A look through classic Scrapbooks from the history of Maple Leaf Wrestling


Its January 8 1959. The latest card at MLG is done and Frank Tunney announces his next card for Jan 15th with a main of NWA champ Dick Hutton defending against former champ Lou Thesz. The following night in St Louis Pat O'Connor takes the title from Hutton and the main in Toronto gets changed to O'Connor vs Thesz.

O'Connor returns to Toronto less than a week after his win to take on the then 2 time NWA (Alliance) champ and former 3 time NWA (Association) champ Thesz. The papers hype it as a bout that will have 'sharp, scientific wrestling, highlighted by speed and agility'. O'Connor is a huge fan favorite in Toronto having held the British Empire Title and Canadian Tag Titles as well as challenging for the NWA title twice, both times vs Whipper Watson.

The inimitable Joe Perlove published this account the following day in the Star.

Thesz Flattens Pat But Loses Bout: Lou Thesz, former National Wrestling association champion was jumping up and down with his right arm in the air at the conclusion of his match with recently enthroned Pat O'Connor. Jubilantly, that was. O'Connor, who whipped Dick Hutton in St Louis last Friday night to gain the laurel wreath, which in this game comes on top of a British Columbia redwood tree, which as everyone knows rises to a height of 73 feet, was lying flat on his back, dead to the world. What is that referee Bert Maxwell doing? Why, he is raising the arm of the prone and extremely comatose O'Connor, indicating that he, O'Connor, had one way or another, retained his laurels.

While the 8,503 denizens expressed high glee at this outcome, since they hated Thesz from a number of earlier efforts, it came as a distinct shock and many of them had to be administered to in compression chambers thoughtfully set up by erstwhile soccer promoter Frank Tunney along Church St. For the final scene showed Thesz lying atop O'Connor whose shoulders were flattened right through the canvas of the mat. This is usually conclusive in the mat sport.

Oddly enough Maxwell, for the nonce, was absolutely and positively correct in his findings. Going over the denouncement, step by step, we find that Thesz had a skull crunching headlock on O'Connor. Anxious to escape this situation before his eyes were crushed together so he got to look like a modern day Cyclops O'Connor flung Thesz hence from him. So heartily that Thesz cascaded through the ropes and on to the cement below.

Back came Thesz but only to receive two size 12 brogans, via dropkick, right in his mush. Naturally he cascaded again. Back he came, and this time he though to even things up. He'd give O'Connor back a couple of brogans. Same size. O'Connor however, was planning to give Thesz two more. And did. Final result- Thesz was back on the cement. O'Connor was out cold on the mat.

Maxwell, he doesn't know from nothing. He was counting. And just as he arrived at '10' on Thesz, which means he is o-u-t, Thesz staggered back through the rops and fell atop O'Connor. Which is why Thesz was jumping up and down jubilantly when the bell rang.

It was a smasher of a match. These guys traded every hold in the book and even invented a few as they went along. O'Connor worked an arm-pull and take-down, turned it into a body scissors. Which Thesz came out of with a half-crab. And which O'Connor switched into an arm-lock. Thesz caught O'Connor in a flying arm-lock and changed it to and arm bar and when O'Connor wheeled him into a shoulder stand Thesz got him into a step-over toehold with a knobby knee on the thigh.

How's about that Teddy? Then Thesz had O'Connor in a shoulder stand via an arm and leg on the legs. Don't ask us to explain this. O'Connor got out with an Indian death lock. It's only a few years back that this was fatal. But so was pneumonia. Whisper form the brass is that these two may be back next week'.

Perlove is correct as Tunney signs the re-match for the following Thursday night.
This time the two go to a long curfew draw when the bell rings at the 51 minute mark after another exciting battle.

Tunney publicist Frank Ayerst had a look at the upcoming bout in his weekly column

O'Connor would return to defend the title 10 more times though 1960 meeting challengers including Hutton, Ilio DiPaolo
Don Leo Jonathon, Gene Kiniski, and Watson before losing the title to Buddy Rogers in Chicago in 1961.

Pat would stay around St Louis in the latter days of his career only making a few more appearances
here in the '60's and 70's but he would return to face NWA champ Harley Race in 1973.

Thanks to Roger Baker

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