NWA Member: Sam Muchnick
Admitted to Organization: July 18, 1948 (a founder)
St. Louis Office: Hotel Claridge, 1800 Locust Street, Suite 230-232
Phone Number: Central 1-7487 L.D., Central 1-7486, Central 1-7900 (1955)
Corporation Name: Sam Muchnick Sports Attractions
Corporation Name: St. Louis Wrestling Club (-1963-)
Booking Company: St. Louis Wrestling Enterprises
Sam Muchnick served as the President and Secretary of the National Wrestling Alliance.
He also maintained the records of the organization at his Hotel Claridge office.
After the end of the Muchnick-Thesz war in St. Louis, both Sam Muchnick Sports
Attractions and Mississippi Valley Sports Club owned "St. Louis Wrestling Enterprises,"
which "operates as a booker" for matches throughout the territory.
Muchnick received 2 1/2% from the 15% that Lou Thesz earned for every appearance he
made. The money was compensation for booking Thesz and also for being National
Wrestling Alliance President.
As of August 3, 1949, Muchnick and Thesz still hadn't signed the papers for their deal to
split St. Louis.
By August 19, 1949, the Muchnick-Thesz deal was complete. The agreement gave
Muchnick total control over "all promotional business." Muchnick felt he had more
experience on the promotional end, and could cut corners and save money, whereas the
Thesz faction were wasting cash in areas. He felt they could get along on the
matchmaking side of things.
As of September 26, 1949, the date for the proposed unification match between Orville
Brown and Thesz hadn't yet been set in concrete. Muchnick believed it would occur on
November 25 or December 9. In a letter to Morris Sigel of Houston, Muchnick said that
he was very busy dealing with both "clubs," and that Thesz was away, so he had "been
burdened considerably with work but as soon as we get a system clicking it will be much
In a letter to Jack Pfefer dated September 12, 1950, Muchnick explained that Fred Kohler
had booked a Thesz-Bill Longson match on television. "That match could draw a lot of
money here later," Muchnick wrote. "That's what television does. They want to stay at
home and want to see good matches for nothing. Sure glad we don't have it here."
Muchnick mentioned in a letter to Leonard Schwartz (12/17/50) that they had the "worst
crowd here in four years last Friday." He added that "Houston had a $14,000 house the
same night with Thesz vs. Gagne and Kowalski vs. Eckert."
The fact that Muchnick was receiving money off the hard work of Thesz was a contentious
issue. Thesz complained about some of his bookings in smaller towns to Muchnick, and
there was the assumption by some people that Muchnick was slave-driving Thesz to
make more money for himself. Additionally, other NWA members griped about
Muchnick's pay, thinking that it was unnecessary. Muchnick reassured members that he
had much devotion to the job as NWA President, and the amount of time and energy he
put forth was apparent, and quickly became a non-issue.
Muchnick admitted that in 1954, he made about $13,000 for being NWA President and
booking Thesz, and Thesz himself would've made around $52,000.
Muchnick booked wrestlers in St. Louis, Hannibal, Sedalia (at times), Cape Girardeau,
Evansville, Louisville, and Indianapolis.
Muchnick told Springfield, Illinois promoter Harry Newman, via letter, on August 6, 1953
that "I only have one-third of the booking office" [in St. Louis], and that things were
referred to him "because the fellows think I can handle it better, or for other reasons." He
mentioned wanting to expand to East St. Louis, Alton, Hillsboro, and Wood River, and that
Newman had also booked in Southern Illinois or in cities close to St. Louis.
In 1954, Muchnick had television on KSD-TV in St. Louis and also programming in
Champaign, Illinois and Memphis.
In a letter to Thesz on June 15, 1954, he explained that the numbers were off on
Saturday nights, but blamed it on the fact that the building was warm. They were bringing
in $1,100 on average, "which is not too good." They were working to improve the
comfortability for audience members, including thinking about adding air conditioning.
Muchnick believed that they'd sell out weekly if they had it, but building representatives
thought it would cost too much.
Muchnick had heard that Orville Brown of Kansas City had booked a show in Shelbina,
Missouri, a town that he considered part of his territory. He wrote Brown about this issue
on June 17, 1954, explaining that in the past, he'd respected Brown's territory, and that
he considered Shelbina "within our precincts." He said that "one of the very fine things of
the Alliance is that we respect each other's territory." Last year, he also noted, he was
asked to book a show in Sedalia, and he refused "because that is your [Brown's] territory."
He was then asked by the Missouri State Athletic Commission, and did so, but sent Brown
half of the profits. Muchnick felt Brown's booking of Shelbina was an "honest mistake."
In 1957, Ray J. Gillespie was the publicity director for Sam Muchnick Sports Attractions,
Dick Esser was the director of ticket sales, and Margaret Nehoul was the secretary.
Nehoul had be Muchnick's secretary going back to 1953, perhaps even before that.
In 1959, professional wrestling in Missouri drew 100,089, according to a report issued by
the National Wrestling Association, and a dollar volume of $142,501.62. This figure was
less than Michigan (148,654) and Cleveland (237,413).
Attendance improved in Missouri in 1960, drawing 249,130 ($240,151.00).
In 1960, Bobby Bruns was booking for Muchnick, in addition to booking in St. Joseph and
The National Wrestling Association announced in a special bulletin on March 5, 1962 that
Edouard Carpentier was suspended for one year "or at least until he fulfills his contract
and committment in St. Louis, Missouri as of March 2, 1962."
