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Oshawa Wrestling History

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NWA Title in Toronto
WWWF Title in Toronto
Promoters in Ontario
Ontario Venues
Early TV Wrestling in Ontario
Referees of MLW
Jack Corcoran - The Queensbury King
Frank Tunney - The Early Years
Red Garner - The Pride Of Langstaff
Nanjo vs Whipper - A Feud For The Ages
Pat Flanagan - The Irish Tornado
Fred Atkins - Ferocious Fred
Yukon Eric - The Sampson Of The North
Lou Thesz vs Red Mask 1953
Doug Hepburn - Worlds Strongest Man
Gene Kiniski: Have no fear Kiniski is here
Whipper vs Kiniski - Genesis of a Feud
Bulldog Brower in Toronto
Thesz vs Rocca 1962
The Tolos Brothers
John Paul Henning 1963
Carpentier vs Stasiak 1966
Singh vs Valentine 1967
Carlos Rocha In Toronto
Johnny & Greg Valentine
-Mid Atlantic Era
Ric Flair in Toronto
Almanac 1981
Almanac 1982

Classic Photos
Kowalski vs Schmidt 1953
Whipper vs The Mills Bros. 1955
Whipper vs Schmidt 1955
Layton vs Kalmikoff 1955
Whipper vs Haggerty 1956
Whipper vs Buddy 1956
Kiniski vs Eric 1957
Whipper vs Kiniski 1957
The Lisowski's 1958
Fritz & Hans 1958
Whipper vs Don Leo 1959
DiPaolo vs Don Leo 1959
Joe Greenfield 1950's
Fred Atkins 1950's
Jim Hady 1961
Muchnick & Watson 1965
Assassin vs Chief White Owl 1967
Garvin Brothers 1967
Adonis & Ventura 1982
Ivan Koloff 1982
Ric Flair vs Harley Race 1982
Destroyer vs Billy Red Lyons 1983

Pages from the Scrapbook
1957 The Fabulous Kangaroos
1959 O'Connor vs Thesz

Title History/Results
Toronto Wrestling Results
North American Title History
Canadian Middleweight Title History
History of the CCWA
Dave McKigney Career Record
History of Oshawa

Misc. Pictorial
The Canadian Title Belt
The N.A Title Belt
MLG 2012

Site Map
Pic Of The Month

For more on the history of Toronto
be sure to visit Gary Will's TWH

See Also
Mid-Atlantic Gateway
Legacy of Wrestling
Slam Wrestling

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Pro Wrestling in Oshawa, Ontario
from the 1920's to the 1990's
results, clippings, and original photos

We continue the Almanac, this time looking at the year in Maple Leaf Wrestling 1981. It was a landmark year for the promotion with more overall shows around the region and increased attendance over the previous years.

One of the biggest shows of the era was held in recognition of Toronto's 50th Anniversary of Wrestling at Maple Leaf Gardens and saw the triumphant return of favorite Ric Flair as the new NWA World champ.

Angelo Mosca would continue his success as the new local hero and holder of our Canadian heavyweight title. He would see challenges from Jimmy Snuka and Roddy Piper as well as earning a title shot vs NWA champ Harley Race, and would also find time to lose the Canadian belt twice.

Piper would become one of the most popular (hated) regulars, and we would see the only Canadian NWA Title defense of Dusty Rhodes in a bout here in September in a busy year for the local fans.

Click to read Almanac 1981

Gene Kiniski in Toronto: Have no fear Kiniski is here
'Big Thunder' Gene Kiniski earned his nickname the honest way.

When he came into Toronto in 1956, it was with a thunderous entrance and the storm stuck around for a long time. On and off for 27 years in fact, much of those in the midst of the action at the top of the cards here.

His first appearance here came in the opening bout on the November 8 1956 card which saw a main event of then NWA champ Whipper Watson vs Mr Moto. Kiniski beat Ken Kenneth in the curtain raiser and the Whip beat Moto in the main.

Click to read Gene Kiniski in Toronto: Have no fear Kiniski is here

Classic Photo: Ric Flair vs Harley Race
These two met 6 times here between 1980-1984 over the NWA World title. Every bout was non-stop action in the ring, out of the ring, and on the ramp.

They would trade off those slow hold-in-the-air suplexes on the canvas and on the hard wooden ramp. It was always 110% when these two met.

Flair had his figure-four and Race had those falling head butts which would leave Flair a bloody mess. While Race was slow and methodical where every move counted, Flair who could do no wrong here was fast and hyper.

