Real Name: Alvah M. "Cal" Eaton
Eaton was a graduate of law school. The Associated Press (4/2/1945, Reno Evening
Gazette, Reno, Nevada) stated that Eaton was "a little fellow with a little mustache and a
Eaton labored as an inspector for the California State Athletic Commission, then was
hired as the manager of the Olympic Auditorium around July 1942 by Frank Garbutt.
Garbutt acted on behalf of the stadium's owner, the Los Angeles Athletic Club, and
heeded the recommendation of Aileen LeBell, his bookkeeper and secretary, in hiring
Eaton for the job. Eaton would later take over on the promotional side and Aileen served
as the business manager.
With Eaton as manager, the boxing "take" went from around $900-$1,200 to average
around $11,000 per show at the Olympic. The Armstrong-Thomas fight drew $42,000.
The United Press stated on December 27, 1947 that Katherine Eaton sued husband Cal
Eaton for divorce in San Diego, claiming cruelty. Katherine would receive $40,000 in a
In 1948, Cal Eaton and Aileen LeBell wed.
Robert Alvah Eaton, Cal's son, wed the daughter of Lt. Governor Goodwin Knight,
Marilyn, in December 1948. The Los Angeles Times (12/12/48) stated that they met the
April before on a blind date arranged by their fathers. Eaton was a law student at USC.
Robert asked her to marry him on July 29, and she said yes. He lived at 800 S. Tremaine
The Los Angeles Times (4/13/51) stated that Cal Eaton was to receive "most" of the
estate of his deceased sister, Alzoa E. Garland, who passed away on April 6 at the age of
There was a lengthy article (with photo) about Aileen LaBell, who was the business
manager at the Olympic Auditorium, in the Los Angeles Times on September 4, 1952.
Aileen was the wife of Cal Eaton. In the article, she noted that she had "10 accountants
working under me - all women, I might add - and as ticket manager, I handle more than
$1,500,000 in tickets a year."
When Nichols and Doyle broke from Eaton, Eaton's promotion was in dire trouble. He
maintained his powerful position as wrestling promoter at the Olympic Auditorium, but was
without ties to a major booking office. That meant he no longer had access to the big
name wrestlers that drew money. In reality, it also meant that any wrestler affiliated with
the National Wrestling Alliance could not appear for Eaton or they'd face a blacklisting.
To remain a wrestling promoter, Eaton was going to have to use independent workers.
Another option, which was on the table in August 1953, was to attempt to bring in
wrestlers from a different NWA booking office. Cal Whorton of the Los Angeles Times in
his August 9, 1953 column speculated that Eaton was going to deal with "Doc Sarpolin
(sic) of Houston, Tex., who controls some wrestlers in that state."
Dr. Karl Sarpolis of Dallas was in cahoots with Ed McLemore, and running a steady
independent operation against the established NWA empire.
In 1954-'55, the pressure on the Eaton "syndicate" was growing, much like it had during
the Daro era. All the talk of monopolies, "gangsterism," and all else was pressuring
officials in the California Athletic Commission, the California State Assembly, and even up
to the California Governor's office to act, and act quickly. By 1955, with Cal Eaton's son
Robert married to the daughter of Governor Goodwin J. Knight, it seemed all but
guaranteed that Eaton's place in the hierarchy was safe. Knight, however, told the
Associated Press (3/2/55, Maryville Daily Forum, Maryville, MO) that he didn't "consult
with the Eatons, and they don't consult with me."
Naysayers weren't going to buy it, but they rarely did. Doyle was the man with the most
to say against Eaton, and he spoke out as much as he could. Before the State Assembly
subcommittee on October 17, 1955, Johnny was quick to fire off cannon shots that
probably would have crushed someone lacking the power held by Eaton. Doyle claimed
that while Eaton was licensed as a promoter, he was also involved in the wrestling
booking agency, which was against state regulations.
On October 19, after his rivals had plenty to say about his crookedness, Cal Eaton finally
defended himself before the commission. Represented by lawyer Jules Covey, who once
worked for an opposition party against the wrestling "syndicate," Eaton "denied all
charges against him, particularly those made by John J. Doyle," according to the Los
Angeles Times (10/20/55). Eaton said that the previous testimony had been in the
nature of "character assassination," and made up of hearsay and "not supported by fact."
