner, Don Kent, Al Costello                              something related to him offered for sale on EBay. Several books pay tribute to
found fame by changing his ring nationality to Australian and becoming the                   his life and career when covering the history of wrestling, internet pages with
alternating half of The Fabulous Kangaroos. Together he and Kent had a great                 data concerning his life abound and there are even My Space accounts in his
run that lasted several years. Kent happened to be in the right place at the right           honor. “When Sheik came to Akron it was always a big deal,” explained another
time, as Costello’s original partner, Roy Hefferman, who was doing this routine              of his wrestling associates, who wished not to be named. “The thing is, many fans
with him, had retired. In Akron, Costello saw repeated action, both with Kent and            who usually sat at ringside bought tickets, but sat in the cheap seats because they
as a single. In the early 1970s, he faced Aztec Joe, Bull Curry and others in the            were afraid to sit by the ring when he was fighting. They knew his matches often
Armory. In latter years, Kent also teamed with Kurt Von Hess and Chris Colt, but             spilled out unto the arena floor and were actually scared to be sitting too close
the chemistry just wasn’t there like it was with Kent. Following his retirement              when he was in the card. This might well have been another reason why Moore
from wrestling, Costello started a training school in Florida. He died in 2000.              didn’t bring him in too often.” The above is a fair evaluation. Unlike with other
                                                                                             wrestlers, fans literally feared The Sheik. No one but the bravest of spectators
REMEMBERING THE SHEIK Few wrestlers embodied evil more than The                              hung around the locker room door, trying to take his picture and no one dared ask
Sheik. Born Ed Farhat in Michigan, he made his professional debut in the 1950s               for his autograph. Often, they would turn and run, the minute he stepped toward
and continued to wrestle for decades, building a legacy based in blood. His son,             the ring. Sometimes, enjoying this greatly, Sheik would chase after them.
Captain Ed George, entered wrestling as did his nephew, Sabu. Few wrestlers                  Unknowingly, Sheik occasionally did the fans a favor. While wrestling in Texas
ever protected their image so carefully. The Sheik never gave interviews,                    early in his career, he reportedly became angered upon seeing a segregated
pretended he knew no English and acted like a total mad man in the ring. He used             section for non-white fans, with a penned off gate. In the middle of his bout, he
simple, but utterly dirty tactics to gain his wins, such as the use of a pencil or his       suddenly left the ring and ripped the gating down. When he wrestled, no one was
own teeth to carve up opponents, throw fire out of mid-air into the eyes of those            safe. In Los Angeles, during a bout with John Tolos, Sheik bloodied not only his
he faced or force submissions with a neck hold called his Camel Clutch. So                   opponent and two referees, but even grabbed promoter Mike Labell and cut him
clandestine was he about his activities, it was a secret that he actually promoted           too. A similar incident happened many years later in Detroit, when Sheik decided
from the Detroit home base, extending into several towns in Ohio and Canada.                 referee A.C. Huck needed to find out what it was like to lose a little blood. He
Since Walter Moore was the promoter for Akron, he did not appear there as                    lost more than a little, however, carrying the scar to this day. With behavior such
regularly as in other Ohio locations, but he made it to the Armory often enough.             as this, one has to wonder if Sheik started believing his own image a little too
Usually, in the Akron shows, Sheik faced Johnny Powers, but he had matches                   seriously. One particular bout in Akron had Moore in an outrage, when Sheik
with others as well, including big names such as Tony Marino, Luis Martinez and              fought Tony Marino in a grudge bout.. He had flatly told the two not to go out
others in that arena. Other wrestlers Sheik faced for long-term or brief feuds in            into the aisles or the audience, so take a wild guess what the first thing was that
various locations around the world included Giant Baba, Fred Blassie, Bill                   Sheik did! The Sheik was a legendary bad guy,” said Billy Anderson. I used to
Melby , Mark Lewin, John Tolos, The Might Igor, Whipper Watson, Lou Thesz,                   watch him wrestle countless times in Detroit and Phoenix in the 1970s. I wrestled
Bull Curry, Tony Marino, Hank James, Pampero Firpo, George Steele, The                       against Sheik several times in Japan for the FMW promotion in the early 1990s. I
Bruiser, Lord Athol Layton, Ben Justice, Andre the Giant, Fred Curry, Pedro                  also teamed with him a few times.” “I would never wrestle The Sheik,”
Morales, Johnny Valentine, Skull Murphy, Haystacks Calhoun, Jay Strongbow,                   commented independent wrestler, Mr. Southern Comfort, in a 1980 Phoenix
Sailor Art Thomas, Ox Baker, Ernie Ladd and Bruno Sammartino. He likewise                    interview, seeming thankful they never crossed paths. “You don’t wrestle the
went through a host of televised matches with preliminary guys as well, including            Sheik without bleeding and I don’t like the way he makes people bleed.” Though
Greg Lake, The Guru, Al Schiller, Pancho Villa, El Leon, Rick O’ Toole and                   there have been and will be many imitations, the wrestling world will never see
others as well, pounding them down in order to build himself up as even more                 his like again. He was truly an originator of mat mayhem.
hated in the eyes of the fans. Still other opponents over the years on the various
circuits included Dusty Rhodes, Bearcat Wright, Terry Funk, Ricky Romero,                    REMEMBERING TONY PARISI Born Antonio Pugliese in 1941, this man
Dory Funk Jr., Cowboy Bob Ellis and Abdullah the Butcher. The greatest of all                wrestled under his own name before shortening it to Parisi in the 1960s. Though
the feuds would undoubtedly have been the ones with Sheik facing Bobo Brazil.                he came from Cosenza, Italy, he spent most of his life in Niagara Falls, Canada.
Their matches were always wild brawls, with the two trading wins for decades.                After retirement, he operated a motel and a popular restaurant there until his
“The Sheik was a great heel,” commented Bob Crumby. “The thing is, he was                    death from a heart attack in 2000 at the age of 58. Parisi was a regular in the then
over in an era where the wrestlers still were very secretive about any of the fakery         WWWF operated by Vince McMahon Sr. and a mainstay for Pedro Martinez,
going on. They didn’t blab out of school like the wrestlers in the circuits today or         who ran in Buffalo. On occasion, however, he did drift into Detroit or Akron as
own up to being sports entertainers. They tried to convince everyone wrestling               the bookings came. Parisi was a colorful performer who used a cannon ball dive
was on the level, when it very clearly wasn’t. The key thing is, back in this era,           to finish most of his opponents. He was very smooth and technical in the ring and
there was a certain uncertainty among the fans. Even those suspecting fakery did             proved extremely popular with the Italian-American community in the
not know for sure how it was done. Now, everyone knows.” Crumby then                         Akron/Cleveland area. He was also effective at working a crowd or playing up to
speculated how Sheik was able to throw fire. “What I heard was he had specially              his audience.
designed trunks where he could hide a small cigarette lighter and some flash pads.
Flash pads are available in any magic shop and are commonly used by magicians                REMEMBERING THE BEAST Various wrestlers used the nickname of The
to shoot fire from their fingertips. That was what he used. I am sure of it.”                Beast over the years, under a mask or without one. There was a Bestia 666 (Beast
Whatever the device, Pampero Firpo, Johnny Valentine, Ivan Kalmikoff and Art                 666 in English) operating on the Arizona-Mexico border for years in the 1980s,
Thomas were just a few of the stars who felt the flame. As far as Akron Armory               while before him during the 1970’s, one of the Kay brothers was a Beast as well.
shows went, Walter Moore was reportedly not big on blood baths. Sheik meant                  Dan Severn became famous as The Beast, though the alias was meant to apply to
blood. It was as much a trademark as his prayer rug. (In itself interesting, for he          his brawling style rather than a gimmick. This Beast, however, was named John

Yacetti To distinguish himself from the other Beasts out there, Yacetti sometimes           bother, as I do not have a million dollars to give you. Kenneth evidently did
billed himself as The Sicilian Beast. Perhaps he had to hide out from the Mafia in          receive a push of sorts in Columbus; however, where in 1957, he feuded with and
Palermo before sneaking his way to America and lived like a wild animal until               even scored a surprise win over Bill Miller.
his mind snapped. Who knows? The nature of this beast was never fully
explained. John Yacetti was a stocky man, covered with facial and body hair, so             REMEMBERING THE MIGHTY IGOR When muscular Dick Garza became
he did look beastly, Fans could have expected him to hide under bridges and wait            The Mighty Igor, he pretended to be a gentle giant with the body of a Greek god
for the Billy Goats Gruff to come by. Yet, in spite of his sinister appearance, he          (or Polish perhaps, as he claimed to be from Poland) and the brains of a gnat. His
was a audience favorite. The Beast had some matches in the Akron Armory                     character as the simple-minded buffoon, however, was loved by children and
during the early 1970s and was well-received by the fans. He died in 1986                   adults alike. If you wanted to get heat as a heel, you got the jump on Igor from
                                                                                            behind and started tromping him, but God help you when he fired back. In truth,
REMEMBERING JOHNNY VALENTINE Johnny Valentine was a man with a                              Igor genuinely was a powerhouse of a man who lifted weights regularly and
reputation for performing weird and sometimes tasteless practical jokes within              amazed fans with genuine feats of strength. Over the years, Igor saw a great deal
the locker room, but everyone seemed to like this big, blond giant of a man in              of action in Akron, sometimes teaming with partners such as Pete Sanchez, Vic
spite of his antics. For most of his run in Ohio and other places, he was a heel,           Rossetani or others, to take on the villains, but more often than not, he worked as
known for a mangling style and a devastating elbow smash. A fire ball from the              a single. Some of his matches had him facing and manhandling Abdullah, The
Sheik, however, turned him into an instant baby face. It was not the style that             Mongols and other heels at the height of his popularity in the 1970s. Igor
changed, but the opponents. Rather than mauling Chuck Richards on televised                 eventually retired from wrestling and died from a heart attack some years back. .
tapings or gaining an illegal victory over Johnny Powers, he was pitted against             On a personal level, I have recollections of Igor and a moment I would like to put
men the fans hated and a new hero was born. After the fireball to the face, his             from my mind, but never can, for it is burned into my skull as a trauma to end all
matches with Sheik had fans pulling for him all the way. A series of tragic                 traumas. I was taking pictures of Igor, who just beat Ben Justice by
accidents put Valentine out of wrestling for good. He was in a major auto                   disqualification in a Phoenix show, far away from his home base. Before the
accident. Some time afterward, he was bound to a wheelchair following a plane               match, he had gone around ringside, shaking hands with every single fan in the
crash. He died in 2001 Among Valentine’s other legendary feuds, aside from his              front rows and again, playing the clown. After his match, when his hand was
matches with The Sheik and Johnny Powers, would be his matching with Buddy                  raised, he kissed the referee in gratitude, while the crowd screamed in pleasure.
Rogers. The latter claimed Valentine to be an imitator of his style and this                Waiting for Igor to make his way down the aisle, I snapped a photo. The picture
launched a number of wild brawls that spread across the entire USA. Valentine               showed Igor with the happiest grin imaginable, as if hoping someone would do
was usually cheered in these encounters, which were really villain versus villain           just that. There was a reason. In front of over 2,000 people, Igor grabbed me, did
pairings, because as much as they hated him, the spectators hated Rogers more.              a little grandstand and asked the crowd if he should kiss me too, which of course
What were some of the warped practical jokes that gained Valentine such a                   all the bastards in the stands insisted he should. He then planted a series of wet
reputation in his day? If you are a sane person, you do not want to know. Trust             ones on both cheeks and headed back to the locker room. It was a hefty price to
me on this one.                                                                             pay just to get a picture.

REMEMBERING THE CASTILLO BROTHERS Fidel & Raoul Castillo                                    REMEMBERING BARON MIKEL SCICLUNA Born Mikel Valentino, this
exploded like rockets on the wrestling scene as two brothers who came onto the              articulate, pipe-smoking villain might best be recalled for his WWWF World Tag
scene at the time when the fear of Communism was still alive in the USA.                    Team run with King Curtis in the early 1970s. At the Akron Armory, he was
Claiming to be Cubans who supported Fidel Castro, they played the race card to              utilized mainly in singles matches facing varied opponents. . “I met Scicluna for
the hilt in many different parts of America. It was of course patriotic to boo these        the first time in 1981,” commented The Time Traveler. “It was after the Akron
two underhanded bastards and root for them to go back to Havana. The heat was               Armory was done as a wrestling arena and a new venue was being used. At the
instantaneous. The Castillos had a number of matches at the Akron Armory                    time, I was going under an earlier alias as Mad Dog Marcial Bovee and was
during the 1970s, facing the likes of Pat & Mike Kelly, Luis Martinez & Fred                booked in this union hall, managing Hans Mueller. Anyway, here I am in this
Curry and the Rougeau brothers.                                                             pink outfit and beret, walking to the ring with this guy in Nazi garb, going to the
                                                                                            ring to meet Domenic Denucci. Scicluna is casually standing in a corner of the
REMEMBERING MAD DOG GAGNONE Mad Dog Gagnone was a Mad Dog                                   dressing room; smoking his pipe and watching us go, with this blank expression
Vachon clone, looking the same with the shaved head and wrestling in kind, with             on his face.” One big on imitations, The Time Traveler demonstrated Scicluna’s
the stomping, slugging, cheating attitude. Though he was mainly seen in his                 deadpan look. “Anyway, this riot breaks out and creates a massive fight between
native Canada, he and a “brother” (no idea if they were related or not) made it to          wrestlers and fans. Most of the other wrestlers on the card came out to fight us
Akron at various times in the 1970s. In 1973, he seemed to be heading for a push            back to the locker room and get us the hell out of there, except for Scicluna. So
in Ohio, but nothing really seemed to become of it past the initial stages                  here we all come, cursing and swearing in a big parade. He just watches us all go,
                                                                                            still smoking his pipe, with the same disinterested expression he had when we
REMEMBERING CHIEF BOLD EAGLE Walter Moore was not real big on                               made our way to the ring and everything was right with the world a few minutes
blood, as noted earlier. Usually, when a wrestler started bleeding, the referee             before.” One of the Baron’s main traits was the bizarre expressions he could
would stop the match fairly fast, perhaps when given a high sign from the                   make on his face both when posing for publicity photos and in the ring, so he was
promoter, who kept an office on the bottom floor if the building, near the ring. An         not always as blank as the story above implies. He could make the ugliest faces
encounter between Eric the Red and Chief ended that way in September of 1974,               with snarls, grimaces, leers and growls, looking like a man ready to eat his
when the Viking villain tromped the living hell out of his Indian opponent. Bold            opponent alive. This was, by even his own admission, one of the things that really
Eagle bled more heavily than most wrestlers in Akron during this encounter and              got him over with the fans.
looked like he’d be ready for an undertaker rather than a doctor when the bout
was called to a halt. Eric’s bloodying his opponent was used to spin off some               REMEMBERING SID LARIA Sid Laria was a popular referee who lived in
other feuds, with Bold Eagle’s friends vowing revenge for him. On October 12,               Akron and worked various shows in the Armory, as well as other venues. He was
1974, Bold Eagle gained satisfaction himself, by paying Eric the Red back. He               considered competent and capable within his chosen profession. Oddly enough,
did not pin his vile opponent, but did obtain a victory, for Eric bailed from the           right after the death of Jimmie Banks in 1982, Laria was scheduled to be the head
ring and was counted out, just when it seemed certain he was about to be going              referee on a benefit card organized to raise funds for the wrestler’s family. Laria
down for the pinfall. It was enough to send the people home happy.                          died of a heart attack a few days before the card was to be held.

