Category Archives: 1964

Gagne, Crusher Meet In Benefit

The Minneapolis Star – August 29, 1964

Amateur athletes and teams in the Twin City area will benefit from proceeds of tonight’s professional wrestling card matching Vern Gagne against The Crusher in St. Paul’s Midway Stadium. Continue reading

Lou Thesz Designated World Wrestling King

United Press International – August 29, 1964

ST. LOUIS – The men who promoted the sport of grunts and groans convened Saturday and designated Lou Thesz as the world’s heavyweight wrestling champion.

It was pointed out that Thesz won back the title for the sixth time in Toronto in 1963. Continue reading

Police Called to Wrestling

The Age – December 21, 1964

Extra police were set to Festival Hall on Saturday night to control a crowd of about 2000 trying to force their way in to see the wrestling.

The building was already filled to capacity with 8000 spectators, and the doors were closed before 8 p.m.

With the overflow crowd becoming restive, Festival Hall authorities called extra police. Continue reading

McKenzie In Tag Wrestle

The Age – December 3, 1964

Tex McKenzie may be the dominant figure in an international teams tag match heading the wrestling programme at Festival Hall on Saturday night.

Last week, McKenzie, 6 ft. 6 and 21 stone, was matched with former world heavyweight champion “Killer” Kowalski (U.S.A.), and up to the half-distance showed remarkable strength, skill, speed and versatility.

Continue reading

Darling Of The Double-Think

Columbia, S.C., Record – September 6, 1964
By Bob Talbert

Mary Ann Kostecki, a big, pretty blonde in a pleated, white Grecian-style dress and gold thong slippers, was talking about her 4-year-old daughter Wendi, how to prepared cabbage rolls and house-cleaning at her duplex on Terrybrook Lane in Charlotte, N.C.

Her soft, straight blond hair was pulled away from a well-scrubbed face and knotted in a bun in back. Gold earrings dangled, her green eyes danced and silver-polished fingers flicked about in animated conversation.

The sign on the door at the Columbia Township Auditorium read: “Entertainers Only.” The air-conditioner had cooled the dressing room too much and Mary Ann shivered, wishing she had brought along a cardigan.

Outside in the arena area, the resident rat finks of professional wrestling in Columbia, Bronko Lubich and Aldo Bogni, were gouging the eyes out of two masked fat fellows who call themselves the Bolos. Lubich had one of the Bolos’ esophagus and was winding it up like a licorice twist. Bogni had the other Bolo around the neck and was twisting one way with one hand and the other way with the other, as if he were unscrewing a garden hose.

The crowd was going crazy. One skinny woman in pink Capris called “Olive Oil” wasn’t rooting for a pinning. She was holding out for a beheading. “Kill the blankety-blank so-and-so!” she kept screaming and jumping up and down. An old pappy guy in the first row shook an arthritic hand toward the ring and admonished Bogni and Lubich: “Ya bums! Ya rotten, stinkin’, crooked bums!”

Wadded-up paper cups pelted the canvas of the ring and the trailing ice and watery remains of soft drinks showered down on those at ringside. No one seemed to notice.

It was Tuesday night’s wrestling matches at Township — a unique form of double-think that goes on in a curious limbo between sport and theater. The crowd was now leaping up and down, wailing with screams, laughs, cheers and exultation as the Bolos reversed the tables and began to batter the rat finks about the ring.

The noise was unbelievable. The contortions, the flailing fists, the smashes to the mouth, were unbelievable. There is nothing in the whole world of sport or entertainment that approaches the complete, visceral satisfaction of this exultation.

It requires what Coleridge called “willing suspension of disbelief.” Wrestling fans are neither scholarly, like horse racing fans, not technically minded, like stock car racing fans, nor cynical, like baseball and football fans — but they are not so guileless as to believe that the spectacle they watch is real combat.

For them, they both believe and don’t believe what they see going on in and around the ring — duping themselves with double-think. Week by week, it becomes for them a serialized passion play, a drama of good and evil in the simplest, most direct form of conflict. One of the wrestlers in the ring had started to fall. But not merely fall, mind you. They do it in articulate stages. The left knee buckles, the right shoulder jerks to the rear, the eyes boggle and the tongue lolls, the neck twists and the belly jackknifes, all in stages and then the body stiffens as if suffering some painful spinal trauma.

Mary Ann Kostecki, the big, blonde Polish-German girl from St. Louis, Mo., listened to the roar of the crowd which gargled through the auditorium and smiled. As the Bolos, Lubich and Bogni trooped by the open door of her dressing room, she asked, “Good match?” The male wrestlers smiled.

“Bronco,” Mary Ann said, “I want to catch a ride with you.”

Earlier in the evening, Mary Ann had been on the card. Her name then was Penny Banner and she and another pretty girl named Peggy Allen from Bluefield, W. Va., had been in a drag-’em-by-the-hair blister of a match which Penny won. She hasn’t lost in five years. A big strong girl — she stands 5-8 and her 150 pounds is spread in 37-26-39 proportions, Penny should never lose. There are approximately 100 girl wrestlers in the country today, and maybe a dozen of them are good.

Penny Banner has been in the business since July of 1954 and is one of the best. Maybe the best. For the past five years, she’s been a full-time wife and housekeeper of husband-wrestler Johnny Weaver and a part-time girl grappler. She turned 30 last month and doesn’t look it.

There is none of the hard patina of paint and wear on Penny Banner one expects to find on a girl wrestler. She’s feminine, soft-spoken and almost dainty (although she would never admit to this). When she was a full-time wrestler she made as much as $32,000 a year. Today, wrestling a few times a month out of Charlotte, she still manages to gross $13,000 a year, which is being banked away for the retirement days.

“You say in this business as long as the money is good. Girls are more or less an attraction and finding suitable opponents every week is a problem,” she says. There are also problems of broken bones, dislocations which are painful in rainy weather, and other minor aches.

Penny . . . er, Mary Ann . . . keeps in shape with three weekly visits to the gym where she works out with 30-pound weights. “I like something that I can feel, something that makes me sweat and know I’ve had a workout,” she says.

When she first broke into the business, Penny started out “clean,” but “then tried the rugged type.” Now she does a little of both, depending on what the match calls for.

“Villainess or heroine? I don’t worry about this. I worry about giving the fans a good match and what they came to see.”

Bronko Lubich poked his head in the room and said, “Ready?”

Mary Ann Kostecki then headed back to Charlotte where there was a cabbage roll to prepare and a duplex to straighten up. Four-year-old daughters can make a mess.

Soon she would be a housekeeper again. A pretty one who can chop up a salad or an opponent with equal grace and style.

North Webster Lions To Sponsor Wrestling

Warsaw Times-Union – April 3, 1964

A tag team championship wrestling match sponsored by the North Webster Lions club is scheduled to be held Friday evening, April 10 at 8 p.m. in the school gymnasium. Continue reading