The pro wrestling landscape in Ontario during the 1900's is a convoluted and often mysterious puzzle to put together.
Most cards weren't too forthcoming in listing the promoter and many promoters worked in the same arenas and often used the same wrestlers in their never-ending battles for the fans hard earned money.
Many of the wrestler/promoters would also hide the fact they were the promoter of the card they were working on, using Arena managers or such to further confuse it.
Noting that the climate in the northern half of the province is very unforgiving for winter travel, most of the popular northern spots would see only summer shows.
The areas around Toronto, and especially through the Southwest part of the province however were ripe for year round shows, a virtual parade through the small towns and plentiful arenas, ballparks, and armouries across Ontario.
We will try to untangle the web and identify the various Promoters that put on shows in Ontario from the early 1900's up to the early 1980's.
Where possible we will include wrestlers, venues, and any other info we can glean from the news of the day.
Whipper with Pat Milosh (Milosh family),Frank Tunney (clip), Dave McKigney (Roger Baker), Red Garner (Garner family)
There is a lot of overlap especially when it comes to both Frank Tunney and Dave McKigney.
Both would promote in most every town (Frank closer to GTA but including London, Galt, N, Falls etc) while McKigney would go anywhere and everywhere peaking in the mid 1970's.
McKigney's tours were more one-offs where he would hit the major cities a number of times (and the smaller ones less) over the course of his summer tours, generally April to October.
Much of the time, during Dave's run, other promoters were running the same towns on a regular or interim basis.
Due to the summer circus like nature of Dave's shows, most promoters, while initially upset would let it go and took it with a grain of salt.
At different points Dave would also have the blessing of Tunney, using his major stars on his shows and appearing himself on MLG cards and at TV tapings.
Tunney himself would control most of the towns around Toronto for most of his long tenure as Toronto promoter using trusted associates or former wrestling stars to run the shows.
With the TV show and the ads proclaiming 'the stars of Maple Leaf Gardens' it was not hard to fill up the smaller arenas.
Pat Milosh who promoted Oshawa for 40 years would run the shows, set up the arenas, take care of the advertising and everything to do with the show and kick back a percentage to Tunney.
We would assume that's how many of the larger towns were run, the ones with set promoters as listed below.
On others Tunney would send one of his associates to run the show and bring the gate back.
The major ones are also listed below.
While Pat Flanagan is not listed below as a Promoter he was an integral part of the circuit towns setting up Tunney's stars with the smaller promoters.
He likely also helped run shows as others did when needed and certainly deserves mention.
The information is culled from thousands of ads, results, news items, posters and other nostalgia and documentation in the MLW collection.
A big help was Vern May (aka Vance Nevada) and his compilations of Wrestling results- that lists the promoter where available
This is intended as an overview... not a definitive history...for now am stopping at 1983.... If you can contribute, offer corrections or additions please contact me
See also Ontario Venues
Promoters in Ontario 1920's to 1983
In the early part of the century before 'Pro' wrestling got a foothold in Ontario, Amateur contests and 'exhibitions' were the norm.
Toronto was bustling with Wrestling, Boxing, and combined 'Mit-Mat' shows during this time.
Wrestling would prove popular in the small towns too, across the farthest reaches of the province young men would battle within the framework of weight divisions and lengthy rule-books.
As a result many noted amateurs would move on to the pro side when the 'grunt and groan' gained popularity in the 1920's and beyond.
Phil Lawson notably promoted amateur shows as did Jack Daniels and his A-C Athletic Club.
Others ran cards using 'exhibition' before the 'Pro Wrestling' part in order to get around the licensing and such.
The cost for a Wrestling license in the 30's was 500$, a considerable amount at the time (about 6k in current value).
As well many pro's would go on to promote cards themselves, both during and after their wrestling careers.
From the Toronto area, John Katan, Joe Maich, Al Dunlop, Pat Milosh, Les Lyman, Red Garner, and others would go on to promote shows themselves within Ontario. Sandor Kovacs in Rochester and later Western Canada.
U.S. based Toots Mondt and Paul Bowser also had an interest in the early Toronto scene.
We will start in the 1920's in Toronto, the site of some big bouts in previous years but still yet to see regular cards.
The city, however was busy with both amateur and 'pro' shows at the various arenas and halls.
Arena Gardens featuring shows by Ivan Mickailoff became a weekly event and Mickailoff stayed in the city up to 1938 bringing in all of the top stars of the day.
His first card May 4 1929 drew 500 fans to see the main event of Jack Taylor vs Jack Rogers.