REMEMBERING TARA TAYLOR Tara Taylor was a capable woman wrestler,                           REMEMBERING BEN JUSTICE Midwestern fans got their first look at Ben
but not one who went as far as was anticipated in the wrestling world. On                   Justice in 1968 or so, when he appeared as a crusader in a white mask, claiming
February 1, 1976, Tara did double duty in Akron. First, she faced off with the              to be from Washington DC and having a mission of running the villains out of
massive Heather Feather in a singles bout, where she was pinned and practically             wrestling. He faced Porky Pig, The Hell’s Angels and others, while using a
crushed by her opponent. She later returned in a mixed tag team that evening,               sleeper as his favorite hold. Eventually, the mask came off, thanks to Jerry
where she & Bad Bill Coleman faced Heather Feather & Lou Klein. Tara and her                Graham, but the wrestler stayed, growing in popularity in the Ohio/Michigan area.
partner went down to defeat, making it a very long evening.                                 In 1971, The Hell’s Angels brought Justice to Arizona where they were enjoying
                                                                                            a hot run under an alternate alias as The Comancheros. The idea was Justice had
REMEMBERING KEN KENNETH Little seems to be remembered about Ken                             come to Phoenix to seek revenge for a partner this pair had supposedly crippled
Kenneth, though his name appears on various cards in Ohio during the late 1950s             back in Detroit. Justice tore into both of them in a televised match and the crowd
through the early 1960s, where he usually lost more than he won. Trying to find             was on edge, hoping finally someone was going to give these two bastards what
extra data on this man, as his name just seems to roll right off the tongue, proved         they so richly deserved. Justice took Pancho Pico as a partner and together they
more difficult than trying to pull teeth with a pop sickle stick. Whatever became           engaged The Comancheros in a number of bloodbaths. The program went on for
of him would be the million dollar question, but if you know the answer; don’t              several months and was still going strong when promoter, Ernie Muhammad

decided to close up shop to devote more time to his paving company. Justice                  door to grappling. Before truly making it big in this profession, however, Doctor
returned to Detroit where he and his partner, The Stomper, engaged in a feud with            Sam passed away. On his own once more, Strickland continued to wrestle for a
the Kangaroos. The Stomper ended up with a broken leg. This gave other                       while and finally retired. He died a few years back, after living his remaining
wrestlers, especially the villains, a lot of cannon fodder for interviews and bad            days quietly and trying not to discuss his former tag partner with the press.
jokes. From afar, Ron Dupree of the Hell’s Angels made jokes in the magazines
about how ironic it was a man calling himself The Stomper went down with a leg               REMEMBERING IRON MIKE LOREN Iron Mike Loren wrestled earlier in his
injury! “Some Stomper,” he quipped. “I wonder how he’s stomping now.” Okay                   career under the unflattering alias of Porky the Pig, a fact fans would never let
then! All the hype aside, Ben Justice never equaled those matches with The                   him forget as he tried to work under his new name. This he played up to each
Hell’s Angels/Comancheros any place else when it came to sheer intensity,                    time the opportunity arose. “Shut up, you idiots,” he would yell at the fans,
though he would come very close. It was not during his baby face run, however,               holding his ears. “I’m Iron Mike!” “You’re Porky the Pig!” someone would
but in a turn that put him over as a top draw in Sheik’s territory. Justice turned on        always shoot back and the chant would start. “You’re Porky the Pig! Porky the
a number of different friends and went to team with the hated Killer Tim Brooks.             Pig! Porky! You’re Porky the Pig!” Loren was a stocky, rough-looking man who
Together they won the World Tag Team championship. In Akron, Ben Justice                     spent most of his career in the Midwest. One of his characteristics was to wrestle
went from being a top baby to a top heel. The people just hated him with a                   without boots most of the time, in his bare feet. This enabled him to use a number
passion, feeling betrayed by the man they once supported. This was a time before             of kicks and such, but also left him to be stepped on in moments of comic relief
good guys and bad guys played musical chairs, switching roles at whim. Back                  by his opponents. Loren had various bouts at the Akron Armory, facing Domenic
then, if you were a baby face, you stayed a baby face. If you were a heel, you               Denucci and others. His won/loss record was not impressive, but even if he came
stayed heel. Changes in style were major events that were hyped to the hills and             out on the losing end of things most often, he was still over with the people. He
this was one of them. During his heel run, Justice usually won his matches, be it            was the man the audience loved to antagonize.
as a single or in the company of Brooks. He still used the sleeper, but he unveiled
a whole new range of illegal tactics as well. When he went to Arizona a few years            REMEMBERING ELLIE ELLIS “Ellie Ellis wrestled in the Midwest and other
beforehand, he clearly picked up some new tricks. Adopting a Buddy Rogers strut              areas during the late 1950s through the early 1960s. She was sometimes billed to
and an arrogant smirk, he took to calling himself Beautiful Ben Justice and                  be a sister of Cowboy Bob Ellis in varied cycles. Whether she was any relation or
demanding others do the same. Of course no one complied, which was the                       not is a question I can’t answer, though I would have my doubts. One hundred
general idea. Justice remained on top as a heel for a number of years; then just             years from now, what difference will it make anyway?” commented former
dropped out of sight. There was gossip he was driving a trick, while other                   wrestling manager, Rainbow, who has made it a hobby to study the history of
wrestlers said he was tending bar. No one was certain. As with many wrestlers                women’s wrestling. She thought for a moment, before going on. “In fact, it
from this particular era, he seemed to vanish from view.                                     doesn’t even make much difference now!” Ellie Ellis made the rounds in Ohio
                                                                                             around 1960, without much favor or displeasure. She was more active in
REMEMBERING ABDULLAH THE BUTCHER This rotund, bald-headed                                    Cleveland than in Akron or other cities further south. She reportedly made it as
villain claimed to be from Sudan, but was actually a Canadian. As one of the                 far as Arizona and California as well in the same general time span.
greatest maniacs in the game, his madman’s antics could rival those of Bulldog
Brower and The Sheik on any given evening. He used foreign objects, cheated in               REMEMBERING COWBOY BOB ELLIS Whether or not he was any kin to
every way he could, bloodied his opponents and wound up bloodied himself.                    Ellie Ellis for real being aside, Cowboy Bob Ellis was one of the most
Eventually, he had so many scars on his head; it looked like someone had been                charismatic wrestlers of the 1960s. He wore cowboy boot and a cowboy hat into
hitting him with a hatchet. Abdullah made numerous appearances in Akron over                 the ring, wore trunks with a horseshoe logo on the back and had a smile for
the years, usually filling the Armory when his name was on the card. Domenic                 everyone. He used the bulldog headlock to win most of his matches, but had a
Denucci, Ernie Ladd, Tony Parisi and Chief White Owl were just a few of them.                wide arsenal of other holds as well. He was one of the few people to ever reverse
Abdullah outlasted the Akron Armory by decades. In 2006, he was brought back                 the dreaded Buddy Rogers leg lock and turn the tables on him, forcing him to
to nearby Canton for a match with Mr. Insanity, by the MCW promotion. Though                 submit via his own signature move. Ellis was likewise known for his bloody
he refused to give his real age, it was estimated he was well over sixty at the time,        feuds. A continual theme for his matches was to be bloodied and battered for
yet he and the much younger man engaged in a brawl that spilled all over the                 much of the encounter, only to become enraged and finally start fighting back. In
arena. “It just seemed funny to hear him talk, see him sitting in the locker room            various parts of the world, his brawls were of epic proportions. The Sheik, The
smoking this big cigar and acting like a normal person, because you have this                Hell’s Angels, Don Arnold, Bearcat Wright, Jack Ringer, Duke Keomuka, Bob
image in your head of this guy who is legitimately nuts,” said one of the younger            Geigel, The Bruiser, Blackjack Lanza, Ben Justice, Killer Brooks, John Shane,
wrestlers on the card. “Then when you got him going on his stories there was no              Chuck Karbo and Henry Pulusso were just some of the people he slugged it out
shutting him up. The stories he told though! I think he could have gone on all               with. Ellis made various appearances at the Akron Armory and other arenas in
night and not told the same tale twice, but each story was better than the one               Ohio, but was constantly on the go. He traveled about from territory to territory,
before.” The feud with Domenic Denucci was one of the highlights of Abdullah’s               as he was always in demand. One of the things fans loved about Ellis was his
career in Akron, perhaps even overshadowing his program with Ernie Ladd. The                 willingness to fight fire with fire. As noted, his trademark was to be pounded
feud kicked off when Abdullah did a run-in on Akron television and tried to get              down to the point where he could take no more, after which he responded with
the better of his Italian enemy, who just finished off another wrestler in the ring.         brutality to match or surpass any opponent. “He was allowed to do more out west
The two started fighting all over the place, with Denucci holding the upper hand.            in Arizona than he was in Ohio,” commented The Time Traveler. In Phoenix and
Finally, Abdullah beat a retreat and the fans were all thinking if this was what             Tucson he was over really big as a baby fighting bad guys and giving them doses
would happen in an unscheduled match, the madman from Sudan was doomed in                    of their own medicine. He had some really wild brawls with this humungous
their official encounter. At the house shows, however, Denucci didn’t get such an            black guy named Sweet Daddy Watts and his partner, Bearcat Wright. He also
easy go of things. As of 2007, Abdullah has still been doing autograph-signings              had some blood baths with Jody Arnold that would have rivaled anything you’d
and occasional wrestling matches. He also operates a restaurant and an apartment             see by people like Sandman or Funk in ECW years later. The way Ellis worked
complex in Atlanta.                                                                          out west, as opposed to Michigan, Ohio, Missouri and the like, had to be seen to
                                                                                             be believed. He was just brutal out west, but more laid back in other territories. It
REMEMBERING HOSS STRICKLAND George “Hoss” Strickland might be                                was like in Phoenix, they turned him loose to do whatever he wanted.” Traveler
recalled for getting the infamous Dr. Sam Sheppard into wrestling after the                  stopped for a minute and snickered. “He was a real cowboy of sorts, as he
suspected wife-killer married his daughter. This incident was dealt with at length           actually had great skill with riding and was in the race horse business for a long
in a little-known film called Guilty or Innocent? The Sam Sheppard Murder Case,              while. I had heard, however, that he was born in Indiana, not Texas, but I cannot
where George Peppard played the doctor and a character actor played Strickland,              confirm that.”
though the grappler was never mentioned by name. In fact, the Akron Armory
was where Sheppard debuted as a tag team partner to Strickland, before they went             REMEMBERING TONY VAGNONE Tony Vagnone was a Canadian grappler
on the road. In Akron, reaction to Sheppard and his partner was mixed, though                who made the rounds in the 1950s, including some stops at the Akron Amory. He
the arena was full. Keep in mind, the Sheppard case was still fairly fresh in                was best known for a brief feud with Johnny Valentine in this arena, but such was
people’s minds when this duo made their presentation and many people                         only one distinction in his career. Sadly, a number of the historical accounts, web
considered Sheppard guilty. The impact at the time would have been roughly                   pages and books ignore him. While data is a bit sketchy, he was far from being a
equated to that of a major promotion having O.J. Simpson set for his wrestling               nonentity during his day.
debut in Los Angeles, teaming with Robert Blake. In spite of Sheppard’s sinister
reputation, he and his partner were cheered by fans in other parts of Ohio and               REMEMBERING LUTHER LINDSAY Luther Lindsay was predominately
beyond. The Strickland & Sheppard tag team made it as far as down south, where               known for his wrestling down south, where he engaged in an eternal feud with
they worked for the old Gulas promotion in Tennessee, facing Eddie Sullivan,                 Shag Thomas. He also made many trips to the Arizona-California circuit to
Mac York, Duke Savage and others. The marriage to Strickland’s daughter did                  escape some of the segregated match requirements he encountered prior to the
indeed provide a badly needed source of income of the ex-doctor and opened a                 Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. Lindsey made it to least one main event in

Akron on February 2, 1952, when he and Johnny Valentine beat Tony Vagnone                   renovations were completed and the promotion moved back there, facing varied
and Francois Miquet in a tag team bout. . Lindsey died unexpectedly in the                  opponents. One of them was Bobo Brazil, with whom he likewise had a savage
middle of a match on February 21, 1972. His heart gave out just as he scored the            feud. Upon retirement, Von Erich returned to Canada and became quite wealthy
final pin fall and he passed into history with victory in his grasp.                        due to a patent on an exercise machine helping people with back injuries. During
                                                                                            the past few years, he has attended old-timer reunions in various places and
REMEMBERING CONCHITA PONS Conchita Pons was a respectable female                            scarcely looks the same, brandishing a smile rather than his smirk of old and
wrestler who made the circuit in the early 1950’s. It was not in Akron where she            spouting a gray beard. Clearly the “curse” that plagued Fritz and family never
had her greatest feud, however, but in Sandusky, where she and the thennew                  jumped over to devastate him or his. Von Erich also had a successful WWE run
Fabulous Moolah had a lengthy feud, facing each other for several weeks straight.           when it was known as the WWWF and was not an international promotion, but
Pons was especially known for crushing leg locks applied to the body or the head.           one operating from Pittsburgh to Bangor. He and the legendary Bruno
Often, she forced a submission using these maneuvers.                                       Sammartino had some epic encounters in that territory. People fearing the
                                                                                            dreaded Nazi would take the World title from Bruno and tarnish it beyond repair
REMEMBERING GOON HENRY Jim “Goon” Henry traveled with a carnival                            were worried over nothing. Though he might have come close, he never did win
as a wrestler, as well as with the established territorial circuits in the 1940s and        the belt. Von Erich did hold a lesser version of the World title for a smaller
1950s. He made it to Akron on varied occasions, feuding with Johnny Valentine               promotion, however, plus other belts in various territories. During one of his
and others. A burly, brutal man, Goon Henry lived up to his alias. He punched,              Akron runs, he was North American Champion.
slammed, kicked and cheated his way to many victories. Though he usually
worked as heel, he was respected enough to find himself on a wrestling trading              REMEMBERING LOU THESZ As World Champion, Lou Thesz was kept on
card in the 1950s, along with such notables as Lou Thesz and Dick Hutton. Henry             the go, both when he held the belt and when he was trying to regain it after a loss.
was billed as being born in Chicago, which may well have been true, for he had              Thus, he was always on demand and never stayed in one city for too long,
many of his matches there and operated from The Windy City as a home base.                  including Akron. No book on wrestling would be complete without a brief bio on
                                                                                            this outstanding star, even if his Ohio runs were just part of an extended schedule
REMEMBERING THE KELLY TWINS Pat and Mike Kelly were legitimate                              Thesz was not only a magnificent wrestler, but could shoot with the best and fight
twins, though their real last name was Arko. They came from Canada, where they              totally for real when the need arose. Aside from a Boston crab that could force
started their careers and learned the trade, eventually drifting down into the USA          anybody into submission, he created the Lou Thesz Press to finish his opponents
as well. Usually, they wrestled as heels, doing the shift off at opportune times and        and another less-legal hold dubbed the hammer and nail. In this latter action, he
switching places with each other to gain an advantage over their opponents. At              would place his elbow at the throat of an opponent when both were backed
other times, though, they worked as baby faces and were effective in this capacity          against the turnbuckles, then hit the fist of this arm with his open palm. The
as well. The Kelly brothers made various appearances in Akron during the 1970s.             elbow would be driven into his victim’s throat like a gigantic nail. Born Aloysius
Pat Kelly was killed in the wreck up in Canada that also took the life of Adrian            Thesz in 1916, the future star was trained by the legendary George Tragos. He
Adonis and The Wildman in 1988.                                                             would later have many tremendous bouts and make his mentor proud. Six times
                                                                                            during his long career, he would carry the title of World Champion, facing the
REMEMBERING SUSAN GREEN Susan “Tex” Green came from Texas as                                toughest of challengers as he traveled the globe. During his career, he was never
her ring name suggested. She was one of Moolah’s prime students and sent many               much for showmanship. He deplored wrestlers who used gimmicks to get over
places during the 1970s. She had some encounters in Akron as well, including a              with the crowd, not even liking the fancy ring garb of people like The Sheik or
tag team bout where she paired up with Heather Feather to beat Paula Kaye and               Gorgeous George. “This is a black day for wrestling,” he commented, when the
Kay Casey. Green and Kaye made quite a combo, feuding throughout the USA.                   flamboyant Buddy Rogers beat Pat O’ Conner for the World crown. Thesz and
The Akron encounter was a repeat of most of their matches, with Paula Kaye                  Rogers never reportedly got along well behind the scenes and stories abound
fighting like a man, using foreign objects and stealing the show, before the two            about their conflicts. Thesz was supposedly quoted as saying this about Rogers
good girls got the better of her and her wicked partner. This was the way it                being a manipulator of others. “He would use his friends and be nice to his
always seemed to go, regardless of location. Paula Kaye never gained wins over              enemies, so they would become his friends and he could use them too.” The great
the popular Green. Eventually, Sue Green drifted from active wrestling to start a           star’s own ring garb consisted of a bathrobe he would wear to the ring, a towel
wrestling school of her own in the Columbia, South Carolina area. She also took             draped around his neck, dark trunks and a pair of boots. Like many of his
a job working for the city.                                                                 associates, Thesz retired and returned to wrestling varied times. Even after calling
                                                                                            it quits for good, he was big in the Cauliflower Alley Club and other old-timer
REMEMBERING FRITZ VON ERICH So much has been written already,                               organizations. He died in 2002 If you want to find a grave for this legendary
surrounding the life of Fritz Von Erich and his family; it is not worth rehashing           grappler you will not be able to do so, as his remains were cremated and
here. Most fans have heard the story to the point of tedium. Fritz lived to see his         deposited over the shores of a river in Missouri.
wife divorce him and several of his sons die by suicide, before he passed away
from terminal cancer. A lifetime smoker, the habit evidently caught up with him.            REMEMBERING FRANK VALOIS This French-Canadian was often booked
Born Jack Adkisson in Texas, this towering grappler became Fritz Von Erich, a               alongside Andre the Giant early in the latter’s career to speak French to the
snarling Nazi with a claw hold that crushed the skulls of his opponents, while the          lumbering mega star and help him get by in his travels. In his own right, he was a
fans jeered. Under his more sophisticated real name, he served a stint as NWA               decent grappler Born in Montreal, Valois started wrestling in 1940 as a student of
President. Von Erich made the Ohio circuit in the early 1960’s, hitting Cincinnati,         Eugene Trembley. While he wrestled as a fan favorite during his younger days,
Akron, Columbus and other major towns, where he was always pushed heavily.                  he later became a heel. Valois last appeared in Akron in August of 1974, when he
Though World War II was long over, there was enough ethnic hatred surviving to              teamed with Fred Curry to take on Kurt Von Hess & Al Costello. He was
go around and spectators flocked to the arenas, hoping to see him beaten. Some              assisting Andre at the time of this appearance and worked a preliminary while his
of the superstitious contend Von Erich suffered so many personal tragedies                  gigantic friend faced Bulldog Brower in the main event. Frank Valois died some
because he made a fortune playing a Nazi in the ring. This would be an odd                  time ago from natural causes.
statement, when considering how many others did the same, such as Kurt Von
Hess, Hans Schmidt, Horst Hoffman, Baron Von Oldies, Kurt & Karl Von                        REMEMBERING JIM LANCASTER Wrestling out of Lima, Ohio, Jim
Brauner, Karl Von Brock, Kurt & Karl Von Steiger, Hans Steiner, Hans & Max                  Lancaster was a bulky villain with long hair during his younger days and a
Mortier, Sergeant Shultz, Karl Kramer, Hans Steiner, Hans Mueller and Siegfried             regular on the Midwestern circuit. He had various bouts in Akron, losing to Tony
Steinke all claimed the same affiliation, as did Fritz’s “brother” Waldo, without           Marino and others. His real name was Jim Painter and he was reportedly born in
any serious mishaps.                                                                        Dayton. Aside from wrestling, Lancaster trained a number of others for the ring,
                                                                                            most notably Al Snow.
REMEMBERING WALDO VON ERICH Waldo Von Erich was no more
German than his “brother” Fritz, but was actually amiable Wally Sieber from                 REMEMBERING TONY MARINO Tony Marino was a muscular grappler who
Canada. When he stepped into his ring role, however, there were few heels the               used an abdominal stretch to win most of his matches. Though he once worked
people deplored more. He wore a scalp-blistering crew cut, smirked openly at the            under a silly routine as Batman during the 1960s, he was taken more seriously
jeering fans and did everything he could to brutalize his foes. Von Erich traveled          without the hood. In Akron, Marino faced Jim Lancaster, George Steele and
the country with his supposed kinsman in the early 1960s, before breaking off for           Sheik over the years, but this town was just one of several stops for him on the
good and going out on his own. This may have been a wiser decision than it                  Ohio circuit. He was used more often in Canton, Toledo and Cleveland, where he
seemed for as a single, he became a hot attraction for many years in the                    had longer feuds with The Sheik, Killer Brooks, Dr. Jerry Graham and Chris
Ohio/New York/Pennsylvania/Michigan area, as well as Canada, where no one                   Markoff. Marino eventually retired to Florida.
suspected he was actually a citizen. Von Erich feuded with Bulldog Brower in
1971, during the summer when wrestling was held at the present- day Civic                   REMEMBERING THE FARGO BROTHERS When Don Kalt became Don
Theatre rather than the Armory. He made Armory shows as well, when                          Fargo down south, teaming with his “brothers” Jackie and Sonny, he became a

