A very well-known professional wrestler and promoter from the state of Nebraska. Joe
was one of the famed Dusek Brothers along with Rudy, Ernie and Emil. He began wrestling
in the 1930s and competed throughout the United States. Joe often teamed with his
brothers, but competed solo in New York City, St. Louis and many of the other top wrestling
territories. On February 14, 1952, the Dusek Brothers four year reign as the Midwestern
Tag Team Champions came to an end in Kansas City when Joe and Wally Dusek were
defeated by Babe and Chris Zaharias at the Memorial Hall. The Dusek’s had only the
second fall to the Zaharias’ first and third.
When Omaha faced the startling death of Max Clayton in early July 1957, many wondered
if the sport of wresting would continue as it once had. The pulse of Midwestern wrestling
beat from the City Auditorium under Clayton’s guidance. Historical matches was a thing of
the past until Joe Dusek arrived to take over and resume business. It began on Saturday
Night, November 2, 1957. The card was headlined by Don Leo Jonathan’s challenge
against Verne Gagne for the NWA United States TV Title. It was a controversial match
seen by Dusek and a large delegation of Midwestern NWA Promoters who had traveled to
Omaha to see the event. Dusek’s ability to meet expectations was tested and he
succeeded. 2,247 fans saw the event, but that number was going to grow.
Over 4,000 fans met up at the City Auditorium, the largest crowd in Omaha in the
previous four years, on Saturday, December 14th. At the show were Dick the Bruiser,
Verne Gagne and Jack Pesek. Joe Dusek topped that number on December 28th with a
total of 5,614 fans. On January 4th, Dusek and his wrestling organization had drawn
nearly 7,000 fans to the City Auditorium. The show was only Dusek’s fifth promotional
event in Omaha. Dick the Bruiser defeated Don Leo Jonathan in the main event, which
was a special Texas Death Match. Emil and Ernie Dusek were also on-hand also to defend
their claim to the NWA Nebraska/ Iowa Tag Team Title. They retained their belts against
Mike DiBiase and Bobby Bruns.
Dusek’s shows were increasing in popularity and at the rate they were going, they’d hit
10,000 by March. The shows continued to average at 7,000 on good nights and around
4,000 on decent. Edouard Carpentier entered Omaha and made his first local defense of
his claim to the World Heavyweight Title on Saturday, January 11, 1958. Carpeniter
defeated Dick the Bruiser by disqualification in the third fall on an even match. 4,910 fans
appeared. When Bruiser and Gagne battled at the Auditorium on March 15th, over 7,000
fans were in attendance. Gagne retained his claim to the NWA U.S. TV Title.
Bruiser, Carpeniter, Hans Schmidt, Yukon Eric and Gagne seemed to dominate the main
events of Dusek’s cards through the end of April. On the 2nd of May, Dusek had Antonino
Rocca team with Eric against Bruiser and Ivan the Terrible. A disappointing 4,272 were
present. Rocca wrestled Bruiser the week following. Dusek had an “Appreciation Night” on
Saturday, May 31, 1958. Gagne defeated Bruiser to retain his U.S. TV Belt. He closed out
for the normal season, but planned to hold wrestling in Omaha during the summer. In mid-
July, Dusek promoted Gagne in his match with Gorgeous George at the Playland Park
Stadium in front of only 1,301.
Dusek promoted one of wrestling’s most important wrestling cards on Saturday, August 9,
1958 in Omaha’s Municipal Stadium, beginning at 8:30. It was there that Edouard
Carpentier was to defend his claim to the World Heavyweight Title against Verne Gagne in
a two-of-three-falls match. More then 7,000 attended the live event, paying $9,095. In the
semifinal was a special tag team match for the NWA World Tag Team Title. The Russians,
Nicolai and Boris, were defending their claim against Dick the Bruiser and Hans Schmidt.
Dusek had signed Chicago Promoter, Fred Kohler to referee the main event and the State
Athletic Commissioner, C.N. Moon was going to award the championship belt to the victor.
Chuck Warren was also in attendance to present the winner with the “All-American City”
Trophy. Gagne defeated Carpentier with the second and third falls to capture his first
World Heavyweight Title Claim, a title he had been beckoning for since 1952.
As wrestling evolved, Dusek became affiliated with the American Wrestling Association in
the early 1960s. Dusek continued to recognize the “Nebraska” World Champion. The 3rd
observation of the Annual Kolach Days were supported by Dusek in Verdigre, Nebraska, a
town of only 600 in the northern part of the state. The event took place during the
weekend of June 12-13, 1971. Dusek’s brand of “entertainment” and professional
wrestling was brought to Verdigre on that Sunday, the 13th, beginning at 7:00 at the high
school auditorium. The main event was a match for the Midwest Tag Team Title between
Bob Ellis and Alberto Torres and the team of Ox Baker and the Ox. Ellis and Baker were
wrestling in the special event and Ali Ben Khan was going against Jerry Miller in the
semifinal of the three-match card. A packed house watched the “Joe Dusek’s All-Star
Wrestling,” as it was billed. Alberto Torres later died of internal injuries after making his
way to Omaha. It was stated that he may have suffered from the bumps taken during his
Verdigre match. It was quite a loss for Dusek’s promotion and the sport.
Dusek continued promoting into late in the decade. He booked all of wrestling’s greats
and continued to keep the sport as hot as it ever was in Nebraska. By the ‘70’s, the sport
had changed from what it was thirty years earlier, but Joe Dusek was able to evolve with
the new brand of entertainment. That didn’t mean the matches were any less violent or
bloody. Nebraska wrestling was built on those statues. The state also wanted to see clean
and pure wrestling which Joe Stecher and Verne Gagne brought to the mat.
Mr. Joe Dusek died on October 31, 1992 in Nebraska.
Research by Tim Hornbaker
|Joe Dusek Wrestling History