Wednesday, April 12, 2017

And In This Corner ...

You might recall that eons ago I found a mysterious black book at the local card shop which then lead me to write probably the best article I've ever written for this blog. If you haven't read it yet, I'll briefly sum it up. I bought a mysterious black book that was filled with newspaper clippings from the late 1950s and early 1960s of pro wrestling in Cincinnati. A while back I scanned them in and I've been sitting on them since. 

This first clipping highlights Mitsu Arakawa, who was in the early years of a lengthy career. He debuted in 1953 and was billed as a someone who survived the Hiroshima bombing and had a grudge against the United States. It was simple but it worked for the time, especially for someone who was a heel (wrestling lingo for a bad guy). In the 1960s, he worked mainly in tag teams with such people as Kenji Shibuya and Dr. Moto, winning numerous tag team titles throughout the Midwest and in Stampede Wrestling in Calgary. In the fall of 1966, he beat Dick the Bruiser for the WWA World Heavyweight Championship, a title which he held for nearly a year before losing the title to Wilbur Snyder in September 1967. Perhaps his biggest claim to fame though came in 1969 when he and Toru Tanaka were crowned the first WWWF International Tag Team Champions in June of that year. They held the titles until December when they lost them to Victor Rivera and Tony Marino. Arakawa would continue wrestling until 1973 when he retired. Arakawa passed away in 1997 at the age of 69.

The two clippings about highlight at November 21, 1959 card form the Cincinnati Gardens. Shows at the Gardens were promoted by legendary promoter Jim Barnett and featured some of the biggest stars of the day such as Wilbur Snyder, Pat O'Conner, Angelo Poffo, and Bronco Lubich to name a few. The thing I'm most interested in though is the opening bout between Joe Blanchard and Nick Bockwinkle. Blanchard wrestled mainly in Hawaii and Texas, winning titles in both regions, but ultimately became known as the promoter for Southwest Championship Wrestling. An interesting trivia note, SCW was the first wrestling promotion ever on the USA Network and featured Adrian Adonis as its top star in the early days of the promotion. Blanchard's son, Tully, became a star in the 1980s as a member of the Four Horsemen in Jim Crockett Promotions and teamed regularly with Arn Anderson in both the NWA and WWF.

Bockwinkle became one of the biggest stars of the AWA, debuting with them in 1970 and staying with them until 1987. During that span he had won the AWA World Tag Team title three times with Ray Stevens as his partner and the AWA World Heavyweight Title four times. He also fought the likes of Hulk Hogan, Verne Gagne, Jerry Lawler, Curt Hennig, and Billy Robinson among others. He would later join the WWF as an announcer for a brief period and resurfaced in WCW as the figurehead commissioner in the mid-1990s. 

Competing against Barnett's cards in the Cincinnati Gardens was Al Haft's Midwest Wrestling Alliance cards held in Music Hall. The wrestlers on his cards weren't exactly household names but he did manage to secure stars like Lou Thesz, Karol Krauser, and Ruffy Silverstein. The International Championship had an interesting beginning as Thesz was awarded the title on November 1, 1957 by Houston Wrestling promoter Morris Siegel following a controversial finish to a match against Antonino Rocca, which means this particular match again Krauser had to be one of his first title defenses. Thesz would go on to hold the title for 503 days before losing to Rikidozan in Los Angeles. The title would continue until 1988 when it was unified with the PWF Heavyweight Championship and the NWA United National Championship to form the Triple Crown, the top title for All Japan Pro Wrestling which is currently held by Kento Miyahara.

The final clipping I'll show here is one that features a headline match between Magnificent Maurice and Sweet Daddy Siki. I should note that the photos are reversed in the clipping, Maurice is on the right will the top hat and Siki is on the left, staring into the camera. Siki spent the majority of his career in Canada in a regular role with Stampede Wrestling and headlining cards at the Maple Leaf Gardens. While working for Stampede Wrestling, he held their version of the Canadian Heavyweight Championship and the North American Heavyweight Championship. In cards at the Maple Leaf Gardens, people came to see him by the busload and earned upwards of $3,000 per match. He would continue to headline cards in Toronto until 1980. 

Maurice formed a regular team with Johnny Barend throughout the 1960s, holding numerous tag team titles across the Midwest. He also held the MWA Ohio Heavyweight Title defeating Leon Graham for the strap in December of 1961. He also competed for the WWWF facing the likes of Haystacks Calhoun, Pedro Morales, Bill Watts, and even challenged Bruno Sammartino for the WWWF Championship. Sadly, Maurice was killed in a plane crash in 1974.

That does it for this round of clippings. I'll post some more of these soon and talk about some of the other wrestlers I didn't cover here such as Chief White Owl, Bronco Lubich, and Yukon Eric. 


  1. Can't wait to see future posts! Had no idea Tully Blanchard's father was a wrestler as well. When I saw Angelo Poffo all I could think was "Macho Man's dad."