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About our fathers
by Marty Goldstein on 2001-06-10

My own father had a mixed opinion of wrestling. In the 50's when even the CBC carried Whipper Watson matches ( til they decided it was beneath their standards), he watched along with his sister and brothers and parents and although he knew who was who,he wasn't a big fan because he disdained non-athletes in the ring, and my dad in the 60's knew he was stronger and better looking than the jobbers working Vancouver and AWA at the time.

As discussed in a previous column, he took me to my first live card in June of 68 to the Winnipeg Auditorium. This week my brother older Ken, remembered going but thought the Main Event was Bill Watts vs. Harley Race, forgetting it was a tag match with Igor and Larry Hennig involved. The fact Ken remembered when he lost interest by age 14, never cared for wrestling again and about the only one of my wrestling friends he ever met was Chi Chi Cruz, shows what a big event it was for us in the impoverished, isolated prairie 60's we grew up in.

By the early 70's my dad was driving taxi on the night shift, and one morning while he slept and I got ready for Hebrew school my mom said he had left me something.There was a slip of paper Larry Hennig and an undercard jobber had signed.I was a little miffed, figuring he could have gotten Red Lyons or Dr. X instead. Who's Ric Flair? I asked.

Later in the 70's I remember distinctly seeing Bob Backlund on the AWA TV for the first time and my dad said immediately he was going to be a World Champion, although I'm sure he figured it would be for Verne. He was a Billy Robinson enthusiast. Robinson was very adept at having good babyface matches with jobbers like George Gadaski and Ricki Romero- allow me to state for the record that in Gagne's AWA the jobbers got squashed lots but it was obvious some were held back or playing a role.

My dad encouraged my involvement in things that later brought me into the business- we subscribed to Sports Illustrated (that was a big deal) watched and played tennis, baseball, basketball, hockey (go Jets go),we were big Baltimore Colts fans, and he was 100% behind my interest in becoming a sportscaster. He came to our varsity basketball games, and filled out hockey teams when we were short a man. Sid Dichter ran my dad in the corner one day and I went end to end to nail him back, which shocked everyone.I was a little fired up seeing my dad get highsticked.

Many of my friends in the business had warm relationships with their dads- Chi Chi Cruz' dad overcame crippling disablility to become a respected educator. Doug McColl's dad, an insurance agent who reminds me of Red Forman on that 70's Show, was always warm and welcoming to the boys when we visited the house. Dave Pinsky's dad was an important scientist and a very learned man who loved Dave anyways lol.

The first time I met Moondog Manson's dad, a fellow Winnipegger, he said "So,you're another of those gay wrestlers,are ya?". On Dec. 26/99, he stood by cooly and watched Ladies Choice blast Murray with a chair that sent wooden shards flying 15 feet into my hair."The hard head comes from his mother" he laughed. Another One of my friends was on the road when his father passed away. That had to be tough. Another went on the road to BC to be with his father who was dying, working shots for Starr while waiting for the inevitable.

Being a second generation son isn't easy. Greg Valentine spoke at length about his difficult relationship with his dad when we traveled together. Angelo Mosca told me he wished he hadn't named his son Angelo Jr, because in wrestling and life it made it hard for his son to be accepted on his own merits.( By coincidence, Valentine's first match was against Mosca in Calgary, I met them both within a year.Strange.)

My father Gershon passed away 23 years ago on June 8, after a short illness. His sudden death ripped the fabric of our lives, and sent me on a path far less religious and stable than that my father had lived. I ended up driving taxi for years as he had, meeting co-workers and customers who knew him. But most of the rest of my experiences I've had in my life were beyond what could happen to him in his life. He was my best friend so I'm sure he would have turned purple trying to talk me out of actually wrestling, although I think he would have been OK with the play by play and maybe even reffing.(Maybe not, he hated refs in all sports.)

For those of you who still have dads you are close to, you have no idea how lucky you are. You don't realize how valuable your parents can be when you are a teenager and know everything. Never mind inheritance, those are just possessions or money. Advice,counsel, shelter when you get divorced, a place for your kids to be with family, all of those I have had to live without, and it has made my life much poorer. For sure, some people just can't get along with their dad's, some dad's crack under the pressure of taking responsibility for bringing a child into the world. If you still have yours, and still get along with him, treat him with care and love and respect every so often, because one day you won't be able to, and you'll wish you had.


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