By Doug Halberstadt
A couple of weeks ago, I was invited to “like” a group on Facebook. The group is called “Fans of AWA Wrestling 1960-1991.” I am really glad I clicked on their like button and became one of the more than 11,300 members.
The site has brought back a flood of childhood memories. There are tons of photos and videos of many of the wrestlers I grew up watching on local television each week and seeing in person at Boylan Catholic High School almost every single time they brought their show to town.
There are facts and stories available about everyone as famous as the association’s owner/promoter and heavyweight champion Verne Gagne to the lesser-known guys referred to as “jobbers” like Kenny “The Sodbuster” Jay and George “Scrap Iron” Gadaski.
Fan favorites like Reggie “The Crusher” Lisowski, Nick Bockwinkle, “Mad Dog” and his brother “Butcher” Vachon, Baron Von Rashchke are just a few of the faces you’ll see as you scroll through the page.
One of the things I like best about this group is if there is something you’d like to know about anyone associated with the AWA during that time, all you have to do is leave a post, and within a short period of time, you’ll have an answer. There are members of this group who have an incredible amount of knowledge about the history of professional wrestling.
For instance, I asked about a wrestler who used to come to Rockford pretty often named “Bull” Bullinski. Within moments, I found out his real name was Frank Shields. He was originally from Philadelphia, and he passed away several years ago.
This group is a wonderful resource for anyone who remembers the early days of professional wrestling and the characters who paved the way for today’s sports entertainers. I encourage everyone who watched the televised matches on Sunday mornings or went to Chris the Crazy Traders, Foley’s Arco or Rocky’s Tap and bought tickets to see the show live, to join the group and revisit the good ol’ days of wrasslin’.
In my best gravelly Mad Dog Vachon voice, “And that’s all the world needs to know.”
Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at Dougster61@aol.com.
Posted Oct. 28, 2014