top draw. Why end a good thing? As he drifted into the Ohio territory, he found a         REMEMBERING GORGEOUS GEORGE As plain George Wagner, this man
new relative in the form of Johnny Fargo. Together they won a version of the              was a prizefighter and wrestler of so-so results, but when he realized the
World Tag Team title and drew a great deal of resentment from the stands. “You            advantage of showmanship, he became an instant sensation. Altering his ring
know what makes us great?” Don growled into the camera during an interview                name to Gorgeous George (he would later legally change his name to this as well,
before a bout in Akron. “It’s because we cheat! That’s what makes us champions            with his first name listed as Gorgeous and his last name as George), he adopted
and winners right there!” Okay then! That’s a far cry from Hulk Hogan                     the most warped personality ever seen in the arenas at the time. With the advent
encouraging kids to take their vitamins and say their prayers a dozen years later.        of television, he became a top attraction in the game, but never content to rest on
One has to wonder how many children took Fargo’s advice and used cheat-sheets             his laurels, hew as constantly thinking of new ways to offend the crowd. He knew
on their next test in school! The Fargos faced a number of tag team combinations          for a fact, the fans would come, hoping to see him beaten and if he kept winning,
in the Akron Armory. Among their challengers, few came away without lumps.                they would return again and again. The secret was to always be just at the brink
When they were faced with Victor Rivera and a mystery opponent, this again                of defeat, only to pull some dirty move out of his ass and win. He dyed his hair
gave the Fargos a chance to shine in their interviews. “Every opponent we face in         blond, stopped into beauty parlors rather than barber shops to have it primped and
Akron is a mystery,” Don started. “Even the town itself is a mystery,” Johnny             made sure the press was there to see it. He bought an assortment of long, flowing
chimed in. The tirade continued as they listed possible opponents. All the while,         robes. He had a number of cheap hairpins plated gold to give out as “Georgie
the exasperated announcer stood there, holding the mike and looking offended.             Pins” when he appeared at house shows. He always ordered the referee to instruct
“He can even get a bear,” Don cracked. It could very well be a bear,” the                 his opponents never to let the other wrestler mess up his hair, which of course
announcer finally interrupted, being able to take no more. There had been a few           they always went for right off the bat. He entered the ring to the snobbish tones of
wrestling bears in the area over the years, including one which bit off the               Pomp & Circumstance, often taking several minutes just to make his way from
fingertip of Luis Martinez when the mouth-gear came loose. “When you mean                 the dressing room door to the ropes. He walked with the speed of a turtle,
he’ll team with a bear, it would be his twin brother,” the Fargos said in unison          sneering at the fans all the way and relishing in their hatred. Though he was as
before stepping into the ring. As they did, they removed their Fargo t-shirts and         straight as an arrow, the idea was of course to imply homosexuality, though the
tossed them at the announcer, with one hanging over his head. “Get a load of              word was never used. This, of course, infuriated every macho man in the
this,” the Fargos taunted Tony Parisi and Domenic Denucci in the midst of a tag           audience, which was the general idea. “Gorgeous George was a legitimately
team bout where they stomped two job guys. “This is going to be you two, you              tough man,” commented retired wrestler John Shane at the 1997 Arizona Old-
big-nosed Italians. You can’t wrestle! You can’t even speak English right! Get a          Timer Reunion. “One time, heading back to Phoenix, he stopped at a bar outside
good look at this, because this is going to be you.” Eventually, the Fargo                Globe and went in to buy a six pack of beer. He walked into this cowboy bar with
“brothers” separated. Don started touring on his own, where he drifted to Texas,          this beret on, his long blonde hair and his fancy clothes. Right away the people at
Arizona and back into the south. He faced Cornelio Hernandez, Scott Casey, Bill           the bar thought he was gay and made some wisecracks. George beat the shit out
Dundee and Chris Colt, among others. He later returned to Tennessee and briefly           of all of them, casually took his pack of beer; got into his car and drove off to the
started his own promotion in the early 1980’s, with a fairly large fan base. Ron          wrestling show.” “I wrestled Gorgeous George three times and he was drunk each
Garfield, Joey Rossi, Bob Elliot, Candi Divine, Donna Day, Don Green, Len                 time,” commented Tito Montez when reflecting on the wrestler. Drinking did
Rossi, Joe Cagle, Rocky Sorter, Mike Dupree and Harvey Lee were some of the               become a serious issue for Gorgeous George and may have contributed heavily to
people who worked his cards. Johnny Fargo took a new name, the same one his               his death via heart attack on December 26, 1963. He was buried at the Valhalla
real-life father had made famous. He became Greg Valentine and the rest was a             Memorial Park in North Hollywood, California. While some accredit him with
matter of record.                                                                         creating a circus-like atmosphere for pro wrestling from which it never recovered
                                                                                          and hated him for it, others saw a good deal of sense in what he was doing. There
REMEMBERING DIAMOND LIL One of two midget wrestlers trained by                            was a Gorgeous George Jr., played by one Tommy Phelps, who was no real
Fabulous Moolah, Diamond Lil is seen in the women wrestling documentary,                  relation to the family and was actually sued by George’s widow to keep from
Dynamite & Lipstick, Piss & Vinegar. Moolah constantly calls her “my damned               using the routine in California, which had been the home base for the real
midget” and though politically incorrect, she doesn’t seem to mind during her             Gorgeous George long before. There was also a Gorgeous George Grant,
film appearances Diamond Lil toured the USA as an opponent to another midget              Gorgeous George III and even a Gorgeous George IV. If imitation is indeed the
girl by the name of Darling Dagmar. During these meetings, she played the heel            best form of flattery, then from beyond the grave Wagner must have been truly
to Dagmar’s baby face and seldom, of ever, gained a win. The two met in Akron             flattered. Several of George’s matches survive on VHS and DVD today. He may
on a 1974 tour. As usual, Lil went down for the count.                                    also be seen in a mystery film called Alias the Champ. Whatever Happened to
                                                                                          Gorgeous George was a popular book released in 1970 or so, which offered a
REMEMBERING THE GOLDEN SECRET The Golden Secret was a masked                              basic exposure of the wrestling world’s secrets, to the chagrin of participants
man active in Akron and other places during the early 1950s, but who worked               everywhere and credited George as one of the pioneers of showboating in the
behind the mask would be anyone’s guess. He could have been Dwight                        profession. In 1971, there was a lengthy Playboy article about him as well. Nearly
Eisenhower, though such seems a bit unlikely. During at least one Akron                   every wrestling book to follow dealing with the history of the game has
encounter, The Golden Secret did not do so well against Johnny Valentine and              mentioned him in passing or at length. George was the master at being the
was defeated in quick order. “Daddy, who was that masked man?” “Daddy                     cowardly, chicken shit heel, who appeared brave as a bluff, but would run from
doesn’t know, son, so shut the hell up and quit asking!”                                  his opponent when the going got tough. He would take his cheap shots and
                                                                                          distract the referee, using little things to gain an advantage. Trivial spots such a
REMEMBERING HANK JAMES Hank James was reportedly either a brother                         pulling hair, grabbing trunks or choking became trademarks of his that would
or half-brother of Bobo Brazil, which may have been the truth. Both were tall             send the crowds into orbit in spite of their simplicity. His interviews were blazing
black men who did physically favor each other, though James wrestled                      examples of pride and conceit. This again drove viewers to outrage. The style
predominately as a heel. He did have a baby face run, feuding with the Sheik, but         would slip into other areas as well. Muhammad Ali credited memories of
who didn’t! James was not exclusively a Midwestern grappler, though much of               watching George wrestle as one of the inspirations for his brash character in his
his career was spent there. He also received a major heel push in Texas, where            own ring, where he boasted of how he would take out a certain opponent in a
accompanied by a valet named Joe Joe, he was involved in a savage feud with the           specific round and did it. Henry Winkler’s portrayal of “The Lover” in the
top good guys at the time. James and Terry Funk engaged in a number of heated             comedy, The One & Only was also loosely based on the career of Gorgeous
brawls in the Texas territory, most notably a chain bout that saw both men                George. Sadly, George pissed and drank away much of the fortune he made
bleeding like they had the tops of their heads shot off by Lee Harvey Oswald.             during wrestling. A lavish lifestyle didn’t help as one time on a whim; he told his
Dressing like a stereotyped pimp, James wore a fancy hat and a red cloak with             wrestling friends he was going to go to Buenos Aires for dinner. As far as anyone
black hands sewn on it, for whatever this was supposed to signify. He strutted, he        knows he did legitimately go to the airport, take the next plane out and party for
sneered, he leered and he cheated his way to numerous wins. In July of 1974 at            the weekend in South America. Around the country, Don Arnold, Ed Carpentier,
the Akron Armory, he was facing The Crusader (Dewey Robertson under a hood)               Bruiser, Destroyer, Jesse James, Phil Melby, Fred Blassie and George Temple
and beat a retreat to the locker room, when the action grew too furious for him.          were just some of the people he faced. Again, some of these matches survive him
This of course led to a lumberjack match with various wrestlers stationed around          on televised tape, VHS and DVD, enabling a whole new generation knowing him
the ring the following week, to keep a repeat incident from happening. In this            only by name, to actually view his antics, which for better or worse; paved the
lumberjack bout, The Crusader beat James, though the villain had help from Juan           road for modern wrestling. Akron was just one of many stops for Gorgeous
Zarpatas, The Mongol and Frenchy Martin at ringside. Good triumphed over evil             George when he was at the height of his career. Yet sadly, near the end, he was
in the end. Though they were yelling for James to be lynched in Akron                     reportedly looking for bookings any place he could get them.
encounters, a number of these very same fans were cheering him down in Canton
a few years later, when he served as guest referee in a bout between the Sheik and        REMEMBERING GIL GUERRERO A popular Hispanic wrestler, Gil Guerrero
Pampero Firpo, conveniently helping the baby slide over the hated Arab.                   came into Ohio from an Indianapolis home base, where he reportedly worked in
                                                                                          landscaping as well. He was a capable wrestler who mingled certain fancy
                                                                                          Mexican moves with standard Americanized grappling. In July of 1974, he was

seen facing Juan Zarpatas, whom he normally traveled with and defeated. This                 Tombstone, Arizona. A short time after, he was found dead himself in Skeleton
time was no exception. On the same card, he saw action in a lumberjack bout                  Canyon, propped against a tree with a bullet in his head. Whether he had taken
between Hank James and The Crusader                                                          his own life in a fit of drunken depression or had some help from this world into
                                                                                             the next by person or persons unknown remains as big a mystery as which came
REMEMBERING THE GREAT KABOOKI The Great Kabooki (his spelling                                first, the chicken or the egg. On the same hand, the John Ringo in wrestling had a
of kabuki, a form of Japanese dancer) was a drawing card in the Ohio territory               name sounding more savage than his actual accomplishments, running a parallel
during the 1970s, with a painted face and evil leer. He was actually of a Filipino           with his outlaw namesake. He was usually seen in the preliminary matches and
bloodline and his name was Rey Urbano Kabooki wore head gear into the ring                   while he won about or two, he lost his share of them. On February 21, 1976, he
and would forever reach toward the back of it and rub some mysterious substance,             faced and beat Denny Alberts at the Akron Armory. He could have been used on
supposedly a chemical compound, into the eyes of his opponent to momentarily                 other cards as well, but documenting these has been a failure.
blind them and score a pin. “No understand,” Kabooki responded when asked by
a commentator what he kept in his head gear. “Head, of course! Kabooki go now!               REMEMBERING DIZZY DAVIS “He was a strange switch-hitter” commented
Interview over!” “I’ll tell you what he kept in his head gear,” remarked one of the          Lou Thesz, who respected the wrestling style of Sterling “Dizzy” Davis, but not
era’s wrestlers who wished to “kay fabe” to a point and not be named. “He didn’t             his choices in life, for the latter reportedly liked men and women equally and
keep a damned thing. All he would do was reach back, rub the head gear and rub               we’re not talking just for friends. During the 1950s, Davis wrestled throughout
his opponent in the face. The guy would then sell the movement or pretend like               the USA. Illinois, Ohio, Missouri, Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma and other areas were
he was hurt,. His opponent would stagger around as if blinded by some foreign                all on his booking sheet. He was a fine scientific wrestler when he wanted to be,
substance and Kabooki would get the pin, if the referee didn’t catch him and                 but also an outstanding brawler, making the shift from heel to baby just as easily
disqualify him. It was all bullshit; believe me, but the morons in the stands                as he made the sexual shift from one preference to another. During his years of
bought it. It was nothing but a classic work.” In Akron, Kabooki faced Domenic               activity, Davis and his “switch-hitting” became a carefully-guarded secret within
Denucci and other opponents during the 1970s. Invariably, they received the                  the wrestling world. While most of the wrestlers knew about this, they kept it a
feared “chemical” in the eyes time and time again. Kabooki died in 2007, long                secret from the fans. Their fears were a scandal would result that would somehow
after his retirement from wrestling. He shouldn’t be confused with another                   hurt the wrestling business, though Davis only had his romps with consenting
wrestler who called himself The Great Kabuki (note the correct spelling), who                adults. This was still taboo back then. After his death, the truth started to out and
worked in Texas and for Georgia Championship Wrestling in the 1980s, feuding                 among modern audiences, the wrestler’s sexual shifts seem to make no difference.
with Dusty Rhodes and others.                                                                A webpage devoted to gay pro wrestlers currently flaunts a long biography,
                                                                                             complete with photos, heralding Dizzy Davis as a star. While Davis wrestled
REMEMBERING BRUCE SWAYNZE Though he was a muscular young man                                 across America, Texas was the scene for some of his most epic battles with the
with a mustache and a capable wrestler in his own right, Bruce Swaynze was                   infamous Wild Red Berry. Berry, who was a member of the masons, straight, a
used most often as a manager in Ohio. He handled various villains with skill and             milk-drinker and an upright citizen in real-life, though a rotten villain in the ring,
cunning, gaining heat for them and for his own name in the process. He was                   did not think much of his rival’s personal values either, but managed to overcome
considered by many to be better in this role than as an actual grappler in the ring.         his unease to perform a number of great bouts with this man. Quite possibly,
His mouth was his strong point, as he gave great interviews, just boiling with               Davis worked to perfect his art in order to gain the respect of his fellow wrestlers
arrogance. Swaynze was a Canadian who found success on both sides of the                     because he knew of their dislike for his lifestyle away from the ring. If they did
border, migrating between his native land and the USA. On occasion he was                    not like his choices in partners, they would have to honor his capabilities as a
booked to wrestle in Akron as well. On January 6, 1973, he had an interesting                grappling star. This, of course, they did. While Thesz was critical of Davis for his
bout with Don Serrano, but lost. “I’m Beautiful Bruce Swaynze,” he would                     morals, he also admitted, as did others, that he threw one of the best punches in
constantly remind the fans, as he tagged this added title on for himself. “Don’t             wrestling. Others agreed. Lore has it Davis spent untold hours practicing a
you forget it!” The gesture was roughly the same as buying a used bowling                    “worked punch” by nailing a can to the wall and hitting it, so his blows looked
trophy at a rummage sale and claiming to be the winner of the Firestone                      devastating, but were landing as light as a feather. Davis died long ago, perhaps
Invitational Tournament of Champions. No one and I mean no one, complied and                 without fully realizing the impact his prancing style would have on wrestling,
admitted he was beautiful. He was accused of being many other things by the                  serving as an inspiration for many villains who would come later on.
spectators, however, as can well be imagined.
                                                                                             REMEMBERING BOB ORTON Bob Orton was a big, blond brawler with an
REMEMBERING HEATHER FEATHER Heather Feather capitalized on her                               exciting style, who made the rounds in the 1950s and 1960s. In Ohio, he was
large size by entering the wrestling ring. She wore silly-looking gear with an ice           more active in Cleveland and Columbus than in Akron, facing Frankie Talaber,
cream cone logo on her tights, carried a giant sucker in the ring and gave the               Don Curtis, Leon Graham, Billy Red Lyons. Bobby Bruns, Sonny Kurgis and
appearance of a female Igor, that being a woman with a gigantic body, but the                Karl Gotch, among a wide variety of interesting opponents, in these other towns
personality of a kid. In spite of the general silliness of her ring garb, she was all        Orton appeared at the Akron Armory in 1956 for a set of matches, defeating Bill
business once the bell sounded and proved she was someone to be taken seriously.             Miller in one encounter, but feuding more notably with a grappler named
Heather appeared at various times in Akron during the 1970s, facing assorted                 Cowboy Don Lee In 1962, Orton returned to Akron, where he and his partner,
opponents in mixed tags, girl-girl tag team bouts and in singles competition. She            The Great Scott, lost to Pete Sanchez and Carlos El Grande. Orton was the father
invariable won or helped her partner win time and time again. Later in her career,           of Cowboy Bob Orton and the grandfather of Randy Orton. The legendary
Heather decided to be taken more seriously and abandoned her little/ big girl gear           brawler died in 2006.
for standard wrestling tights. Dressed in a large black outfit, he said she was
ready to take on a man. This became a hot issue, whether worked or a shoot, with             REMEMBERING DON EAGLE Don Eagle was born Carl Don Bell in Canada,
varied athletic commissioners who supposedly refused to sanction the bout giving             the son of wrestler Chief Joseph War Eagle. He was a legitimate Caughnawaga
her a run-around. The building of the issue helped too, as seen in the movie, I              Indian. Though he wrestled on a national level, wearing his Mohawk hairdo and
Like To Hurt People, which documented the affair. Heather finally did get to                 chopping the hell out of opponents, he was most active around Columbus, Ohio,
have her bout with a man, facing a job guy named Rick O’ Toole, whom she                     where he lived for many years. His opponents in this city included Mister Kato,
easily defeated in Detroit.                                                                  Juan Sebastian, Eddie Graham, Fritz Schabel, Lord Blears, Tosh Togo, Cyclone
                                                                                             Anaya, Hard Boiled Haggarty, Gorgeous George, Lucky Simonovich, Frederick
REMEMBERING JESS ORTEGA Jess “Bull” Ortega wrestled for several                              Von Schacht, Ronnie Etchison, Ed Meske, Bob Geigel, Bill Miller, Steve Zold,
years on the Midwestern circuit, usually in the role of heel. Later in his career, he        Jim Hady, Eric Von Braun, Crusher Verdu and Luther Lindsey. The records show
found a new routine for himself, by wearing a mask in the ring, though he kept               Don Eagle made his Akron debut with a win over Angelo Martelli, but this match
his same alias. The idea was for him to hide certain foreign objects in the mask,            took place in a different venue than the Armory, being held at a building on South
which he would be unable to do without the hood and head butt people into                    Main Street. Eagle did have various matches at the Armory later on. In 1952, he
defeat. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t. Ortega eventually felt his              held Buddy Rogers to a monumental draw in this arena. He came back for a
ring abilities failing him, but could not leave his chosen profession,. Thus he              hyped return to the main events in the same building on February 6, 1960, when
became a manager, wearing a top hat, tuxedo and cane. This new career flew for               he beat Fritz Von Erich. Don Eagle died in 1966 from what appeared to be a self-
him, when he adopted the alias of Ortega-San and became a manager for Kabooki.               inflicted gun shot wound
Ortega suffered a fatal heart attack and died while he was still active in wrestling,
playing this manager role.                                                                   REMEMBERING DON SERRANO Don Serrano was a big guy, but like many
                                                                                             in the Midwest was used to put other people over rather than himself. He lost far
REMEMBERING JOHN RINGO The ring alias of John Ringo was either taken                         more than he won, both on televised tapings and in house shows. In Akron, for
from the Lorne Green hit song or from the actual gunfighter out in Arizona. John             whatever reason, things changed for him in 1973 and he was given somewhat of a
Ringo, the real-life gunman, was greatly demonized in myth and film, for he                  push. During that year he teamed with Luis Martinez to beat Raoul & Fidel
reportedly had only one kill to his credit, when he shot a miner outside                     Castillo, beat Mad Dog Gagnone, drew Fidel Castillo in a singles bout and had a

