Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Wild Bill Zim !

It's always great to hear from family of wrestlers who appeared in Ontario. Recently I heard from the son of Wild Bill Zim, a very interesting and well traveled star of the 30's to 50's.

Mike Zim has done an admirable job putting together a very detailed and lengthy ring results record for his Dad who wrestled in many areas including Ontario. Wild Bill Zim (and a long list of aka's including Zimovitch, Zimm, Zimmo, and many other variations) was a very colorful character, larger than life, as many of the early pro wrestlers were.

Mike has a site up at http://www.wildbillzim.com/   if you click on the 'more' you will see the very detailed ring record created with help from Don Luce, Scott Teal, Kasper Christiansen, Jimmy Wheeler, Scott George, and others, but especially especially, J Michael Kenyon.

Self Caricature on right 

The story of Wild Bill has a strong Ontario connection. He wrestled quite a bit on Larry Kasaboski's 'Northland' circuit and also got to Maple Leaf Gardens several times

He had been scheduled at MLG in 1939 but his first appearance in Toronto would come on Dec 3 1942. Billed from Arizona, Zim was described as the latest in 'Mat Maestro Tunney's importation of oddities in pachyderms to expose on the weekly squirm cards...Zim sports a luxuriant growth of shoulder-long hair and Mr. Tunney hastens to deny that Zim is one of the Seven Sutherland Sisters incognito, He is matched with Jan Gotch.'

*The Seven Sutherland Sisters was a family "act" that toured to great acclaim showing 37 feet of long dark hair.

He faced super-villain Nanjo Singh on Dec 17 1942 and returned again to face both Jack Claybourne and Yvon Robert. His time on the Northern circuit was more plentiful, with several tours and some big bouts.


In addition to the far north spots that Kasaboski ran, they also moved into Barrie for several summers in the 1950's that resulted in a bit of a promotional war with Tunney.

The photo at right is from 1949 Sault Ste Marie Ontario, left to right Jim Barnett,  Tony Martinelli, Wild Bill, Monty Leduc/LaDue, and a 'Masked Marvel' said to be Bobby Nelson

The Northland shows were well attended and according to reports of the time, the fans enjoyed these (and Red Garner's cards) more than Tunney's cards in the area. Wild Bill appeared across the circuit including the shows in Rouyn Noranda, Quebec.

Wild Bill was also an accomplished artist and documented his life travels with interesting caricatures, portraits, and busts, both of fellow wrestlers and others he met along the way. Mike shared some great pictures and artwork, some of which was done at the Sunset Cabins resort which was owned by Herb Parks and later his brother Bill 'Dinty' Parks.


The resort is where the wrestlers would stay while up on their summer tours of the area and is the source of the naming of the 'sunset flip.' It's probable that the lure of the Ontario north was part of the attraction for U.S. based wrestlers such as Zim and others including Dory Funk Sr.

pic at right has Wild Bill holding up Marvel's mask with Larry Kasaboski

A must read on the territory is the book 'The Rassler From Renfrew' by the late Gary Howard.

Track it down, its one of the best books ever written on pro wrestling and really captures the era and the legacy of the Kasaboski's, the Parks brothers, Bill (not Bull) Curry, Frankie Hart, Wild Bill Zim, and the many regulars that traveled the Northern towns for many years.

If you can help Mike with any ring results that aren't already on his record send him a note
thanks to Mike for the use of the photos and all of the items shared with MLW ! 
 http://www.wildbillzim.com/





Thursday, July 6, 2017

Jack Corcoran portrait

A fine portrait of Toronto Wrestling & Boxing Promoter Jack Corcoran found in the City of Toronto Archives.

It is an Alexandra Studio commissioned photograph, the studio run by the legendary Turofsky brothers.

They have 194_ ?  as date. Have seen both 1892 and 1894 as date of birth so guessing mid to later part of the decade, putting him in his early to mid 50's in this pic.

I looked at his life in a longer article on the site at Jack Corcoran: The Queensbury King
Very interesting guy and evidently the inspiration business wise for his protege and successor Frank Tunney. He ran Toronto Wrestling from 1930 -1939 and boxing from about 1922. While he sold out to the Tunney brothers in 1939 he stayed somewhat active around the office for several more years and lived in the city until his death in 1965.

