Two major happenings occurred in Portland in 1922, the first being Virgil Hamiln's
progression from a timekeeper on the shows of promoter Jack Routledge to the big
time wrestling promoter at the Heilig Theater. Routledge remained a promoter in the
Northwest after departing Portland. The other major change pertained to wrestler
Ted Thye, who advanced from the middleweight class (158-160 limit) to the light
heavyweight division. Up to about 172 by the end of the summer, Thye was
considering newer challenges on the horizon, and never wanted to drop weight again
to wrestle as a middleweight. In his first Portland match against a light heavyweight,
Thye battled "Terrible Turk" Allah Hussane on October 19, 1922 in Portland, and was
outweighed by 15 pounds - but still won in two-straight falls. Several weeks later, he
toppled Jack Dod, who claimed to be a pupil of Farmer Burns, also in two-straight.
In an amazing feat, Thye jumped to the light heavyweight class and within a few short
months, captured a claim to the world championship of that division, taking a victory
from young Pete Sauer in Portland.
Charles "Steve" McPherson replaced Thye as assistant to Virgil Hamlin in Portland.
According to the 1920 U.S. Federal Census, the Owen Family resided in Cove, Union
County, Oregon. The 35-year-old Herb Owen was a farmer.
Ten years later, in the 1930 U.S. Federal Census, the Owens lived in Eugene, Lane
County, Oregon. Herbert Owen, and his wife Bertha, raised their three children,
including two sons, Donald and Elton Owen. Herbert, at the time, was a clothing
salesman, and would pave the way into sports promotions for the family, establishing
the foundation for a multi-decade family operation. Herb Owen died on February 6,
Former Portland promoter C.L. McPherson left the Pacific Northwest, and in 1948, he
was employed by the Pennsylvania Railroad and living in St. Louis. For a brief time,
he was helping Sam Muchnick around 1947. He was known as "Mac" by his peers.
On October 8, 1949, Sam Muchnick notified Thye via letter that "the big meeting has
been set for St. Louis on Saturday, Nov. 26th." Thye was invited to attend and
Muchnick was "sure it will be beneficial to everyone." Thesz told Muchnick that he
wanted Thye to attend the meeting, according to the letter.
During the summer of 1950, Thye called Muchnick in St. Louis and said that he
wanted to meet with Jerry Meeker, the NWA Member in Great Falls, Montana, and
perhaps establish a "cooperative" agreement in the northwest. On June 8, 1950,
Thye wrote to Muchnick, telling him that he had a talk with Meeker and "we went over
a few things that could be to the better of wrestling." They still had to go over more
aspects of the proposed deal. Thye claimed his territory had been invaded, and
wanted to iron things out before he was leaving for Australia on June 17. He also
told Muchnick that Chas. McPherson would be in charge of "this territory while I am in
On October 28, 1950, William Palmberg turned promoting in Astoria, OR, over to
Harry Elliott of Portland. Elliott was said to also be promoting in Longview and
Vancouver, WA. Palmberg was resigning his license because of other business
affairs and Elliot planned to run his Astoria operations from Portland. Elliott had
been approved for promotions by the Astoria City Boxing Commission. Palmberg was
the brother of ex-Oregon State athletic star, Wally Palmberg.
In 1951, there was mention in a Sam Muchnick letter that Jack Ganson was working
with Thye, but the two parted ways around late June 1951. Thye talked about
Ganson when he was interviewed by Stanley Disney of the Department of Justice in
June 1955. He said that Ganson had come to the Northwest "planning to take over
the territory." There was an apparent belief by Ganson that when he arrived in the
territory, that he'd get NWA membership, and also had help from Al Haft of
Columbus. Ganson reportedly couldn't get any talent to support his operations and
his venture failed. "Thye said that Ganson had agreed to give him, Thye, 10 per
cent, if he used Thye's licenses, but that Ganson never could get going," according
to Disney's summary.
During the 1950s, Jack and Maury Kennedy were the promoters of "High-Class
Boxing & Wrestling" at the Pendleton Recreation Club in Pendleton, Oregon. In
October 1954, the Pendleton Recreation Hall, which was leased by the Kennedys for
their sports events, was tremendously damaged by fire. Over $75,000 in damage
was caused by the blaze.
Maury Kennedy may have been John Maurice Kennedy, who was known as "Maury,"
and lived in Pendleton. He was born in December 29, 1918 in Tacoma and died on
May 10, 2009. If anyone has confirmation, please drop me an e-mail.
Thye, in January 1955, was claiming that Al Karasick was "trying to steal a whole
continent," according to Johnny Doyle, who'd spoken with Thye recently. Doyle
reported the news to Chicago promoter Fred Kohler. Thye also expressed a desire
to have Doyle, or one of his cronies, come up to the Pacific Northwest and take over
the local Seattle booking office from Bob Murray. Murray had wanted to sell out.
The Portland territory was facing a wrestling war with Thye against Don Owen, a
member of the NWA.
Ted Thye and Virgil Hamlin
Western Athletic Club, Inc. (WAC)
Portland, Oregon (1949-'50)
Phone: ATwater 4908
Western Athletic Club, Inc.
441 Sherlock Building
Portland 4, Oregon (1955)
Research by Tim Hornbaker, J Michael Kenyon
|Portland Wrestling Territory