six man tag where he and the Kellys drew with the wicked Love Brothers with                 golf club they had used. Inside humor, perhaps? “We represent love and
Bruce Swaynze.                                                                              harmony,” the two brothers responded after Cannon’s rant. “We don’t do things
                                                                                            like that.” Uh huh! You bet! Hartford & Reginald had more than their share of
REMEMBERING J.B. PSYCHO This wrestler’s real name was John                                  appearances at the Akron Armory, facing teams such as Bold Eagle & The Patriot,
Madancina and he wrestled with a shaved head as one of the Skull Brothers                   Johnny & Jacques Rougeau, Raoul & Fidel Castillo, Chief White Owl & Don
earlier in his career. He later grew back his hair and let it go wild, added a              Serrano and several others. They were occasionally used in singles action as well,
mustache and a beard, while donning weird street clothes that didn’t match and              as seen in September of 1974, when Hartford beat Tom Reeseman and Reginald
just acted out of his gourd. The idea was to present himself as a man without all           lost to Moose Cholak by disqualification. To enhance their ironic “love child”
his brain cells functioning. The people bought it with a passion. At first, J.B.            routine, the two did not wear wrestling gear in the ring. Instead, they fought in
Psycho was a heel, resembling a murderous Santa Claus, but many fans cheered                tank tops and flowery bell bottom pants. They did, however, wear wrestling boots.
for him regardless. With this in mind, he was split with manager Eddie                      Aside from the Akron-Cleveland area, they were a big draw in Buffalo, Detroit
Creatchman and turned baby face. Nothing changed about the man’s style. It was              and throughout their native Canada. Besides their physical wrestling, they were
just the type of opponent that differed. “I hate The Sheik,” Psycho said in a rare          skilled talkers, both when giving televised interviews and speaking to wrestling
interview as he attempted to seal the change from bad guy to good. “He has fire             writers. In one magazine from the 1970’s, Hartford berated fans for what they
and it burns. I am going to tell Smokey the Bear on him and have his fire put               were shouting. “One of those fans had the nerve to yell ‘Look, ref that queer has a
out.” Okay, there’s something you don’t hear on the streets every day! J.B.                 rope’ at us when my poor brother was in the ring,” He then gave an exasperated,
Psycho had various showings at the Akron Armory to the pleasure of the fans,                “How uncouth.” Such was the case when Hartford & Reginald Love were around.
who loved his nondescript style Some regional experts contend one of the                    You never knew what they were going to come up with when a microphone was
infamous Psycho’s best bouts in Akron though, came when he battled Johnny                   stuck in their faces or a reporter was around with a note pad. “Hartford &
Powers in 1973. At this time, he had not yet made the big turn to baby. The                 Reginald love were a prototype for many tag teams to come afterward,” stated
popular Powers ended up the winner, but it was considered to be one of the best             present referee Logan Scott, who has made it a habit to collect and study
bouts of the career of J.B. Psycho.                                                         wrestling tapes, like many of his associates They were masters at distracting the
                                                                                            referee. I think I would have hated being in charge of a bout they were in.” He
REMEMBERING WILD RED BERRY Some older friends of mine, now                                  then went on to compliment the pair for their ability to anger the fans, which was
deceased, insisted upon seeing Wild Red Berry at the Akron Armory, but I have               of course, what being the bad guys was all about. “The people just did not like
been able to find nothing to verify this! Was he there or was he not? God only              them. All they had to do was come into the ring, flashing their peace signs with
knows. He could have made an appearance there, for the mouthy little villain was            their fingers and parading around in those pants of theirs to get the fans up in
in very big demand and every single card held at this arena has not survived                arms. On the tapes I’ve seen of them, it’s a wonder no riots ever broke out. I
documentation. Could he have been at another arena in Akron instead? Again,                 mean, the hatred those two provoked had to be seen to be believed.” “I never met
who knows! So, without anything concrete, we will remember him anyway.                      either Hartford or Reginald Love,” stated The Time Traveler. “I do, of course,
Berry did have a lengthy run up in Toledo and Detroit the 1940s. These activities           know of them. I also saw them now and again on television. Now, this was before
do remain documented. Among those he faced were Billy Venable, Marin Angelo,                I started working in wrestling myself as an active participant. In fact, I remember
Rene Labell, Soldier Thomas, and others. Could he have drifted down to Akron                that thing you’ve mentioned, with Cannon getting hit over the head with the golf
during this reign of terror up north or at a later date? Again, it remains possible.        club. I remember that specific interview he gave, where he said he would tear
As a wrestler it was in the Wild West that Berry had his biggest success, however,          down the whole building if they aired it again. It was great stuff. I was a little kid
trading the World Junior Heavyweight crown with Danny McShain, Gorilla                      and this was before my parents moved to Arizona. I think this would have been
Ramos and others varied times in California and Arizona. Upon his retirement                around 1967 or so? I can’t say. I do, however, remember exactly the comments
from wrestling, he went into managing, though he still stepped into the ring                Cannon gave and the feud.” “I have known some people who knew these two,”
himself now and again. He represented Hans & Max Mortier, the original                      he continued. “Everyone who ever met them, traveled with them or worked with
Kangaroos (Roy Hefferman & Al; Costello, before Don Kent took over for the                  them, seemed to like them. I heard they were a couple of weird practical jokers
former), and Gorilla Monsoon. Berry even had a handful of matches late in his               behind the scenes too. A couple stories, if true, probably shouldn’t see print. I’d
career with a newcomer from Puerto Rico by the name of Pedro Morales. Back in               have probably been set up for one of their damned jokes if I’d known them and
his native Pittsburgh Kansas, Berry went into politics and was active in the local          been tempted to kill them afterward. If some of the stories about them are true, it
Masonic Lodge. He died on his porch after playing a round of golf; suffering a              is a wonder no wrestler ever did! Again, it goes to show how highly the other
heart attack as he drank a glass of milk (he disliked alcohol). Berry’s routine as a        guys on the card regarded them.” Truly, this pair made a great tag team. One of
wrestler and more as manager, was to spout off multi-syllable words far beyond              the wildest tag bouts ever seen at the Akron Armory came in what was essentially
the intellect of many in the stands. The Bible, Shakespeare’s plays and                     a heel versus heel match, which featured Hartford & Reginald in the unusual
Hemingway were some of the sources he quoted when making a point. As a                      position of being cheered, as they faced Raoul & Fidel Castillo. The bout ended
wrestler, Berry liked to brawl. There were supposed to have been incidents in               in a double disqualification, when the referee lost all control and the action
varied arenas where he and his opponents made side bets as to who could draw                spilled from the ring. The two teams fought back to the locker room.
the most blood. In an encounter with one of the Christy brothers, Berry and his
opponent actually slipped in small pools of blood in the center of the ring, with           REMEMBERING LEN MONTANA Len Montana wrestled as himself and as a
women fainting and some men actually throwing up from the excessive gore.                   number of other roles, including make-believe Indian, under the name of Chief
And some people think extreme wrestling began with ECW!                                     Chewacki. He used both Montana and Chewacki in Ohio as the situation fit. On
                                                                                            February 5, 1955, Montana faced Primo Carnera in Akron and promptly got
REMEMBERING KILLER JOE ABBEY Joe Abbey was a regular for the                                disqualified in the process. Though the big boxer-turned-wrestler won the bout,
WWF in Pittsburgh and frequently made trips into Ohio for varied promotions as              he was anything but pleased, chasing both his opponent and the referee from the
well. He was a capable, but unrecognized grappler.. At the Akron Armory, Abbey              ring in fury. Montana would be better known for his acting career. He especially
was utilized in the capacity of referee, though he would have made a fine addition          won acclaim as Luca Brazzi, the man strangled in an empty bar, with his hand
to the cards. He died in 1999, after all but retiring from wrestling to work as a           pinned to the counter by a knife in The Godfather. Other movies to his credit
repossession man for a car dealership. A fatal heart attack did him in. Joe                 include Pandemonium, Fingers, Evilspeak, Strike Force and Contract on Cherry
Abbey’s real name was Joe Abbenante.                                                        Street. Montana died in 1992 His son runs a pizzeria in California at this time and
                                                                                            during the past few years, was trying to put together as much information as
REMEMBERING THE LOVE BROTHERS If the Hell’s Angels were hated as                            possible on his father. Maybe he will buy a copy of this book.
a biker tag team, Hartford & Reginald Love were their despised counterparts as
two hippies. While they claimed to represent love and harmony during their                  REMEMBERING BULLDOG LEE HENNIG Lee Hennig made his wrestling
interviews, they showed anything but these virtues in the actual ring. They                 debut in 1938 and incredibly, continued to grapple into the 1970s. He died from
cheated their way to win after win, while the crowd called them every name in               natural causes, while in retirement, long after his turbulent career in the ring
the book. The real names for this pair were John Evans and Wes Hutchins.                    ended. The man had a sinister appearance about him and truly did look like a
Though they favored each other, they were not blood brothers. Like The Hell’s               bulldog, which earned him this unflattering nickname. He was seldom cheered by
Angels, this pair of villains had their quirks and strange behaviors. One of the two        fans and invariably placed into the role of heel, which he relished with a passion.
had an odd habit of working out in a boxing gym and smoking a cigar at the same             In 1959, Hennig made two appearances in Akron, but the Armory seemed to be
time, as he did curls with weights. In the Akron-Cleveland area, they helped                bad luck for him. In January, he teamed with Baron Gattoni to face Guy & Joe
convert George Cannon to a temporary baby face when they hit him over the                   Brunetti, which saw him go down in a monumental defeat. A few months later,
head with a golf club and bloodied him to kick off a feud in this general area.             he was back and this time Sandor Kovacs mopped the floor with him. Hennig
“Don’t show that tape!” Cannon bellowed. “I’ll tear this whole place up if you              wrestled around the USA. During his long career he faced the likes of Bill
show that and I see it again! I’ll tear up this place like I’m going to tear them up        Longson, Ray Gordon, Vic Christy, Strangler Lewis, Bruno Sammartino, Tim
this week!” Cannon specified, for whatever reason, it had been a “number nine”              Woods, Pat O’ Conner, John Paul Hennig, Ernie Ladd, Oni Wiki Wiki, Jim Hady,

Yvon Robert and Thor Hagen in places such as Chicago, Seattle, Vancouver,                 off at the old Akron Armory. Both went on to wrestle for other promoters in other
Buffalo, Tucson, Montreal, St. Louis, Corpus Christi and Raleigh.                         arenas and became good friends. “The first time I met Brady Howard was the
                                                                                          same time I met Banks,” said The Time Traveler. “It was in Akron in 1981. I
REMEMBERING DELMAN GAP Like several others who came and went,                             remember Howard was a quiet guy, who sat in the locker room reading the Bible.
Delman Gap remains an obscure figure in the record books. On August 17, 1974,             He was one of the Christians I suppose, which is alright I guess, but it just looked
Gap lost violently to Wild Bull Curry, who gave him the full “Curry-Treatment”            a little off, seeing this guy sitting there reading scriptures instead of smoking,
with stomps, kicks, slams, tosses to the arena floor, the ring post, the brass            drinking or telling dirty jokes.” “Howard also worked for the fire department up
knuckles and the whole nine yards. The only time Curry let up on him was to do            in Cleveland,” Traveler went on. “I think that won out over wrestling in the long
his anticipated growl for the crowd to be quiet and to hold his ears.                     run and if it did I can’t say I blame him.”

REMEMBERING VICTOR RIVERA The popular Puerto Rican wrestler had                           REMEMBERING THE EXECUTIONER I had heard this was Donny Lewin
some terrific matches with Don & John Fargo, Yashino Sato and others at the old           under a hood, as he was doing the routine in Pittsburgh around the same time, but
Akron Armory, though he was not a regular there. Rivera found fame in                     who knows! Every territory had to have an Executioner and this area was no
California during the early 1970s, when feuding with John Tolos. On a televised           different. Whoever or whatever the mysterious Executioner was behind his mask;
show, Tolos attacked him and bloodied him so badly, he was stitched up on                 he wrestled on some evenings as a fan favorite and at other times as a villain. In
screen, right in front of a horrified audience who could no longer claim the              fact, the 1970s were a turbulent decade for him, as he could not seem to make up
mythical “blood capsule” to have been used. This, of course, led to a Tolos versus        his mind whether he wanted to fight clean or dirty in Akron. He sometimes
Rivera feud that packed the Olympic Auditorium and subsequent venues. Rivera              teamed with Tony Parisi, Don Serrano or Luis Martinez to face various heels, but
also had some stays in the WWF, both as a baby and as a heel, where hew as                at other times, decided to cheat. When heeling it, he was usually in singles action.
managed by Fred Blassie. During the late 1980s, Rivera resurfaced in the west,            The fans seemed to go with the flow. When he faced popular opponents, they
working for California Championship Wrestling, where he resumed his old feud              jeered and booed him. When he was pitted against other heels or teamed with a
with Tolos. His last hurrah as far as most records show, indicate some matches            popular baby face, they supported him loudly and enthusiastically, in spite of his
with the AIWA, also in California, where he ended up feuding with Dr. Jerry               sinister ring name.
Graham in 1992 or so.
                                                                                          REMEMBERING LEO BURKE Leo Burke was a muscular Canadian who
REMEMBERING KILLER BROOKS Tim “Killer” Brooks was a rugged cigar-                         made some trips down into Ohio over the years, but was always more popular in
smoker with a gruff voice, balding head, dirty beard and hairy body. He looked            his native land. Nonetheless, he received support from the fans when he walked
like someone who should have been found in a cave, swinging a Flintstone club             the aisle of the old Akron Armory, though he did not always win. Abdullah the
at eavesdroppers. In the ring, he favored the “loaded” elbow pad to smash his             Butcher proved to be an exceptionally vile opponent, who bloodied his Canadian
opponents into victory while the crowd jeered. Brooks was a regular at the Akron          enemy up very badly in a 1974 encounter. The bout was so messy; the referee
Armory, perhaps best remembered in this arena for a set of matches with Fred              stopped things and gave Abdullah the victory, while the fans shouted their
Curry. While there was surprisingly no blood ever spilled in these encounters, the        disapproval. Surprisingly, this did not lead into a Butcher versus Burke feud, but
action was wild. On January 6, 1973, Brooks beat Ben Justice at the Armory,               was used to make Abdullah look all the more savage and pair him with some
which was ironic for a short time later, they would be teaming together. Justice          established babies. On the other hand, Burke pulled a major upset that same year,
would turn on his former friends such as Fred Curry, The Stomper and Igor,                when he took a win from the notorious Killer Karl Krupp, who was being pushed
preferring the company of this cigarmangling heel instead. Together they won the          as an absolute maniac at the time, in the same league as Sheik, Abdullah and Bull
World Tag Team title. In other parts of Ohio, Brooks engaged in some much                 Curry. Burke eventually returned to Canada and wrestled for a number of years
bloodier bouts, such as a tag team match in Canton that saw him alongside Chris           before calling it quits. He continued to make runs across the border for a long
Markoff, facing Tony Marino & Fred Curry in a gore fest. Both he and Marino               while, heading into various towns for a number of different promotions. He was
lost a bucket of blood during their encounter. A bloody feud with Luis Martinez           always used fairly well in the USA and was recognized as a capable performer.
spilled all the way over into Arizona as well, where in 1973; he teamed with
Sheik to take on the Martinez & Bobo Brazil combination. In this bout, Brooks             REMEMBERING BAD BILL COLEMAN This native of Akron was pushed
and Martinez both ended up covered in crimson. I personally recall one incident           more on the independent scene in places like Steubenville and the East Liverpool,
at the Armory where Brooks was casually peering out the locker room door at the           though he was an Akron native. He had some matches in the old Armory, but
crowd. Being one to collect autographs, I tried to get his. He slammed the door in        never received as big a push as he would have liked there. He often ended up
my face, assumedly having a good laugh over that on the other side. Brooks later          losing in his Akron encounters, though he was always bleeding, drawing blood
moved back to his native Texas where he took to Christianity, which helped him            and being billed as a madman by the nearby Three Rivers Wrestling Promotion
defeat substance abuse that he also owned up to. Cleaning his act up, he started a        operating in the towns along the Ohio River. Coleman faced Dr. Lee Warren, Dan
wrestling school and lived happily ever after. At least I hope so.                        Miller, Johnny Powers, Fidel Castillo, Raoul Castillo and others during the early
                                                                                          1970s when booked for supporting events on the Saturday night shows at the
REMEMBERING EMIL DUPREE Emil Dupree was a sound technical wrestler,                       Armory, losing in these bouts. He also was involved in a mixed tag team or two,
but Akron didn’t hold much luck for him. The year, 1960, was particularly                 where again; he came out on the short end of the deal. After the Armory closed,
difficult for him in that arena, where he lost to Fred Atkins, then to Dick Beyer.        Coleman tried a hand at promotion on his own and naturally he was launched into
Dupree traveled around the globe. If Akron was a jinx for him, other cities proved        the main events. He was responsible for organizing a memorial card for the late
more profitable. Indianapolis, Montreal, Detroit, Boston, Seattle, Columbus and           Jimmie Banks in 1982, after the popular black star passed away from kidney
Amarillo all embraced him. Over all, Dupree had a long career in which he faced           problems.
many top names. Some of them were Hans Schmidt, Pierre Labelle, Judo Jack
Terry, Pat Flannigan, Nelson Royal, Dr. Jerry Graham, Mr. Robust, Johnny King,            REMEMBERING SWEET DADDY SIKI Reginald “Sweet Daddy” Siki was a
Dale Lewis, Wally Greb, Frank Shields, Rocky Barron, Gaylord George, Karl                 muscular black man from Canada, who wore flowered trunks, constantly looked
Von Steiger, Abdullah the Butcher, Swede Hansen, George “Baby Blimp” Harris               at himself in a mirror before his matches and had dyed blond hair. During the
and others. Akron just wasn’t his “happy place.” Dupree continued to wrestle into         1970s, Siki was a regular for Detroit, Toledo, Akron, Canton, Cleveland and
the 1980s.                                                                                Dayton cards. He also received a number of bookings in Toronto, which stood to
                                                                                          reason, as this was his own back yard. The people hated him as a heel too, seeing
REMEMBERING THE GALLAGHERS Doc & Mike Gallagher were                                      him as an evil counterpart to the likes of Bobo Brazil and Bearcat Wright. Oddly
legitimate brothers who wrestled throughout the 1950s & 1960s with a passion.             enough, in other parts of the country, Wright and Siki had formed a popular tag
They were big men who looked and played rough, usually taking the role of heels.          team, prior of course, to the bizarre hair job. “I seem to recall one bout with Siki
In 1960, Doc & Mike encountered Chris & John Tolos in Cleveland for a series              and Fred Curry that was pretty wild,” commented one of many Akron sources. “It
of matches that drew upward of 11,000 people at each encounter. It was one of             was where they finally put him in a main event in that building and he carried his
their many career high points. The pair made various appearances in Akron over            own really well. He ended up losing if I remember right, but it was quite a bout.”
the years, which was understandable, being they held the Ohio Tag Team title for          Siki eventually returned to his native Canada, retired from wrestling and started a
a considerable length of time. For a while, the pair opened a gym in Akron,               school training other men for the ring. Aside from his grappling, Sweet Daddy
before going their separate ways within retirement. Mike moved to North                   Siki was also said to be an outstanding singer.
Carolina, where he opened a Shakey’s Pizza. As his health started to fail, he
moved to Florida and died in 1990. Doc Gallagher passed away a few years later            REMEMBERING RAY GORDON Ray Gordon was actually born in Croatia,
as well, going to the big ring in the sky in 1994.                                        but billed as a Hungarian wrestler who changed his name to this alias as it was
                                                                                          easier to pronounce than his real name, which was Ray Hrestich. He often drifted
REMEMBERING BRADY HOWARD Brady Howard and Jimmie Banks faced                              from area to area, sometimes traveling with his friend, Lou Thesz. He made some
each other when they were just starting out their careers and wrestling was dying         appearances on the Ohio circuit and was technically sound, but seemed to lack