He would grow to include Hamilton, Brantford, Oshawa, and other towns on a circuit starting in 1929.
Mickalioff also promoted through Canada's West in the 1930's and would also run shows in both Port Arthur and Fort William (Thunder Bay) On.
Toronto 1930 Corcoran
Starting with Boxing in the early 1900's Toronto Promoter Jack Corcoran and his Queensbury Athletic Club would begin promoting Wrestling in Toronto in 1930.
After a slow start Corcoran would surpass Mickailoff and gain the matchmaking duties for shows at the newly built Maple Leaf Gardens in 1931.
The Queensbury Club would reach out into the region with shows as far over as Mt Forest down to Hamilton and the Niagara region.
Corcoran, while mostly forgotten among wrestling fans of the latter decades in spite of a stellar career, would further earn his revered spot in wrestling history for hiring on the Tunney brothers.
John Tunney would take over for Corcoran as matchmaker in 1939 for both Toronto and Ottawa.
His untimely death in 1940 would push younger brother Frank Tunney into the promoting duties and Frank would make history over the next 5 decades as the King of Toronto Wrestling.
Tunney and Toronto would enjoy TV from the onset of the popularity of TV in the 1950's.
Starting with CBC and later CFTO and CHCH would be the home for the TV shows continuing into the early 1980's and the switch to WWF in 1984.
Other Toronto area promotions will be covered elsewhere in the article.
for more on the Tunney story see Frank Tunney: The Early Years
Barrie would see it's first pro card in 1935.
Playfair Brown, matchmaker for the Shamrock AC in Toronto had ran some mit-mat (Boxing & Wrestling) shows in the early 1930's as was common in those days before pro wrestling became more popular.
While billed as 'Professional Boxing & Wrestling, the wrestling was of the amateur style.
The 1935 show promoted by Jack Pearl and his 'Cadillac Wrestling Club' of Toronto ran at Barrie Arena.
Drawing 400 fans, the card featured Pearl, Walter Parnell, Johnny Gyroffy, Tom George, Bull Findlay, and the Masked Marvel.
Deemed a success they ran again a couple of weeks later.
When Wrestling returned to Barrie in 1936 it was promoted by Ross Richardson.
The army base at Camp Borden near Barrie was also the site of mit-mat cards in the early 1940s and featured 'exhibitions' of pro wrestling but unsure of who promoted them.
Max Hurley famous athlete and former part time wrestler would also run some shows in partnership with Tunney in Barrie in 1952-1953. The 50's also saw shows by Tunney and associates as well as Kasaboski (he is listed below).
Oshawa 1950 Milosh
Oshawa would present the first pro card in October 1929 at the Oshawa Armouries.
While it doesn't mention the promoter by name, it does feature the then stars of Mickailoff's Toronto shows.
Stanislaus Zbyszko, Archie Jeanuette, Renato Gardini, Charlie Manogan, Cowboy Rogers, and 'Irish' Ned McCarr would all appear on that first card.
In the early 1940's The Oshawa Wrestling Club would take over. Pat Farrell and Jimmy Szikszay were part of the club and would run shows until 1946.
After a riot had taken place on the last card of 1946, a young boxer and wrestler named Pat Milosh would take over and continue promoting until the 1980's and later in tandem with Jack Tunney.
Shows would take place at the Oshawa Arena, later at Kingsmen Stadium, Childrens Arena, and Civic Auditorium.
Milosh would also promote shows regularly in Whitby Arena, Bowmanville Arena, Port Perry Arena with occasional trips to Cobourg Arena and Peterborough Arena.
1952 and 1953 saw a full sched of weekly shows over the winter at Peterborough's Brock Arena using the Tunney stars.
Was likely Milosh running them as they started and stopped right on time with the Oshawa season (Apr to Sept mostly).
The stars were mainly what was big in Toronto but some homegrown talent including Billy Stack, Sandor Kovacs, and Jimmy Szikszay would be favorites around the area.
Milosh would continue to promote locally after the WWF aligned with Jack Tunney in 1984 and was still involved as late as 1992 promoting a WWF event at the Civic.
The story of Oshawa Wrestling can be found on the Oshawa Wrestling History site
Ottawa 1947 Tunney
Ottawa, like Toronto and other major cities would get the large promotion treatment.
The city would have to be considered among the big three wrestling cities in the province, alongside Toronto and Hamilton.
Jack Ganson then Montreal promoter also ran shows in the 1930's at the Ottawa Auditorium.
Corcoran would run the city in the late 1930's with the John and then Frank Tunney taking over in 1940.
