Antone "Ripper" Leone was a longtime journeyman, champion in some territories, and a
well known throughout the United States and Canada. One of the notable aspects of his
career has nothing to do with his in-ring wrestling, but with the fact that he claimed he
was blacklisted by the National Wrestling Alliance.
Shortly after the ten year anniversary of the signing of the Consent Decree, which NWA
members signed to conform to the U.S. Government's standards, ending the investigation
into its purported monopolistic actions, Leone wrote a letter to the Honorable William F.
Riley, United States District Judge for the Southern District of Iowa at Des Moines. The
subject of the November 24, 1966 missive was the non-compliance of the NWA in
adhering to the rules of the Consent Decree. Leone wrote: "Since the creation of the
infamous and illegal "NWA," i have been denied wrestling bookings and I have been
defamed, demeaned, and vilified by the concenting (sic) parties of this 'NWA.'" Leone
claimed further that he'd been blacklisted "out of wrestling." He added that "as a direct
result of this conspiracy, I have suffered acute hardships via lack of income and both my
mental and body suffering has been acute."
Leone claimed that he'd been suffering for the past 16 years, and had been a main event
wrestler. "Only because I refused to join in the nefarious and infamous 'NWA' conspiracy
and plot to have 100% monopoly over the U.S.A. and Canada was I cast into exile."
Then Leone got into what he wanted from the Court. "I seek aid from your Court to
re-open or properly execute and punish these evil doerers (sic)." He claimed he could get
many wrestlers to testify as witnesses against the Alliance. Leone completed his letter by
writing, "I pray this Court will advise me or make contact with me on this matter."
Mail was fast in those days because on November 25, 1966, F.E. Van Alstine, a clerk for
the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Iowa, responded to Leone's letter, explaining
that William F. Riley died in December 1956. His letter was rerouted to the United States
Attorney "who will take the matter up with the Untied States Department of Justice."
This letter was polite and showed self-restraint in comparison to Leone's letters to
members of the NWA. His opinions were stern, sometimes outrageous, but indicative of
his deep-seeded, personal animosity toward the Alliance. In all of my years of research,
I've never seen evidence of any single individual documenting their hatred for the
National Wrestling Alliance like Leone did. His letters are stunning pieces of professional
From South Africa on January 14, 1957, Leone wrote Sam Muchnick at the Claridge Hotel
in St. Louis. This, and all of these letters, are part of the public record of the Department
of Justice investigation into the NWA. Among the highlights of this letter:
"I was recently informed that your Alliance lost another of its (word unreadable) rats, I
understand, Hugh Nichols blasted his evil head off with his own shot gun."
"I am getting prepared to laugh at the soon to come passing away of the following: Al
Karsick (sic), Joe Malcewicz, and that big fat slob of Jim Crockett - of course, I won't be
angry if any one else of that Alliance decide to go first but time will catch up with all of
"Nichols sure will have a hell of a time in spending all of his evil gotten gains in Hell."
"That Hungarian bastard Sandor Szabo, he no doubt was happy about Nick killing
himself, and lets not forget that other no good bloated bum, Jules Strongbow, that inspid
(sic) idiot, Cal Eaton, your fellow Jew [word removed], Mike Hirsch, and one kidney
depraved [Johnny] Doyle."
"Fred Kohler is a no good son of a good woman and before too long what God doesn't
punish and banish from your top authority, the rest will have the public opinion reaction to
complete the job."
"But the way, how is Bill Longston (sic), I know he told me that I wouldn't work, and that he
thought I was too bad a risk to book on his booking sheet so please do me a favor, tell
him as well as yourself to have sexual intercourse with yourselves - how are the two nice
honest boys doing in Tulsa?"
"I call upon God to place this curse upon each of you for every dollar that was stolen from
me and as I and my family do without, may you and yours soon fare the same."
While it is hard to prove in the year 2010 the substance of Leone's claims, it is certainly
possible that there was a nationwide banishment from wrestling bookings by the National
Wrestling Alliance. From the tone of this letter, it is impossible to dismiss his claims that
the NWA had blacklisted him, and was preventing him from providing for his family. His
passion in hating everything the NWA stood for, and the individuals behind it, is clearly
demonstrated - even going out-of-bounds in his name calling when it came to the Jewish
reference about Mike Hirsch. Even more stunning, however, is how freely he wished
death upon the members of the NWA, and admitted that he'd laugh when some of them
passed away. This was beyond anger.
In 1957, how much power did the NWA have to completely blacklist someone? The eyes
and ears of the Department of Justice were open, unlike when the blackballing was
happening more routinely earlier in the decade. How was Leone's career affected?
A short nine months later, Leone bought the Kingsport, Tennessee wrestling franchise
(9/1957) from Mickey Baarns, who was moving his base of operations to Memphis. The
deal was announced in the September 15, 1957 edition of the Kingsport Times-News.
Leone bought the city for $9,000. The newspaper stated that he was 41 years of age
and that he had 5,000 wrestling matches behind him. He was married and had a
daughter. Leone planned to bring the best matches to the city that fans wanted to see.
Leone also promoted shows in Johnson City and Bristol before selling back out to Baarns
in June 1958. The local newspaper indicated that Leone might return to the squared
Research by Tim Hornbaker
|Antone Leone Wrestling History