the charisma to become a big star. Outside Ohio, he managed to make the grade                returned to action. On a house show, which was being taped for television as well,
much better. In Arizona during the late 1960’s, he was constantly in the main                he made it clear a new and vibrant Firpo had been born. “Give me Rip Hawk,
events, facing Chuck Karbo, Henry Pulusso, John Shane, Don Arnold and others.                Swede Hanson, George Steele and Killer Brooks,” he announced, dragging his
Sometimes he teamed with Tito Montez and Cowboy Bob Ellis. At other times he                 interview out to include a number of other former friends as well. Then, with a
was a single. “I remember Ray Gordon was like a freak of nature,” commented                  thunderous roar, he made the challenge everyone was waiting for. “Most
Jody Arnold, reflecting on Gordon, who helped train him in 1968. “He was just                important of all, bring me The Sheik!” The noise was so loud, it sounded like a
so incredibly strong. You could lock up in a work out and try to push him, but he            bomb had been dropped from a military jet. The people were behind this new and
would just not be moved. People twice his size could try to move him and it was              repackaged Firpo. He still looked like someone who would eat children alive and
like hitting a wall. He was just so tough. I mean that! He was just so, so tough!            wrestled as a brawler, but he was facing the bad guys now and that made the
You wouldn’t think it by looking at him, but he was just overwhelmingly strong               difference. Firpo continued his run as a baby face for several more years, facing
and he knew so many holds. He could stretch someone out in a heartbeat.”                     The Sheik and other heels, while the same audience that once hated him took to
Gordon disappeared from the wrestling scene several years ago. A conversation                treating him like a hero. Firpo eventually retired from wrestling and spent several
with Thesz in 1998 proved to reveal nothing, as the legendary wrestler seemed to             years in California, working for the postal system. At that time, his recognized
think Gordon had returned to Hungary to live out the rest of his days. “He would             long locks disappeared for a more conservative haircut.
have to be dead,” commented Edith Muhammad, the wife of southwestern
promoter, Ernie Muhammad around that same time. “He was no spring chicken                    REMEMBERING STAN YEKNUVAS Stan “Butch” Yeknuvas worked under a
back in the 1960s.” Data on Gordon’s Ohio run remains hard to come by, though                variety of names for different promotions, while employed by the phone company
material on him in other parts of the USA remains plentiful. He appeared on                  in Akron during the day. He was also a major fan of baseball and constantly
cards in Seattle, Vancouver, Kansas City, St, Louis and many other places, facing            frequented Cleveland Indians games. Though he loved the Indians, he hated
the likes of Don Jardine, Tarzan Tyler, Fred Williams, Kangaroo Bob Karson,                  catcher Dave Duncun with a passion and often sat as close to home plate as he
Tarzan Tyler, Lee Henning, Karl Von Schober and Spike Jones. Gordon was                      could, to harass the man with a few of his friends. “Hang on,” was one of his
instrumental in the training of the legendary Harley Race.                                   favorite shouts, when the catcher, who had a horrible batting average, came to bat.
                                                                                             “Duncun is going to air-condition the place.” When the whoosh of the bat hitting
REMEMBERING AZTEC JOE During the early 1970s, Aztec Joe appeared on                          nothing followed, the crowd laughed. It is amazing the catcher never lost his cool
various Akron cards. No one seemed certain if he was a Mexican, an Indian or                 and climbed into the stands after Yeknuvas Yeknuvas mainly worked as a referee
some other nationality. He looked Hispanic, but wore the traditional head dress              rather than a wrestler on Akron Armory shows in the 1970s.
into the ring and delivered the customary chops of other Native American
grapplers. While Aztec Joe had a lot of personality, he did not gain many wins.              REMEMBERING KURT VON BRAUNER Kurt & Karl Von Brauner were a
He was stomped down several times by varied opponents, though he did manage                  devastating tag team down south in the 1970s, under the management of
to hold the notorious Kurt Von Hess to a draw.                                               Gentleman Saul Weigneroff. No one ever picked up the irony of a Jewish fellow
                                                                                             managing two Nazis and this went over the heads of most fans. The Von
REMEMBERING BILL BERGER Bill Berger worked for the WWF, for a                                Brauners were a big deal for the Nick Gulas promotion out of Nashville and
number of independent promotions and on some of his own shows as well, where                 headlined many cards on this circuit. Though Akron didn’t truly need any more
he ran his own cards. In Akron, however, he was predominately seen as a referee              Nazi villains, having already endured Kurt Von Hess, Hans Schmidt and others,
when he was used. To him, cash was cash. After the Armory closed down, Berger                Von Brauner came to Ohio as part of a package deal or limited trade with the
found himself rising in stock, so to speak. He had some bigger matches and was               Gulas promotion. He sent some people north and the Ohio office in turn, sent
able to show his true ability. With Mike Muhalko, Berger put on a mask and                   some people to work the Tennessee area on a temporary basis. Von Brauner
became one half of a heel tag team known as The Great Danes. During the early                appeared in Akron in 1975, for a series of matches, where he proved to be utterly
1980s, they were used well by varied regional promotions. Reportedly, Berger’s               hated by the crowd. Kurt Von Brauner’s real name was said to have been Kurt
love for fast food and cigars took its toll on him. He died way too young from a             Brawner, with his ring name being a play on words. Hr died from as heart attack
multitude of health problems in 2001. His real name was reportedly Eichenberger.             in 2004. .
Berger was derived from a shortened version of that.
                                                                                             REMEMBERING SWEET DADDY WATTS Sweet Daddy Watts was a huge
REMEMBERING THE DARK DESTROYER The Dark Destroyer could have                                 black grappler, who weighed over 400 pounds at the height of his career. He
been anyone under the hood, for he only appeared once or twice in Akron. More                made some stops in Akron and other parts of Ohio, but never stayed long. Watts
likely than not; this masked heel was some local yokel working twice! The villain            received a bigger push in the southwest, where he faced a number of opponents in
was not exactly built like a god and had seen one or more trips too many to the              California and Arizona. First as a heel, then as a baby, some of the people he
local pizza parlor, judging by the shape he was in. He also spoke with a heavy               encountered were Tito Montez, Ron Pritchard, Cowboy Bob Ellis, Bearcat
foreign accent that was more than likely feigned. In 1973, he couldn’t even                  Wright, Eddie Lopez and Nano Ortega. Likewise, Watts worked for varied
manage to beat Bill Bethune.                                                                 promotions in the southeast, as both a heel and a baby, when like in Arizona, he
                                                                                             made the turn from bad to good. During his southern run, he proved to be as good
REMEMBERING DENNY ALBERTS Denny Alberts paid his dues and then                               as ever on the mike, especially when heel, where he announced plans to throw a
some when he worked in the Ohio circuit, for he always ended up getting beaten               victory party at the famous My Old Kentucky Home museum, buy it and turn it
or so it seemed. He was a younger man, who wore glasses outside the ring and                 into his personal mansion.
didn’t look to be built in the tradition of say an Andre Drapp or Mighty Igor. Still,
he made the best with what he had and was used regularly, both on televised                  REMEMBERING MAGNIFICENT ZULU The Magnificent Zulu was a
tapings and in house shows. He just didn’t have his hand raised very often.                  towering black grappler who claimed to be from Africa, but was really an
Alberts was seen in Canton more than in Akron, where he was respectably beaten               American named Ron Pope. His height, muscular frame and good looks made
a number of times. During the latter days of wrestling at the Akron Armory,                  him all the more hated as a heel under the guidance of Eddie Creatchman When
Alberts lost to a newcomer named John Ringo, who already has his bio within the              in Akron, Zulu smashed down a number of opponents. Jim Lancaster held his
text.                                                                                        own against him, but others fell quickly. Though he had a good run in the east,
                                                                                             Zulu reportedly didn’t care for the cold weather. He headed for California, where
REMEMBERING PAMPERO FIRPO Pampero Firpo was a stocky weightlifter                            he wrestled for a time and finally retired. During his eastern run, Zulu was
who was as he claimed, from Argentina for real, the son of a prominent boxing                usually a single, but occasionally teamed with Killer Tim Brooks.
promoter in Buenos Aires. When wrestling in the USA, he found a spot for
himself after he grew his hair long and appeared as a virtual wild man.                      REMEMBERING TEX MCKENZIE Hugh “Tex” McKenzie was a long-legged
“Oooohhhhhh yeeaaaaahhhhhhh,” he would often bellow in his interviews and in                 grappler with a smile for every fan and the look of a gunfighter right out of a
the ring when he had the upper hand, before Randy Savage made a trademark of                 western film. He always showed kindness to the spectators, readily signing
the same phrase. He would talk to shrunken heads, which he proclaimed as good                autographs and posing for pictures, in true baby form. Away from the ring,
luck charms. He used a claw hold to squeeze his opponents into submission. In                McKenzie was an adventurer and a photographer who took shots for a number of
short, he was a superlative heel. Firpo not only hit it big in the NWA, touring the          magazines. National Geographic also carried his pictures. In Akron, McKenzie
Midwest on a regular basis, but made it to the WWF as well. He was one of the                feuded with the bulldoggish Crusher Verdu, though his opponent would always
many who tried to lift the World title from Pedro Morales, though he failed in               be pulling some illegal tactic in order to win. Others he faced included Pampero
these efforts. Back in the NWA, however, he did manage to win the US crown                   Firpo, with whom he had an extended feud, stemming from a Detroit bout where
from Bobo Brazil. Firpo had various bouts in Akron over the years, facing Walter             this wild man had bloodied him badly. He was likewise involved in a feud with
Johnson, Tex McKenzie, Rick Luka, Jacques Rougeau, Bill Coleman, Danny                       Killer Karl Krupp in Akron where the two met in a Texas Death Match which
Miller, Gary Fulton and others. A turning point for this beast of a man took place           may have been the only one in history that ended without a clear winner, when
when he received a fire ball in the face from The Sheik. After a suitable layoff, he         both men were out. The following week, McKenzie won a decisive victory when

