1956

JANUARY:

The last card of 1955 saw a wild tag team match between Lee & Bobby Fields against the team of Mario Galento & “Fearless” Al Criswell. The match got completely out of hand and was declared a no-contest affair. Lee Fields was also having his share of problems with “The Baby Blimp” George Harris. As 1956 began Don Fields, the middle brother had recovered from a severely bruised eye provided to him by Mario Galento. The Fields trio decided to kill two birds (make that three) with one stone and challenged Galento, Harris & Criswell to a six-man tag team match. The Fields Brothers showed their superiority as the dumped the villains and took the win.

Harris still wasn’t satisfied and again challenged Lee Fields to a singles match. As he did once before he made the challenge for the loser to have his head shaved in the ring. A hesitant Lee Fields agreed and the match was set. It was a rough and tumble match as both men fought not only for their honor but for their dark curly hair as well. In the end it was Fields that prevailed and Harris had his curly locks shorn by a local barber.

Lee Fields slams George Harris before making the winning pin.

Lee Fields slams George Harris before making the winning pin.

A new masked man arrived on the scene calling himself The German Angel. His initial appearance was less than auspicious as he lost to George Curtis. The Angel defeated newcomer Billy Scharbert, but he and Mario Galento lost to Don Fields and another newcomer Herb Larson. Fields also beat the Angel in a singles match. In a rematch between the two the German Angel took the measure of Fields.

Jack & George Curtis continued to reign supreme in matches in Monroe, Louisiana. They faced off against Red Scarr & Joe McCarthy. The first fall went the Curtis’ way as they both applied Atomic Drops on each of their opponents before taking the fall. Red Scarr evened things up for his side and he used a series of tackles off the ropes to pin George Curtis. Scarr & McCarthy gave the brothers quite a beating throughout the final fall until George caught Scarr with a knee in the stomach as he was trying another tackle off the ropes. Scarr went down and was pinned to give the fall and match to the Curtis Brothers. Red Scarr wasn’t satisfied with this turn of events and issued a challenge to the Curtis Brothers saying he would bring in another partner to help him exact his revenge. He refused to identify this newcomer up until the match began. It turned out to be a big blonde from Detroit names Stan Kowalski. Scarr’s decision seemed like a smart one as Kowalski pinned George Curtis after 11 minutes to win the first fall for his team. Jack Curtis evened things for his side as he pinned Kowalski to win the second fall. Things got wild and wooly in the third and final fall with the Scarr – Kowalski team making things rough for the Curtis’. Finally referee Bill Barney grew tired of their illegal tactics and disqualified the pair, giving the fall and match to the Curtis Brothers.

This led to Kowalski & Red Scarr challenging the Curtis’ to a Texas Death Match, where there were no rules, falls didn’t count and the match continued until one team could no longer compete. The Curtis Brothers found this kind of match to their liking and gave their opponents a taste of their own medicine and scoring a surprising victory. Still not satisfied, Scarr & Kowalski issued another challenge this one being a winner take all affair where the winning team got both the losers’ pay as well as their own. The Curtis Brothers agreed and handily won that match as well.

Scarr & Kowalski issued another challenge, but the Curtis’ felt they had nothing further to prove and declined. This led to a match between Red Scarr & Stan Kowalski against the popular team of Lester Welch & Buddy Fuller. The masked man and his partner came out victorious over Welch & Fuller in a wild match, although it took some rather sketchy tactics to do it.

Kowalski continued to have issues with the Curtis Brothers in Mississippi as he George in a match in Jackson which ended in a draw.

On that same card George faced Mario Galento and took the first fall with a pin following an Atomic Drop. Galento came back to force George to submit to his Hangman’s Hold to win the second fall. In the third and deciding fall, referee J.C. Scarbrough was knocked from the ring just before Curtis got Galento in a pinning situation. With the referee out of the ring, Galento used foul tactics to break up the pin and reverse the situation. Scarbrough made it back into the ring in time to count Curtis out and award the match to Galento.

galento vs j. curtis 02

Mario Galento tears at the face of Jack Curtis

The following night in Greenville, Galento & Kowalski team to face Jack & George Curtis in a tag team match. The match was tied with one fall apiece when Galento slugged Jack and dragged a weary Kowalski on top of him. The referee tolled the count and gave the fall and the match to Galento & Kowalski.

Mario Galento roughs up Jack Curtis along the ropes

Mario Galento roughs up Jack Curtis along the ropes

The following week in Jackson Galento and George Curtis in a rematch. Galento jumped Curtis before the opening bell and gave him a terrific beating. He then clamped Curtis in his Hangman’s Hold to win the first fall in quick fashion. A rejuvenated and furious Curtis roared back in the second fall and gave Galento as bad a beating as he had received in the first fall. Curtis used a series of body slams and a press to pin Galento to take the second fall. The third fall was a whirlwind with both men giving it everything they had. Galento tired out first and fell prey to Curtis and was pinned, giving Curtis the fall and the match.