Sammy Sobel (sometimes spelled Sobol) would become the promoter of record in the early 1940's, representing the Queensbury Club under Tunney.
Many of the stars from Toronto would occupy those shows, Whipper Watson, Pat Flanagan, Fred Atkins et al.
Sobel wore many hats under Tunney and is included below for other areas. He also was the ring manager of Vic Christy in the late 1930's.
In 1939 new Montreal promoter Eddie Quinn would take over the city promoting shows at the Auditorium with stars such as Yvon Robert, Ray Eckert, Bobby Manganoff, Larry Moquin, Frank Valois, and all the major stars of the Montreal-Toronto corridor.
It appears that Tunney kept a stake in Ottawa and reaped some of the profits from the Quinn shows.
In the mid 1950's as television took hold, the CBC affiliate CBOT would broadcast live from ringside.
Alongside the Quebec stars, Tunney's stars would continue to share the stage in Ottawa as the years progressed.
Quinn also promoted some shows at Cornwall Arena in 1954-55.
Howard Darwin would step in around 1961 to function as the local man for Quinn and just 2 years later Quinn passed away.
Darwin continued through the 60's using a mix of Tunney's main stars and the Quebec regulars for shows at both the Coliseum at Lansdowne Park and the Civic Centre.
Starting around 1972 Grand Prix out of Montreal would take over the Civic Centre and on occasion Lansdowne Park for outdoor shows in the summer.
Led by Paul Vachon the shows would include Vachon, Jos Leduc, Don Leo Jonathon, Dino Bravo, Reggie Parks and all the stars of the very popular Grand Prix circuit.
This promotion had TV obviously but I am unsure if they were taping in Ottawa at the time.
Grand Prix reportedly gave Tunney 5% to run Ottawa at that time and would occasionally run shows in the northern towns along the border with Quebec, Haileybury and Temiskaming included.
In 1980 AWA head Verne Gagne would try his hand in Ottawa after a two-year, not very profitable pseudo-partnership with Tunney in Toronto.
Shows were at Ottawa Civic using Tunney's ex Canadian Champ Dino Bravo in front, as well as Gagne, Crusher Blackwell, Adrian Adonis & Jesse Ventura, Mad Dog Vachon, Lord Alfred Hayes, Steve Olsonoski, and Quebec stars Gino Brito and Pierre Lefebvre.
Gagne had earlier promoted at least one show in Kenora, ON in 1973 featuring his AWA stars including a young Ric Flair.
Fort William/Thunder Bay was also visited by the AWA over the years.
The shows on Ottawa listed Ray Boucher as promoter and drew ok (first show 2500 2nd 5000) but not well enough to continue.
International Wrestling out of Quebec ran by Gino Brito and Frank Valois staged some shows in Ottawa in 1981 and drew fairly well averaging 3500 fans for several cards with the International stars Dino Bravo, Mad Dog Vachon, Pierre Lefebvre, and others.
Mike Vachon, son of Mad Dog ran shows also in Ottawa, Brockville, Kingston, and Belleville in April/May 1981 using many of the same stars from Quebec so hard to tell which shows were his.
Perhaps seeing the potential in the nations capital, Frank Tunney would also promote a series of shows at the Civic in 1981-1982 using the same stars at MLG at the time.
Just across the river in Hull Quebec, wrestling in the 1940's at Decosse Stadium and at Hull arena featured Quebec stars under Eddie Quinn.
Quinn would also extend further into Ontario as far over as Cornwall and Kingston on occasion.
Renfrew 1983 McKigney
Dave McKigney would start promoting his own shows in 1965 up to 1987 in Ontario.
To say he was an innovator would be a huge understatement.
The way he ran shows and procured talent, sometimes world class talent - is an anomaly in the wrestling business.
Without TV, without a big budget, and often without the support of the powers that be, he managed to create a whole subsytem of wrestling, beyond what could be called an indy fed.
Running under various names including 'Big Bear' and 'Big Time' Wrestling McKigney would cover a lot of miles across the province.
McKigney would also run shows in Toronto and area encroaching on Tunney turf on occasion.
In 1971 he ran Varsity Arena the same night as a Tunney MLG card which drew about 5,000 compared to McKigney's 'less than a thousand'.
Lakeshore Arena, Scarborough Arena, The Concert Hall, Brampton Memorial Arena, Ted Reeve Arena, and Varsity Arena would all see Big Bear shows.
In the early days he ran with the blessing of Tunney using the MLG guys and running shows sometimes alongside Whipper Watson in the nearby towns.