he squared off with the Nazi heel in a chain bout. As with most cowboy wrestlers,           Marva Scott, then again in 1975 when she and her partner, Lucille Dupree,
McKenzie used the bull dog head lock to finish his opponents. The move looked               suffered a rare loss to Scott, with Kay Casey as her partner.
all the more spectacular with McKenzie utilizing his height to his advantage and
kicking high into the air, as he slammed his opponents downward. Tex McKenzie               REMEMBERING PISTOL PEZ WHATLEY Though most commonly
died in 2001 from a heart attack.                                                           associated with the south, Pistol Pez Whatley had some appearances in Akron
                                                                                            during the final years of the old Armory. The black star looked impressive in his
REMEMBERING DANNY MILLER Danny Miller was the brother of Ed and                             bouts, though he did not always come out on the winning end. Some results have
Bill Miller, forming a murderous three man tag team with them in the 1950s. By              him facing Mike York, Gary Fulton, Buddy Brown and others. Whatley was also
the middle of the next decade, however, he had gone from brawler to scientific              used in the ICW promotion out of Kentucky, which booked Sweet Daddy Watts,
star, using a sleeper hold to win his matches and relishing in the support of the           Ronnie Garvin, The Sheik, Luis Martinez, Bob Roop, Mike Dupree and other
fans. Ed called it quits and Bill continued to walk the line between good and bad           tops stars as well. He also appeared for the Memphis office after ICW closed
as needed, though Danny was a full-fledged baby face by the early1970s. Danny               down, receiving a major push both a baby and as heel. After retirement, Whately
Miller had numerous bouts in Akron over the years. Late in his career and during            became a trainer at WCW out of Atlanta. He died unexpectedly from a heart
the last years of the Akron Armory, he faced Ben Justice and other heels in                 attack while still looking to be in outstanding shape. Go figure!
interesting bouts. Miller eventually retired to Florida, which seems to be the final
stop for many past Ohio wrestlers.                                                          REMEMBERING BENNY & BILLY MCGUIRE These men were morbidly fat
                                                                                            brothers who were billed as the heaviest twins in the world. Benny & Billy
REMEMBERING TARZAN TOURVILLE Camille “Tarzan” Tourville made                                McGuire rode to the ring on little mini-bikes and played up to the crowd. In spite
the rounds in the 1950’s as a dark-haired heel, without much recognition from the           of limited mobility, let alone ability in the ring, they were a big draw. Due to their
fans. He was there as a body on the card and little else. He saw Akron action, as           size, they were extremely popular with the fans and especially small children. In
he did in several other places, but just couldn’t seem to make a big name for               1975, Angelo & Lanny Poffo actually scored a victory over them in Akron at the
himself outside his native Canada. In the USA, he was usually “down” rather                 Armory, surprising everyone. The real name for the two McGuires was really
than “up” as far as matches went, repeatedly losing to Don Arnold and other                 McCrary. Both are deceased.
established babies on the territorial circuits. It was only when the man decided to
change his image that things really clicked for him. Dying his hair blond, he               REMEMBERING VIC ROSSETANI Though claiming to be Italian; Vic
became Tarzan Tyler and a new villain was born. Suddenly, he was in the main                Rossetani was evidently a Canadian who worked on both sides of the border. He
events in a number of places and lackluster interest in him was a thing of the past.        was possibly trained by Stu Hart, but records are shaky. He did have some
He was very much in demand. As Tarzan Tyler, he and Luke Graham had a stint                 matches up that way, including more than one bloodbath with Archie “The
as World tag Team titleholders in the WWWF. Tarzan Tyler died in a car crash                Stomper” Gouldie. Rossetani was seen in Akron when wrestling was temporarily
several years after retirement.                                                             held at the Civic Theatre instead of the Armory. He made it to at least one event
                                                                                            where he and The Mighty Igor lost to Kurt Von Hess and the hated Eric the Red.
REMEMBERING ILIO DI PAULO Ilio Di Paulo was born in 1925 and entered                        Rossetani also made some appearances at the Akron Armory and other arenas
wrestling at a young age as a student of Toots Mondt. He continued to wrestle for           around the state. Though he was liked by the audience, he was a bigger draw up
several years, before retiring to start a restaurant in the Buffalo, New York area.         in Canada. One promoter evidently pulled a fast one that didn’t endear him to the
He was later killed in a nasty car-related accident. Ilio was seen at various               fans, though it was the office’s doing rather than the wrestler’s. The promoter,
intervals at the Akron Armory, as well as other arenas in Ohio, on a regular basis.         running somewhere in Pennsylvania, billed a Victor R. on the poster, misleading
                                                                                            people to believe they would be seeing Victor Rivera on the cards, when it ended
REMEMBERING BETTE NICCOLI Bette Niccoli was a popular brunette in                           up being Victor Rossetani. As if this wasn’t as bad as Tony Santos out of Boston,
the 1960s and 1970s, wrestling out of Kansas City. She made the circuits as a               who had a Bummy Rogers, a Hobo Brazil and my personal favorite, a Bruno San
special attraction for several years, usually coming out on the winning end of her          Martino, with an N.
encounters. During the early 1970s, she was booked at least once at the Akron
Armory, where she beat Jean Antone.                                                         REMEMBERING CHIEF JAY STRONGBOW Like many “Indians” in the
                                                                                            wrestling world, Chief Jay Strongbow was no Native American. He was in fact
REMEMBERING TERRIBLE TED Terrible Ted was not a human being, but a                          an Italian- American by the name of Joe Scarpa. He did have convincing “Indian”
gigantic bear trained to wrestle. No one actually expected him to do leaps off the          features, however, which helped make his routine believable. Strongbow was
top rope, dropkicks, monkey flips or to pull a pencil out of his ass and carve up           most noted for his work in the WWWF, which became the WWF and finally the
his opponents, but he was entertaining. He “knew” a couple of basic moves,                  WWE, holding the World Tag Team title with his “brother” Jules, who was
usually just falling on top of his opponents and scoring a pin. Wrestling bears             actually a man named Frank Hill. Over the years he remained a mainstay for this
date back to the early carnival days of the game and though a novelty, were also            promotion, feuding with Mr. Fuji, Mitsu Arakawa, Jimmie Valient and others.
popular at house shows in the 1970s. During the 1960s through early 1980s, there            After retirement, he spent many years as one of their road agents. Due to his
were a number of grappling bears touring the USA, including Trotsky, Ginger,                continual activity in the east, Jay Strongbow didn’t appear at the Akron Armory
Gentleman Ben and Victor, as well as Terrible Ted. Terrible Ted made at least               very often or for that matter, the varied promotions headed by The Sheik or his
one appearance at the Akron Armory in March of 1975, when he beat The                       associates. In 1976, Strongbow did have one remarkably wild bout at the Akron
Canadian Wildman (who was reportedly his trainer)                                           Armory, when he and Hank James beat the ruthless team of Brute Bernard & Don
REMEMBERING MIKE YORK Mike York was best known as a rugged villain
working as part of the Alaskans tag team, with Jay York and later Frank Monti.              REMEMBERING DON EVANS Don Evans made a few appearances as
He was more active in the west than in the east The Alaskans received a lot of              Cowboy Don Evans in Akron, but this alias was later dropped and just his real
magazine coverage in the 1970s and were firmly established as heels. In print, the          name was used, without anything tagged on. Born in 1917, Evans wrestled in
writers heralded their matches. The team was put over big as a couple savage                portions of four decades, starting in the late 1930s and continuing into the 1960s
brawlers, who liked to hurt their opponents by any means available, rather than             at full speed. He died in 2005. Evans wrestled throughout the USA and Canada,
just score wins. The heel made a handful of appearances in Akron, but it was                where he was known for a brutalizing style. Some of his wildest matches came in
usually when passing through and never on a regular basis. York’s real name was             Texas in the 1940s, when he squared off with Bull Curry for what was to become
said to be Mike Ryker and he passed away in 2002.                                           a truly savage feud. He was one of the many pioneer brawlers, long before the era
                                                                                            of Cactus Jack. Mr. Insanity, Brain Damage, Sandman, G.Q. Status, New Jack,
REMEMBERING CRUSHER RICKY CORTEZ Crusher Cortez was a brawler                               Mad Man Pondo and so many others modern fans could ramble on about without
with a rough look about him, who traveled the various territories in the 1960s and          ceasing. Though Evans did know a vast amount of wrestling moves; holds and
was generally over as a hell-raising villain. There are surviving accounts of               counter holds, he seemed to like slugging and stomping it out more than anything.
Cortez wrestling at the Akron Armory on various occasions. For example, on                  Other people he feuded with in various parts of the wrestling world were
December 15, 1974, he and his partner, Hank James, lost to Angelo Poffo, who                numerous. Eddie Graham was a particular victim of his violence down south and
teamed with his son, Lanny. He had other bouts in Akron around the same time                together they had many frenzied encounters, including some that gained national
and usually ended coming out on the losing end. His better years were clearly               wrestling magazine coverage. In one of these encounters, Evans made a specific
behind him. Evidently, the last hurrah for Cortez as far as wrestling went came in          effort to go for his opponent’s eye, as if to try to rip it out and throw it to the
the early 1980s, when he emerged as a wrestler and trainer for Champ Thomas,                crowd like some form of grape plucked from the vine. No mistaking who served
who operated the short-lived WAA Wrestling out of Denver. He died in 2008.                  as heel in the Graham versus Evans feud!

REMEMBERING RAMONA ISABEL Ramona Isabel wrestled throughout the                             REMEMBERING BILL MILLER With Ed and Danny Miller, Bill Miller was a
USA in the 1970s. She was seen in Akron in August of 1974, when she beat                    terror in the wrestling world. A big and brutal man, he had a ferocious style in the

ring and exercised his great strength to his advantage continually. Born in 1927,            fitting, because he could have put a world at war to sleep. He was not bad as a
Miller came from Fremont, Ohio, where he spent most of his life when not                     wrestler, but he sure as hell wasn’t exciting either. He was just dull. The people
traveling on the wrestling circuit. He was also a licensed veterinarian and had a            cheered him because they didn’t want to see the bad guys he faced win over him,
practice in that town. Midwestern cities close to home were places Miller                    but otherwise, he was just boring as all hell. Some people might disagree, but for
frequented, but he did travel the world. He made it as far as Australia during his           me, from my opinion, he should have paid us to watch him.” Not everyone felt so
long career. During the late 1960s, he also headed for California, where he                  negatively about this scientific wrestler and during his Akron shows, Stomper
engaged in a particularly bloody feud with Ray Stevens. Over the years, Miller               looked decent enough. Crumby, as well as others, would all admit the name
wrestled under various names while using a mask, but always went back to being               change later down the road was what made him. “He became Jerry Valient, dyed
himself sooner or later. He had a long list of belts to his credit when he finally           his hair blonde and started fighting as a heel,” Crumby explained. “He went to the
called an end to the wrestling game. Over the years, Miller faced Don Eagle, The             WWF and for a time, he received his push. He gained a good deal of weight and
Mighty Igor, Buddy Rogers and other formidable names. One of Miller’s last                   actually, I think a lot of people didn’t know he and Mitchell were both names for
Akron showings came in the 1970s when he and Hans Schmidt went to a fifteen                  the same person. That might have been a good thing, because as the new Valient
minute draw in a nostalgic opener, passing the torch on to younger men, but                  brother, he actually showed a new spark and caught on. Even I have to admit, he
setting quite a pace for those on the card to follow by the time they completed              no longer bored me. Stomper sucked, but Valient rocked.” The wrestler evidently
their bout. Miller also had a run in the WWWF in 1965, where he challenged                   decided to take his money and run, retiring to Indiana. On occasion into the 2000s,
Bruno Sammartino for the World title recognized by this promotion, but failed to             he was making personal appearances at autograph shows, though not as
win, as did Killer Kowalski, The Sheik, Gorilla Monsoon and others who would                 consistently as “brother” Jimmie.
follow afterward. Miller died in 1997, falling over from a fatal heart attack after a
work out at a gym.                                                                           REMEMBERING ERIC THE RED Born in Denmark as Erik Hansen, Eric the
                                                                                             Red was truer to his routine than many wrestling counterparts who pretended to
REMEMBERING DR. BEACH No one seemed sure exactly what Dr.                                    be Indians, Nazis or whatever. He was at least from the area that produced the
Emmanuel Beach was a doctor of, but it wasn’t anywhere near a degree in                      Vikings of old. He played on this to the hilt. Entering the ring in a red outfit, with
wrestling wins. More often than not, he was jobbed out by the Michigan/Ohio                  two Viking horns on his head, he looked like a cross between Leif Erikson and
office where his purpose seemed to be making opponents look good. Beach did                  Satan. He added a large bone to his gear, tied around his head with a rope and
have some contracts for house shows at the Akron Armory and other Ohio arenas,               placed at ringside before his bouts would begin. More often than not, the bone
where he was allowed to show considerably more offense than on televised                     came into play when the referee wasn’t looking. Eric had numerous feuds over
tapings, though again, he seldom won. Beach started wrestling in 1972,                       the years, but one of his bloodiest was with Johnny Powers. The two met in
reportedly coming up from Memphis to be trained by Lou Klein. Beach remains                  Akron, Cleveland and other Ohio towns during the length of the program, trading
remembered for one of the bloodiest bouts in Michigan history, where he was cut              victories and bloodying each other at regular intervals. Eric received a major push
on the head so badly by Dr. Jerry Graham, he was bleeding down to his feet and               in the 1970s at the Akron Armory, to the point where he might well have been
nearly died from the injury. Graham evidently wanted to get a load of heat as a              considered the top heel. Aside from the Powers feud, others he faced included a
heel and found it alright, when he clamped this black jobber in a headlock and               number of top names, as well as lesser-knows who ended up being smashed. Eric
sliced him open. As Beach staggered to the locker room, understandably freaking              was likewise used in main events when wrestling moved out of the Akron
out that he might be bleeding to death, the other wrestlers also responded in                Armory in 1971, as it was closed for repairs. The weekly matches went to Loews
horror. Bobo Brazil and Bull Curry started knocking suitcases off a bench, to give           Theatre and once again, the huge Viking was a headliner. Eric died an uncanny
the dazed man a place to lie down, then tried without success to stop the flow of            death. He was hit by a car and killed as he stood by the road, evidently preparing
blood with a load of towels. Finally, Curry taped a towel around Beach’s head                to change a flat tire on his own vehicle, according to one source and waiting for a
and with other horrified wrestlers, helped get him to a cab for a trip to the                ride, by another. In their book, The Heels, fellow authors Greg Oliver and Steve
hospital where he was sewn up. In the meantime, Brazil, Curry and others were                Johnson likewise put Eric over big in print. Several web sites also speak highly of
bent on going to the other locker room, where Graham supposedly sat drinking                 him. At the time of his death, Eric was far away from his home in Canada and his
and showing total indifference to the damage he had caused. The Sheik, sensing               Ohio stronghold, wrestling in the southern states. He was teaming with the
trouble, evidently set up a barricade of police to protect the villain from an               Korean heel, Pak Song, where they were a devastating tag team in the Florida
altercation. The incident did land Beach a write-up in one of the national                   territory. “When I saw Eric the Red live, it was not at the Armory, but the other
wrestling magazines and a close up photo showed the ugly scar, as well as the                arena, where they had moved to for a short time,” commented The Time Traveler.
many marks left by the stitches that closed the gash. . For his trouble, Beach               “The building is now called the Civic Theatre in Akron. Anyway, Eric the Red
reportedly received a $50 payoff. The above incident might well have been a                  and Kurt Von Hess had teamed up to face Igor and Vic Rossetani. This is the way
decisive factor for Beach to head to other areas whenever he could get bookings.             it went. They did the usual thing with the blind tags and distracting the referee,
A few years later, Dr. Beach and Tony Marino were involved in a major car crash              pounding the hell out of Rossetani, while Igor tried to come to his aid. Finally
in Canada that saw both men badly hurt. Beach took the worst of it and his career            Igor tagged in and cleaned house, but when he tagged back out it was the same
was over. Due to inactivity stemming from these injuries, his weight exploded to             old shit all over again. They pounded Rossetani and left the ring, with people
nearly 400 pounds. A fatal heart attack related to this sudden weight gain spelled           throwing all kinds of crap at them,. There wasn’t any blood in that bout, but it
an end to his life in the 1980s. Dr. Beach was a wrestler who gave more to                   wasn’t even needed. They just used good heel tactics to drive the fans to the
wrestling than it ever gave back to him.                                                     breaking point. The people were pissed and I mean pissed. I was a kid back then
                                                                                             and I still remember all the people hurling popcorn boxes, ice and other shit at
REMEMBERING BRUTE BERNARD Jim “Brute” Bernard was an ugly, bald                              them. They tore to the locker room as fast as two men who were late for a train,
villain who teamed for several years with another skinhead who called himself                trying to make it to the boarding area. They moved faster going from the ring to
Skull Murphy. Together, the two acted as psychopaths and received many                       the locker room than they did in it.” A wild bout at the Armory saw Eric facing
bookings simply due to the fear they inspired in the fans. People would run from             Johnny. Powers, where he actually won the North American title on February 27,
them as they made their way to and from the ring, for they looked like monsters              1973 Another time, in his Akron run, Eric was reportedly reamed by Walter
created in Dr. Frankenstein’s lab. Murphy died from a heart attack, leaving                  Moore for chasing fans with his bone, including little kids. Moore feared a
Bernard to continue as a single. Though he stuck predominately to the Carolinas,             lawsuit if one of them slipped, fell and was trampled in the rush. On yet another
he did travel outside his normal realm. He made some shows in Ohio and                       occasion in the same building, the big Viking brutalized jobber, Bill Bethune,
Michigan in the 1970s, feuding with Bobo Brazil and others. Here, he again                   hurling him about the ring like the proverbial rag doll. It was a long run to the
played the nut, making faces, rolling his eyes and of course, brawling like a man            locker room, when the match was over, with the hated heel dodging projectiles
possessed by demons. One account on record has him teaming with Don Kent to                  hurled by angry fans all the way to the back doors. Eric always did seem stronger
lose to Chief Jay Strongbow & Hank James at the Akron Armory. Brute Bernard                  as a singles wrestler than he was in tag teams, though he served as a partner for
died in 1981, due to a gunshot wound by accident. “Bernard was fucking around                varied heels as well. He knew an assortment of fancy moves, but seldom used
with a gun and shot himself,” one of the independent promoters in the Carolinas              them, in favor of brawling and using the bone. While it might have happened
who was using the wrestler at the time, bluntly explained. “It was a gunshot                 more often than I recall, I can think of only one time when an opponent got hold
wound, but it really was an accident and definitely not suicide.” So, with an                of that bone and used it on him. Bruiser did it someplace, I think in Detroit. I
accidental explosion and the smell of gun powder, the life and career of one of              seem to think Eric ended up bloody from it as well. “I never saw Eric the Red live,
wrestling’s most famous maniacs came to a close.                                             of course,” commented Ohio wrestler G.Q. Status. “I’ve made it a point to study
                                                                                             wrestling and especially these old school wrestlers. Eric the Red was one of the
REMEMBERING STOMPER MITCHELL Guy “Stomper” Mitchell was used                                 guys I most would have liked to have seen. I know there are some old tapes out
often enough in the Michigan/Ohio area, usually as a tag team partner for Ben                there, circulating, which have him in action, but I just haven’t been able to locate
Justice, feuding with the two Kangaroos, Don Kent & Al Costello. A                           them. I know older fans always speak big of him and his wrestling. He was
“legbreaking” incident heated this up all the more. “Stomper has the charisma of             evidently a top draw and really had a habit for making the fans mad, which was
wet newspaper,” commented Bob Crumby. “He used a sleeper hold and it was                     of course the secret to his drawing power. I have heard a load of stuff about him