Always seeking info on Jack please comment or contact me if you can add to the story above.




Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Whipper collecting Masks 1961


 Whipper Watson holds many of Toronto's 'Wrestling Records' including most un-maskings.

The masked villain gimmick goes way back to the earliest history of Maple Leaf and most of the time Whipper would be the one to un-mask the heel and send him packing.

In some cases they would hang around and continue to wrestle under their 'real' name or as a combination of their masked persona such as 'The Zebra Kid George Bollas.'

The clip from 1961 shows Whipper to have already unmasked 5 men and currently working on #6 The Black Terror.

 
Lew Reynheer - Masked Marvel - Whip unmasked him 02/17 1949
Mayes McLain - Masked Manager - yes the next Marvel had a masked manager - 02/22 1951
George Bollas (says Bolos) - The Zebra /Zebra Kid - 11/29 1951
Al Lovelock - Great Bolo - unmasked by Whip on 06/04 1959

Now they also show Lou 'Shoulders' Newman who was another Masked Marvel and
was unmasked 08/30 1951 - but by the also masked Zebra, not Whipper
May be that Whip took his mask elsewhere, Hamilton, Buffalo maybe
I still have to look through hundreds of files to check but don't see Whip unmasking Lou here.

He was successful against the Black Terror unmasking him on 05/25 1961 as Laverne Baxter to make it 6 total.

Whip wasn't finished yet however.
He and partner Bulldog Brower unmasked the Masked Yankees on 07/10 1966
Dandy was Bob Stanlee while Doodle was Moose Evans.
Whip had put up his career - he would retire vs the unmasking of he and Bulldog's arch enemies. Whip and Brower also took the International Tag Titles with that win.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Sweet Daddy Siki memories with Roger Baker

The completed and long awaited Documentary on Sweet Daddy Siki recently aired on the Documentary Channel on June 11th, 2017. 
 
Siki is as deserving as anyone to be the subject of a serious doc looking at his life and a star career that spanned 5 decades.

Of special interest for us Toronto fans is that Siki was a regular here from 1962 through the late 1980's. he debuted here in 1962 and was still wrestling regularly on Dave McKigney's shows as late as 1987 and would appear right into the 1990's here and there.

The Toronto history is huge, he came in at a very pivotal time in our wrestling history. Bruno, Thesz, Buddy Rogers, that whole scene, the unrest in the NWA, the formation of the WWWF. Siki was right in the midst of that and almost from the start was in main events and feuding and teaming with all of the big names here, Whipper, Bulldog, Yukon, Valentine, Hady, and the rest of the stars here.

I was fortunate to be at some of the filming when they shot at MLG photographer Roger Baker's famed wrestling room. A high point of the day was hearing Siki, in his inimitable drawl, tell the origin story of 'Sweet Daddy.' Jet Star was also present. He was an exciting wrestler that mostly worked on McKigney shows around the region in the '80s (and still today!) and he and Roger sat with Siki in the world famous 'wrestling room', an apt spot for the three to film a portion of the doc.

I asked my favorite wrestling expert, super-fan, and major contributor to this site - Roger - for his memories of the 'Irresistible One', both as a fan and as a photographer/writer and insider.

MLWP - As a long time fan do you remember seeing Siki for the first time, what were your thoughts, and had you seen him in action before on TV or in other cities before he settled here

Roger - If I recall the first time that I saw Siki was very soon after he first appeared here in Toronto. I had never seen a black wrestler who had bleached blond hair before, and I must say that he was certainly an originator in that regard. Siki was able to immediately generate attention to his appearance as well as his persona what with his skill with a mike in hand, and his unique hair style.
 
MLWP - I know you took lots of photos of Siki in action, did you ever get to interact with him back then , show him any photos, he seems very reserved in 'real' life, was he always that way - in comparison to his ring persona

Roger - I remember so well the first time that I had a chance to interact with Siki, was with a friend at the time, we were on the QEW. driving to Hamilton to take in a wrestling show at the Hamilton Forum. We were halfway along the highway to our destination, when suddenly we spot S.D. driving right along side of us, we waved and shouted at him, and he waved back. We drove along side each other for perhaps a half mile, and we told him that our main purpose for our trip to the Forum was to see him in action, he had a big grin on his face and waved goodbye as the traffic was building behind us. 