If you look at a map of Southern Ontario you will be hard pressed to find a town that never saw one of Dave's shows.
In the later mid 1970's and early 1980's he would go further out from the Southern hubs into Renfrew, Huntsville, Pembroke and Vanier Arena, as well as tours of the Maritimes.
For more on McKingey see Slam! - The Bearman 25 years later - external link
Toronto 1961 Marmon
Gus Marmon promoted some shows in Toronto in 1961.
As the 'Olympic Wrestling Club' it appears he went in with Red Garner, by then working as The Great Kudo under a mask as Great Kudo.
Garner had started using the Olympic name for his Thornhill Market shows in 1960.
Some of the stars appearing on the 1961 shows at the Lansdowne Theatre included Kudo, Aledo Orlando, Tony Manousas, Killer Joe Conroy, Wildcat Osborne, Billy Foster, the Brothers Jennings (incl Wilf),
Marmon would also put on some shows at the Cobourg Arena in 1960 with some of the above plus Cowboy Carlson, Ali Pahsa and Danny Shane.
There is also mention of a TV show on Channel 11 in Kingston in June 1960 featuring the above stars.
As well in the Richmond Hill paper it mentions Red is a 'director' of the Olympic Club and the TV show will run on Kingston CKWS late at night and that they hope to
run on CHCH 11 in Hamilton!
I am unsure if the Kingston shows ran, if so it would be quite rare as TV exposure would remain elusive to the small town promoter.
Toar Morgan, a former wrestling star would promote in Lindsay in the early 1950's.
He would also serve as the manager of Lindsay Arena for a time.
Barry Lloyd Penhale, who was close to Morgan told me about the shows but have been unable to find ads as of yet.
Dewey Robertson would open gyms in Hamilton and Burlington in the mid 1970's and run cards out of them.
Am unsure if he ran anywhere else but he was frequently on cards run by pals Parisi and McKigney so may have had some involvement.
The main name in the North was Larry Kasaboski starting in 1945 out of North Bay and extending out to Renfrew, Pembroke and area.
Running under 'Northland Wrestling' the circuit grew to include a weekly circuit including Sudbury Inco Club, Sault Ste Marie McMekeean Centre, North Bay Ferris Community Centre, Timmins MacIntyre Arena, and Noranda (Quebec) Rec Centre.
Other towns that saw regular shows include Smith Falls, Wawa, Sundridge, Bracebridge, and Huntsville,
Elliott Lake, Blind River, and Bancroft among others.
On occasion Kasaboski would try his hand closer to Toronto in Orillia, Lakefield, Perth, and Brockville. In 1954 he ran Barrie Arena and Alliston Arena and later went head to head with Tunney.
Huntsville 1950 Kasaboski
In the past Kasaboski had maintained a relationship with Tunney and would often feature 'stars straight from Maple Leaf Gardens' at shows and on his TV tapings.
In 1954 at the NWA Convention Frank Tunney complained about Kasaboski going into his towns and under-bidding him to promoters.
Still his shows in Barrie in the mid to late 1950s were well received by fans and often outdrew Tunney shows in the area.
Kasaboski enjoyed success through the 1960's but crowds were waning in the 1970's.
The TV show based out of North Bay and Sudbury on CKSO and hosted by Barry Lloyd Penhale is said to be the first Studio Wrestling TV show in Canada. It was shown here in Toronto as of 1954, a year after CBLT went with Wrestling from MLG.
Huntsville saw some cards in 1931 put on by Muskoka native Conrad LaLone featuring LaLone, Alex Koski, Ali Hassan, Chief War Eagle, and Jack Thomas.
For more on the Northland scene check out 'The Rassler From Renfrew' book by Gary Howard for an all-encompassing look at the area.
Around 1973 Quebec based Grand Prix extended outward for shows at the Renfrew Arena featuring Andre The Giant and other stars.
They drew 1,000 fans for a show in Aug 1973.
In 1975 Renfrew Community Center hosted a few shows featuring Quebec stalwart Edouard Carpentier and other stars of the Quebec circuit under the banner 'Super Stars Of The Mat'.
Dave McKigney would also move north starting in the summer of 1973 with shows at the Renfrew Armouries as part of his summer tour.
His first show in June 1973 used his regular stars including McKigney (as The Beast), Angelo Mosca, Bulldog Brower, and the midget stars
Kasaboski continued with shows on his own and co-promoted with Grand Prix at the Arena through 1975.
Hamilton just down the road from Toronto would enjoy a rich history alongside its larger neighbor.
