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


It's December 1961 and top villain Bulldog Brower is destroying everything in his path- literally. Both wrestlers and whatever happens to be in his way at the time. Frank Tunney was feeding Brower a steady diet of matmen and Brower was disposing of them all, Whipper, Yukon Eric, Kiniski, Stasiak, and on.

Coming into the area was the 'Wrestling Rabbi' Raphael Halpern. This was no gimmick, Halpern, originally from Austria was an ordained Rabbi with a full background in amateur wrestling and ran several bodybuilding clubs at the time he first appeared at Maple Leaf Gardens.

He ran up several wins before Tunney decided to feed him to the Bulldog in March 1962. Brower had lost his first bout 2 weeks prior to Bill 'Brute' Solowyko (by dq) and after beating the Brute in a re-match was again frothing at the mouth for the highly touted challenge by Halpern. The Rabbi was said to be un-defeated not only here but in his entire pro career.

The bout sees Halpern using an array of high flying moves and his speed would keep Brower on his toes and unable to mount his usual destructive offense. The bout went on late due to a long tag bout between Whipper and The Brute vs the Tolos Brothers and would be called in the 11th minute due to curfew. The crowd roared its applause when ref Joe Gollob raised Halperns arm as the winner by decision.

Bulldog celebrated his 2nd loss in 27 bouts at MLG by 'kicking a bald headed man
when the crowd surged about the ramp as he (Brower) departed the ring.'

While he was in town Halpern appeared at several synagogues for lectures and was photographed
giving then Toronto mayor Nathan Phillips a prayer book brought over from Israel.

The re-match with Brower a week later saw Brower get the win when Halpern hit the floor and couldn't return. Halpern would continue to appear both in Toronto and in Hamilton and on Mar 22 1962 the MLG card was held with some proceeds going to about 120 organizations under a banner of 'The Israeli Group.'

Halpern would beat Brower by dq in the main event but lose the re-match the following week by count-out again.

That would be the last bout here for Halpern who would return to Israel and was said to
popularize the pro sport there before retiring in 1973. He passed on in 2011 at the age of 87

Very interesting guy, google him for more info

Thanks to Roger Baker

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