Click to see Ric Flair vs Harley Race

Johnny & Greg: The Valentines
There were quite a few Father-Son combinations that appeared in Toronto over the years though not always at the same time.

There were a few that worked here in different eras, Warren and Nick Bockwinkel, Brother and Don Leo Jonathon, Bruno Sr and Bruno Jr (later David) Sammartino, and Bob Sr. and Bob Jr. Orton.

Others overlapped and worked on the same card at least once include Angelo Sr. and Angelo Jr. Mosca, Whipper and Whipper (Phil) Jr., Blackjack Sr. and Blackjack Jr. (later Barry Windham) Mulligan, Gene and Kelly (and Nick different era) Kiniski, Angelo and Randy and Lanny Poffo, and Johnny and Greg Valentine.

Over the course of their careers in Toronto the most successful of these father-son combo's as far as both careers standing on their own would have to be Johnny and Greg.

Click to read Johnny & Greg: The Valentines

Genesis of a Feud: Whipper vs Kiniski
By the time Gene Kiniski burst onto the Toronto scene in November 1956 Whipper Watson was well into his 16th year as the reigning king of the ring at Maple Leaf Gardens.

Kiniski, billed as a 'footballer of note' made an instant impact on the fans in Toronto. They hated him right away.

Publicity man Frank Ayerst remarked that Kiniski was 'sometimes referred to as Genial Gene, because he smiled once when an opponent was being carried out of the ring.' Adding that he 'is such a rugged ring operator that getting a match with him is gaily alluded to as The Point of No Return.'

Click to read Whipper vs Kiniski - Genesis of a Feud

Whipper Watson vs Buddy Rogers 1956
This bout took place just 3 weeks after Watson lost the NWA Title back to Lou Thesz in St Louis.

Rogers had actually challenged Watson during a card at MLG while he was NWA champ but Watson lost the title the very next day.

They would finally meet here with the title at stake in 1961 when Rogers was champ with Rogers winning via dq.

Rogers would manage 8 defenses here before losing to Thesz at MLG in 1963 while Watson as home town champ defended in Toronto 16 times in 1956 after he had won the belt here in March '56.

Click to see Whipper vs Buddy 1956

The first of the revamped Almanac looking at a great year in Toronto wrestling -1982. We will look at the year from a fans perspective and highlight the major cards, feuds, and title changes.

1982 was a busy year with 3 NWA Title bouts, 7 WWF Title bouts, and an AWA Title bout taking place at MLG. Frank Tunney saw one of the more successful years in the later era of MLW with strong attendance and a couple of 15,000+ cards for the first time in many years.

Along with our local stars we had the Mid-Atlantic and WWF stars here on a regular basis and even got a rare visit from the East-West Connection and the last appearances of AWA champ Nick Bockwinkel.

There were bloody Cage bouts, Indian Strap matches, Lumberjack bouts, and Texas Death matches filling up the cards not just at MLG but around the region. Kingston, Oshawa, Hamilton, Niagara Falls, Brantford, Guelph, St Catherines, and a return to Buffalo and Ottawa filled out the circuit.

Click to read Almanac 1982

Early TV Wrestling in Ontario
As early as 1940 it was being discussed in Toronto papers of how Television would impact the country's game - hockey. In New York they were televising boxing to movies theaters.

Conn Smythe, owner of the Maple Leafs had been invited to take in a Football game at a theater in New York and while not dully impressed remarked 'It was like the old flickers, but remember the handicap of making these impressions outdoors and on a cloudy day.'

By 1943 they were showing fights from MSG in NYC and in 1944 televised a bout between Bobby Ruffin and Tippey Larkin to more than 20 Hospitals in the New York area.

Most of the patients were servicemen and this was said to be the first extensive television coverage ever given a fight to that time.

Click to read Early TV Wrestling in Ontario

Classic Photo: Assassin vs Chief White Owl
Roger Baker sent over some great photos from TV tapings at CHCH's Hamilton studio. The two here depict the first time blood was drawn in a TV bout!

The Masked Assassin would later be unmasked at MLG by The Sheik. Under the mask was Guy 'Stomper' Mitchell who was later known as Jerry Valiant. Real name John Hill.

Chief White Owl was popular around the Great Lakes cities. Pat Flanagan is the 3rd man in the ring for the bout. Thanks to Roger Baker !