Some shows in the 1920's at the Barton St Arena and Grand Opera House were put on by Toronto based Mickailoff featuring the stars he was using at the time.
Later in the 1930's shows at the Municipal Pool started, put on by George Hills.
Hills may have been involved already in the late 20's as he was a regular on Mickailoff shows both here and in Toronto.
Wrestlers, mostly from the Detroit and Toledo offices included Jimmy 'Redd' Simms, Martin 'Blimp' Levy, Rudy Epps, and Johnny Tipa filled out shows along with the Toronto guys.
Grimsby 1960 Wentworth
Late in the decade Toronto based Corcoran saw the potential for Hamilton and started at the Municipal Pool as well as the Hamilton Ballpark using the Toronto stars.
The city would prove to be an important stop for the major stars coming into Toronto for big bouts. Lou Thesz, Joe Savoldi, John Katan, Danno Mahoney, as well as local boy Johnny Silvy were regulars over the early years.
As with Ottawa and Niagara Falls, Sammy Sobel would run the shows in the early 1940's.
John Katan the 'strongman from Palermo' as he was billed during his successful wrestling career would branch out around 1947 to promote shows in Hamilton at the Municipal Pool and The Forum.
As with some of the others in Tunney's inner circle, he would work closely with the Toronto office presenting the stars of Toronto and the action mirrored the cards from MLG.
Running under 'Hamilton Sporting Club' Katan would continue up till 1958.
Jack Wentworth operated the 'Queenston Wrestling Club' out of Hamilton.
In addition to training many wrestlers and running shows at his gym in Hamilton he promoted some shows at the Simcoe Arena in the late 1950's and later at Grimsby Arena.
Local guys like Martin Hutzler, Dick Caron, Ron Logue, Skull Nurenburg and Lloyd Morris would appear in the late 50's for Wentworth
Acton 1949 Maich
Brantford in the 1920's and 1930's operated similar to other towns as a circuit type town run by Mickailoff and later Tunney
By 1950 Brantford was run by former Olympic star, pro, and stock car enthusiast Joe Maich and his brother Don Maich under the banner Maich Sports Enterprises.
Don had been a fixture on the Toronto amateur boxing scene in the early 1930's.
Again they would mostly use the Tunney stars and ran shows at the Arctic Arena, Delhi Arena, Cockshutt Park, and the Brantford Armouries.
In the 1950's the circuit grew to include the Simcoe Armouries, Preston Arena in Cambridge, Georgetown Arena, and Welland Arena.
Jimmy 'Red' Simms also ran Welland arena in the early '50s.
In 1960-1961 there were shows in Brantford at the College Theater with Bull Johnson, Red Mask, Terry Yorkston, Mickey & Robby McDonald, Ernie Moore, and Pat Murphy appearing.
The Cities and towns along the Lake were served not only by Toronto TV, but also got the Buffalo Wrestling shows during the '50's and '60s's
These may have been run by Johnson who would occasionally run shows around Hamilton and area right up to the early 1980's.
In the late 1970's Bull and son Danny 'Bullwhip' would hold shows at the Shamrock Club in Hamilton with others including Terry Yorkston, Bob Marcus, and Jean Baxter.
In the late 1970's Tunney would begin taping TV shows at the Brantford Civic Arena for show on channel 11 CHCH out of Hamilton and seen across the region.
Niagara Falls with Sammy Sobel at the helm as part of Corcoran's Queensbury Club would promote in the late 1930's at the Arena.
As with the other 'circuit' towns at the time, the stars appearing in Toronto would occupy the cards.
Sobol would take over the area in the 1950's when it appears Tunney went more to a 'let them run it' type setup.
Toronto would supply the stars and let the local promoters run the shows with money getting kicked back to the Toronto office.
It would prove to be a huge boost as the smaller towns would continue to see the TV stars and get big bouts including World Title matches.
When Sobel died in 1957 it said he had promoted wrestling for 30 years, the last 20 in Niagara Falls.
N Falls 1975 Parisi
In the 1970's Tony Parisi would promote at the Memorial Arena using a mix of the Tunney stars and the crossover from McKigneys shows, likely in tandem with Tunney.
Parisi would also feature shows at the Skylon Tower, Oakes Park, and The Optimist Club using the same crews, again many of them Tunney stars.
He also ran Welland on a at least a couple of occasions.
Parisi would arrange shows during the annual CNE Exhibition as well as the CHIN Picnic in Toronto using mostly local stars or old friends including the Love Brothers, Dom Denucci, The Executioner (Don Lewin), and Dewey Robertson.