I got to know Siki very well after our first encounter on the highway, we became very good friends I had the opportunity to spend a lot of quality time with Mr. SDS as we traveled together to a few of his mat appearances, and I had the chance to meet his charming wife on two occasions. My wife and myself had them both up to our apt. way back shortly after he arrived on the Toronto scene, the occasion was for an interview, as well as a photo shoot. 

About 8 yrs ago wrestler Jet Star and myself visited Siki at the Duke of York tavern, he has performed at this venue for years, performing karaoke Saturday afternoons and evenings for his legion of fans who enjoy to listen as well as participate with Siki. The purpose of our visit was to see S.D.S. perform, as well I had assembled a very extensive collection of photos of Siki that I had taken so many years earlier, it was a great pleasure for me to be able to leave those photos with Siki. 

Can remember an opportunity that just presented itself one Saturday afternoon back around 1964-65, I was going to cover an upcoming heavyweight fight at MLG that featured George Chuvalo in a ten round fight with then ranked Ernie 'The Octopus' Terrell. It occurred in a tavern in downtown Toronto, Terrell was doing some sparing upstairs above the tavern, there was a heavy bag, mats, and skipping ropes along with other boxing gear, when I saw this as an opportunity to get two well known boxing and wrestling greats together. I phoned Siki at home and explained who was training at this gym and can you make it over so that we could have an introduction between the two take place. Regi Siki was on the scene in about twenty minutes, and it proved to be a very enjoyable experience for all of us.
 
MLWP - You saw all of the major stars of the 1950's 1960's and beyond, where does Siki fit in when you look back at Toronto history

Roger - S.D.S. was a very unique wrestler in that even though he was at the prime of his mat career, he stood out as an original ring performer with his blond hair, magnificent capes, mike skills, and a very powerfully built body. his shoulder muscles resembled two over sized grapefruits. We both had many other pleasant interactions during the sixties, however space would not allow me to recall them all at this time. 

During his heyday back in the sixties S.D.S. wrestled all of the top wrestlers that were appearing in Toronto's MLG. He faced some very tough wrestlers, to mention a few Yukon Eric, Whipper Watson, Bulldog Brower, Lou Thesz, and Bruno Sammartino. Siki told me during our get together at the Duke Of York, that he once wrestled the mighty Lou Thesz to a ninety minute draw in Texas some time during the late fifties. Siki had it all personality, great mat skills, outstanding physique, and the ability to mix it with the best of them during his era.
 
MLWP - Any bouts that stand out for you , at MLG or in one of the smaller arenas around the area

Roger - The one bout that I saw Siki in that still remains in clear detail in my mind took place in the town of Sutton On. during the summer months. Sutton is very close to Lake Simcoe and cottage country, the scheduled wrestling card was sure to draw a large crowd, being that there were so many people in the area at this time. The main event that promoter Tommy Nelson had on top was a tag team match, it pitted wrestlers Ilio DiPaolo and John Paul Henning VS. Dick BullDog Brower and Sweet Daddy Siki. 


This match was to take place in Sutton Arena, it was a very warm night and it was an older venue without air conditioning. The match started out as expected for about two or three minutes, then all hell broke loose, Brower and Siki got into a private personal beef, I saw Siki nail Brower on the jaw with a very stiff punch, Brower went bonkers and tried to tear Siki apart, the other two wrestlers saw what was unfolding and left the ring altogether. 

Meanwhile Brower was so crazed at this point that he tried to pull down one of the arena's supporting beams to use as a weapon to use against his own partner Siki, when he could not accomplish this, he ran out to the back of the arena, he reappeared a moment later brandishing a large steel wheel barrow over head, his intent was obvious, he wanted to badly hurt and injure his own partner Siki. 

Siki was able to back peddle out of the enraged Brower's range, and Brower who was so intent on maiming Siki started to slow down, no doubt he was tiring, this was triggered by a personal beef between the two. When visiting with Siki at the tavern where he has appeared for years, I mentioned that match to him, wanting to know what was the trigger to set that type of violence up, Siki's only memory of the incident was the wheel barrow.
............
Thanks so much to Roger for sharing his great memories of Siki with us!
Pics taken at 'The Wrestling Room' in 2016 , Siki, Jet Star, and Roger Baker
Bottom pic Roger and Jet visiting Siki