NWA Member: Morris Sigel
Admitted to Organization: September 1949
Corporation Name: Gulf Athletic Club
Houston Office: 502 Milam Building, Suites 502-3-4, Houston 2, Texas
Phone Number: Capitol 2-2388, Capitol 2-2389 (1955)
On September 27, 1949, in a letter to Sam Muchnick, Sigel wrote that "television is hurting
our business badly, we have until December 16th to go on our present contract -- and then
we will make another that will help...and not hurt...us."
Muchnick returned a letter to Sigel on September 30, 1949 telling him that his check had
been received and "you have now become a member of the National Wrestling Alliance."
In a letter dated October 5, 1949 from Muchnick to Dr. Karl Sarpolis, who was working the
Houston office for Sigel, he explained that "Tony Stecher has this boy Vern (sic) Gagne who
he would like to send out for a while and I think would make a good man for you. He worked
for Tony last season and did well. Tony doesn't expect him to be handled like a champion
but to be taken care of so he can make some dough and can work programs with top men. If
you are interested in him, let me know and a starting date and I'll get him for you. Might be
just what you need there."
Upon joining the NWA, Sigel received two early visits from the Alliance World Champion
Orville Brown on September 2 and September 9, 1949. Brown beat Ruffy Silverstein and El
Sombra, and displyed his wrestling cunning to the local audience. Sigel was on the receiving
end of the notification, like other newly joined NWA members, that Brown was injured in a car
accident in Northwestern Missouri on November 1, 1949. The scheduled World Title
unification match between Brown and National Wrestling Association Champion Lou Thesz
had been cancalled. On November 26 and 27, 1949, Sigel was in St. Louis for the promoter’
s meetings, and there, it was decided that Thesz should be crowned the official National
Wrestling Alliance World Champion.
The formation of the National Wrestling Alliance, a bonded group of sports promoters,
assisted each of the impressarios involved. By joining the same organization, the promoters
were limited to a single World Champion, a rule that was sometimes overlooked, and helped
define their specific territories. They would assist each other in monopolizing the business
against nonmember promoters, and would cast aside problems. Sigel was fully aware of the
heat a promotional war in a city could bring, and was facing a situation of his own in Houston
against his former employ, Sterling “Dizzy” Davis. In 1949, Davis filed a $100,000 damage
suit against Sigel, claiming that because Sigel was such a strong influence as a promoter, he
was denied a license to promote by the Texas State Boxing and Labor Commissioner. Sigel
saw the suit as nothing more than a personal grudge.
The Texas circuit was strong, and the promoters of the NWA, through their distinct
territories, held a monopoly. The weekly Eastern circuit was made up of wrestling in Dallas
on Tuesday, San Antonio on Wednesday, and Houston on Friday. Other cities such as
Austin, Waco, Beaumont, and Galveston, also figured into the traveling scheme for wrestlers
working the state. In Dallas, Sigel benefited from the successful and stable promotions of
Edward E. McLemore Jr.
On May 25, 1950, an NWA Bulletin was sent to the organization's membership, and included
excerpts from a letter written by Houston booker Morris Sigel. Sigel stated that "Sterling
(Dizzy) Davis came to our office today (May 12th), admitted that he made a bad mistake, and
was completely and thoroughly licked [in the promotional battle]." Sigel, in displaying his
kindness, wanted to "intercede for the men who have fought me and worked against me, and
made some terrible statements about my business and me personally," and asked members
to "give this mature judgment and please go along with these unfortunates," listing Davis,
Humberto, McDonald, Murdock, Ivan Kamoroff, Zebra Kid, Bruckman, Sledge, Steddum,
Londos, Stanlee, and Joe Kamoroff.
Sigel explained that his parents "taught me as a child not to hate anybody, and never to
gloat about a victory. They were charitable people and I inherited their love to help a fellow
man," plus, "when I pass on from this world, my good wife, daughter and friends will say, 'he
was a pretty good guy - a fair fighter - and a credit to the human race."
In 1954, as Houston approached the one million mark, Sigel planned to honor the first child
born to pass the number with a special plaque. The plaque would feature a "huge
cauliflower ear," according to the September 4, 1954 edition of Wrestling As You Like It, and
make "the infant an honorary wrestler."
Research by Tim Hornbaker
December 14, 2010
|Houston Booking Office