Wrestling, George, Vern Ganja discussed on 24 Hour News


You remember the golden age of wrestling in Minnesota. You've heard George on the show before we've talked a couple of times about wrestling the Calhoun beach hotel. The Minneapolis auditorium will George Shire has written the book, Minnesota's golden age of wrestling from burn ganja to the road warriors and less. Welcome George Georgia-born, George. Welcome back to the show. This time is aghast. Hey L. It's great to be on. And thank you so much. It's it's a pleasure. This book is a lot of fun. I received it on Friday and all weekend, I'm going through it and going, you know, things that you you've forgotten from your childhood, and this is a lot of fun. Thank you for putting this together. You're an avid wrestling fan as a kid, and you talk about in in your book that some problems in the family, your parents got a divorce, and you found professional wrestling is a young guy. How old were you? I was eight years old. They I'll win my parents. Finally decided to separate for the last time they'd been separated several times. And it was I was the oldest of six kids. So it was kind of to be blunt hell in the house, and I was really glad when they got divorced. But as any situation like that, you know, it's very traumatic all the children take it differently accepted differently. And I was just very fortunate than I mean, people think this is crazy, but I was very fortunate to find what I always say a drug called professional wrestling. And I turned it on in nineteen fifty nine. I was just eight years old and here is tiny male and stand crusher Kowalski. No one is murdering corporated and they were on TV. And they were just beaten some poor guy up. You know? And I I tell you what I thought it was great than I was hooked and man let let on from that. How old you know? I'm going to put this in relation to my age. I'm I think I'm your age. I'm sixty two. Okay. Yeah. We're we're in the ballpark. Yeah. I to me. Rustling really came about in the fifties. But there was an earlier era. Going back into the into the forties. Or is it even earlier than that? Well, wrestling's better around. Boy, I'll tell you what you can hear stories about ABRAHAM LINCOLN Lincoln having. But you know, seriousness in the twenties thirties the forties. Wrestling was around, Al. But it was usually in, you know, very smoke filled taverns and bingo halls and legions and things like that. And it wasn't until after World War Two that it really started to take off. And what really started that was television. When in its infancy television. We can all recall all the great shows that were on back in the forties fifties. But I'll it was wrestling that really was the television, boom. And it really is what made wrestling. Tell us about the the rustler's rustler and what area that Lewis at these loot? Sales says I had no idea. What Eric Russell Lou fads was actually a champion before World War Two. And he was probably the Pierre to me of what a wrestler was back in those days. You one of the things that a lot of people don't realize if you watched today's wrestling that is so much entertainment, and it is really a different world. But when you watch Lou says, Lou took the business, very very. He just was adamant about it being presented as real. And Lou was a real wrestler. There are looks like it. Well, I I could blame this in the book that there were hookers and shooters, and Lou was what was called a Hooker. And what that meant DAL is that if you got cute without with loose says in the ring, he could definitely snap your arm, break your leg. You know, anything and show you the boss real quick. He was a Hooker. He could take care of himself, and what promoters did back in those very early years is a lot of the wrestlers actually started out wrestling in carnivals that traveled around the country, and they would have a tough guy on board that would challenge all comers. So all the people that visited the carnival you'd get the big farm boy who thought he was topping he could take on this wrestler. But the carnivals always wanted to have a guy that was either a shooter which I'll explain in a second or the hook. So that that farm boy or big top tomboy could do it. They could make sure they could stop them. Yeah. You know, when you're talking about this guy being able to take care of himself. He's got a Zeke that. I would think would be the barometer for the physique at any guy in the world would want to have. I mean, this guy is just buff. Says had basically what was a wrestler's build back in the thirties. Forties and fifties, and he was pretty much the same type of a Bill that the majority of the wrestlers of the television era, the early television era had this is before steroids and all of the artificial situations. We have today L. Yeah. Yeah. And then you when you look at Minnesota wrestling. I would I would think tell me if I'm wrong that the number one name would be Vern ganja, and I didn't I didn't realize until I got your book. The honors that he had acquired as an amateur wrestler. And if you don't mind, let me go through this northwest AAU champion, nineteen forty two ministry. The Minnesota state high school champion nineteen forty-three big nine champion in nineteen forty four forty seven forty eight and forty nine national AAU champion nineteen forty-eight place on the US Olympic team in nineteen forty eight and the AAU NCWA champion nineteen forty nine. He was the real deal. He was the real deal in one of the things that was real special in that era from after World War Two lawn is wrestling was presented as real. And you know, we've all heard the stories, and we can talk about this. But someone would say, well, how can you watch that fake stuff? Or you know, it's not real it's fake. And I will tell you many of the wrestlers they were they were just profound about not admitting that the endings of the matches were predetermined they presented it as real. And when you have guys like Vern ganja and Wilbur Snyder and Liu says, and I'm gonna throw out a name that may surprise some people but mad dog Sean who were Olympia they were they represented their countries in the Olympics. They were amateur wrestlers they wrestled in high school and college and Vern ganja brought that that amateur side to wrestling. So that you saw real contests. Real hold real counter holds. But then you added the glitz and the cops Jewison the characters along with it for the professional side, and you needed that entertainment. Because really what happened. What's wrestling was dying before World War Two? And the reason it was dying was because they would have guys that would go in the ring, and they would be in a contest and have just a hold on someone for sixty minutes. And that wasn't exciting. People wouldn't pay to see people were falling asleep. So once you get the characters in and one of the characters during the television era that really set the whole thing on fire from the he'll standpoint was a guy named George Wagner. George Wagner was just a regular everyday wrestler for several years kind of going through the ranks not really getting noticed. He come up with a great idea. He said what if I grow my hair long bleach it blonde yet a permanent? And strut around the ring throwing Bobby pins and flowers to the ladies wear long fancy rolled gorgeous. George's born, and that was the boom to television because as vision was taking off in late forties and into the early fifties. When you had a guy like gorgeous, George that you could put on everybody in all the different. Territories clamor to get him on their local cards and with television. Not everyone owned a TV because back in those days as strange it sounds today television was a luxury and not everyone could afford one. So people actually would go to the house on the block that had television to watch wrestling overnight was on. Yep. George we'll take a break in open for phone calls. I'm open for anything. We want to talk about its pro wrestling. We could talk all night talking with George Shire. His book Minnesota's golden age of wrestling Vern ganja to the road warriors. We come back, and we'll talk about a little bit more about George gorgeous. George people love to see.

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