Wrestling War To Pop In Bay Area

San Francisco News-Call Bulletin – February 15, 1961
By Roger Williams

There’s a wrestling war brewing in San Francisco and Oakland that could prove to be a dilly. It’s touched off by the invasion of an outside promoter who is now giving the public live matches for free on television.

No one objects to getting something for nothing. But when it runs into direct competition with an established and going concern that has been in business for 32 years, it hardly seems cricket.

This is the complaint lodged by Ad Santel, well-known East Bay promoter who stages his weekly shows on Friday night at Oakland Auditorium.

Now, on the same night, a newcomer named Roy Shire is airing live shows on Channel 2 from a KTVU studio. Shire received permission to do so from the California State Athletic Commission. Santel cannot understand the commission’s action.

Accompanied by his son, Ad Jr., and Joe Malcewicz of San Francisco, Santel protested Shire’ application for a permit at a hearing conducted by the commission in Sacramento. But Santel failed to score a winning fall.

The commissioners acted on the basis of a ruling by the state attorney general, who declared: “You cannot deny a license on the basis of competition.” The Santels do not object to competition, but young Santel says:

“We do not consider it fair competition when Shire gives his show away for free on the same night that we’re trying to induce fans to pay their way into the Auditorium to see our matches.”

At the time Shire received his permit to air TV shows, he also was granted permission to stage an occasional live wrestling card at the Cow Palace or Civic Auditorium in San Francisco.

Joe Malcewicz, better known as Old Waffle Ears, isn’t enthused about this but Joe has been in business long enough not to object to fair competition. He figures he has built up sufficient following with his wrestlers not to worry about hit and run performers.

Shire’ modus operandi follows a pattern he has used effectively in other parts of the country, according to Malcewicz. After four or five TV shows, he stages a live one bidding for public patronage via the box office.

“If these fail to go over, he soon pulls up stakes and starts shopping for another territory to move into,” says Joe. “Apparently somebody told him to try San Francisco. Frankly, I don’t think he’ll have much luck here.”

Shire will try to make it big in San Francisco by bringing in one of Malcewicz’s star performers, Antonino Rocca, to the Cow Palace on Saturday night, March 4. The barefoot boy’s opposition will be little known Don Jonathan.

And so the wrestling war is unfolding. There’s a chance now that Old Waffle Ears will counter with a match starring Leo (The Lion) Nomellini and Primo Carnera, former world’s heavyweight boxing champion turned wrestler.

If you were given a choice between these two matches which would you prefer?

Were Malcewicz only 20 years younger, I can tell you one I would like to see. This would be a no-holds barred match between Old Waffle Ears and young Mr. Shire. It would be a honey. The stakes? Let the loser pull up his tent and get out of town.

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