Jack Curtis applies an armbar on Mario Galento

Jack Curtis applies an armbar on Mario Galento

The next night in Greenville yet another return match saw the Curtis Brothers facing Galento & Stan Kowalski again. In this one the Curtis team won the battle but lost the war. George pinned Galento to win the third and deciding fall, but Galento protested that his feet were in the ropes and the pin shouldn’t count. Since referee J.C. Scarbrough didn’t see it the decision stood. As the Curtis Brothers were leaving the ring, Galento grabbed Jack & ran him head first into the steel ringpost, leaving him with a badly cut forehead. George and some ringside fans helped Jack back into the ring, but he was bloody and badly dazed. Jack took off after whoever was in sight as he chased Galento, Kowalski, Scarbrough and even his brother jack from the ring. Jack finally got him calmed down, but Jack kept calling for Galento to return to the ring.

A bloody Jack Curtis yells for Mario Galento to return to the ring as George Curtis and referee J.C. Scarbrough try to calm him down

A bloody Jack Curtis yells for Mario Galento to return to the ring as George Curtis and referee J.C. Scarbrough try to calm him down

This led to a grudge match between Jack Curtis and Galento the following week in Greenville. Curtis made short work of Galento and beat him in two straight falls in quick fashion. The same night George Curtis took a match over Stan Kowalski by way of a disqualification.

The Curtis Brothers also teamed with Rex Mobley in Jackson to face Galento, Kowalski & Red Scarr. That match was a torrid affair but went to Mobley & the Curtis Brothers in two out of three falls.

Stan Kowalski drops his full weight across the arm of Jack Curtis

Stan Kowalski drops his full weight across the arm of Jack Curtis

Southern Jr. Heavyweight Champion Brother Frank Jares made a swing into the area. He put the title on the line against the popular Oklahoma cowboy Lester Welch. The two had a rousing battle that ended in a one-hour draw with neither man taking a deciding fall. Therefore Jares retained his title. Another stipulation of this match was that the winner was to meet Lou Thesz for the NWA World’s Heavyweight Championship on February 1st in Mobile. Since neither man won the match, another challenger would have to be chosen for Thesz.

Lester Welch tries to break free from Brother Frank Jares

Lester Welch tries to break free from Brother Frank Jares

Don & Bobby Fields joined forces in Greenville to face the deadly team of Stan Kowalski & Red Scarr. It was quite a battle but the Fields Brothers came out on top by winning two out of three falls.

Also in the area in January was Rowdy Red Roberts and newcomer Jack Laskin.

 

FEBRUARY:

Lou Thesz, the National Wrestling Alliance Heavyweight Champion of the World made his way to the Gulf Coast area on February 1st. Thesz was scheduled to face the winner of a match between Brother Frank Jares and Lester Welch. That match had ended in a sixty-minute draw, so another challenger was chosen. And what a challenger he was. The powerful Italian, Baron Gattoni was the man chosen to face the champ. The powerful Gattoni made things interesting, but in the end it was the experience and ring skills of Thesz that won out. He pinned the Baron in two straight falls to retain his title.

Baron Gattoni tosses NWA World Champion Lou Thesz

Baron Gattoni tosses NWA World Champion Lou Thesz

Brother Frank Jares made another successful defense of his Southern Jr. Heavyweight crown with a win over former champion Tex Riley. Riley was disqualified in the deciding fall and thus failed in yet another attempt to regain the title he once held. But Riley was persistent and requested and received another opportunity. Each man had won a fall when they both disqualified in the third fall for using illegal tactics.

Tex Riley tosses Southern Jr. Heavyweight Champion Brother Frank Jares

Tex Riley tosses Southern Jr. Heavyweight Champion Brother Frank Jares

In a desperate attempt to get one more try, Riley said that he would retire if he failed in a final match against Jares. Jares agreed to one more match and it was signed and set. As the night of the match arrived, however, Jares was nowhere to be found. Instead Riley faced Southern Heavyweight champion Freddie Blassie. The Blassie/Riley match was just as wild as those between Jares and Riley had been and both men were disqualified. Needless to say, Tex Riley didn’t retire.

Blassie also made a successful defense of his title against young Johnny James, the young brother of popular Jesse James. James was a game challenger but the veteran badman Blassie proved to be too much for him.

The German Angel shocked everyone by scoring a win over Lee Fields. Fields had gotten himself disqualified in the third fall. Fields got a measure of revenge when he teamed with Buddy Fuller to trim the Angel & Rube Wright. The masked German also had a bit of a problem with Lester Welch. The two met in a match that saw Lester get disqualified but not before ripping the Angel’s mask from his head. The Angel left the ring and refused to return. He did mange to keep his identity a secret.

Another six-man tag team match was arranged for Jackson with the Curtis Bothers & Rex Mobley facing Stan Kowalski, Red Scarr and a new partner in Charley Keene. It was a hard fought battle but when the dust cleared the match went to Kowalski, Scarr & Keene. A rematch was set up between the same six men and this one was a donnybrook. The match was stopped and declared a no contest, but the action continued for several minutes after the end of the match.

Jack Curtis nails Charley Keene with a dropkick

Jack Curtis nails Charley Keene with a dropkick

Stan Kowalski & Red Scarr continued to dominate the tag team scene in Greenville as they won in four consecutive weeks over the teams of Lester Welch & Phil Brummett, Rex Mobley & Charley Keene, Mobley & Bobby Fields and Lester Welch & Prince Omar.