Click to see Assassin vs Chief White Owl 1967

Flashback Feature: Doug Hepburn - Worlds Strongest Man
Pro Wrestling has seen it's share of Football players and Strongmen over the years. In Toronto we saw our share of both dating back to the very early days of Pro Wrestling.

In the mid 1950's Doug Hepburn would try his hand in the squared circle after taking the country by storm setting Weightlifting records and earning the title of 'World's Strongest Man.'

He had won medals, set records in many of the lifts, and won the prestigious Lou Marsh Trophy as Canada's top athlete in 1953. Some ads proclaimed him as 'the strongest man in history.'

He had overcome some serious physical issues to reach those heights and Wrestling was to be his next challenge.

A Jim Vipond column in early 1955 claimed that he had signed a 5 year contract with Frank Tunney before Christmas and that he was in training under Whipper Watson at the Queensbury Athletic Club basement gymnasium.

Click to read Doug Hepburn - Worlds Strongest Man

THANKS TO ROGER BAKER for contributions to the MLWP. Many of the Classic photos come from Roger's collections from his many years as a fan and then Professional Photog shooting Wrestling & Boxing bouts at MLG and around Ontario. We are fortunate to have his contributions to the articles as he shares his memories from the classic days of Ontario Pro Wrestling. Roger wrote many great stories for the Wrestling mags of the day that featured his photos and time spent with many of the biggest stars ever to appear at Maple Leaf Gardens. Thank you Roger!

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Wrestling News! ....RIP George Steele
He was a regular on the Wildman's circuit in 1981-82 and was a great addition to the shows. His debut at MLG came late, at the second WWF show in 1984 though he was a regular in Detroit for many years...Photo from 1982 Cornwall
Very good obit on Slam at George Steele RIP

RIP Ivan Koloff...Koloff was a favorite during the Mid-Atlantic era here but had debuted at MLG back in 1968. One of the all-time Canadian greats for sure...Photo from MLG 1982
See obit on Slam at Ivan Koloff RIP

Feb 17 2017...Coming soon...second part of Frank Tunney, this time The Later Days...another classic photo or two...among other planned entries

Our latest Blog entry -2 this time- a Whipper Jr show and a look at the first Sunday card at MLG

Over 160 entries covering over 70 years of Ontario and Canadian wrestling history

Our latest Pic of the Month features The Sheik vs Luis 'Ariba' Martinez in the cage August 1982
It Happened in February!... ... 1957 Whipper Watson teams with Yukon Eric to defeat Dick Hutton and Gene Kiniski in a big tag bout... 1958 Whipper and Yukon defeat Kiniski and Fritz Von Erich to win the Canadian Open Tag Titles. 1962 NWA champ Buddy Rogers defends against Bulldog Brower 2 weeks in a row... 1963 NWA champ Lou Thesz solidifies his title claim defeating Rogers in a re-match after the first win weeks prior right here.... 1971 The Sheik vs Tiger Jeet Singh sells out the recently increased seating at MLG!... 1977 Harley Race beats Terry Funk to win the NWA Title at MLG, the last time the title would change hands here... 1979 Canadian champ Dino Bravo successfully defends against Ric Flair.... 1983 NWA champ Ric Flair defends against former champ Terry Fink... 1984 The last battle of Ric Flair and Harley Race in NWA Toronto, Flair NWA champ wins the bout...
Fun Facts ......Frank Tunney had a similiar career as Jim Crockett Sr who ran the Carolinas and area for many years...And their promotions were somewhat aligned long before they actually worked together in 1978... They were born 3 years apart...Jim started in 1935 while Frank officially took over in 1939...neither was a pro wrestler...Both promoted other sports...Both were close to Sam Muchnick and served in official capacities for the NWA... Both had sons named after them...Both had family in the office, Jim eventually turned it over to son Jim Jr. while Frank let nephew Jack take control and Frank's son Eddie was also involved....Both were associated with tag wrestling being a big part of the promotion... Both later had a Tag Tournament held in their honor... Long time Crockett booker George Scott got his start in Toronto and area and later partnered up with Tunney and Jim Jr....
Clip Of The Month

Feb 21 1982... Blackjack Mulligan beat Big John Studd by dq... Mid Atlantic TV champ Ivan Koloff over Jimmy Valiant by dq... Blackjack Mulligan Jr. defeated Austin Idol... Ninja & Gene Anderson beat Jay Youngblood & Johnny Weaver... Tony Parisi over Joe White John Bonello pinned Louis Laurence
Mag of the Month

Canadian Wrestling 1972