Ottawa Citizen – January 25, 1950
By John Barrington
NEW YORK – About all you need nowadays to become a wrestler is a gimmick. Of course, a good set of muscles is no handcap. But unless you’re a Tibetari sheepherder, the seventh son of a seventh son, or at least a battered up football player, you might as well give up.
Jumpin’ Joe Savoldi and Bronko Nagurski were ex-grid stars. Primo Carnera and Two Ton Tony Galento are former boxers of somewhat dubious ability. Gorgeous George is – well – Gorgeous George.
Then there’s “Mr. America” Gene Stanlee plus a coterie of Masked Marvels, Green Hornets, Golden Supermen and even a hillbilly element.
The latest trend is toward foreign importations, which tend to carry a glamor all their own. Carnera started it, and then came Antonino Rocca, the current sensation from Argentina.
And now the promoters have a new one on the string. He’s a Korean giant known as the Great Togo, and the drum-beaters are really going to work on him.
Gorgeous George apparently is small potatoes compared to Togo. The Korean – a burly character who has a 22-inch neck – stalks into the ring in an oriental kimono, preceded by his servant, Hata, also in silken robes. Says the promotion blurb:
“Togo carries a rich wardrobe of beautiful and expensive kimonos cut from bolts of pure silk – hand woven – that represent a small fortune.
Just how small a fortune, the blurb doesn’t say.
Anyway, Togo and servant enter the ring with Hata burning incense. Then both perform a ceremony, supposedly to the memory of the teachings of Buddha. A piece of white cardboard is folded four ways in the shape of a tombstone. This, says Togo, is in case he is killed during the match. After the ceremony, Togo says he is freed from restraint because he has satisfied his ancestors.
Returns To Garden
The promoters – or booking agents – also plan to bring back the East Indian champion, Argan Singh. Argan Singh was in the United States about five years ago, but when he couldn’t get a match with Jim Londos, Singh returned in high Dudgeon to India.
The lucky fans also will be treated to a match for the American Indian championship. Don Eagle, who has been in the game for a long time, is supposed to challenge one Cherokee Chief Yaqui.
Some of these performers undoubtedly will be unveiled in Madison Square Garden. The New York citadel of sports once was considered impregnable to the grappling fraternity. After last year’s Gorgeous George-Ernie Dusek debacle, the Garden’s immunity seemed to be strengthened if anything.
But Bill Johnston, who handled boxers, spotted the big crowds wrestling was pulling in at nearby arenas and took another crack at the Garden’s defences. This time – with Rocca and Mr. America as the attraction – the show took hold. It drew 17,000 spectators and now Johnston plans a monthly wrestling show in the Garden.
Johnston seems to have quite a team lined up with Rocca, Carnera, Togo, Mr. America and all the rest. If his gate falls off for ordinary shows, he always can throw the whole pack of them into the ring at once for a battle royal.
Alone or all together, the grapplers seem to have succeeded in bring vaudeville back to life, although there are those in the so-called legitimate sports who insist that it will take more than Gorgeous George’s Eau de Subways and Togo’s incense to fumigate the place once they’ve finished.