Kowalski and his masked partner Red Scarr continued their rough ways in Monroe. They faced off with Lester Welch & Buddy Fuller in a return match. Welch & Fuller took the first fall rather handily but Scarr & Kowalski came back to even thing in the second fall. Things were hot and heavy in the third and deciding fall until Welch & Fuller got a little too carried away and found themselves disqualified, giving the fall and the match to Scarr & Kowalski. A rematch was immediately scheduled but with a strange twist in the rules. It was decided that one man on each team would be fitted with boxing gloves and could either box or wrestle as he saw fit. Lester Welch donned the gloves for his team but Red Scarr & Stan Kowalski argued among themselves as to which would wear the gloves for their side since neither wanted to. Finally Kowalski begrudgingly put them on and the match began. The gloves proved to be too much of a hindrance on Kowalski and he spent much of the match arguing with Scarr about wearing them. Finally, after each team had won a fall, things went from bad to worse in the third and deciding fall. Kowalski was getting quite a hammering from Welch with the gloves and Fuller without them. Having decided that he had had enough, Kowalski jerked the gloves from his hands and made a beeline to his corner where he nailed Red Scarr with a bare fist. He then left the ring, leaving Scarr to be pinned to give the deciding fall and the match to Welch & Fuller.

Now without a partner, Scarr was still wanting another shot at Welch & Fuller. He recruited Mario Galento as his new partner but since Welch & Fuller were unavailable they had to settle for Jack Welch & Billy Scharbert. Scarr & Galento proved to be an effective team as they handily defeated Welch and Scharbert to win the match.

This match became the last one held in Monroe that included wrestlers from the Gulf Coast promotion. The year long association between Gulf Coast promoters and Monroe promoter Gus Kallio came to an end.

George Curtis had a score to settle with Red Scarr and challenged him to a singles match in Jackson. Scarr accepted the challenge and was so confident that he stated that if he lost to Curtis he would remove his mask and cancel his booking in the state of Mississippi. Curtis took the first fall when he pinned the masked man after applying an Atomic Drop. Scarr came back in the second fall with a series of slams and a body press to pin Curtis to even the score. In the third and deciding fall, Curtis spent much of his time trying to removed the mask of Red Scarr. When he was finally successful getting it off Scarr rolled from the ring, covered his face with a towel and raced to the dressing room. The referee counted him out and awarded the match to Curtis, but Scarr returned to the ring in a new mask. He claimed that Curtis should have been disqualified for removing his mask and demanded to be declared the winner of the match. The decision stood so Red Scarr left the ring without living up to his promise to unmask.

With this match Roy Welch discontinued promoting in Jackson. Wrestling would continue there afterwards, but other than occasional solo appearances, the Gulf Coast wrestlers were no longer involved.

Other wrestlers in the area in February were Al Criswell, Don Fields, and Red Byrd.

 

MARCH:

Mario Galento & Rowdy Red Roberts started making noise about getting a shot at the Southern Tag Team title. The two-time former champs faced Don Fields, one-half of the current champs along with his brother Lee, and Jack Welch in a slam-bang battle. The former champs proved that they hadn’t lost a thing as they defeated Fields & Welch to climb right back into title contention.

Don Fields attempts to apply an Oklahoma Roll on Mario Galento

Don Fields attempts to apply an Oklahoma Roll on Mario Galento

After the split of the Stan Kowalski & Red Scarr team, they found themselves on opposite sides for a tag team match in Greenville. The match was supposed to be Scarr teaming with Mario Galento to face the team of Jack Welch & Billy Scharbert with Kowalski as the special referee. Welch was unable to appear so Kowalski became Scharbert’s partner. The battle see-sawed back and forth several times until Galento caught Scharbert in his Hangman’s Hold. Scharbert gave up which would have given the match to Galento & Scarr, but Galento continued to apply the hold until Scharbert was injured and had to be helped from the ring. Thus the result was a win for Scharbert & Kowalski on a disqualification.

This match ended the association between the Gulf Coast promotion and Greenville promoter Pat Dunne. Dunne would continue to promote but without the appearances of Gulf Coast wrestlers

Lester Welch had his share of problems with guys named Kowalski. First he faced big Stan Kowalski in a match that ended in a no-contest. Later the decision was thrown out and Welch was declared the winner.

Lester Welch applies an abdominal stretch to Stan Kowalski

Lester Welch applies an abdominal stretch to Stan Kowalski

Welch also had a run-in with the returning King Karl Kowalski (no relation to Stan). It was in a mixed tag team encounter between Kowalski and his wife Carol Carota against Welch & Verne Bottoms. Welch & Bottoms took the measure of the husband and wife team after a wild and woolly match.

Verne Bottoms rushes in on a downed Carol Carota

Verne Bottoms rushes in on a downed Carol Carota

Stan Kowalski also let it be known that he was gunning for Lee Fields. He claimed that Fields had roughed him up while he was serving as a special referee in a tag team match involving Lee and his brother Don. Lee denied this accusation but stated that he was willing to face Kowalski any time. Both men left the area before the match could be signed however.

It was announced that Whipper Billy Watson had defeated Lou Thesz for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship in Toronto, Ontario, Canada on March 15th. Watson would hold the title for 8 months but never appeared in the Gulf Coast.

