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Of Thesz, Broda and All Those in Between
by Marty Goldstein on 2002-04-28

Six time NWA title holder Lou Thesz,86, the grand old man of modern pro wrestling, passed away Sunday, April 28, in hospital while recovering from a triple bypass. CNN ran a news crawl on his passing that said "he helped usher wrestling onto TV." But his legacy to the industry is much more than that.
His hailing from St. Louis, and his relationship with sportswriter turned promoter Sam Muchnick, resulted in St. Louis becoming the wrestling capital of the business and the NWA the biggest bundt, or syndicate, in the world, dominating the industry from 1948- 84.

Lou bridged championship eras from Everett Marshall ("inventor" of the piledriver),Bronko Nagurski, Wild Bill Longson, and relieved Buddy Rogers of the strap in 1962 in a we-can-work or we-can-shoot scenerio that led to the formation of the WWWF by Vince McMahon Sr. and his partners in New York.

The legend of Lou Thesz in Canada is based on his great rivalry with 2 of our native sons. Canada's first matinee idol, Whipper Watson was the TV star of his day and his second NWA title reign, where he defeated Thesz (who needed time off), solidified Watson in the public's mind as a great athlete. Thesz had taken the belt off Watson in 47, and now Billy had his revenge. He was an immortal now because, after all, he beat Thesz.

Gene Kiniski, Canada's Greatest Ath-a-lete, ended Thesz days as titlist when he beat Lou on Jan 6, 1966, and began a 3 year reign that ended with the elevation of Dory Funk, Harley Race, Jack Brisco and Terry Funk to the top.

Kiniski was respected by the fans, not because he had won "world titles" before (in the AWA from Verne Gagne and in the WWA from Dick the Bruiser), but because he won THE world title by defeating Lou Thesz himself, in St. Louis.
Thesz wrote in his great biography, HOOKER, of his frequent bookings into Montreal for Eddie Quinn, and of his regular title bouts for Frank Tunney in Toronto. He also toured everywhere else in the Dominion.b

Thesz was regarded by all as a class act, a source of wisdom and knowledge, and a credit to the business.

And that is as much the point of this story as all the titles and prestige Lou accumulated. In this business, if you have the other qualities, you are a real champion, and titles mean nothing to your brothers in the locker room. All the belt does is weigh down your bag, or make your head big.

At all levels of this business, regardless of how famous or unknown they are, there are some individuals who are universally loved and respected. Now on to another brother, another champion, and how his health crisis has resulted in an outpouring of concern.

I stumbled across an internet database, somewhat incomplete but interesting nonetheless, that lists wrestlers professional names alphabetically, along with other gimmick names and their real names. As I scrolled down the list, here is what I saw.

Jack Brisco
Caveman Broda
Bruiser Brody

And to those of us who know Broda, he is not the least out of place in that line-up. Sure, not athletically, but as a class act, a source of wisdom and knowledge, and as a credit to the business, Broda is a champion.

News of his health problems has galvanized the Winnipeg wrestling scene on many levels. Rivalries are being set aside, old faces are returning, to show their appreciation for Broda both on-line and at a planned ceremony at the CWF NWA card in Winnipeg on May 26th.

Moondog Manson has offered to do a clean job for the ailing Caveman, and he has only seen him on my old tapes. But the respect us vets have for Broda, and what Moondog has seen of kids chanting and doing the cavedance on the 1989 Can-Am tape, was all the proof he needed that Broda was part of our family at this website, even if Ron has never spent one minute online with us.

I had an odd Broda moment here in San Bernardino, of all places, when I went into the original Juan Pollo location.

There was a picture on the wall of a huge man, who was a past opponent of Broda's, and I was so shocked I almost bumped. A long story from 1983 that I will write of sometime soon.

There are probably a few wrestlers and latter-day fans out there who do not see the fuss about the passing of Lou Thesz. They discount the greatness of Thesz, to them he was a dinosaur. Similarly they do not see the fuss about Broda's illness, the greatness of Broda, to them a small undersized cartoon character. Sure, he is not an international superstar. But he is one of the boys. We get it. And they never will.

Our prayers are with the family and friends of Lou Thesz, and with Ron Broda as well. Ron has much more to contribute to our lives, and we to his.

If you have any interest in the upcoming ceremony honoring Broda, or any memorabilia, please contact this website and we will make arrangements.

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Quotes from the boys: Notorious T.I.D. says "Well, I guess it's time to start naming some names. Sweet Daddy stink.....go wash. Jamie stink.....go wash. Magnus.......quit shitting yourself."
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