Grunt And Groaners Get Verbal Lashing

Associated Press – November 12, 1955

LOS ANGELES – Wrestling got another going over with a broad brush at state athletic commission hearing where the testimony was alternately serious, humorous and stormy.

Mat referees Al Billings and Joe Woods reiterated their firm belief that virtually all matches are prearranged. And mat promoters demanded that they be barred from officiating because business has fallen off since they put the blast on the game before a state assembly subcommittee here last month.

Hugh Nichols, Hollywood and San Diego promoter, said he feared for the safety of the two referees because the wrestlers and fans are enraged over their accusations.

After the assembly hearing the two referees voiced their convictions on national television and radio shows, and this prompted the athletic commission to place them on the inactive list.

Four other referees who gave wrestling a clean bill are still on the active list.

Chairman Frank Bonelli of the assembly committee urged the two members of the commission, Chairman Norman Houston and Edward I. Beck , to treat all six on equal terms pending a decision as to who told the truth.

At one stage Mrs. Aileen Eaton, business manager of the Olympic Auditorium, big hub of wrestling in this area, said the Olympic auditorium would be closed before she’d let Billings work a show there.

She was incensed because Billings, in his radio appearance, mentioned the Olympic as a “monopoly.”

Billings testified again under oath that he could remember but “one or two matches that were on the up and up” in this section since 1949 or 1950.

From 1950 to 1953 he was an agent for a booking office owned by Cal Eaton, Olympic promoter and husband of the business manager, and John Doyle. He said he also was a licensed referee during this period.

“I went to all the clubs in this territory, and I personally told all the wrestlers and the referees what to do,” Billings testified.

“He’s a lair,” exclaimed Eaton, sitting just behind the witness.

Billings, Eaton and Doyle have since split company.

Billings said that since 1953 he has worked solely as a referee.

Had he ever reported to the commission that he had received prematch instructions?

“No, I never told the commission because I figured the commission already knew,” he replied, and a howl of laughter broke out.

About this time Chairman Houston pointed out that,by law, all wrestling affairs are exhibitions in this state, not bouts or contests.

Woods said he generally got his instructions in the dressing room before a show from either the booker or the wrestlers.

“Always in the dressing room?” he was asked.

“Oh, no, sometimes in the ring,” he said. (More laughter.)

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