A huge grappler named Hombre Montana arrived in the area. He defeated another newcomer, Jack Vansky in his initial appearance. He quickly got involved in some heated matches with the Welch clan. The 325 pounder faced Herb Welch in a rugged bout that saw the Argentinian disqualified for his rough tactics. He continued to pound on Herb after the match, which brought Lester Welch to the ring to rescue his older sibling.

Lester also took care of some unfinished business with the German Angel. Welch had unmasked the Angel in a match and was disqualified. The Angel managed to cover up his face with a towel and made it back top the dressing room with his secret identity intact. Several weeks passed before the masked man was seen in the area again, and when he returned he wanted Lester in a match. Lester requested that the match be a no disqualification match so he could rip the mask from the German’s face without worry of being penalized. The match was set and Lester finished what he had started when he unmasked the German once again, revealing veteran Speedy Larance.

Others appearing in the area during the month of March were Johnny James, Buddy Fuller and Charlie Laye.

 

APRIL:

The huge 325 pound Hombre Montana was determined to get his hands on Lester & Herb Welch and challenged the popular Oklahoma brothers to a handicap match. As big as he was he was just no match for the cunning Welch boys and went down to defeat. He decided he had had enough and left the area after this match.

Lester Welch received a title shot at Southern Heavyweight champion Freddie Blassie, but got a little too carried away. He was disqualified in the third and deciding fall and lost the match.

Lee Fields and Stan Kowalski both returned to the area and the match between the two of them was finally signed. Lee got the better of the big blonde and pinned him in two straight falls to win the match.

Bobby Fields also returned after a short absence. He teamed with veteran Charlie Laye only to lose to Rube Wright & Mario Galento. Bobby then teamed with Lester Welch & Buddy Fuller to top the team of Galento, Wright & Joe McCarthy. Bobby also teamed with another young newcomer Bob Boyer to defeat Wright & McCarthy. In yet another tag team match, Fields & Fuller defeated Wright & Pierre Dugas.

 

MAY:

Lester Welch & Bobby Fields formed a very formidable tag team. They defeated the rough team of Mario Galento & Charro Aztec, upsetting Galento to no end. Mario was so upset that he placed a call to his older brother Al “Spider” Galento. Spider was a rugged veteran and was more than happy to come to Mario’s aid. The rough Galento Brothers proved to be way to tough for Fields & Welch and won the match handily. Bobby Fields was injured during the match and was unable to compete in the third and final fall.

Lester decided that since Mario Galento had recruited his older brother, that he would do the same. In fact he went and got Roy Welch, the eldest of the wrestling Welch Brothers. The family feud was a wild one and when all was said and done, both teams had been disqualified and the match thrown out. A rematch was signed with some unusual rules. Roy Welch and Spider Galento would both don boxing gloves while their respective younger siblings would wrestle bare handed. The Galento boys proved to be the rougher of the two sets of brothers and upended the Welch brothers to take the match.

Lester had better luck when he teamed with Chief Little Eagle to defeat Rowdy Red Roberts and his new tag team partner The Great Malenko. Roberts and the Russian were out to gain a shot at the Southern Tag Team title held by Lee & Don Fields, but didn’t get off to too great a start.

Wrestling returned to Panama City, FL in May with matches being held at the Long Beach Auditorium. The initial card saw the team of Lee Fields & Buddy Fuller square off against Al & Mario Galento. In an unusual twist, the losing team would then have to face Gorgeous Gus the wrestling bear in the main event. The Galento Brothers had a very bad evening as they lost to Fields & Fuller and the bear.

Lady grapplers returned to the area when Verne Bottoms defeated Libby Gonzales.

Midget wrestlers also returned in a match that saw Fuzzy Cupid down Tiny Tim.

Others in the area during the month of May were Eddie (Pat) Malone, George “Baby Blimp” Harris, Joe McCarthy, Billy Scharbert and Jimmy Siksay.

 

JUNE:

By virtue of their win over Lester & Roy Welch, Spider & Mario Galento were awarded a shot at the Southern Tag Team title held by Lee & Don Fields. The match was a rough one and the advantage shifted several times before Lee pinned Mario Galento to win the third and final fall.

The referee tries to restrain Don Fields as he comes to the rescue of his brother Lee who is in the clutches of Mario Galento

The referee tries to restrain Don Fields as he comes to the rescue of his brother Lee who is in the clutches of Mario Galento

Chief Little Eagle and Joe McCarthy met in a match that ended in a no-contest decision. The two started throwing fists at one another and wound up on the arena floor swinging chairs. Referee Henry Spindola disqualified both wrestlers for their actions. A rematch was signed and in this one McCarthy was the only one disqualified giving Little Eagle the decision.

Lee Fields faced off against the Great Malenko in a challenge match. The match was a rough one but Malenko edged out the popular Fields to take the win. A return match saw the same result as Malenko proved to be just too tough for Fields.

Newcomer Sugi Sito arrived on the scene. He lost by disqualification to popular Bobby Fields in his first match.

Bobby Fields teamed with Lester Welch to defeat the team of Joe McCarthy & Pierre Dugas.

Others appearing in the area this month were Charlie Carr, George “Baby Blimp” Harris, Buddy Fuller and Johnny
James.

 

JULY:

Around this time it was announced that Colonel Herb Langston was the new promoter.

