Tag Archives: Johnny Valentine

Legends Gather At King Street Palace

Charleston Post and Courier – June 21, 1998
By Mike Mooneyham

Once in a blue moon an event comes along that shouldn’t be missed.

The recent Low Country Wrestling Society reunion was one of those special occasions.

A number of former greats from the old Mid-Atlantic wrestling area gathered in Charleston on May 29-31 to take part in festivities that included an autograph session and an awards ceremony at the King Street Palace (the old County Hall), and a banquet at a downtown motel. Continue reading

Tribute To Henry Marcus

Charleston Post and Courier – May 24, 1998
By Mike Mooneyham

Downtown Charleston may be filled with the sights and sounds of Spoleto, but next weekend at 1000 King Street, professional wrestling will be the order of the day.

The King Street Palace, site of the former County Hall, will be the stage for the biggest pro wrestling reunion ever held in this area. “The Night the Legends Return: A Tribute to Henry Marcus” will be a long-overdue tip of the hat to one of the sport’s great promoters, along with a recognition of the past stars of the Mid-Atlantic area. Continue reading

Stepping Back In Time At Old County Hall

Charleston Post & Courier – April 5, 1998
By Mike Mooneyham

If you build it, they will come.

Henry Marcus did many years ago, and for several decades they came in droves.

County Hall was the place to be on Friday nights, and Marcus was the man who promoted weekly wrestling shows that put this town on the map as a mat mecca. Continue reading

John Valentine Turns Traitor In Team Match

Houston Chronicle – June 12, 1954

Johnny Valentine turned traitor in the eight-man tag match Friday night at City Auditorium, helping his opponents pin Larry Chene for the final loss.

The winning quartet was composed of Danny McShane, Bull Curry, Don Evans and Bill McDaniels. The losers were Ray Gunkel, Rito Romero, Chene and Valentine. Continue reading

Fans Feel Iaukea Got What He Deserved

Asbury Park Evening Press – July 2, 1966
By Wes Moon

Prince Iaukea, that big 385-pound brute from Hawaii, deserved just what that nice Bruno Sammartino gave him last night in the feature wrestling match at Convention Hall, most of the fans agreed. Continue reading

Three Wrestlers Remain In Hospital

Greensboro News & Record – October 6, 1975

WILMINGTON- Johnny Valentine, Ric Flair, and Bob Bruggers, three professional wrestlers familiar to Carolinas and Virginia-area fans, remain hospitalized at New Hanover County Hospital following a Saturday evening plane crash near the Wilmington airport.

Continue reading

Promoter, Wrestlers Hurt In Crash

Charlotte Observer – October 5, 1975
By Mary Bishop Lacy & Roger Mikeal

Charlotte promoter David F. Crockett and three Charlotte-based professional wrestlers were among six persons injured Saturday evening when their plane crashed near Wilmington. Continue reading

Wolfman Fights John Valentine

St. Petersburg Times – July 22, 1949

Tonight at the Gable Armory the Wolfman will tussle with Johnny Valentine in a best two out of three falls, one hour time limit, main event. Continue reading

Rogers, Orton Tag Partners On Mat Show

Chicago Tribune – October 20, 1961

Buddy Rogers, claimant to the heavyweight wrestling championship, and Bob Orton will meet Johnny Valentine and Bruno Sammartino tonight in one of three Australian tag team matches on a wrestling card in the Amphitheater in the stockyards.

Featured in the preliminary bouts will be Haystacks Calhoun, a 601-pounder, who will wrestle Crusher Lisowski, and Shohei Baba, a modest 350, who will wrestle Jack Allen. Other bouts:

Mark Lewin and Don Curtis vs. Jim Hady and Luis Martinez; Billy Goelz and Johnny Gilbert vs. Mister Sato and Great Togo; Sweet Daddy Siki vs. Jack Terry.

Crash Finished Seattle Man’s Career On Mat

Seattle Post-Intelligencer – August 13, 1985
By Ken Turetzky

FORT WORTH, Texas — For Johnny Valentine, the wrestling arena remains the one place where life makes sense.

He loves the arena not necessarily because that was where he crushed opponents with his trademark “elbow,” but because it was where he came alive.

Valentine, 56 and a Seattle native, doesn’t often visit the arenas anymore, and he rarely watches professional wrestling on television. Shut out of the ring by injury, he is not a patient spectator.

He once was one of the meanest, most athletic, and most successful wrestlers, earning an annual income in the six figures as a main-event attraction around the world.

But the show stopped for Valentine in 1975 when the chartered plane taking him and fellow wrestler Ric Flair from Charlotte, N.C., to Wilmington, N.C., ran out of gas and crashed five miles short of its destination.