There were also shows at the Ontario Place Forum in the early 1970's that may have been Parisi's.
Around 1980 when Tunney would go back to a circuit type setup he would put on shows at the Memorial Arena as well as do TV tapings there through 1982.
Al 'Bunny' Dunlop star of the pre war years and for many ears after his wrestling days a referee at MLG, also promoted some shows in Toronto in 1947 under the banner Atlas Athletic Club.
He would put on several shows at Oakwood Stadium featuring Dunlop, Joe Maich, Billy Stack, Ted McKinley, Jack Sipthorpe, Walter Allen, Bob Larsen, Joe Kayorie, Sandor Kovacs, and Frank Hewitt.
Maich, who was to promote Brantford and area was also involved in the promotion side for these shows.
Stoufville 1954 Garner
Edwin 'Red' Garner, the 'Pride of Langstaff' would start promoting cards regularly around 1948 based around his home in Richmond Hill.
In addition to the Richmond Hill Arena, Garner would put on regular shows at the Newmarket Arena, Weston Arena in Toronto, as well as Scarborough Arena.
For several years in the mid '50's he ran the Thornhill Farmers Market every Tuesday.
Red, running under the 'Canadian Wrestling Alliance' (a 'Roy McMahon would sometimes be listed as matchmaker) would branch out to Stoufville Arena, Aurora Arena, Port Perry Arena, Keswick Arena, Cobourg Arena, Georgetown Arena, and Peterborough, Lindsay, and others occasionally.
Some of the stars over the years on Red's shows included Ed 'Gori' Mangotich, Stoney Brooks, Joe Greenfield, Harold Van Dyke, Ivan Klimenko, Jack Flicker, Tom Sullivan. Al Wallace, Wildcat Osborne, Billy Foster, and future stars Mike Scicluna (later Baron), Ron Doner, Wally Seiber (later Waldo Von Erich) and Gene Dubois (McKigney)
In the late 1950's son in law Joe Greenfield was listed as Matchmaker and Promoter as well.
for more on the Red Garner story see Edwin 'Red' Garner: The Pride Of Langstaff
Red also had his own titles, one of which was the Candian Middleweight Title
Bob Lane promoted in Georgetown in 1951.
He may have been working with Joe Maich, On those shows were Maich, Farmer Bill Jones, Chief War Eagle, Wild Bill Cody, The Great Fozo, and Masked Marvel.
Gus Marker was a retired NHLer who promoted some shows in Kingston in the late 1940's and early 1950's at the Kingston Centre.
The cards were mostly Tunney stars with some local talent.
Earl "Sully" Sullivan, owner of Sullys Gym in Toronto and noted trainer was said to have promoted some shows as well but unable to pinpoint any.
London 1984 Laine
Frankie Laine promoted some shows around the London area including Centennial Hall in London in 1981.
These shows were the same guys normally on McKigney's cards including McKigney himself, Candi Divine, Sheik, George Steel and Whipper Jr., and padded out by Joe Cagle and Mike Vachon.
Laine also put on shows in the summer of 1984 including one at the London Fairgrounds featuring Tim Gerrard, Sheik Ali, and others
Tommy Nelson was another of Tunney's inner circle of former wrestlers who would promote shows in the nearby towns.
Using Tunney's stars he would put on shows at the Barrie Arena and other spots including Collingwood in the 1950's. Later regular shows at Stoufville Arena, Aurora Arena, Sutton Arena, and Bradford arena in the early 1960's.
He was also noted as promoter on a 1958 Scarboro card using Tunney stars for a charity night show. Interesting note is that he was said to take over for Roy McMahon as matchmaker for Red Garner's CCWA in 1955.
Nelson also ran Galt (Cambridge) and Kitchener until Johnny Powers bought he and Tunney out around 1965.
Powers would later take over in Cleveland and ran opposition to the Crocketts in North Carolina in the later 1970's.
Photog and Writer Roger Baker attended some of Nelson's shows in the early 1960's.
He recalls Nelson was a very nice guy who was worried for his incoming wrestlers on a particularly snowy evening in Kitchener but still kept his smile amid the pressure of the evening.
At another show in Sutton one of the wrestlers threw his opponent via a slingshot into one of the corner posts with such force that the ring ropes popped out of the turnbuckles.
"Tommy came to the ring dressed in a suit, and again under pressure got those ropes back up, and the balance of the card was able to go ahead".
Roger adds "A part time wrestling promoter must be able to handle a litany of potential problems!"
On the occasion of Frank Tunneys 30th Anniversary as a Promoter, Roger took some group shots of the 'inner circle' as Tunney was presented with a cake.