Another rematch between Lee Fields and the Great Malenko was signed. This time the match was best 3 out of 5 falls and as a special guest referee Langston had signed Hollywood Western star Ray “Crash” Corrigan. This time Lee was not to be denied as he tore into the Russian from the opening bell. Lee knocked the Great One from pillar to post and finally pinned him to take the first fall. Malenko roared back to take the next two falls. In the third fall, Corrigan was injured and had to be replaced. George “Baby Blimp” Harris was selected as the new referee and things looked bad for Fields. Harris was surprisingly fair and Lee came back to win the next two falls and the match. This time Malenko demanded a return match and was given one. But again Fields prevailed and won the match.

A strange thing took place at the conclusion of this match. Malenko was fuming over his loss and refused to leave the ring. Joe McCarthy & Mario Galento entered the ring for their scheduled match with Lester Welch & Chris Belkas. Galento and Malenko exchanged heated words and soon the fists were flying. This led to a match between the two ruffians that turned into a wild melee. Each man had won a fall when the match got completely out of hand. Several policemen stormed the ring to separate the two. When Colonel Herb Langston entered the ring to try to restore order, he was bodyslammed to the mat by the Great Malenko.

It was announced that Brother Frank Jares had been stripped of the Southern Jr. Heavyweight title. A tournament was held in late July in Birmingham, which saw Herb Welch fall to Jesse James in the final match. James was declared the new Southern Jr. Heavyweight champion. Jares protested that he was still the true champion (although he had lost to Welch in the tournament) and a match was set for July 24th in Nashville between Jares and James to decide the true champion. Once again Jesse James emerged victorious and declared as the Southern Jr. Heavyweight champion.

The ladies returned to the area as China Mira defeated Dot Dotson at the Long Beach Auditorium in Panama City.

On the same card as the ladies match, Lee & Bobby Fields teamed to face the team of Joe McCarthy & Charlie Carr. Serving as referee was Lee Fields’ longtime foe George “Baby Blimp” Harris. Harris & Fields exchanged words throughout the bout, which saw each team with a fall apiece going into the third fall. During the third fall Harris slugged Lee Fields which allowed Carr to pin him and take the fall and the match. The fans started storming the ring as Deputy Athletic Commissioner Al Benoit entered the ring and reversed Harris’ decision.

Other wrestlers who appeared in the area in July were The Hawk, Sugi Sito, Pierre Dugas, George Spearman and Sam “Bull” Williams.

 

AUGUST:

The battles between Lee Fields and the Great Malenko continued. They had met in four matches with each man having won two decisions. They met in another wild and woolly match at the beginning of August. This one saw Malenko have the edge and he defeated the popular young man from Oklahoma.

Lee Fields was also having issues with George Harris, especially his service as a referee in a recent match in Panama City. Lee & brother Bobby challenged Harris & Malenko to a tag match in Panama City. The battle was a wild one that ended in a no contest while the fans erupted into a riot. Several police stormed the ring in order to keep the fans out. A rematch was signed between the two teams. In this match Lee Fields pinned Malenko to win the first fall, while Harris pinned Bobby Fields to take the second. Harris wound up with a bloody forehead and was pinned by Bobby, giving the Fields Brothers the third fall and the match.

Malenko used this decision to get under the skin of promoter Colonel Herb Langston. He claimed that he had beaten the best the territory had to offer in Fields and that he was the best wrestler ever to appear in the area. Langston responded by offering a cash bonus to anyone who could get the better of the Russian. The first man to step up and take the challenge was Chief Little Eagle. Little Eagle was game but was no match for the Mad Russian who pinned him in two straight falls in short order.

Next up to challenge Malenko was former Southern Jr. Heavyweight champion, Herb Welch. Welch had nearly won back the title he had once held in a tournament held in Birmingham. He defeated King Karl Kowalski and Brother Frank Jares to make it to the final match against Jesse James. Unfortunately for Welch he fell a little short and lost to James. Malenko had also been in the tournament but lost by disqualification in the first round and was eliminated. Now Welch wanted to earn Langston’s bonus by defeating the rough Malenko. The match was a rugged one with Malenko getting a disputed win. Welch and the fans questioned the actions of the referee and Welch demanded a rematch. Colonel Langston agreed and another match was arranged between Welch and Malenko. Malenko was the first out to the ring and he awaited Herb Welch. However, Herb Welch didn’t come out to the ring, Lester Welch did. Lester explained that his brother has been injured two nights before in Birmingham and wasn’t able to show. Malenko stated that he didn’t care which Welch he fought, so Lester faced the Great One. The match was wild with each man taking a fall. The third fall saw things get completely out of control and both men were disqualified and the match declared no contest.

The Great Malenko was on top of the world at this point. It was announced that he would be receiving a shot at Jesse James for the Southern Jr. Heavyweight title on the 29th in Mobile. However on the Saturday prior to the match, he and Lee Fields engaged in a wild brawl on live TV. Two nights later, on Monday the 27th, Jesse James lost the Southern Jr. Heavyweight title to Herb Welch in Birmingham. As a result of these events a match was set between Malenko and Fields. It would be a Texas Death Match with Chief Little Eagle serving as the special referee. It was a typical wild affair between the two and despite being a Texas Death Match, it was a little two wild. Both men were battering each other when Fields bent a ringside chair over the Russian’s head. Oddly enough it was promoter Colonel Herb Langston who handed the chair to Fields. Little Eagle called a halt to the proceedings and declared the match a no contest. The Alabama State Athletic commission suspended Langston for three months for his actions.

