Joe Gunther, under the tutoring of former wrestler Chris Jordan, captured the World
Middleweight championship around 1935 from Gus Kallio. While in semi-retirement
several years later, Gunther became an assistant to Jordan on the promotional end, and
then took more of a role when Jordan went down to illness in 1939. During the last week
of March 1940, Gunther took over the reins of promoter in Birmingham, and shortly
thereafter also the promotional enterprise in Anniston, Alabama at the City Auditorium.
The Anniston Star called Gunther "one of the youngest promoters in the country." Gunther
also had a strong working relationship with Marty Burke of New Orleans, where Gunther
remained a headliner.
Gunther's operations in Birmingham debut on Monday, April 1, 1940 and featured a team
main event. Gunther was said to be a "Center Point farmer." He was promoting under the
auspices of the American Legion, the Disabled American Veterans and the Veterans of
Foreign Wars and holding his shows at the Auditorium.
A second promotion was also being featured in Birmingham on a weekly basis in 1940.
While Gunther used primarily non-heavyweights, the other operation spotlighted
heavyweights at the Auditorium. The promoter was Sunshine Morton, and one of the top
"big men" he brought to the city was National Wrestling Association World Heavyweight
Champion Ray Steele.
Chris Jordan, longtime Alabama promoter, died on April 18, 1940.
In April 1940, Burke promoted boxing in Birmingham with Lew Raymond as his
matchmaker. The two also staged programs in New Orleans. Burke was a former boxer
and sparring partner for Jack Dempsey. It was noted that Burke was the only man who
could take Dempsey's punches day after day, and was extremely tough. During his
career, he fought Young Stribling, George Godfrey, and Gene Tunney. There was a big
article on Burke in the Birmingham News on Wednesday, April 3, 1940.
The Gunther circuit, in coordination with NWA member Cowboy Luttrall in Tampa and Paul
Jones in Atlanta was called the "Southern Wrestling Alliance" in 1953-'54. The Harrison
"Boys" were promotional affiliates in Shreveport - running on Mondays, Jim Thompson on
Tuesdays in Alexandria, and Mrs. Jimmie Kelshaw on Wednesdays in Baton Rouge.
During the 1950s, Gunther promoted Panama City with Charles Guercio as his business
On April 7, 1969, a $5,000 damage suit was filed by H.L. Bass, on behalf of his son
Ronnie Earl Bass, because of an incident that occurred in Panama City, Florida on
February 20. Bass was reportedly "beaten" by wrestler Rocket Monroe (Maury T. High)
when the wrestler went into the audience. Among the defendants were Gulf Coast
Wrestling, Inc., matchmaker Rocky McGuire, and building owner Hershel Peel.
Southeastern Gulf Coast Wrestling, Inc
Incorporated: August 7, 1961
Incorporators: Sue Alice Hatfield, Albert Lee Hatfield, Jack Phalen
City: Mobile, Alabama
Name Change to Gulf Coast Wrestling, Inc. on April 14, 1978
1987 Annual Report - President of Corporation: Ron Welch, Pensacola, FL
*From the Office of the Secretary of State - State of Alabama - 6/21/2005
Research by Tim Hornbaker
|Alabama (Gulf Coast) Wrestling Territory