and now, just want to see what he was actually like in the ring. I know he was               Sheppard’s son tried desperately and is still trying to clear his father’s name in
really big up in the northern part of Ohio, but he had a run down in the southern            regard to the murder. He is still fighting to this date.
part where I am from as well.” “If Sheik ruled Detroit and Cobo Hall, Eric the
Red might well have been considered ruler of the old Akron Armory at the same                REMEMBERING JACK KING Jack King was not a wrestler, but a nervous-
time,” commented Bob Crumby. “He was the man to beat. He was in the main                     looking little man who was always behind the scenes, as he was heavily involved
event several times and if you run a search for match results on the net you will            with the televised production end of Sheik’s promotion. Thus, he was a regular in
see his name over and over on the Akron cards. That means he had a lot of                    Detroit, Toledo, Akron, Canton, Dayton, Lima and the like, when house shows,
drawing power or he would have been gone.”                                                   rather than studio tapings, were filmed to air on the small screen. Whatever
                                                                                             happened to him is again a mystery.
REMEMBERING WALTER JOHNSON Walter Johnson made the transition
from football to wrestling like Bronco Nagurski, Ron Pritchard, Bob Lueck, Jim               REMEMBERING FRANKIE TALABER This native of Ohio appeared in
Duggan, Mongo McMichael and others. The former star for the Cleveland                        Akron, Columbus and many other cities within his home state during the 1950s.
Browns proved to be a natural drawing card in Ohio, but also proved someone                  He also had some Armory encounters and bookings within other surrounding
great on the football field does not always show great ability in the ring. To put it        arenas. Talaber has sometimes been credited with inventing the pile driver hold,
nicely, as a wrestler, Walter Johnson was a great football player. Johnson made              where the opponent is lifted, placed between the deliverer’s two legs and driven
infrequent appearances as a grappler at the Akron Armory, plus saw action from               head-first into the ring. Whether or not this devastating move, later utilized by
time to time as a special guest referee, as seen on one evening where he was to              Swede Hanson, Blackjack Lanza, Bill Kirk, Jerry Lawler and others was his
play the third man in order to keep Abdullah under control, which he of course,              brainstorm remains a subject of debate. If he did not create the hold, he at least
could not. As an actual wrestler, some of the people he faced in the Armory                  was one of the first to use it with any frequency. Talaber passed away in 1994.
included Pampero Firpo, Crusher Ricky Cortez, Al Costello and Ronnie Lee.
Mike Dupree and Jim Lancaster, who encountered Johnson outside Akron in                      REMEMBERING PETE SANCHEZ Pete Sanchez was often billed as being
varied matches, have spoken in newspaper articles as to how difficult the ex-                from Puerto Rico, but whether or not he truly came from there is something I
football big shot was to wrestle. Bill Berger would always roll his eyes                     cannot say. In the 1970s, he was seen often enough in Akron, though he didn’t
heavenward when the name came up, while Pez Whatley was more direct. He                      have as many wins as he or the fans might have liked. In 1971, Sanchez held
supposedly called Johnson a “big, stiff idiot” to his face and said he would no              Executioner to an impressive draw at the Loews Theatre. When wrestling came
longer work with him in the ring following one of their encounters. Johnson died             back to the Armory, he had some bouts there as well. In one Armory encounter,
from a heart attack long ago, but his legacy with the Browns remains. In the                 Sanchez helped kick off a feud between Igor and the evil Mongols, who mangled
wrestling ring, however, his posthumous position is not that secure. .                       him with an assortment of dirty tactics, before scoring a pin. Igor had to help his
                                                                                             partner from the ring and of course vowed revenge. In the early 1980s, Sanchez
REMEMBERING MANNY SOTO Manuel “Manny” Soto was a Puerto Rican                                emerged at WWF televised tapings and occasional house shows. He has since
wrestler with dark hair and a thin mustache. He had a smile on his face most of              retired.
the time and was great at playing the crowd. Soto appeared in Akron at various
intervals, with mixed results in the victory department. In 1971, he was seen                REMEMBERING RICK O’ TOOLE Rick O’ Toole was one of the “job guys”
facing Don & John Fargo, Baron Scicluna and The Executioner.                                 used frequently by Sheik and associates on both televised tapings and on house
                                                                                             shows. He was utilized mainly to build bigger names and make them look more
REMEMBERING LUCILLE DUPREE Lucille Dupree (also spelled Dupre in                             formidable when being beaten down by them in the ring. Rick was sometimes
some results, magazine articles and programs) was a dark-haired woman who                    cheered and sometimes jeered, depending on what wrestler he was matched
wrestled in a number of places during the 1970’s. She had a long career and was              against. He lost in quick fashion to Bobo Brazil, Waldo Von Erich and other
legitimately tough as well. Dupree made various appearances in Akron over the                names on television. O’ Toole also received bookings on some house shows,
years, but her greatest accomplishment there might well be considered an                     where he was allowed to showcase his true ability and not just die in the ring, as
unexpected win over Heather Feather, who seldom lost due to her massive size.                was usually the case when the cameras were running,. In truth, he had a great deal
                                                                                             of wrestling ability.
REMEMBERING TONY VALOTTA Tony Valotta didn’t wrestle at the
Armory, but he had a long involvement with wrestling. As a teenager he would                 REMEMBERING INCA Inca showed up in Akron for one special bout in the
make his runs from the Pittsburgh suburb where he lived, to photograph the                   1970s, with another luchador from Mexico calling himself Golden Hawk. Golden
matches in Erie, Canton and Akron on a regular basis. As an adult, he continued              Hawk won, in the role of baby, to Inca’s heel. Since neither wrestler was really
in his photographic enterprises and is reportedly still doing so to this day. Times          familiar to the Armory fans, reaction to them was mixed. The bout was not a bad
change, but sometimes the people don’t! In his younger days, he was big on                   one by any means, but the people just weren’t into it. Had both men stayed longer,
matches with the infamous Sheik, simply because he knew whenever the man                     they might have done well, but as it was, they were in and out of Ohio fairly fast.
was on the card; he’d be able to get some bloody photos, which were supposedly               Shortly after Inca appeared in Akron there was an Inca Peru who showed up in
his favorites. Whether he has mellowed out as an adult would be anybody’s guess.             Texas, according to old results. Whether or not this was the same Inca who
                                                                                             worked in Akron is one of the many mysteries of the ages
REMEMBERING DR. SAM SHEPPARD The case of Sam Sheppard remains
one of the most controversial criminal events in history. Originally accused of              REMEMBERING CHIEF WHITE OWL Among the many fake Indians gracing
murdering his wife, Dr. Sam Sheppard was sentenced to death for the crime, but               the wrestling world was Chief White Owl, his name supposedly taken from the
won a new trial thanks to the efforts of F. Lee Bailey and eventually found                  cigar label. In truth he had no Native American blood, but was half white/half
freedom. He also found a new career as a wrestler, when his medical career was               black. No one really seemed to mind or investigate. White Owl was a popular
done in by the scandal. Sheppard married the daughter of George “Hoss”                       draw in the 1970s, appearing in many Ohio cities and usually drawing loud
Strickland, who took him on as a tag team, trained him and traveled with him.                support from the fans. At the Akron Armory he faced a number of top heels in
Oddly enough, Sheppard’s pro debut came alongside Strickland at the Akron                    single and tag team action. After retiring and dropping out of view, rumors of his
Armory, which was close enough to Cleveland where many still considered him                  death started in Akron in around 1997. These were all evidently the result of
guilty, that his name packed the place. The stunt was roughly the same idea of               gossip, as more exhaustive investigations found him living in retirement down in
having O.J. Simpson or Robert Blake debut on a WWE card in Los Angeles,                      Florida, aged but still kicking. He died for real in 2008.
following their murder trials. On the road, Sheppard’s reputation did not seem to
damper the fans. In many places, he was cheered as a baby face. Sam Sheppard                 REMEMBERING DOMENIC DENUCCI This towering Italian grappler was a
had a number of matches in the Columbus area and held his own. At this time, he              mainstay in the WWWF/WWF for many years, though in the early 1980s, he had
developed a peculiar claw hold applied to the lower lip, that Cactus Jack would              a rift with the promotion and started his own outfit in the
improvised upon many decades later and make famous. As a tag team, the pair                  Pennsylvania/Ohio/West Virginia area that lasted around two years. Over two
worked Michigan and Ohio regularly, but traveled outward as well. They were                  decades later, though officially retired, he would still be seen in an occasional
even seen for a brief time in Los Angeles, where Don Carson became a frequent                wrestling bout. Denucci had various matches at the Akron Armory, facing Iron
challenger. Sheppard and Strickland also made it down south, where they                      Mike Loren and others. He also became one of the victim’s of Kabooki’s dreaded
appeared for Nick Gulas in Tennessee, facing Eddie Sullivan, Mack York, Duke                 “chemicals” in the eyes during one of their encounters. Denucci also trained a
Savage and others. They also wrestled the likes of Pedro Godoy, Bill Scholl, Ray             number of wrestlers when he was operating a school in Erie, Pennsylvania. His
Tyler, Vic Tanner, Magnificent Maurice, Jack Murphy and Ron Wright.                          most famous student would have to have been Cactus Jack/Mick Foley. In
Eventually, Sheppard started to face health problems, as he was an avid smoker               northern Ohio, Denucci also had a lengthy feud with Don & John Fargo, usually
of both cigars and a pipe. He also started to drink heavily. He died on April 6,             teaming with Tony Parisi when he faced them. The combination of Parisi and
1970. His body was buried and reburied a couple of times, finally coming to rest             Denucci proved to be amazingly popular with the fans, especially the Italian-
in the Cleveland area, at the Knollwood Cemetery in Maple Heights, Ohio.. Sam                American audience in the Akron area. Over the years, Denucci’s opponents in

different parts of the USA and Canada included Hans Mueller, Waldo Von Erich,              a book for children, warning of the dangers of smoking that remains in print to
the Valients, Sheik, Larry Zybysco, Pat Patterson, Hans Schmidt and Ray Stevens.           this day. “They were the best of times,” Poffo once said in regard to WWF
Another of Denucci’s Armory foes was Abdullah the Butcher, stemming from                   memories, quoting Dickens. “They were the worst of times.” The interviewer
when the latter attacked him during a televised taping at the television studios           never bothered to ask how he felt about his Armory run, though the grappler
Denucci fired back, thrashed the bald villain and built big interest for the               would probably have reflected in much the same way.
upcoming house show.
                                                                                           REMEMBERING BORIS MALENKO The “Russian” villain was not a regular
REMEMBERING THE MONGOLS There were actually three Mongols over                             in the Ohio area, though he wrestled for years in the main events in other places.
the years, appearing in Akron. Geeto, who was really Tony Newberry, Bepo, who              In Texas in 1973, he faced Terry Funk in El Paso, in a savage combination
was Joe Perusovich and Bolo, who came later on and was really Bill Eadie. They             chain/cage/death bout which saw Funk come out ahead, though both men were
were bald men, with weird strands of hair in the center of their heads and long            covered with blood. Further east in Houston, he was the last man to be beaten by
mustaches, looking like clones Fu Manchu might have made in his lab. In Akron              Paul Boesch, before Boesch retired from the ring. After losing, Malenko took the
and other parts of Ohio, they were usually in the main events and usually put over.        mike and demanded five more minutes. “He wants five more minutes,” Boesch
Geeto Mongol eventually retired to become a minister. Bepo Mongol became                   responded. “The thing is, I don’t think I have five more minutes in me. In fact, I
Nicolai Volkoff and went to major stardom in the WWF before entering politics              think you have just seen me wrestle my last match. Thank you and good night.”
in Maryland. Bolo Mongol ultimately changed routines in wrestling and went on              Upon retirement, Malenko started a school in Florida. His sons, Dean and Joe,
to bigger things as The Masked Superstar, then as Axe of Demolition. . Though              were a product of his schooling . He died from cancer in 1993. Malenko made a
any combination of the Mongols team generated heat from the crowd, the                     special appearance in Akron on June 13, 1973, in which he happened to win an 8
wrestlers themselves seemed to sometimes have a difficult go out of taking                 man battle royal. Again, he was never an Akron regular.
themselves seriously. In several matches, it looked as if they were having a hard
time keeping from laughing.                                                                REMEMBERING ANGELO POFFO Some of the matches Angelo Poffo had
                                                                                           alongside his son, Lanny, have already been documented in a previous chapter, so
REMEMBERING FRENCHY LAMONT Frenchy Lamont used a prissy routine                            we will not deal with them again here. Angelo Poffo was born in 1925 and spent
that infuriated fans, but it worked well for him. He was big among the                     decades in the wrestling game, but was always one tough bird. For many years he
independent promotions of the 1970s and 1980s, before he called it quits to the            held a verified record for the number of consecutive sit ups, which was in the
game. Even after retirement, he still showed up in the locker room at various              Guinness Book of World Records. Poffo wrestled throughout the USA over the
cards and even stopped to see old friends in the WWF when they came to                     years and even ran his own promotion for a while in the early 1980s, in which he
Cleveland or Akron. Though he might not have been the biggest name around, he              pushed both of his sons, Lanny, who used the family name, and Randy, who
was popular with his fellow wrestlers. There are at least one or two accounts of           became the famous Randy Savage. Others on his cards included Crybaby
Lamont appearing at the Armory, working the undercard. In 1972, he did gain                Edwards, Ronnie Garvin, Sweet Daddy Watts, George Weigneroff, Bob Roop,
one win there, when he beat Sonny Boy Hayes. “I think his real name was Rick               Walter Johnson, Mike Dupree and Luis Martinez. Angelo’s final Akron Armory
something or another, but don’t hold me to that,” commented one older fan. “I              run was clearly a means to help get Lanny some added bookings and prepare him
remember the guy and know who you are talking about, but can’t provide much                for an extended wrestling career. Together, they held their own time and time
data. Back then, wrestlers were still doing kay fabe, which in their lingo meant to        again as their Ohio stint continued. Oddly enough, Lanny & Angelo tended to be
treat the business as deathly serious and never let outsiders have any information.        used as heels, while Randy worked as baby face. In the ICW and in the larger
A few tidbits would still come your way, but it wasn’t nearly as open as it is now.        WWF, Randy became the top heel for a long time, before making shifts back and
A lot of stuff that went on behind the scenes back then, you just didn’t have              forth from good to bad and back again. As of the winter of 2007, Angelo Poffo is
broadcasted.”                                                                              still alive and well in Florida. Let’s hope he lives to be 100.

REMEMBERING FRENCHY MARTIN Another Frenchy, who was better                                 REMEMBERING PRIMO CARNERA Born in Italy, Primo Carnera worked as
known, would be Frenchy Martin. Martin was always a bigger draw in his native              a circus strong man, before he was introduced to pro boxing and ultimately
Canada than in the USA, though he made a number of trips across the border                 brought to America. There, he fought his way to the World title, but was robbed
during his long career. Martin had at least one documented bout in Akron in July           of a fortune he made in the ring thanks to gangster managers. After retirement, he
of 1974 where he beat Paul Bolten. He also took part in a couple cards later on in         took to film and to wrestling. Two movies were made that were undeniably based
the history of this arena, where he was used as a manager.                                 on his rise and fall in the boxing realm. There was Requiem for a Heavyweight,
                                                                                           as well as The Harder They Fall. Carnera tried to sue the film people after The
REMEMBERING CRUSHER VERDU Oscar “Crusher” Verdu claimed to be                              Harder They Fall came out, which succeeded mainly in his being blacklisted from
from Spain, which may or may not have been true, as to hear him talk, he had a             future films in the USA. He did, however, make more “classics” in Europe such
distinct accent that would have been hard to fake. Earlier in his career, he had           as Hercules Unchained. Carnera died in Italy in 1967 and was buried in the local
quite a build, though he put on weight as he grew older. Even then, he was a               cemetery in Fruili Sequals. During his years spent as a wrestler, Carnera traveled
powerhouse of a man, looking like a mutant pit bull. Verdu saw a good deal of              the country. He never stayed too long in one place, to be used in an extended
action when wrestling made the shift to the Civic Theatre in 1971 and was being            program or lengthy feud, but kept on the move, using his name appeal to pull in
pushed in the Akron area before that. He feuded with Johnny Powers, Tex                    the curious. In 1955, Carnera came to the Akron Armory, facing Lenny Montana.
McKenzie and others. At one of the theatre shows, he had the fans ready to riot            He won a lopsided victory when Montana was disqualified for cheating and the
when he kept bringing this simple hair comb out of his tights, raking McKenzie’s           justifiably angered ex-boxing champ raised his fists, sending Montana for the
eyes, hiding the foreign object; then pulling it out again, with the ref missing it        cover of the locker room. He then turned on the referee and did the same thing,
each time. When he pinned McKenzie the insults echoed from every corner of the             while the crowd cheered in approval. As an actor, Carnera’s credits also included
building. Verdu had some matches at the Armory, but it was within the                      playing himself in Mighty Joe Young, where he and a host of other grappler lost a
downtown theatre that he received his biggest Akron push. Verdu also made a                tug of war with a gigantic ape.
series of matches in the WWF, under the guidance of Lou Albano as a manager
and wrestled in other parts of the country, before calling it quits.                       REMEMBERING KILLER KARL KRUPP As Mad Dog Dutch Momberg,
                                                                                           George Momberg of Canada pretended to be one of those nasty Sons of Hitler
REMEMBERING LANNY POFFO Early in his career, Lanny Poffo came to                           everyone loved to hate, but he really wasn’t over with the crowd. He lost a
the Akron Armory as a tag team with his father, Angelo, where he gained a great            decisive bout to Chief White Owl at the Loews Theatre in Akron and came out on
deal of initial experience, working with a number of top names. This would only            the short end of things in other towns as well. A change of identity was in order.
be the start of a great career. In Akron, Lanny faced the two McGuires, plus The           Momberg shaved his head, wore a monocle and added a black cape to his
Mongols, Alo Lelanai, George Goldberg, Kurt Von Brauner and several others.                wardrobe. Suddenly Mad Dog was no more and in his place was the sinister
He and his father were sometimes cheered and sometimes jeered, depending on                Killer Karl Krupp, a maniac of the most psychopathic order. Krupp became the
their opponents. In the early 1980s, the Poffos started ICW out of Kentucky and            hit Mad Dog was not, seeing his way into the main event in many parts of the
engaged in a furious promotional war with the Jarrett office out of Tennessee.             USA. He leered like a burning jack-o-lantern as he clamped the claw on
Later, ICW closed and oddly enough, Poffo, his brother Randy (Savage) and                  television jobbers, preparing his way for main events in house shows. He spoke
others ended up working on cards presented by their former enemies. Randy                  with a feigned accent from right out of Hogan’s Heroes. He goose stepped about
Savage and Lanny Poffo both became icons in the WWF. Lanny became The                      the ring, gave the Nazi salute and acted like a poster child for fascism. Krupp had
Genius, using a remarkably similar routine to that of his father, long before, when        various matches at the Akron Armory in the 1970s. Sadly, the great villain passed
he was one of a pair of villains known as The Graduates. Lanny eventually retried          away several years ago, but for some reason his death was not made known to the
to Florida, where he lived now. In 2006, he took part in a low-budget werewolf             wrestling community until long after it happened. The only explanation might be
film, while engaging in varied ventures not related to wrestling. Having written           due to his retirement and being out of the loop for so long.
poems, legitimately, for a number of years, Poffo also took it upon himself to pen

REMEMBERING DUKE KEOMUKA Another of the notorious ethnic villains,                           build, with enough looks to where she could have been a popular baby face if
Duke Keomuka appeared on his own in many Ohio towns, as well as alongside a                  desired, but seemed to stick to the role of heel instead. She had a feud with
“brother” by the name of Sato. He made it to Akron at various intervals and was              Heather Feather, where she was always coming out on the losing end. Crime
soundly booed by the people. Keomuka seemed to have been bigger in the south                 doesn’t pay. We all know that. Though evil may hold a temporary upper hand,
and west rather than in the Ohio locale. In Arizona, he was engaged in a long and            good wins out in the end. Casey had a couple matches in Akron over the years,
bloody feud with the popular Tito Montez and saw a good deal of action in                    most notably a tag bout where she and Paula Kaye took on Heather Feather and
California, facing varied opponents. He was also pushed in Florida very heavily.             Sue Green. It might have been considered a bout with four of the best in the game
Keomuka died in 1991. His real name was Hirsao Tanaka.                                       at the time.