Nelson was present sitting just behind Tunney, alongside Lord Layton, Whipper, Pat Flanagan, Frank Ayerst, Fred Atkins, Jerry Hiff, Norm Kimber, and others.
There is a look at Nelson at MLW: 'Tiger' Tom Nelson
Toronto 1954 Lyman
Les Lyman would promote shows around the Toronto area in the early 1950's.
Regular shows at East York Arena commenced in 1953-54 as Lyman a long time wrestler, was getting up in years.
Worked similar to Red Garner, using many of the same stars and looked to have some degree of a working relationship with Red while both were putting on shows at the same arenas.
East York would be the most common stop along with Scarboro Arena. Tunney himself would also book shows at East York and on occasion Scarboro when MLG was unavailable.
It's likely Lyman had Tunney's blessing as Les would sometimes work the MLG shows himself.
Some of the stars on Lyman shows included Lyman, Jack Sibthorpe, Blackjack Richards, Kenny Evans, Paul Penchoff, Joe & Sandy Scott , Al Kendall, George & Bob McKeague, Ivan Klimenko, Ronnie Kopac, Killer Joe Conroy,and Wilf Jennings.
Roger Baker attended one of Lyman's shows at Scarboro Arena in the early 1950's and remembers Lyman working out at the YMHA gym at Bloor and Spadina and wrestling on the mats there.
Sam Yanaky promoted in Georgetown, Milton, and area in the 1950's and 1960's, sometimes with Bob Burke.
He was known as the villain Nanjo Singh's manager in Toronto and was close with Pat Flanagan.
One item says he is Pat's father but I haven't found that to be accurate.
He owned a restaurant called 'The Corner Cupboard' and used the Tunney stars in Georgetown in the late 1950's and early 1960's at Georgetown Park.
The Milton Arena opened in 1950 and started running wrestling in July 1950 with a first card main event of Whipper vs Sky Hi Lee.
Red Garner would promote shows every 2 weeks on his summer tour of 1955 at the Georgetown Arena using his regular crew including hometown boy Lacrosse star Billy Foster.
Sports writer Ross Pearon was listed as promoter for some shows at the Milton Arena in 1960 using mostly Tunney's guys.
The Love Brothers Hartford (Wes Hutchings) and Reggie (John Evans) promoted some shows in the early 1970's at Grimsby Arena, Oakville Arena, and Hamilton area.
Its hard to decipher their scope as it overlaps with both McKigney and Whipper Jr. as they all used the same guys for the most part and ran the same spots.
Windsor 1960 Robertson/Doyle/Barnett
Both Blake Robertson and Bill Thornton ran Windsor in the late 1940's just as Tunney stopped running the city.
Tunney had run Wigle Park as well as the Arena through 1947.
Robertson ran out of the Market Building, using Bert Rubi, Eddie Lee, Johnny Gates, Pierre LaSalle, and others.
Thornton, a former star and promoting in Windsor since the late 1930's ran out of the Arena using Stocky Kneilson, Whitey Wahlberg, Red Lyons (not BRL) , Rene LaBelle, The Great Mephisto, Frankie Hart, and Tommy Martindale.
Thornton also promoted some cards using Tunneys stars with Tunney as co-promoter.
Thornton also promoted other cities or was listed as matchmaker, Toledo for one.
Around 1960 Jim Barnett and Johnny Doyle along with Robertson would run shows at Windsor Arena and Cleary Arena featuring the Detroit stars, Dick The Bruiser, Wilbur Snyder, Mitsu Arakawa, Bobo Brazil etc.
At the same time there were smaller shows at the Teutonia Club with Luis Martinzex, Divie Duncan, and others, not sure who promoted those.
Robertson also appears to have run shows in some of the towns near Windsor including Leamington and Essex and would promote shows on his own up until the mid 1960's.
In the 1970's Windsor was mostly served by the Detroit side, The Sheik as well as Dick The Bruiser ran shows alongside, and sometimes in co-operation with McKigney.
London could be considered the #4 behind Toronto, Ottawa, and Hamilton.
In the 1920's and '30s' shows ran at Winter Gardens
The 1950's and '60's saw shows at the Arena and the Gardens featuring the MLG stars mirroring the Toronto scene at the time.
Through the 1970's and early 1980's McKigney ran shows at Centennial Hall, the Arena, and the Fairgrounds, the early '80s facing competition from the Tunney's who ran the London Gardens on the same day or close to Dave's shows.
