Robert M. Russell, 77, wrestled As Masked Marvel, Boris Fabian

The Boston Globe – June 14, 1984

Robert M. Russell Sr. of Revere, who wrestled for 30 years in Boston, throughout New England and in several foreign countries, died of pneumonia yesterday in the Sea View Nursing Home in Rowley after a short illness.  He was 77.

He began his professional wrestling career after the 1932 Olympics and continued to wrestle in the early 1960s.

He was known on wrestling cards as Rebel Bob Russell, and throughout the 1930s he wrestled for promoter Charlie Gordon at the old Mechanics Building on Huntington avenue in the Back Bay.  He later wrestled for promoter Paul Bowser at the Boston Arena and Boston Garden.

Mr. Russell was a rough-and-tumble grappler, but remained popular throughout the wrestling circuit of those years that included Portland, Lewiston, Hartford, Holyoke, Springfield, Providence and other cities.

During his long career he also wrestled as The Masked Marvel and as Boris K. Fabian.  Among his contemporaries were Ted Germaine, Nick Luts, Steve Casey, Danno O’Mahoney and Marvin Westenberg.

Mr. Russell was born in Newport, R.I., where he was raised as the youngest of 10 children.  He moved to Revere in 1933.

During the early year of the Depression, he worked at odd jobs in Baltimore and Richmond, Va.  In 1928, Mr. Russell represented Newport in the Olympic tryouts.  After moving to New York in 1929, he became an elevator mechanic, a job he held until his retirement in 1970.  Also, he was a member of the International Elevators Construction Union, Local 4.

Mr. Russell won several amateur wrestling championships in various weight classifications.

In 1933, Mr. Russell married Mary Balshaco of Revere, who traveled with him for seven years to Canada, Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand and throughout the United States as he continued to make a name for himself in the wrestling world.

Besides his wife, he leaves three daughters, Lynne Mortensen of Ipswich and Lana Gaynor and Lee Russell, both of Revere; two sons, Robert Jr. and John Russell, both of Revere; a sister, Louise McLaren of Arlington, and six grandchildren.

Services will be tomorrow at 10 a.m. in the Murray and Murray Funeral Home, Revere.

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