NWA Member: Paul L. "Pinkie" George
Admitted to Organization: July 18, 1948 (founder)
Des Moines Office: 601 1/2 E. Locust Street
Des Moines Office: Securities Building, Suite 210
Phone Number: 3-7949 (1955)
Corporation Name: P.L. Pinkie George Promotions, Inc.
In August 1949, Pinkie was dealing with the fact that Max Clayton of Omaha, and the Dusek
Brothers, were going to potentially enter Iowa in competition to him. Clayton had been
considered a founder of the NWA, and this type of invasion was a direct contradiction of
Alliance rules. On August 29, 1949, Sam Muchnick of St. Louis sent Tony Stecher a letter in
Minneapolis, and talked about the situation. Lou Thesz, who talked with the Duseks, claimed
that there was nothing to it, but Muchnick affirmed that if they did decide to go forward against
Pinkie, they'd "have to drop them from our cards."
Pinkie sent a bulletin to National Wrestling Alliance members on October 11, 1949 and
discussed a major issue affecting his local operations. In doing so, he displayed his ability to
be a fair businessman, and working in effort to be a peaceful president of the organization.
George and Clayton were having serious problems over two Iowa towns in which both were
claiming the rights to. To clear things up, George agreed to give Clayton the right to book
Council Bluffs and Dubuque, but "in any other Iowa towns Omaha is invading," Pinkie wrote, "it
must pull out and have the promoters contact this office." George stated that he was "willing to
swallow crow for the sake of unity."
The reasons Clayton laid claim to Council Bluffs, according to George, was because the city
was "too close to Omaha." George stated that the Dubuque promoter "feels I would be
vindictive and doesn't want to me to book it."
Sam Muchnick called George's actions a "fine, sporting gesture."
Issues between Pinkie and Muchnick were slowly appearing on the horizon.
The Waterloo Daily Courier (1/18/1952) reported that George was having difficulties in one of
his longest running cities - Waterloo itself. He apparently removed all of his equipment from
the City Auditorium and told the press that he could no longer run shows "under existing
conditions." Since 1929, he'd staged wrestling, boxing, and basketball, but things had gotten
so bad that he didn't want to stage another program in that city. George claimed he was a
victim of politics and sent a letter to Waterloo Mayor Pat Touchae, and said that someone else
was getting the Auditorium with a cheaper rent than the deal he had.
George was the one "who thought of the idea of incorporating the Alliance," according to
Muchnick in a letter to Alex Sidman of Houston on April 1, 1953. Muchnick stated that the NWA
was "more or less a fraternal organization," and "we never really took the incorporation too
seriously." They were a non-profit organization, and that if there was a need to dissolve the
corporation in Iowa, they should consider doing it. "Perhaps it would be better to then
incorporate in Texas or Missouri," Muchnick explained.
In October 1952, Pinkie brought Jerry Meeker in as his "full partner" in Des Moines and, in a
letter to Jim Barnett in Chicago, said that "all booking will be made by him," in the future.
The feud between Pinkie George and Fred Kohler was ignited in 1952, and spread very
quickly into a full-fledged catastrophe for George. Initially, George was having a problem
getting TV wrestling stars from their manager and booker, Jim Barnett, and there was some
talk of Kohler and Barnett not putting George's light heavyweight champion Gypsy Joe on TV
unless they got a piece of him. Right before a November 5, 1952 program in Des Moines,
after advertising had promoted Bill Melby as being on the show, Barnett withdrew him, leaving
George in a hole. George then cancelled out two other Barnett workers, and reached out to
other NWA members for help. He got a date for NWA Champion Lou Thesz, then booked him
against the only wrestler in Des Moines with any heat, Chest Bernard.
However, on TV out of Chicago by Kohler and featured in Des Moines, they purposely ran
Bernard down. Sonny Myers said how easily he beat Bernard and Bob Orton also said he
defeated him. This hurt George's draw in Des Moines with Thesz-Bernard. They also
purposely stated that Melby beat Gypsy Joe in 11 seconds, running down George's light
George believed Kohler was a member who was detrimental to the organization, and had
"documentary proof." He wanted an "open hearing" to discuss the situation amongst the
Alliance, and claimed that Kohler wanted to be a czar.
