Recognized in Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Montana
Ede Virag, the National Wrestling Alliance World Heavyweight Champion, in Kansas
entered Iowa and was booked by promoter Pinkie George. On Thursday, June 17, 1943,
Virag beat Ras Samara at Riverview Park, drawing more than 1,000 fans, and a few
hundred more than Jim Londos had the week before. The Des Moines Register stated
that: “Virag, a Hungarian forced to flee Nazi-occupied Europe, now makes his home in
Wichita, Kan. A winner in tournaments at Philadelphia, Penn., and Minneapolis., Virag
failed to receive recognition until this year.” Virag was “handled” by Max Bauman and this
was his first appearance in De Moines.
Virag returned to Des Moines in August 1943, and in his September 1, 1943 edition of his
arena program, The Iowa Sportscaster, Pinkie George announced that Virag had been
dethroned by Bill Longson in St. Louis. This was a fictional report used by George to
give Longson a boost when he appeared locally, but Longson - the "National Wrestling
Association" World Champion didn't venture to Des Moines.
Instead of continuing to push for Longson to appear, George announced Ray Steele as
the "National Wrestling Alliance" champion on November 3, 1943. Recognition of Steele
was limited to George's promotion in Iowa, and only a short distance away in Minneapolis,
Steele was still being dubbed as the "former NWA titleholder."
Regardless, Pinkie George was no using the designation "National Wrestling Alliance" in
Des Moines, Iowa: Wednesday, May 10, 1944
(The Coliseum) … MWA World Heavyweight Champion Dave Levin b. Ray Steele to
capture the National Wrestling Alliance World Heavyweight Title (2/3) (Levin won the first
fall in 20:10, Steele won the second in 12:17, Levin won the third in 4:50) … Tom
Zaharias b. Jack Dillon (2/3) … Cherry Vallina b. Johnny Seals (14:20) … (promoter:
Pinkie George) … (referee: Jack League)
Note: Seals was a replacement for Nick Elich.
*When Dave Levin beat Ray Steele in Des Moines, he became the undisputed World
Heavyweight Champion of the Central States. On April 27, 1944, Levin took a
controversial victory over MWA World Heavyweight Champion Orville Brown in Kansas
City, winning only one-fall of a scheduled two-of-three-falls match. The bout was stopped
at the midnight curfew. Brown continued to claim the World Championship, claiming that
the bout had been scheduled for two-of-three-falls. A week later, Levin won a rematch to
win a full claim to the World Championship.
Kansas City, Kansas: Thursday, June 29, 1944
(Memorial Hall) … Lee Wykoff b. Dave Levin to capture the MWA World Heavyweight Title
(2/3) (Wykoff won the first and third falls) … Billy Bartush b. Dr. Len Hall (2/3) … Jack
League b. Jack Dillon … Jack LaRue b. Bill Dusin … (promoter: George D. Simpson) …
(referee: Hally Havely) … (sponsored by: American Legion)
*Essentially, Wykoff also captured the National Wrestling Alliance championship from
Levin here as well because Levin never returned to Pinkie George's territory as NWA
Topeka, Kansas: Wednesday, August 16, 1944
(Municipal Auditorium) ... Orville Brown b. Lee Wykoff to capture the MWA World
Heavyweight Title (2/3) ... Jimmy Coffield b. Earl Wampler (2/3) ... Jack Hader b. Sgt.
Harry Cohen (14:10) ... (promoter: Mrs. Max Yeargain) ... (referee: Billy Atchinson)
*Brown also won the National Wrestling Alliance championship. When he appeared in
Des Moines on November 8, 1944, he was billed as the NWA titleholder by Pinkie George.
On October 31, 1946 in Kalispell, Montana, it was announced that Ronnie Etchison had
defeated Orville Brown recently in Kansas City for the NWA World Heavyweight
championship. On November 26 and December 3, 1946 in Kalispell, Etchison was
booked as the defending world champion, and remained so locally until losing to Brown
on December 10, 1946. Thanks to Becky Taylor for this report.
There has been lots of confusion about the title recognition of Etchison. Some reports
claimed he beat Brown in 1948 at Helena, and it was even mentioned in Ring Magazine.
It is quite possible Etchison did take a victory from Brown and the location was not
Montana or Kansas City, but in St. Joseph, Missouri sometime in 1946. Further research
|National Wrestling Alliance World Heavyweight Title (1943-'48)