The pilot eventually died. Flair was badly shaken up, but later returned to the ring and is reigning National Wrestling Alliance champion. Valentine, then 47, suffered a broken back, foot, and hand.

It has taken a decade of therapy for Valentine to reach the point where he can drop his metal crutches and take 22 steps supported only by leg braces.

But while he displays no real bitterness about his condition and has developed other interests over the years, he’s not prepared to put aside the one-time passion of his life.

“I never gave up the fact that I’d wrestle again. I’m still not sure I’ve given up,” Valentine said from the sunlit front room of the two-story, 19th-century house on the north side of Fort Worth that he shares with his wife of 13 months, Sharon.

Through regular workouts at the health club, he has maintained his muscular upper body. Valentine’s blond hair — which provided his nickname, “The Blond Bomber” — remains moderately long and his face, though creased at the brow, is unlined.

If he could walk he could wrestle, and would. “The only time I ever really enjoyed life was my hour in the ring. There I was king, you might say,” Valentine said.

“It was the only time I felt really complete. It didn’t matter about the (world) championship (which Valentine never won) or what the people thought. I knew in the time I was in the ring that I was better than anybody else. It’s a good feeling knowing that you’re doing something nobody else can do as well.”

He was born John Wisniski, the son of Polish parents. While in high school at Hobart, 30 miles east of Seattle, Valentine boxed as a semipro with the idea that he would turn professional.

But that was before Stanislaus Zbyszko, a world champion wrestler in the 1920s who came to prominence by beating such opponents as Ed (Strangler) Lewis and Jim Londos, found Valentine, then 15, in a Seattle gym.

“Zbyszko sold me on wrestling,” Valentine said. “By the time I looked in all his old scrapbooks, I was very interested.” Valentine told his parents he was leaving (“They weren’t too pleased”) and moved to Zbyszko’s Missouri farm, where he trained for three years to become a wrestler.

Valentine was 19 and weighed 190 pounds when Zbyszko sent him to Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1947, for his first bout against Karl Nowena.

The bout did not go well for Valentine. “I just remember he (Nowena) was an old guy. He looked like nothing, but he gave me a hard time,” Valentine said. “He started my education — my real education that appearances are deceiving as far as how tough a person is.”

Although Valentine won many titles, beginning with the Cuban championship in 1949 and winding up with the Japanese championship in 1972, he drew or lost more than 100 matches for the world championship.

He did, however, beat 10 world champions from 1953 to 1975.

He succeeded without a true “gimmick,” other than the elbow or the double leg-lock for which fans came to know him. Never a hero (“babyface,” in wrestling vernacular) or villain, Valentine won’t deny that he was nasty.

“I never took it easy on an opponent. I punished everybody I wrestled,” he said. “Nobody ever had a night off with me.” His “coup de grace” was the elbow, which the discerning observer might say never really nailed its victim as appearances would indicate.

“Once I had (the opponent) on his back,” Valentine said, “I’d leap up in the air and drop my full weight on his throat or face. He got the full force.”

However, “I didn’t worry whether people liked me or not. I drew money, attention, and crowds. I was a winner and (fans) never came to my matches without seeing a good fight.”

In that way, Valentine was secure in his profession. He views himself as an honest wrestler. “I would have felt real uncomfortable as a hero or a villain, playing a part somebody gave me.”

He doesn’t care for “good guys,” particularly the currently popular Von Erich brothers, or their father and one-time Valentine nemesis, Fritz Von Erich.

“I don’t think there’s a good guy I know of who is legitimate,” he said. “I think you’ll find more good guys in the bad guys’ dressing room. You get a bunch of good guys in the dressing room, all they’re doing is walking in front of the mirror and posing. Sometimes the bad guys show their muscles to aggravate the audience, but the good guys are in the dressing room sneaking looks at themselves.”

He had planned to wrestle until age 60, but said he probably would have kept going until 70. That wouldn’t be so unusual, however. Lou Thesz, now 72, still wrestles occasionally.

In wrestling, Valentine said, “you don’t get tore up like a football player. You don’t get punch-drunk like a fighter.

“A wrestler is usually at his best after 40. There’s so much to know. I don’t think I was real tough until I was 40.”

Valentine also sells his book, “Power Play — 25 Wrestling Holds for Fun and Profit,” ($5), and runs the “Johnny Valentine School of Wrestling,” ($50 by correspondence), which he said has about 500 students.

And Valentine retains the dream he will wrestle again. “I miss it,” he said. “I was good at it.”