Pinkie's status with the NWA in 1959 was light-years away from what it had been in 1948, when
he was looked upon as the man who organized the Alliance. While he might have been
considered a superlative promoter, he ran a small territory (made less money, had no
influence over TV...etc.), which diminished his position in the ever-growing Alliance. Promoters
in Chicago, Los Angeles, Boston, and New York were given much more recognition, maybe
even more respect than George in Iowa, and George noted that in an undated letter to
Muchnick found in the National Archive, explaining that he was passed over to be a chairman
of an Alliance committee for "men with territorial power."
Pinkie wrote: "Although I was good enough to be president of the NWA for two years, I was not
good enough to head a committee." He added that he wasn't mad about it, but that he's gotten
"over the fact that you as picker of the committees judged my ability as very low indeed that I
was not capable enough to head one of the important committees."
George indicated that he didn't want to be a member of any committee and that he wouldn't
"take any further working part in the NWA. I will only take the social end and be mad at no one
but have fun and enjoy the fellowship of a grand bunch of guys."
Things got worse rather than better.
In April 1959, in a letter to Jack Pfefer, Pinkie explained that he was going to file a legal suit
against the NWA, and a notice would be delivered wherever the the convention was held later
in the year. He explained that "Sam [Muchnick] and his partners not only have put me out of
business, but now they are phone treats (sic) and further squeeze is put on me to shut me up."
George said he wasn't going to hold back the truth.
The bottom line is that professional Wrestling in Des Moines was crumbling. The once
successful promotion George operated was highly diminished, and he found himself at odds
with a powerfully aligned outfit out of St. Joseph and Kansas City that was gaining ground...and
territory at a rapid pace. This clique consisted of Gust Karras, George Simpson, Bob Geigel,
Pat O'Connor, Bobby Bruns, and Sonny Myers, the man at the heart of a lengthy court battle
against Pinkie and the NWA. In 1959, George left Iowa entirely for an opportunity in San
Antonio, Texas, allied with the Morris Sigel group against the established promoters Frank
Brown and Dorothy Livengood. From the looks of things, it was possible to be actively suing
the Alliance, yet still on good terms with some NWA members, as demonstrated by the Myers
situation. Myers, and his friends, were also heavily connected to Muchnick in St. Louis.
The personal animosity between George and Myers, and many of those names listed in the
previous paragraph toward Pinkie (the founder of the NWA) was very large. The location of
Iowa to Kansas City and St. Joseph made it abundantly clear to the Karras group that it should
be part of their territory. It was a territory full of opportunity, and they wanted to seize it. With
George out of Des Moines, embroiled in another war elsewhere, the Karras group moved in.
On February 29, 1960, Muchnick sent a letter to Robert A. Bicks, the Acting Assistant Attorney
General of the Antitrust Division, Department of Justice, and mentioned the situation involving
Pinkie George. Among the pointed remarks are the following:
Sonny Myers "told many members of the NWA, both privately and publicaly, tha the had
nothing against the Alliance but he did against Pinkie George." This was regarding the lengthy
court case battle in Iowa in which Myers sued George and the NWA. Muchnick seems to
indicate here that it wasn't so much against the NWA, and more against George.
Muchnick also told Bicks: "One of the things [Myers] alleged during the trial, a little over a year
ago, was that George told him he "owned" the State of Iowa, and that no one else should
promote in there."
On March 10, 1960, Bicks answered Muchnick, responding to the report that Bobby Bruns
recently booked a show in Des Moines, which was "formerly the 'territory' of Mr. George, while
Mr. George is now booking shows in San Antonio, Texas, formerly the 'territory' of Mr. Brown,
may well indicate a weakening of the territorial divisions provided for in the Association's
By-Laws." Bicks added: "The destruction of such territorial divisions is, as you have
observed, one of the prime aims of the Judgment."
Research by Tim Hornbaker
|Des Moines Booking Office