Women’s World Champion June Byers brought her title to the area in August. She had defeated longtime champion Mildred Burke the previous summer in Atlanta to take the title. Her opponent was the beautiful Penny Banner. Banner was a sensation but was no match for the champion.

June Byers pins Penny Banner with her Byers Bridge

June Byers pins Penny Banner with her Byers Bridge

A new masked man known as The Brown Monster arrived in the area. He was a huge man weighing over three hundred pounds. He defeated Chief Little Eagle in his debut and destroyed Bob Boyer in his next appearance. He teamed with another 300-pounder in George “Baby Blimp” Harris only to lose to the great team of Lester Welch & Buddy Fuller.

In a rare card that saw no ruffians on it was held in Panama City. In the opening match Buddy Fuller defeated Bobby Fields, while Lee Fields won over Lester Welch in the second bout of the evening. In the main event Fuller & Welch faced the Fields Brothers. Bobby Fields pinned Fuller to take the first fall, while Welch pinned Lee Fields in the second. Bobby Fields fell to Welch in the third and final fall. Little did the fans know that the Fields brothers and Fuller were cousins, and Welch was the uncle of all three.

Others appearing in the area in August were  Walter Sirois, Joe McCarthy, Johnny James, Pierre Dugas and Chris Averoff.

 

SEPTEMBER:

Leroy Morris of Pensacola was named the new promoter due to the suspension of Colonel Herb Langston. Morris’ first official act as promoter was to sign Lee Fields and the Great Malenko to a rematch. This time both men would be wearing boxing gloves in a fifteen round boxing match. Despite a driving rainstorm, over 3000 rabid fans filled Ladd Memorial Stadium in Mobile to see these two men meet again. The advantage switched back and forth with neither man gaining a clear edge until the late rounds, when Lee pulled ahead slightly. Fields got a little carried away with himself and refused to stop punching Malenko while he was in the ropes. As a result, referee J.C. Scarbough disqualified him, giving the match to Malenko. This was the wrong thing to do as Fields then battered both Malenko and Scarbough and chased them from the ring. Lee then stood mid-ring and challenged anyone to come out and take him on as his thousands of fans cheered him on.

The Great Malenko recovered from his beating at the hands of Lee Fields to challenge Herb Welch for the Southern Jr. Heavyweight title. These two archenemies put on an outstanding bout, which saw Welch win the first fall by making Malenko submit to a Boston Crab. Malenko came back like a man possessed in the second fall. He battered Welch unmercifully and was on the verge of getting disqualified several times for his rough tactics. But he managed to keep himself in tact just enough to beat Welch down and take the second fall. Both men collapsed into their respective corners for the rest period between falls. When the bell rang to start the third fall, Malenko came to ring center, but Welch was unable to start the fall. Therefore, the Great Malenko was declared the winner and thus was declared the new Southern Jr. Heavyweight champion.

Malenko faced his main nemesis Lee Fields in his first title defense. Being champion gave Malenko the edge has he outlasted Fields to retain the title.

June Byers returned to the area and brought her Women’s World championship with her. She defeated Bonnie Watson in Mobile to successfully defend her title. Watson received a rematch in Panama City, but once again lost to Byers.

Mario Galento returned to the area after an absence of six weeks. He faced the extremely popular Farmer Jones who was also making a return appearance. The barefooted Jones, as always, had his pet pig Trooper with him. This match was a thriller that saw the farmer disqualified for hitting referee Jimmy Barrett in the head with his shoes (which he had worn to ringside only). After Barrett ended the match, Jones continued to bang both Barrett and Galento on the head with the shoe much to the fans’ delight.

Galento also faced a sensational newcomer named Argentina Zuma in a wild match. Zuma was billed as a close friend and countryman of the famous Antonino “Argentina” Rocca. Zuma, like Rocca wrestled barefoot and used many leaping holds and fancy footwork. Galento won the first fall with his Hangman’s hold, but fell to Zuma in the second after several dropkicks. Galento came back to win the third and deciding fall again with his Hangman’s hold.

Galento was also disqualified for fouling newcomer Jack O’Reilly in O’Reilly’s debut.

The old feud between Galento and Lee Fields started up again in Panama City. Their first bout there saw Galento take the first and third falls to win the match. Fields was not happy with the decision and requested a rematch. Galento agreed and they met once again the following week. Just as the week before, Galento took the first and third falls to win the match. A third match between them was arranged and this one started out differently than the previous two as Fields scored the win in the first fall.  Galento came back to next the next two falls to continue his dominance over Fields in Panama City.

Lester Welch wanted to add a mask to his growing collection, the mask of the Brown Monster. Lester had been the one who unmasked the German Angel earlier in the year. Lester had also ended Mario Galento’s masquerade as “The Masked Flash” the previous year. Now he wanted the Monster. The huge masked man proved too much for the popular Oklahoma cowboy in their first meeting however. He tossed Welch around and won the match in two straight falls. Welch demanded a rematch and put his hair on the line in order to get it. The Monster’s mask was also on the line as a special stipulation of the match. The Brown Monster felt confident since he handled Welch so easily in their first meeting and he agreed to the terms. He shouldn’t have because Welch whipped him soundly. The Monster tried to leave the ring without unmasking after losing the bout. Welch wouldn’t let that happened and grabbed the masked giant by the front of the mask. As the two struggled, referee Jimmy Barrett untied the back of the mask and it came off in Lester’s hand! Underneath the mask of the Brown Monster was revealed Mexican wrestler Garza Lozano.