Eaton explained that Ring Talent, Inc. was now made up of himself and Mike Hirsch, and
a license was held by "one of his employees, Pat O'Brien." Cal and his wife Aileen also
had a few digs at Frank Pasquale of the South Gate Arena, who, like Doyle, was adamant
in his claims against Eaton's stronghold. Eaton calmly said that he never felt Pasquale
was a competitor, and Aileen explained that Pasquale was a former milkman who took a
"theater jackpot" win and became a wrestling and boxing promoter.
Aileen also told the commission that the reason Cal and Hirsch bought out Doyle was
"because they couldn't trust him."
On November 30, 1955, the Valley Athletic Club, Inc., through attorney John R. Sahanow,
filed a suit in Superior Court against Eaton, claiming that the latter was running a
wrestling monopoly. The Valley Athletic Club was asking $1.2 million in damages. Other
defendants included Cal's son Robert, Hugh Nichols, and Mike Hirsch.
On May 11, 1956, California Superior Judge John J. Ford proclaimed that Eaton and Mike
Hirsch did not have to submit all of their company books for the California Department of
Professional and Vocational Standards investigation. Eaton and Hirsch had been
partners in Ring Talent, Inc., a booking office.
In August 1956, Cal Eaton filed a $300,000 suit against James Cox for slander. Cox was
the lawyer heading up the boxing investigation on behalf of the California Governor.
Cal Working was announced as the new matchmaker for boxing at the Olympic
Auditorium in October 1956, replacing Babe McCoy. McCoy had resigned from his
position "last month," according to the October 13, 1956 edition of the Los Angeles
The Los Angeles Times, on December 29, 1956, indicated that Eaton could lose his
licenses to promote boxing and wrestling in the state based on the findings of the
California State Athletic Commission. David L. Luce was the chief enforcement officer for
the commission. On January 1, 1957, the newspaper announced that Eaton's licenses
would be renewed, but his future status was still pending the investigation.
On January 23, 1957, a United Press report ran in the Nevada State Journal (Reno, NV),
and explained that wrestling and boxing at the Olympic Auditorium brought in a combined
$356.929.70, "the highest recorded in California for indoor shows." Wrestling totalled
$86.809.20 and boxing $270,120.57.
During the hearings on February 14, 1957, it was said that Eaton had formed a
"syndicate" with Hugh Nichols and Mike Hirsch for pro wrestling in 1953 and the
commission not only knew about the arrangement, but was fine with it. The May 21, 1952
match between Lou Thesz and Baron Michele Leone was also discussed. Thesz was
said to have been paid only $9,000 of the $12,725 he was owed, and Leone only $6,650
of $10,000. Ed "Strangler" Lewis received $1,000. The show netted $81,517.07 after
The Doyle-Eaton rivalry was one of the most heated in California professional wrestling
history. Their war continued on February 15, 1957 when Doyle testified before the
California Athletic Commission at great length. During that meeting, Aileen Eaton
admitted that "it was common knowledge for years that Cal Eaton was in a booking office,
but we've been out of it for five or six months. We invested $22,000 and got back
Doyle told commission members that Eaton boasted about being able to handle issues
with the athletic commission, and reportedly, the latter claimed he had three licensed
referees (Ted Grice, Benny Ginsberg and Joe Varga) fired. Doyle explained that Eaton's
son Robert was the "front" for Cal as Doyle's booking office partner, a sly way of
sidestepping state law that prevented a promoter from also being part of a booking
On May 11, 1957, the California State Athletic Commission announced that Eaton was
placed on two years probation after finding him guilty on six-counts of boxing regulations
In September 1959, the FBI investigated claims that individuals with underworld ties were
trying to obtain control of World Welterweight boxing champion Don Jordan. Paul John
Carbo (Frankie Carbo) was one of the men arrested. Mrs. Cal Eaton was asked to
produce financial records for the Olympic for 1958-'59, including records for Jordan's
fight with Virgil Akins.
On Monday, January 10, 1966, Cal Eaton passed away at the age of 58.
Research by Tim Hornbaker
|Cal and Aileen Eaton Wrestling History