In Hamilton, Ontario on Saturday, August 29, 1903, Dan McLeod beat Tom Jenkins.
An amateur wrestling note, Jimmy Trufinov of Regina won his seventh straight
Dominion wrestling championship in the bantamweight division at a Port Arthur, Ontario
tournament on April 20, 1929. Trufinov won the championship this time around by
The Toronto Daily Star, on Friday, May 22, 1931, stated that the program scheduled
for that evening may be the best ever promoted by the Queensbury Athletic Club and
Jack Corcoran. In the main event, Gino Garibaldi was wrestling Vanka Zelezniak. The
promoter planned to bring Jim Londos in soon.
Frank M. Smith, manager of the World Heavyweight wrestling champion Jim Browning,
passed away unexpectedly in Toronto on November 3, 1933. Smith worked for the
Chicago Tribune for many years, then served in the military during World War I as part
of the 165th Infantry. He returned the Tribune, and in 1921 was named the sports
editor of the Tribune. He left the paper in 1925 and later worked for promoter Paul
Bowser of Boston. He was a native of Joplin, Missouri. Browning and Smith had been
in the city for a title defense against Joe Savoldi on November 2. That match was a
60-minute draw before an estimated 11,000 fans.
A shocking story involving Toronto sports promoter Jack Corcoran was printed on the
front page of the Toronto Star on Monday, July 10, 1939. Saturday night, Corcoran,
his sister-in-law, six children under the age of 15, a housemaid, and a fox terrier were
all rescued after Corcoran's boat sank in Lake Simcoe. For three hours, the group
floated on cushions and life preservers, waiting for help to arrive in heavy seas.
Bill Longson was scheduled to wrestle Joe Savoldi in the main event of a show on
Friday, January 19, 1940 at the Maple Leaf Gardens, but the program was postponed
after the sudden death of John Tunney, the matchmaker for the show. His brother,
Frank Tunney assumed matchmaker duties for the Queensbury Athletic Club.
The December 28, 1940 edition of the Syracuse Herald Journal reported that 71,500
soldiers had been guests for wrestling and boxing shows at Maple Leaf Gardens since
September 1939. This was made possible through the cooperation of Frank Tunney,
Jack Corcoran and the Sports Service League.
Andy Lytle, sports editor of the Toronto Daily Star, in his column (Speaking on Sports)
on July 24, 1945 asked why wrestling in Toronto has kept its popularity "if it isn't the
circus or hippodrome element?"
The Toronto Daily Star on August 16, 1946 reported that Frank Hewitt, a "local boy"
who had gone to the United States to wrestle, suffered a broken jaw (in four different
places) during a bout with "Rowdy Robert" Wagner, and was eating through a straw.
On February 7, 1946, Fred Hambly passed away in Toronto. Hambly was the
president of the Arena Athletic Club when professional wrestling was introduced in
Toronto, according to an article in the Toronto Daily Star (2/8/46). He and his partners
bought the Toronto "franchise of the Arena hockey team" at the St. Patrick's Club,
"which was the predecessor of the Maple Leafs." He sold his hockey interests to Conn
In March 1949, "Wrestling Preliminaries" from the "Upstate A.C." were presented on
WBEN-TV (channel 4) at 9:00 p.m. on Fridays in Toronto. At 10:00 p.m., "Boxing
Matches" from Madison Square Garden were offered.
Robert Duff passed away at the Maple Leaf Gardens wrestling show on July 7, 1949.
He was 87 years old.
In May 1950, "Wrestling" was featured on Friday nights at 9:00 p.m. on WBEN-TV for
an hour, then on Saturdays at 10:00 p.m. on WHAM (channel 6).
In the summer of 1954, Jimmy "Red" Sims promoted in Welland, Ontario at the
Welland-Crowland Arena. Sam Sobel promoted Niagara Falls at the Memorial Arena.
On Thursday, March 1, 1962, wrestler Bill Stack's $35,000 barn near Oshawa burned
down. At the time, he was in Toronto working as a referee at Maple Leaf Gardens. His
farm had recently been rebuilt after another fire back in 1960.
Stafford Smythe, son of Conn Smythe and President of Maple Leaf Gardens, passed
away on Wednesday, October 13, 1971 at the age of 50 in Wellesley Hospital in
Toronto. During his career, Smythe rose from a stockboy at the arena to the
president, and his funeral at St. Paul's Anglican Church on October 14 was attended
by a "who's who representing all periods of [hockey history], both at the professional
and amateur levels," according to the Toronto Daily Star (10/15/71). Among those
present were delegates from the wrestling world Frank Tunney, Billy Watson, Pat
Flanigan, and Lord Athol Layton. He was buired at Port Carling Cemetery in Muskoka.
Many NHL players and dignitaries were also in attendance.
Research by Tim Hornbaker
|Toronto Wrestling Territory