Another returnee to the area was Stan Kowalski. Kowalski had been attacked in Birmingham and stabbed by several teenage fans in June. After several weeks recovery he returned. On his first appearance on TV he battered young Bobby Fields into submission. This led to a challenge issued to the big blonde by oldest Fields brother Lee. Kowalski beat Fields in two straight falls but had help doing it. The referee was Jimmy Barrett, who hadn’t forgotten referee J.C. Scarbough’s battering at the hands of Fields after disqualifying him in his boxing match with the Great Malenko. Barrett looked the other way while Kowalski used some questionable tactics. This led to Fields receiving quite a battering and losing both falls. Fields demanded a rematch with a different referee and was granted it by promoter Leroy Morris. This time Kowalski’s actions cost him the match. Lee had won the first fall with his famed Oklahoma roll and had the upper hand in the second. Rather than face losing two straight falls, Kowalski started choking the popular Fields and this led to his disqualification.

After a year of inactivity, the Southern Tag Team Championship was defended. Rowdy Red Roberts & Mario Galento were once again claiming the title although they had been beaten for it by Lee & Don Fields a year prior. Roberts & Galento defended the title against Lester Welch & Buddy Fuller in Panama City. Welch & Fuller held won the right to challenge for the title over their win over Lee & Bobby Fields. Welch & Fuller emerged victorious and were the new Southern Tag Team Champions.

A newcomer named Tor Yamato made his debut in the area by defeating Bobby Fields after battering him into submission with Judo.

Lady wrestlers returned to the area when Kathy Branch defeated Ella Waldek. Miss Branch also lost a match with popular Penny Banner.

Others wrestling in the area in September was Rube Wright.

 

OCTOBER:

Tor Yamato was making his presence known in the area. After demolishing popular young Bobby Fields in his debut, he defeated Cowboy Lester Welch. Each man had won a fall apiece when Yamato used his judo chops on Welch and tossed him from the ring. The popular cowboy was unable to return and was counted out giving Yamato the fall and the match. Lee Fields, who wanted to avenge his youngest brother’s beating, then challenged Yamato. This match was set and a wild one it was. Lee won the first fall with his Oklahoma roll, but Yamato evened the score by winning the second fall after hitting Fields with a judo chop. Lee had the Japanese badman wobbly in the third fall but missed a flying tackle as sailed from the ring. Tor, although still wobbly, followed Fields out of the ring. He slammed Fields onto the hard dirt of Hartwell Field and was promptly disqualified by referee J.C. Scarbough (who had apparently forgiven Fields).

Yamato also lost matches to Chief Little Eagle and to newcomer Joe Costello.

In Panama City, Lee Fields was having his troubles with Mario Galento. After dropping three straight singles matches to the New Yorker, Lee teamed with his brother Bobby and challenged Galento & Joe McCarthy. The match was a wild affair but in the end, the Fields Brothers emerged victorious. Fresh off this victory, Lee Fields challenged Galento to another singles match and finally defeated his hated rival.

Herb Welch was hot to get a rematch with the Great Malenko to try and regain the Southern Jr. Heavyweight title. He earned that match after winning a five-man battle royal. Others participating in the battle royal were Joe Costello, Joe McCarthy, Lester Welch and newcomer Gypsy Joe Gonzales.

Welch made good on his shot at the Great Malenko. Malenko was disqualified by referee Jimmy Barrett to lose the first fall. Malenko had been dragging Welch by his hair and slamming his head into the corner turnbuckles. He then tossed Welch from the ring, at which time Barrett followed and raised Herb’s hand. During the second fall, Malenko was in trouble until he crawled to his corner and removed the belt from his entrance robe. He proceeded to use the belt to choke Welch out of view of referee Barrett. Welch managed to escape the Russian’s clutches and crawled from the ring, where he was handed a belt by a ringside fan. Welch used the belt to give Malenko a taste of his own medicine and choked the Great One into unconsciousness. Then it was a simple matter of pinning him for the win. Herb Welch was the Southern Jr. Heavyweight champion for the third time in his career.

Former World’s Light Heavyweight champion Wild Red Berry returned to the area in October. He lost to Lester Welch in a three-fall affair. Berry lost the deciding fall after leaving the ring and refusing to return. Despite the loss, Berry was given a shot at Herb Welch in a Southern Jr. Heavyweight title match. Herb Welch won the first fall with a rolling pin, but Berry came back and scored a pinfall to win the second fall. Berry had the decided edge in the third fall and seemed on his way to victory win Herb surprised him with a spread-eagle cradle to pin him. Welch retained the title, although Berry complained to referee Vic Kalfus and anyone else who would listen that his shoulders were off the mat at the time the count was made.

Berry fared better against popular Bobby Fields, but lost a match to Bobby’s older brother Don Fields. He also lost a match to Herb Welch in Panama City.

Lester Welch, by way of his victory over Berry, earned a shot at World’s Jr. Heavyweight champion “Irish” Mike Clancy. Each man won a fall, but the one-hour time limit expired before either man could win a deciding fall. Clancy therefore retained his title.