For a couple of years 1973 and '74 McKigney worked with the WWA out of Michigan and featured Bobby Heenan, Baron Von Raschke, Jimmy Valiant Cowboy Bob Ellis and others alongside McKigney's regulars in London, Windsor, and other towns along the Western side of Southern Ontario.
After a busy 1960's Tunney would leave the area on a regular basis not to return until 1979.
He would add London, along with Kitchener, Hamilton, and Niagara Falls as regular stops the day after the usual Sunday MLG card.
In 1980 -81 we would see a 5 day circuit appear, with stops at the above cities in addition to one offs in Oshawa, Kingston, Guelph, Peterborough and other stops.
George Cannon brought the upstart 'Universal Wrestling' to Ontario in 1975
Featuring Tony Marino, Ben Justice, Super Hawk, Sailor White, Lionel Robert, and Richard Charland he ran a show at the Riverside Arena in Windsor.
The same group would also invade Toronto that summer aided by Kurt Von Hess, Karl Von Schotz, and Killer Tim Brooks for shows at both Mimico Arena and Scarboro Arena Gardens.
Cannon took a serious run at Tunney in 1976 with a show at the Colisuem at Exhibition Stadium using Bull Curry, Luis Martinez, Eric The Red, Tony Parisi, Fred Curry, The Love Brothers, the McGuire Twins, Frenchy Martin, and others.
Tunney responded by moving up a show at MLG to go head to head. Tunney won fairly easily despite Cannon using Lou Thesz, a staple of Tunney's cards (and the NWA) in the 1950's.
Sandwiched around that show were shows at Cobourg Arena and Ohsweken Memorial Center using mostly the same crew.
Cannon was also unique among 'indy' promoters in that he had TV at several times in the 1970's and early 1980's.
His 'Superstars Of Wrestling' running on the Global network in Ontario was quite popular and reached across the province.
Tapings would take place at the Global studio in Don Mills and at the University of Windsor.
He also had a show on CITY TV Toronto and ran under several names including 'Contact Sports' and 'Can-Am Promotions'.
He would promote shows in Windsor at the Elmwood Casino and Windsor Arena and branch out as far as Quebec and Newfoundland.
Cannon would use a mix of Ontario, Detroit, and Quebec stars including those who were usually found on Tunney shows including The Destroyer (Beyer), Bravo, Nick DeCarlo, and others.
In 1981 Cannon would put on some shows in Detroit and around Michigan/Ohio said to be with the help of Tunney and Gino Brito.
The cards did feature some of the then Mid Atlantic/Tunney guys including Sweet Ebony Diamond, Greg Valentine, and Swede Hansen in addition to those named above.
Other local Ontario guys included Ricky Johnson and John Bonello as well as regular Cannon mainstays Sailor White and Luis Martinez.
How much involvement Tunney had with Cannon is not clear, it was likely more of a 'let them go' type thing as the fall of Detroit under The Sheik opened up the area for others to try cards.
Uxbridge 1973 Watson Jr.
Whipper (Phil) Watson Jr. likley assisted by father Whipper Watson ran some shows in 1971 in Huntsville using MLG stars Whipper , Jr, Dewey Robertson, Haystack Calhoun, and Red Pollard.
Whipper Jr would continue to promote some shows over the next few years with shows at the Aylmer Arena, Ajax Arena, Uxbridge Arena, Brampton Arena, Brooklin Arena, and Markham Arena using Jr, the Love Brothers, the McGuires, Executioner, Nick DeCarlo, Big Bad Coleman, Cheif White Eagle, and others.
Some shows are hard to figure out as there is some overlap with McKigney shows.
Whipper Sr. also ran shows as one of Tunney's most trusted pals, again it's hard to tell if he was just wrestling or also promoting on the cards around Keswick, Newmarket, Brampton, etc in the 1960's.
Sr. also worked alongside McKigney in the late '60's and I was told that McKigney tried to get Whip to work with him against Tunney but Sr. would not go against Frank.
Sr. did have a part of Hamilton in the late '60's as well as some of the outlying towns at least through 1970.
Lars Anderson and his World Wrestling League ran a show in Terrace Bay in 1982 (and maybe also in 1979 or 1980), probably in Thunder Bay also featuring Anderson, Timmy Rich, Junkyard Dog (not that one likely), and other Pfefer like names.
Fort William, now part of Thunder Bay had regular shows in the 1950's but not sure who was in charge.
Some of the Toronto guys would appear alongside Al Kashay, Verne Gagne, and others.
As noted previously Mickailoff was running Fort William and Port Arthur in the early 1930's
To be continued.....ongoing
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