In early 1969, there was talk about Gust Karras, Bob Geigel and Pat O'Connor buying out
the shares owned by Mrs. Eddie Quinn, who reportedly owned 11-12 percent of the St.
Around 1972, Muchnick withdrew his recognition of the Central States Heavyweight
championship after some controversy between champion Pat O'Connor and Harley
Race. Some promoters within the five-state territory that recognized the Central States
title backed Race as titleholder, while others supported O'Connor. Muchnick, however,
was considering creating a new title, which would be called the Missouri State
Heavyweight Title, beginning with a tournament on channel 11.
Wildman wrestler The Sheik was banned from wrestling in St. Louis by Muchnick.
According to an undated article, which was likely published in Muchnick's local arena
program, Muchnick explained: "I don't believe that our fans want to see the
time-consuming rituals and completely uncalled-for tactics of The Sheik. Hard, bruising
action is one thing, but the line has to be drawn somewhere. Therefore, I will not contact
the Sheik for any further dates in this city."
Between 1972 and '73, Muchnick moved his office from the Claridge Hotel, where it had
been since the 1940s, to the Warwick Hotel at 1428 Locust Street.
T.J. Turner of the Wrestling News interviewed Muchnick printed in the July 1980 issue
(#63), and asked the promoter who was the best wrestler who ever worked for him. Lou
Thesz would be the obvious answer, but surprisingly not. Muchnick replied by saying Ed
"Strangler" Lewis, who only worked for him once - and as a substitute. "I guess he would
be the best that ever worked for me," he said. Turner then asked him who was the most
difficult wrestler to deal with, and Muchnick replied that he was disappointed in
"Superstar" Billy Graham, "who missed two dates for me without calling and explaining
why. So I never intend having him on any of my cards."
Muchnick was not a fan of shenanigans in professional wrestling. He knew that drama
and colorful characters had their place, and was all for giving his audience what they
wanted to see, but he wasn't going to book the gimmick matches seen elsewhere. Plus,
he had a very high standard for the kind of wrestling he wanted to deliver to the St. Louis
audience. That first class standard gave local fans outstanding pro wrestling
year-after-year from the 1940s until the '80s. It was absolutely remarkable.
St. Louis Wrestling Club, Inc.
The St. Louis Wrestling Club was incorporated in the State of Missouri on June 27, 1972
and the registered office was at the Claridge Hotel at 1800 Locust Street. The cost for
the incorporation, at that time, was $53.00. According to the articles of incorporation,
there were 3,000 shares at $10.00 per shape adding up to $30,000. The original
incorprators were Sam Muchnick and Willard R. "Bill" Longson. The purpose of the
corporation was the "operate a business dealing with the promotion of wrestling; to
promote all athletic sports and events; to engage in the business of furnishing
amusement, entertainment and diversions of all kinds to the general public, either indoors
or outdoors," and so on... Longtime NWA attorney Harry Soffer, also a notary public,
signed the documents.
According to the initial registration report, Muchnick was listed as the president of the
corporation. Gust Karras and Frank Tunney were the vice presidents, Longson the
secretary, and Muchnick the treasurer. The company board of directors consisted of
Muchnick, his wife Helen, Karras, and Tunney.
The 1973 registration report listed an updated board of directors to include Muchnick,
Tunney, Karras, Longson, and the Heart of America Sports Attractions, Inc., a
corporation made up of Bob Geigel, Pat O'Connor, Gust Karras, and George Simpson.
Tunney was no longer vice president, however.
Things remained pretty much the same until 1976, when the annual registration report
listed Muchnick and Longson as the president and secretary, respectively, and the
company was without the presence of the St. Joseph-Kansas City interests. Karras
passed away in January 1976, five months before the report was submitted.
Over the next year, things in the St. Louis office became a little more interesting. Sam
remained the president of the company, his wife Helen the vice president, and Larry
Matysik was listed as the secretary. Another vice president, however, was Verne Gagne
of Minneapolis, the founder of the AWA. The board of directors included Muchnick,
Gagne, and Pat O'Connor. Gone was Longson, so it seems like a strong possibility that
Gagne and O'Connor bought the shares of Longson and/or Karras.
This configuration remained through 1981. In 1982, Muchnick's name was gone due to
his retirement and replaced by Robert F. Geigel, the new president of the St. Louis
Wrestling Club. Gagne remained as the vice president and Matysik remained the
secretary. However, the listing of the board of directors included Geigel, Gagne,
O'Connor and Harley Race. In 1983, O'Connor replaced Matysik was the company's
Missouri Secretary of State Roy D. Blunt issued a Certificate of Rescission of Forfeiture
for the St. Louis Wrestling Club, Inc. on November 1, 1984. Also issued as a Forfeiture of
Charter or Authority to do Business. O'Connor signed an affidavit on an application to
rescind the forfeiture on May 21, 1985, paying a $90 fee. The company officers and
board remained the same in 1984 and '85. In 1986, Race dropped from the company,
leaving Geigel, Gagne and O'Connor, but in 1987, again, the State of Missouri issued a
Forfeiture of Charter or Authority to do Business on November 2, 1987. This time, no
one filed an application to rescind the order.
Research by Tim Hornbaker
January 7, 2011
|St. Louis Booking Office