In a bulletin to all NWA members dated October 4, 1949, Sam Muchnick stated that
between October 7, 1948 until present, $1,050.00 had been collected in dues. Expenses
were $46.23, and the remaining balance in the Alliance treasury was $1,003.77. Muchnick
stated that the traveling expenses of the NWA President and Secretary would be
deducted, but hadn't been because "we are more interested in making this organization a
On October 17, 1951, Muchnick notified the membership that the "financial account" of the
NWA had been turned over to the "auditing firm of P.B. Radloff, 2024 Olive St., St. Louis 3,
In 1952, at the annual convention in Santa Monica, the NWA membership spent $1,800
out of the organization's treasury for dinners. This sort of extravagance was not an annual
thing, and Muchnick noted in 1954 that the NWA treasury was "not so healthy." At the
Chicago convention in 1953, the members ate dinner free, but had to pay $10.00 for each
guest they brought.
Sam Muchnick admitted that in 1954, he earned approximately $13,000 for booking NWA
World Champion Lou Thesz, and that Thesz made about $52,000 as champion. This was
not counting his "personal appearances, for sponsoring and other things."
At the end of the 1954-'55 fiscal year, which ended on August 31, 1955, the National
Wrestling Alliance treasury had $4,531.83.
In St. Louis during the 1955 annual convention, the membership unanimously agreed to
pay Muchnick $15,000 to serve as the organization's president and to book the
heavyweight champion. The 2 1/2% garnered from each appearance by the champion
would be applied to the $15,000 salary. However, in 1954, the total of all the money
Muchnick made from the titleholder's appearances equalled only $13,500, and it was
agreed that if the situation was under $15,000 again this coming year, the members would
have to make up the difference. Muchnick explained in Bulletin #1, dated October 15,
1955, that it would be about $40 for each member.
Muchnick wrote: "If the office of president isn't worth $40.00 to a member, then the
Alliance is a bigger joke than some people think it is."
The heavyweight champion received 10% personally from each promoter, and a one-way
fare from his previous territory when coming in. The other 5% was mailed to the NWA
headquarters in St. Louis with checks being made out to the "National Wrestling Alliance."
After that, each month, the NWA Treasurer issued checks to Muchnick and Ed Lewis for
Also, Muchnick expressed a concern for the NWA Treasury going into the Government's
investigation into the organization, stating that the Alliance might need a sizable amount of
money for legal fees. Shortly after the 1955 convention, he sent out a letter requesting all
members to send in their $100 yearly dues and $100 assessment ASAP.
In a letter to Muchnick dated November 13, 1956, Thesz explained that the champion
wrestled for 15% gross after taxes of each appearance he made. From that 15%, 11 went
to the titleholder, while the other 4% paid the NWA President's office, and took care of Ed
"Strangler" Lewis. Later in the NWA bulletin from which this letter was reprinted, dated
November 16, 1956, Muchnick stated that the NWA was paying Lewis $7,500 a year.
In an article printed in the Wall Street Journal on May 28, 1971, Muchnick estimated that
the nationwide take for professional wrestling at the gate was "at least $25 million" a year
for "more than 400 promoters," and growing annually.
Research by Tim Hornbaker
December 6, 2010
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