Professional Wrestling: A Short History
World Wrestling Alliance)
popularity of wrestling in Australia fluctuated
over the years from packed audiences in stadiums
to virtual extinction throughout the country.
popularity of wrestling has almost certainly been
dependant upon the arrival on the scene of outstanding
athletes who were capable of gaining both the
confidence and support of the spectators.
the 1900s there was little wrestling promoted
in Australia and contests were few and far in
between. Some of the earlier wrestlers who competed
were; the Australian Champion, Clarence Weber,
Professor William Miller, Jack Carkeek, Clarence
Whistler and World Champion, George Hackenschmidt.
as time went by, the frequency of promotions increased
until a peak was reached in 1925. In 1928, Stadiums
Limited staged a tournament for the World Lightheavyweight
Title. This was won by Clarence Ecklund who defeated
Ad Santel and then Ted Thye in the final. Attendances
reached an all time high during 1930s with
many small stadiums catering for people who were
seeking some relief from the rigours of The Depression.
Several wrestlers of note who appeared during
this period were Earl McCready, Ed Strangler Lewis,
Joe Stecher, Jim Browning, John Pesek, Dean Detton,
Ray Steele, Gus Sonnenberg and Chief Little Wolf.
the cessation of World War II, a fresh boom was
experienced with overseas wrestlers being imported.
Amongst these were Jim Londos, Sandor Szabo, Lofty
Blomfield, Seelie Samara and Ray Gunkel. The standard
was high and a faster and more exciting style
was introduced, resulting in generally higher
attendances. Local wrestlers who were making a
name for themselves were George Pencheff, Tom
Lurich, Fred Atkins, Tom Nilan, Eddie Scarf and
Fifties ushered in a new era with wrestlers like
Gorgeous George and Dr Jerry Graham. Both featured
a more extravagant type of competitor replete
with exotic apparel and hair styles. Wrestling
audiences immediately took to the variety provided
by the new type wrestlers and the tactics
which they employed, with the result being climbing
attendances. Some of the wrestlers who appeared
were; World Champion, Lou Thesz, Ricky Waldo,
Ski Hi Lee, Chief Big Heart, King Kong ( Emile
Czaja ), Great Zorro, Primo Carnera, Danny McShain,
Len Holt, Frank Hurley, Alan Pinfold, Roy Heffernan,
Jon Morro, Frank Potter and Snowy Dowton.
sixties introduced a new approach by utilising
television as a medium to advertise forthcoming
programmes. US promoters, Jim Barnett and Johnny
Doyle brought World Championship Wrestling to
our shores along with the innovation of the presentation
of all wrestling cards, replacing the previous
custom of wrestling main events being supported
by boxing preliminaries. Not only did this meet
with the approval of the spectators but it also
provided the opportunity for young local wrestlers
to gain experience and further their careers.
Australia had many imported stars such as; Killer
Kowalski, Ray Stevens, Dominic Denucci, Mark Lewin,
Mario Milano, Spiros Arion, Karl Gotch, Bruno
Sammartino, Pepper Gomez, Gorilla Monsoon and
many others. Several local stars were; George
Barnes, Ron Miller, Larry ODea, Con Tolios,
Johnny Boyd, Con Dandos and Braka Cortez.
the Seventies, the World Championship Wrestling
promotion was bought by Tony Kolonie and still
continued to draw large crowds with the likes
of World Champion, Jack Brisco, Bobby Shane, Andre
the Giant, Killer Karl Kox, Tex McKenzie, Les
Thornton, Abdullah the Butcher, Waldo von Erich
and Don Fargo to name a few.
in 1978, with rising production costs and the
invention of World Series Cricket, Channel 9 cancelled
the TV show and wrestling in Australia came to
a sudden halt.
Great Aussie Promoters, by Greg Tingle
Great Yankee Promoters, by Greg Tingle
Promoters Down Under, by Greg Tingle