Leone, Thesz Tangle Tonight At Gilmore

Los Angeles Times – May 21, 1952
By Jack Geyer

One of the nation’s foremost television comedians – oops – wrestlers, Baron Michele Leone, will face Lou Thesz at Gilmore Field tonight in an affair d’cauliflower billed as a world’s heavyweight wrestling championship match.

A full house is expected to boost the crowd figure over 20,000. It’s the city’s first outdoor wrestling bout in more than a decade and is being staged with special permission from the city’s Smog Commission.

Five preliminaries, two of them billed as titular tussles, will precede the main event. The first begins at 8:30 p.m.

The big match, which won’t be televised or broadcast, is supposed to settle, once and for all, the owner of the heavyweight crown.

Thesz is recognized as champ by the National Wrestling Alliance. The Baron is just recognized – particularly by television viewers. He is as famous as Beanie.

Prestige has been lent the occasion by the California State Athletic Commission, which is unofficially sanctioning the match. William Smith, assistant chief inspector for the august body, said the commission is “going along” with the NWA.

Tonight’s victor will be recognized not only by the NWA but by the AAA, URA, WCTU, ABC, GOP and DDTs as the one and only up-to-the-minute, undisputed champ in most countries and counties this side of the Iron Curtain. The Iron Curtain champ is Igor Beaver. And for anybody he wrestles, it’s curtains.

Thesz, sometimes called the hungry Hungarian, has trained down from 230 pounds to 222. He’s 6 feet 2 inches tall and admits to 33 years of age. There are those who say he’s 33 like Jack Benny and Satch Paige are 39.

Leone is 5 feet 9 inches tall and weighs 208, at least eight pounds of which must be hair. He wears his hair Western Union style (that’s a fast pageboy), sports a mustache and has as much hair on his chest as the floor of a Russian barber college. Leone is coy about his age, admitting only that he’s old enough to vote.

Both Thesz and Leone have 50-inch chests and if you don’t think that’s big, remember that Marie Wilson’s is “only” 36.

Thesz is married; Leone is single, his only entanglements being those met while pursuing his profession.

The Baron doesn’t smoke, drink or chew. (With all that hair, gum could be dangerous.) Before some matches the Baron reportedly eats nothing but raw liver and raw eggs. He’s an easy man to cook for.

Lou Thesz, whose name sounds like someone with a lisp asking a question, has a hobby. He collects dogs. Leone’s hobby is money. And he, too, has quite a collection.

Thesz hails from St. Louis, Mo., while the Baron is from Abruzzi, Italy. Abruzzi, translated, does not mean “I bruise easily.”

Thesz is managed by Strangler Ed Lewis, famed grappler of another day. Leone is supposed to be unmanageable.

Thesz is going to wear trick shoes tonight. His right shoe will have a slippery Neolite bottom while the left will carry a rugged rubber sole. This is supposed to aid both his wrestling and his waltzing. The Baron will wear shoes, also.

The match is scheduled for the best two-of-three falls with a two-hour time limit. If the bout has not been decided at the end of the time limit, the referee and the two judges will render a decision.

The title match is expected to be like all other wrestling bouts – only more so.

In the semiwindup, Danny McShain will meet Rito Romero for the junior heavyweight title. This is like the senior heavyweight title, only smaller.

Vic Christy and Sandor Szabo will try to flat a couple of Sharpes, Mike and Ben, in a tag team match. This, too, is for the title – the tag team title formerly held by two motorcycle policemen.

In the third bout the mighty midgets, Sky Low Low and Cowboy Cassidy, will attempt to cut each other down to size.

Two ex-champs, Billy Varga and Wild Red Berry, will battle in the second bout with Dr. Lee Grable and Ray Piret opening the card. No titles are involved in the first three bouts.

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