Between the 1950s and the 1980s, only several professional wrestlers were able to match
holds with the giants of the sport and the most technically sound.  Don Leo Jonathan was a
6’6’’ athlete with the ability to do so.  He wrestled Andre the Giant countless times.  He
battled the likes of Shohei Baba, Gene Kiniski, Killer Kowalski, The Destroyer and a young
Big John Studd.  Jonathan was a World Champion on several continents from North
America to Africa.

 Don Leo was the son of longtime Mormon wrestler, Brother Jonathan and originally from
Hurricane, Utah.  He turned pro at the age of 18 in 1950.  The father and son duo made
their first impression on the Rocky Mountain Region on January 1, 1951 in Denver.  Don
Leo and Brother Jonathan beat Danny Loos and Jim Blood in three-falls.  The duo went
south and the two appeared in Colorado Springs on the 3rd at the City Auditorium.  At this
point, and by the Colorado Springs Gazette, the father and son duo were billed as the
Pacific Northwest Tag Team Champions.  While in the region, though, the Jonathans won
the Rocky Mountain Tag Title.

 Surprisingly enough, the Jonathans were the popular of the two teams, enjoying the
fanfare of eastern Colorado.  The next week, Don Leo beat Blood in a singles contest with
the second and third falls straight at Denver.  Don Leo watched his father hold the regional
champion to a draw in Colorado Springs on January 10th, and got some ideas on how to
beat him.  He was matched against Frank James on the 17th in the Springs, two-of-three-
falls, 60-minute contest.  At the 1-1 mark, Jonathan landed a series of tackles.  James was
sent over the top rope and following the guidelines of local wrestling, Don Leo was

 Don Leo and Brother Jonathan faced Joe Bennicasa and Jim Blood on January 22nd in
Denver.  One of his biggest victories of his young career came on January 29th when
Jonathan defeated the Swedish Angel in two-straight falls.  The victory propelled him into
the local wrestling spotlight and earned him an immediate title shot against the Rocky
Mountain Champion, Joe Bennicasa.  The bout occurred on February 5th.  Bennicasa held
onto his championship with a two-of-three-fall victory in front of 4,000 fans.  But in a little
more then a month’s time, Jonathan had transferred himself from an undercard tag
wrestler, learning from his father, to a big time main-eventer.

 Jonathan was the number one contender to the championship, meeting Bennicasa and
losing to him on February 14th in Colorado Springs with two-of-three-falls.  Jonathan was
granted a third title shot on February 19th in Denver.  The two went to a 1-1, 60-minute,
time-limit draw.  A fourth match between Don Leo and Joe Bennicasa was held in Colorado
Springs on February 21st.  The attempt proved to be a charm, as Jonathan beat the
champion and won the rights to the local championship, winning the first and third falls.  
The young man was a double champion, but holding his first singles title.

 A week later on the 26th, Jonathan and Joe Campbell wrestled to a 40-minute draw tied at
one apiece.  Jonathan’s popularity was at an all-time high and crowds were at their peaks in
both Denver and Colorado Springs.  On Monday, March 5th, he met Danny Loos in a
singles contest in Denver and wrestled him to a 40-minute draw.  Don Leo teamed with his
father on the 12th and wrestled to an hour draw against Bennicasa and Hollywood Film
Star, “Tiger” Joe Marsh in Denver.  He gave Bennicasa a rematch for the title on March
14th and retained in Colorado Springs.  The Jonathans won from Bennicasa and Matt
Kosternich on March 19th with the final two-falls.

 On Monday, March 26th, Jonathan met Jimmy Blood in Denver.  He retained.  Don and his
father teamed in Colorado Springs on March 28th and lost their first Colorado tag team
match to Joe Stalin and Jimmy Blood after winning the first fall.  The villains attained the
second and third.  He teamed with his father again on April 2nd in Denver and lost to the
hated Joe Stalin and the Masked Monster.  They had forfeited the first and third falls.  He
won the final fall of an April 23rd match against Jimmy Blood and the Monster in Denver by
 At 22 years of age, Jonathan captured a claim to the World Title in Montreal with a win
over Pat O’Connor.  Yvon Robert beat him for the belt in August 1955, but Jonathan
regained it a week later.  Killer Kowalski took the belt on December 14, 1955 in Montreal,
capturing his sixth championship.