REMEMBERING AFA & SIKA Afa & Sika Anoai received their first big push                        REMEMBERING YUKON ERIC Yukon Eric was one of the many wrestlers to
in Arizona, facing the likes of Bobby Mayne (Jaggers), Kurt Von Steiger, Jody                use a mountain man or logger routine in the ring, depending on how you chose to
Arnold (the first person to ever make Afa bleed in a bout), Mitri, The Arabian               perceive him. He was big, strong fellow, with a crushing bear hug and
Assassin, Rudy Navarro, Jimmy Valentine, Ron Dupree and others. Afa started as               devastating body slam. Power moves were his thing and he used them well. In big
a single; then Sika was introduced to the crowd when he ran into the ring to make            demand at the zenith of his career, Eric traveled the world, facing all kinds of foes.
a save. A new tag team was born. After leaving the west, Afa & Sika traveled                 It was in the ring where he would receive a major injury, however, that could
about. As The Islanders they had a stint in the Ohio/Michigan area as well, before           well have started him on a fit of depression behind the scenes that ultimately led
moving onward once more. In 1975, Afa & Sika appeared at the Akron Armory,                   to his suicide. While wrestling Killer Kowalski, a portion of his ear was torn off
beating Pez Whatley & Cowboy Allen. Heading for the WWF, Afa & Sika                          from a knee drop to the side of the head. The injury sickened spectators, wrestlers
became savage heels as “The Samoans” and under the guidance of Lou Albano,                   and the referee, but was played up to hype wrestling as being real, to counter
became World Tag Team champions. As wild savages rather than amiable island                  what the doubters were saying. Though Eric returned to action and of course,
people, they were a far bigger hit. Afa & Sika had several sons who would also               feuded with Kowalski over the incident, more problems built up for this wrestler
enter the wrestling world under varied names, including Yokozuna and Rikishi.                that fans were totally unaware of. Finally, he could take no more and put a gun to
The two brothers founded the Wild Samoan Training Center, with Afa running                   his head.
the original branch in Pennsylvania and Sika opening another office in Florida.
                                                                                             REMEMBERING YUKON JOHN Yukon John was another of the throwbacks
REMEMBERING DEWEY ROBERTSON Dewey Robertson was an athletic                                  to prospecting days as he entered the ring in the 1970s, as the Armory was
Canadian from the Toronto area, who possessed a great deal of scientific skill. He           entering its final years of activity. He was no Yukon Eric as far as fame went and
wrestled under this name for a long while, but also chose to put on a hood and               as such, little data could be obtained on him. He may have come into Ohio from
become a new entity, fighting evil. The Crusader was the new name and routine.               Tennessee as part of a package, for he always seemed to be appearing on the card
It was under this alias he appeared in Akron to much favor, in the early 1970s.              when others from that area were booked.
Robertson’s Crusader would engage in a feud with Hank James at the Armory,
cumulating when the two met in a lumberjack match. Robertson would later                     REMEMBERING THE ROUGEAUS “I loved to watch footage of Armand &
change his name again to become The Missing Link in the WWF. With a wild                     Ray Rougeau in the WWF,” said wrestler Richard Friar. “I thought they were
haircut and green greasepaint on his face, he stomped around the ring, banging               great. Then I saw some really old footage of Johnny & Jacques Rougeau and was
his head against the ring and drawing looks of awe from the crowd. Outside the               even more amazed. The styles between the two generations were very different,
ring, Robertson’s life had some strange twists. Like Don Arnold out in California,           but in their own way, both captivated me.” Johnny Rougeau and his real-life
he took to residing in a nudist colony and even promoted a card with naked                   brother Jacques were Canadians who were major stars in their native land. They
wrestlers. Nearer to the end of his life, he took more of an interest in religion. He        did, however, make it into Michigan and Ohio on a regular basis, where they
died from cancer in 2007.                                                                    caught on as well. Jacques and Johnny appeared numerous times at the Armory in
                                                                                             the 1960s and 1970s, sometimes as a tag team, for which they were best
REMEMBERING IRISH MICKEY DOYLE Irish Mickey Doyle was a                                      recognized and sometimes in singles. In individual competition, Johnny faced his
journeyman wrestler who always gave his best effort, regardless of what capacity             fellow Canadian, Mad Dog Gagnone, as well as some others, while Jacques
he worked under. He could be clean and technical or mouthy and dirty in the ring,            squared off with Pampero Firpo and Eric the Red in 1973, which saw them
depending where he was needed. Doyle did his share of traveling, but always                  receiving a push of sorts in this arena. On April 21 of that same year, they faced
seemed to stick more closely to his Michigan base whenever possible. He did                  the Castillos and defeated them in a violent brawl. The two brothers were famous
drift downward into Ohio on numerous occasions and was seen in Akron often                   for exploits outside the ring as well as in it, especially Johnny, who was once a
enough. “Doyle was a real fair hand,” remarked The Time Traveler. :He might                  prominent night club owner as well as a body guard for Canadian politicians,
not have been the biggest name, but he had the respect of fans and wrestlers alike           Johnny passed away from cancer in 1984 and Jacques retired from the game, but
in the areas where he did appear.” Doyle continued to wrestle way beyond the                 not before introducing his three sons to the wrestling world, who would of course
close of the Armory, seeing action into the 1990s before retiring.                           go on to stardom in the WWF.

REMEMBERING THE BRUNETTI BROTHERS Guy and Joe Brunetti                                       REMEMBERING AL JOHNSON Al Johnson was used most often on televised
wrestled as brothers, which they evidently were in real life. They had some hair-            tapings, where in the tradition of Rick Luka, Dr. Beach and Jim Lancaster, he
raising matches as a tag team and as singles in various parts of the world. They             would continually go down to defeat. At house shows in Akron, it was much the
also appeared in Akron on a regular basis. Guy Brunetti eventually retired to                same for him, though he actually did get a win over Crusher Ricky Cortez on
Arizona, where he died in 2005. Joe Brunetti also passed away some time back.                March 29, 1975.

REMEMBERING FRED ATKINS Born in New Zealand, Fred Atkins evidently                           REMEMBERING CHRIS MARKOFF During the 1960s and 1970s, Chris
migrated to Canada and used this country as a base for operations through most               Markoff was a major heel. He had a muscular build, dyed blond hair and a
of his wrestling career. Among the various wrestlers he trained were Tiger Jeet              smiling face that seemed to belong to an innocent man who could do no wrong.
Singh and Giant Baba. He continued to wrestle until 1971, but saw added action               In truth, these pleasant features masked the heart of a true heel. The man traveled
afterward as a referee. He died in 1988. Atkins made various stops in Ohio over              the world and was jeered at nearly every stop he made. By 1973 or so, the blond
the years, including some Armory dates in the past.                                          hair had gone in favor of long, dark brown locks. Markoff was claiming to be
                                                                                             from Macedonia in certain places and Russia in others, but regardless of the
REMEMBERING MOOSE CHOLAK A towering giant of a man, Moose                                    nationality and age creeping up on him, he was still loathed by the audience.
Cholak was a heel early in his career, put over as a lumberjack who entered the              Markoff was pushed much more strongly in Canton, where he feuded with Fred
ring with an actual moose head for a hat. He later turned to work as a fan favorite          Curry and Tony Marino, as opposed to Akron. The Marino feud did spill over
and was soundly cheered throughout the Midwestern states as he faced the likes               into the Armory on at least a few occasions, however, in 1974, but was never
of Bulldog Brower and others. It was not in Akron, but nearby Canton where                   really played up like in other places. On September 21, 1974, Markoff and Tony
Brower and Cholak engaged in a wild brawl in 1976. Cholak was also seen at the               Marino engaged in a fairly violent Texas Death Match, which saw the villain
Armory from time to time. On September of 1974, he had a particularly                        finally getting his due. The last big run for Markoff came in the 1980s, when he
memorable match with Reginald Love, which he won by disqualification. Cholak                 was used regularly for the AWA. Having already invested in an apartment
passed away in 2002.                                                                         complex, he retired from the ring to look after these business interests.

REMEMBERING KAY CASEY I could not find a great deal of data on this                          REMEMBERING GARY FULTON Pretty Boy Gary Fulton was originally just
woman, who is not to be confused with Ann Casey, who wrestled from out of the                a blond guy with long hair and a mustache, who came out of Marion, Ohio, the
south. This Casey may have been trained by Lou Klein, judging from the area she              same area that helped produce the disastrous politician, Warren Harding. In his
worked and the style she displayed as a heel. Casey had brown hair and a good                early days, he was seen in Canton, Detroit and Akron, wrestling in preliminaries,

though he did show considerable promise. Later, as Charlie Fulton, he would gain                people watching him and seeing only a mediocre grappler would certainly be
more ground. He even made it into the WWF. Reportedly, heart problems would                     surprised later on down the road. He later rocketed to stardom, but his Akron
force him from full-time wrestling action, though he would start a wrestling                    appearances didn’t exactly set the world on fire at the time of his debut in the
school and train several people for the ring, again from his Marion base. In 1975,              Armory.
Fulton saw some action in the Armory, facing Pistol Pez Whately, who was then
on the way up himself. “Fulton might have been considered a little dorky                        REMEMBERING AL LOVELOCK Another of the wrestlers who came and
looking,” commented The Time Traveler. “Yet, he had this shifty look about him.                 went was the late Al Lovelock, who like Lou Albano, didn’t make much of an
I swear, his eyes would dart back and forth like the villain in some old silent                 impact on the Armory fans. In fact, he was considered rather routine by them. It
movie. He just looked so sneaky. He had that same sinister expression about him,                was during this time that he thought up a new character of epic and evil
like maybe Mr. Fuji or Jerry Lawler, where you just knew something was coming.                  proportions, so he too, would fain lasting fame with a simple change in routine.
He was built alright, though not exactly an Adonis. It was that face that got him               Donning a yellow and black mask, Lovelock would call himself The Great Bolo.
over, rather than his build. I am sure of it. People just did not trust him in the ring.        Under this new name, he would gain bookings in numerous areas and be
They knew he was going to pull something dirty, when he got that under-handed                   considered a top heel. Few people realize what a modest wrestler really hid
expression on his face. They knew something was coming, just as surely as they                  behind the hood, for under this new identity he was an absolute monster. He did,
knew a foreign object was about to be used when George Steele started reaching                  for the most part, leave Akron and the rest of the Midwest behind him, seeking
into his trunks. At times, Fulton would start out by wrestling cleanly, breaking on             other bookings as this wicked masked man, in the southern states and the west.
the ropes and using holds. Then, there would be that look of his and the fans                   The addition of another partner, the Mighty Bolo, added to his drawing capacity
knew something bad was about to happen.”                                                        as well. If for no other reason than to have a laugh at the fans who once spurned
                                                                                                him, Lovelock did have a return run in Akron, though as stated, took his new
REMEMBERING BOBBY BRUNS Bobby Bruns was a buffed wrestler who                                   routine on the road. As The Great Bolo, he had a riotous stint in Akron during the
worked hard for his build, without the use of steroids, as sit-ups, weights and                 early 1960s, vindicating himself and leaving his reputation, at least under the
push ups were the thing in his era. He was usually seen as a technical wrestler,                hood, as a ruthless rule breaker confirmed.
but his style might have been too dry for those wanting action. During the 1950s
and 1960s, he was a good journeyman who made a decent living at the trade. He                   REMEMBERING PRETTY BOY CLARK Little data remains on Pretty Boy
was seen in Akron at varied intervals, but was not a regular. After retirement,                 Clark except for the fact that he came from Mansfield, Ohio and usually worked
Bruns became involved with promoting in the Cleveland area. He has since                        in that neck of the woods, flaunting himself as a bit of a Buddy Rogers clone. He
passed away, just like the building where he ran his cards on Euclid Avenue.                    had the strut, the ego and the usual heel moves. In 1957, he seemed to peak, with
                                                                                                a number of bookings and a push in the smaller promotions, but never truly
REMEMBERING FRANK HICKEY Frank Hickey used a variety of routines                                graduated to the big time. He saw some action in Akron, Canton and Youngstown,
during a long career, where among them; he claimed to be a man from outer                       but was again, mainly utilized in the Mansfield area
space. In some territories, the promoters of his day refused to bill him as such,
figuring it sounded too silly. Those older match makers in the 1940s and 1950s                  REMEMBERING J.R. HOGG Everyone starts somewhere and Ohio indy
would have been aghast to see what goes on now in the game. Hickey was seen in                  mainstay J.R. Hogg of the Hogg Brothers tag team (with “brother” Hoss Hogg)
Akron in the 1950s, but did not exactly set the world on fire. He did, however,                 made at least one showing at the old Armory, right before it was closed down. He
travel about. During his lengthy career he was seen in many places, including                   was in his way up in the Akron area when the building was on its way down.
Washington DC, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Philadelphia, Buffalo,                         “They screwed up the billing,” commented Bob Crumby. “They called him
Tucson and more. Some of his opponents over the years were legendary stars. He                  something stupid like Duff Hogg or Rump Hogg or Tush Hogg or some stupid
also wrestled under a hood as The Golden Terror for a spell. Upon retiring from                 thing like that, but at the time the audience didn’t give a shit. He was just some
the ring, Hickey worked as a traveling referee, sometimes under his own name                    fat guy who came in and got beat. Later, though, in other places, where the
and sometimes as Bozo Brown. Even when out of the spotlight, he was by the                      offices gave him a push, the people took note of him.” Though his Akron Armory
looks of it, still thinking up odd aliases for himself. Hickey died in 1991 and was             showing left a little to be desired,. J.R. Hogg continued to wrestle for many years
laid to rest in Albany, Kentucky, at the Memorial Hall Cemetery.                                for other groups, where his massive size proved to be a draw. He used a hillbilly
                                                                                                routine which went over especially well with the kids in the crowd. He also
REMEMBERING DON LEO JONATHAN The son of veteran wrestling villain,                              trained some area people to wrestle and taught them well. J.R. Hogg died in 2007
Brother Jonathan, who made up a Mormon heel tag team with Brother Frank, was                    from a heart attack. His nephew, however, is still wrestling to this very day.
a towering giant of a man with a magnificent physic and the face of a movie star.
During a long career, he wrestled throughout the USA and other parts of the                     THE AFTERGLOW By the end of the 1970s, the old Akron Armory was
world, using a finisher called The Mormon Swing to do his opponents in. While                   considered unusable for wrestling or even for rent. It lasted for a few years into
he was a star of international repute, the high point in his career came late, when             the 1980s and was torn down, with only the guardsman statue remaining behind.
he was involved in a lengthy program in the WWWF to try to rid Pedro Morales                    If one wishes to think as a romantic, he or she may claim to still hear the roaring
of the World title. While he did not gain the belt, he did have a set of savage and             of the crowd on cold Akron nights, but for all practical purposes, it is just the
bloody encounters that had the people talking. Jonathan had a number of bouts in                traffic going by. The old Akron Armory is dead, just like the bulk of the
Akron in the early 1960s, where he was billed as American champion. He was                      participants who wrestled there. Wrestling, however, would live on. In the 1980s,
over like mad for a time. The big man has long since retired, but frequents the                 various independent groups tried running the town at the old Firestone Union
old-timer reunions and occasional autograph shows.                                              Hall. Many of the remnants of the old Armory crew were on hand, though they
                                                                                                had seen better days by this time. The WWF made Akron a regular stop in the
REMEMBERING THE TOLOS BROTHERS During the 1950s, the brother                                    1980s as well, bringing Fred Blassie, Jesse Ventura, The Iron Sheik, Sergeant
team of John & Chris Tolos emerged on the scene and by the early 1960s they                     Slaughter, Rocky Johnson, Judy Martin, Ivan Putski and others to a night club
were the terror of wrestling. Following a big run in Cleveland, they were brought               called The Breakaway. This too, came to an end. Now, as the WWE, they don’t
into Akron as well and mowed over most of the people they faced. From Ohio,                     even bother with the city any longer, going into Cleveland instead. As the 2000s
they headed west to become a major draw in the Seattle area, feuding with Luke                  drifted around, various smaller groups have operated in Akron and surrounding
Brown, Dutch Savage, Haystacks Calhoun and others. By 1970, the two decided                     areas. The Sheik, The Mongols, Tony Marino, Luis Martinez and Sweet Daddy
to split, with Chris returning to the Midwest and Canada. John, however, went to                have been replaced by a whole new crew. John Potok, J.T. Lightning, Richard
Los Angeles, where he became the heel to end all heels. His feuds with Victor                   Friar, Justin Diaz, Lones Oaks, Christian Vaughn, Jaizin Blaze, Durty The Clown,
Rivera, Mil Mascaras, Fred Blassie, The Sheik, Don Carson and others became                     Tyrone Evans, Kano, Bounce, Kato, Shark Boy, John Gun, Rogue, Raptor, Cody
legendary. Chris Tolos died from cancer a few years back. John is still alive, but              Starr, Donny Donavan, Nick Tatum. Brain Damage, Mr. Insanity, The
has encountered major health problems himself as of late.                                       Psychopath, Big Hurt, Devon Devine, Wilbur Whitlock, Danny Boy, Shasta,
                                                                                                Jamie Starr, G.Q. Status, Cruz Sangrada, Jebediah Yoder, The Buckaroos,
REMEMBERING JANE JORDAN A charismatic lady wrestler active in the                               Carlton Caz, Sweet Lou, Jeff Cannon, Shane Sensation, Chris Kole, Matt Mason,
Midwest in the 1960s, this girl made at least one appearance in Akron when on                   Lexie Lane, Sensational Steffie, Haily Hatred, The Purple Hooter, Brandon X,
January 2, 1962, she lost to Karen Kellogg.                                                     Hobo Joe, Johnny Gargano, Even Steven, Mr. Glamrock, Virus, Dark Starr,
                                                                                                Unknown, Sherman Tank, Scotty Sabre, Rick Leib, Kid Rageous, Super Lucha,
REMEMBERING LOU ALBANO Long before he joined Tony Altimore to                                   Robbie Starr, Josh Prohibition, Mad Dog 20, Jason Bane, Marion Fontaine and
become part of The Sicilians tag team and especially prior to his tremendously                  The Gimp have been just a handful of them. Don’t be fooled. Some of the above
successful stint as a manager in the WWF, which sealed his place forever in the                 have turned out to be quite good and in a few cases, even remarkable. Somehow,
history of pro wrestling, Lou Albano made some appearances in Akron. This was                   to the older crowd, however, the effect just isn’t the same.
in the experimental stage of his career, where he was still trying to gain ground in
the game and really hadn’t developed into anything outside the ordinary. Many


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