Melbourne Stadium was originally built by Dean Lean of Stadiums Ltd.
In early January 1929, John Kilonis defeated Al Karasick in Sydney, Australia at the
Stadium before an estimated 11,000 fans. Kilonis won the match based on a pinfall in
the fifth round.
During an interview with Stanley Disney of the Department of Justice on June 9, 1955,
Ted Thye explained that during the 1930s, he had a 50-50 deal with Al Karasick of
Honolulu to pay transportation expenses for wrestlers who'd travel from Australia to
Hawaii. These wrestlers would appear in Hawaii for Karasick for a time before venturing
to Australia, and then appear for Karasick again on the way back. After 1940, Thye said,
he covered all the expenses and Karasick didn't pay a dime. Because of recent issues
with Karasick, he no longer wanted any of his grapplers wrestling in Hawaii on the way to
Additionally, in 1953, he asked Sam Muchnick if Lou Thesz would be interested in
appearing in Australia. On August 25, 1953, Muchnick wrote: "We have 38 members in
the Alliance, extending from Hawaii to Cuba and from Canada to Mexico City, and he can
be busy within the confines of the National Wrestling Alliance without making trips."
Muchnick did offer him an application for his Australian group, if Thye was interested.
Thye had reportedly also suggested that Thesz "fight a contest instead of an exhibition."
According to Disney's report on June 14, 1955, "Thye pointed out the fact that Muchnick
stated Thesz was not interested in a genuine match. He said that he usually had one or
two men in Australia who could give Thesz a tough contest. Thye said that Thesz was a
good wrestler, but that there were men in India who would have no trouble in throwing
On January 24, 1955, the wood, 10,000-seat capacity, Festival Hall Stadium in
Melbourne burned to the ground. The facility was the local hub for Stadiums, Ltd.,
Thye's organization. The date has also been said to have been January 21. In Thye's
interview with the Department of Justice, he explained that there were also attempts to
burn the stadium in Syndey, which sat 16,000 people. He didn't know whether or not this
was an effort by the Karasick group to break into Australia or not," according to Disney's
report. A new Melbourne Stadium was expected to be complete within 12-months, made
of concrete and steel.
On March 26, 1958, Sam Muchnick wrote to Thye in Portland, saying: "If you give the
new champion, Dick Hutton, plenty of publicity in Australia and New Zealand, I am sure
something can be worked out for his appearances there later. Please have the
promoters there mail me any publicity that appears in the newspapers about him."
From October 1964 to 1969, the duo of Jim Barnett and Johnny Doyle promoted the
Australian wrestling territory. After Doyle's passing in 1969, Barnett continued to run
operations until the end of 1973. Barnett also promoted shows in Hong Kong,
Singapore, and New Zealand.
Research by Tim Hornbaker
|Australia Wrestling Territory