 Jonathan received a World Title shot against Edouard Carpentier on January 16, 1958 in
Denver.  He won the second fall, to split Carpentier’s victories with several knee drops and
a back breaker in 11:49.  Jonathan was given a U.S. Title shot against Verne Gagne on
May 5, 1955 in Denver, and lost in three-falls.  He won a claim to the World Heavyweight
Title in Nebraska with an Omaha defeat of Dr. X on January 7, 1961.  Jonathan lost the belt
back to X in March at Omaha.  On June 7th, Jonathan wrestled Judo Jack Terry in Denver
and won the opener in 10:58.  He met Wilbur Snyder in Denver’s Coliseum on September
15th and lost in one-fall at the 20:31 mark.  Jonathan beat Bobo Brazil on January 17, 1962
in Denver.  He continued to wrestle into the 1970s.  Jonathan participated in the December
1975 Wrestling Open in Japan amidst some of the best talent in the world.

 On September 1, 1977 in Johannesburg, South Africa, Jonathan dethroned Otto Wanz for
the Catch Wrestling Association World Heavyweight Title.  He lost the belt back to Wanz on
July 15, 1978 in Graz, Austria.

 Don Leo Jonathan was one of the biggest, meanest athletes in professional wrestling.  He
feuded intensly with a number of top grapplers including the legendary Andre the Giant.  
Jonathan captured several World Titles and sold-out arenas all over the world.

Title History:

 -Co-holder of the NWA Rocky Mountain Tag Team Title (1951) w/ Brother Jonathan
 -NWA Rocky Mountain Heavyweight Title (1951) defeated Joe Bennicasa
 -An eighteen-time co-holder of the NWA Canadian Tag Team Title
         w/ Kenji Shibuya (1964) defeated The Funks, tournament final
         w/ Roy McClarity (1964) defeated The Fabulous Kangaroos
         w/ Gene Kiniski (1965) defeated The Fabulous Kangeroos
         w/ Jim Hady (1965) defeated The Fabulous Kangeroos
         w/ Haystack Calhoun (1966) defeated Tony Borne and John Tolos
         w/ Dominic DeNucci (1966-’67) defeated Don Jardine and Dutch Savage
         w/ Rocky Johnson (1967) defeated The Tolos Brothers
         w/ Ski-Hi Jones (1968) defeated The Assassins
         w/ Haystack Calhoun (1968) defeated The Assassins
         w/ Paddy Barrett (1968) defeated Abdullah the Butcher and Armand Hussein
         w/ Johnny Kostas (1968) defeated Dutch Savage and Stan Stasiak
         w/ John Tolos (1969) defeated Bob Brown and Dutch Savage
         w/ Duncan McTavish (1970) defeated Bob Brown and John Quinn
         w/ Steven Little Bear (1970-’71) defeated Yasu Fuji and Chati Yokouchi
         w/ Jimmy Snuka (1976) defeated Gene Kiniski and Seigfried Steinke
         w/ John Anson (1976) defeated John Quinn and Kenji Shibuya
         w/ Dutch Savage (1977) defeated John Quinn and Kurt Von Hess
         w/ John Quinn (1978) defeated Black Avenger and Don Wayt
 -A three-time Pacific Coast Heavyweight Champion
 -A two-time World Heavyweight Champion (Montreal)
         -Defeated Pat O’Connor (1955)
         -Defeated Yvon Robert (1955)
 -A two-time NWA Texas State Heavyweight Champion
         -Defeated Pepper Gomez (1957)
         -Defeated Torbellino Blanco (1960)
 -NWA United States TV Title (1957) defeated Verne Gagne
 -A two-time Nebraska State World Heavyweight Champion
         -Defeated Dr. X (1961)
         -Defeated Dr. X (1961)
 -Co-holder of the World Tag Team Title (1996)
 -A two-time co-holder of the IWA World Tag Team Title
         w/ Antonio Pugliese (1969) defeated Brute Bernard and Skull Murphy
         w/ Antonio Pugliese (1969) defeated Mario Milano and The Spoiler
 -Grand Prix Heavyweight Title (1974)
 -EWU World Heavyweight Title
 -CWA World Heavyweight Title (1977-’78) defeated Otto Wanz

Research by Tim Hornbaker
Don Leo Jonathan Wrestling History