NWA Member: Mike London
Admitted to Organization: September 1950
Albuquerque Office: Ice Arena, 5100 Lomas Blvd. (5-0668) (1955)
501 Silver Ave., S.W. (1955)
Phone Number: 3-9755 (1955)
A former wrestler, Mike London was a hugely successful promoter and wrestling booker,
taking cities like Albuquerque and Denver and making them major grappling centers.
There have been several notable feuds between National Wrestling Alliance members, but
the war between London and Dory Detton was one of the most damaging to the
organization, lasting a number of years. Detton was the registered Alliance booking agent
in Amarillo, and sent wrestlers to more than 15 cities at the pinnacle of his operations. In
April 1951, Detton reportedly paid London $3,000 for the booking rights to Albuquerque,
adding the New Mexico town to his circuit. London, at the time, was settled in El Paso and
booking from there. In October of that year, Detton applied for membership in the NWA.
Despite the supporting evidence submitted to the NWA by Detton, London still claimed
ownership to Albuquerque. London was a member of the Alliance, and support leaned
toward him, but organization president Sam Muchnick and his fellow members wanted to
give the situation a fair look. In the meantime, a fight for the city was on.
Before the NWA could issue a ruling, London reopened an office in Albuquerque. Then he
requested a date for Lou Thesz in the city in opposition to Detton. However, that request
was denied by Muchnick, proving that the NWA wanted to deal with the matter fairly.
Muchnick didn't want London using Thesz against Detton since the Alliance was
considering Detton's application for membership.
According to the evidence he saw, Muchnick believed that Detton had purchased the rights
to Albuquerque on the square, despite what London was saying. Wishing to get a full
representation of NWA thoughts, Muchnick mailed out a ballot to each member, stating
either, "I am in favor of Detton's Application," "I am not in favor of Detton's Application," or "I
believe that the matter should be tabled and that Detton's Application be taken up at next
Pinkie George disagreed with Muchnick's assessment. George was the Chairman of the
NWA Grievance Committee, and wrote a letter to the members of that committee,
discussing the Detton-London situation in New Mexico. George spelled Detton's name,
"Denton," throughout the letter, and felt that Detton had "invaded and taken over Roswell
from another fellow member," who was London. George followed up by saying that "it is
quite evident that Denton (sic) has broken our by-laws and London is justified in his
George followed up by saying that he'd received correspondence from several of Detton's
promoters in his territory, and they claimed that Detton abused them with threats and used
profane language in front of ladies. These actions, George stated, were detrimental to the
NWA. He wanted both Detton and London to appear before the Grievance Committee, and
for it to be solved before the annual convention.
Detton arranged matches for the 20-30 Club at the Armory between late 1951 and 1953.
His bouts were held on Friday nights, while London's Ice Arena programs were staged on
Thursdays, then Monday nights.
Detton had former wrestler Ernesto "Gorilla" Poggi in Albuquerque to promote the matches
for the 20-30 Club, and sent grapplers like Dory Funk Sr., Frankie Murdock, Gory
Guerrero, and Tony Morelli. They also used Danny McShain, the reigining NWA World
Junior Heavyweight champion. McShain was the headliner for their Friday, July 11 program
at the Armory, wrestling The Masked Marvel in a title match. However, London held his
second program that same week the day before, on Thursday, and it was his major
"Parade of Champions" spectacular at the Ice Arena. On paper, it seemed like a dirty trick
to upstage the Detton-Poggi show, but London denied that it was done for that reason.
On July 8, 1952, Paul Rippberger of the 20-30 Club spoke before the Albuquerque City
Commission, protesting the London effort on Thursday, and wanted the commission to
adjust the schedule. His pleas were heard, but nothing was done. London said that he
was holding the special show on Thursday because it was the only day he could get certain
talent into the city to perform. [Albuquerque Tribune, 7/9/52]
With a double-main event, London saw Danny Loos win the Rocky Mountain Heavyweight
Title from Al Williams on July 10 and Mildred Burke retained her championship against
Theresa Theis, but lost the initial fall to her opponent, a rarity. Although London expected
close to 5,000, the newspapers never boasted about his attendance, which seems likely if
he'd approached that figure. The Albuquerque Journal did report that the 20-30 Club's
attendance that Friday was 300 less than the normal crowds of about 1,100. London,
however, said that his Thursday's show was higher than what he did usually on Mondays.
Both wrestling operations were profitable in Albuqeuerque, but the competition for the
hearts and minds of local wrestling fans titled in London's favor.
In 1953, the Ice Arena burned down, and by January 1954, London was using the Armory
for his wrestling shows. The rival operation was gone.
On August 2, 1953, the New Mexican newspaper of Santa Fe announced that new local
promoter Don Sebastian was going to work with London. Sebastian now lived locally,
having retired from wrestling in 1943. He wrestled as "Luis Mayo," and competed from
1933 to '43.
Southwest Sports, Inc., run by Danny McShain, Ed Sharpe and Juan Garcia, tried to invade
Albuquerque against Mike London in 1961 and on Thursday, June 22, 1961, the City
Boxing and Wrestling Commission rejected their proposed wrestling promotional effort by
denying them a license. The reasoning behind the rejection was because the members of
the commission did not know the financial status and character of the promotion's
organizers, and having no basis to believe that London wasn't doing a good job. Sharpe
told the newspaper that he and McShain had both bought homes in the area and
proclaimed that the commission was "depriving me of making a living." Apparently,
Southwest Sports was running TV in Albuquerque already, on Sundays.
Southwest Sports already had ties to Santa Fe, Farmington, Gallup, and Cortez, Colorado,
establishing a booking territory.
Sharpe also told the newspaper that the promoters in those towns wanted to work with their
outfit "because London can't get any wrestlers."
Research by Tim Hornbaker
|Albuquerque Booking Office