Lester Welch drives World Jr. Heavyweight Champion Mike Clancy to the mat with a shoulder tackle

Lester Welch drives World Jr. Heavyweight Champion Mike Clancy to the mat with a shoulder tackle

It was formally announced on October 21st that Buddy Fuller was the new wrestling promoter.

Others appearing in the area in October were “Judo” Jack Terry, Mario Galento, Jack Welch, Bob Boyer, Charlie Carr, Doran O’Hara, and lady wrestlers Millie Stafford and Rusty Ryan.

Rusty Ryan tries to pull out Millie Stafford's hair during a wild ladies match

Rusty Ryan tries to pull out Millie Stafford’s hair during a wild ladies match

 

NOVEMBER:

John & Al Smith returned to the area after a lengthy absence. They defeated the popular team of Don Fields & Chief Little Eagle. While referee Vic Kalfus had his head turned to keep Little Eagle from the ring, the Smiths battered Don Fields into submission, making it easy for the winning pin. Not satisfied with the victory, the Smiths continued to beat Don after the match. This of course brought big brother Lee into the ring to aid his fallen brother. This led to a tag team match between the Smith and Fields families. Two referee were assigned to the match, Jimmy Barrett and Judo Jack Terry. During the first fall, Al Smith had some words with Barrett, which led to his downfall. Don Fields caught Smith in a full nelson and turned him around, which allowed Lee Fields to lay a punch into Al’s jaw. Barrett, who is known to get physically involved in matches, also decided to add a haymaker onto Al’s jaw. This allowed Don to pin Smith to win the first fall. Barrett argued with Terry during the rest period, stating that he did what he did due to Terry’s allowing the Smiths to get away with some questionable tactics. During the second fall, Terry continue to show lenience toward the bearded Smith boys, and every time Barrett tried to enforce the rules, Terry would argue with him. This kept Barrett occupied and allowed the Smiths to batter Lee and Don from stem to stern. After Lee absorb a tremendous beating by the Smiths he was pinned by Al and the Smith brothers took the second fall. The Fields brothers caught their second wind during the rest period and began the third fall like a house afire. They battered the Smiths at will until Terry and Barrett forced some order to the game. Once again Terry was showing bias toward Al & John Smith and finally Lee Fields had had enough. He jumped into the ring and sent both Smiths and both referees flying. He managed to get his and on Judo Jack Terry and knocked him down several times with a right fist. Terry finally managed to escapes Lee’s grasp and raised the hands of Al & John Smith and awarded them the match. This led to the Smiths taking Judo Jack on as their tag team partner to face all three of the Fields boys, Lee, Don & Bobby in a six-man tag team match. The match was set for Thursday November 22nd in Mobile, Thanksgiving Day! The Fields boys were after more than turkey. They wanted to cook Terry and the Smiths’ goose! More than 3000 screaming fans crowded into Ft. Whiting Armory to witness the enormously popular Fields boys do some carving. Things didn’t start so well for the heroes when the Smiths & Terry triple-teamed Bobby and pinned him to take the first fall. The second fall went much the same for awhile, with Lee on the receiving end of the rough stuff. Several times he broke loose and made it to his corner to tag, only to have the referee (Barrett again) so busy with the other corner that he missed seeing it. Just as the angry fans were about to lynch Barrett, Lee made a tag to Don Fields that Barrett saw. Don came in and cleaned house. He then tagged Lee back in who delivered a piledriver to Al Smith and pinned him. The match was no one fall apiece. The third fall saw all six men in the ring at the same time. Obviously Barrett gave up trying to control all six, so he concentrated on Bobby Fields and Judo Jack Terry battling in one corner. Finally Bobby slammed Terry and jumped on him for the pin. Barrett tolled the three count and that was that. The Fields Brothers emerged victorious.

The Smiths weren’t satisfied with this outcome and claimed that since it had been Terry that had been pinned in the final fall, that it was still a question as to which family, Smith or Fields, was the most dominant in the area. They challenged Lee & Bobby Fields to face them in a “Texas Tornado” match with all four wrestlers in the ring at the same time. The Fields boys quickly accepted the challenge. Things actually started early as Al Smith and Bobby Fields were set to meet in a preliminary match. Smith jumped Bobby before the bell and gave him a tremendous beating. This left the Fields brothers at a decided disadvantage when the tag team match came along. The Smiths took advantage of Bobby’s weakened condition and worked him over, finally pinning him to take the first fall. The Fields brothers came back during the second fall and gave Al & John a pretty good going over. Finally Lee slammed John Smith and took the fall. In the third fall, Lee & Bobby decided to give the Smiths a taste of their own medicine and kept double teaming them in their corner. They got a little too carried away, though, and referee Charlie Carr disqualified them and gave the fall and the match to the Smith Brothers.

John Smith tries to separate Lee Fields from brother Al Smith while Bobby Fields tries to do the same with Al.

John Smith tries to separate Lee Fields from brother Al Smith while Bobby Fields tries to do the same with Al.

It was announced that Lou Thesz had defeated Whipper Billy Watson on November 9th in St. Louis, Missouri to regain the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.

Penny Banner returned and kept up her bid for another shot at June Byers’ Women’s World title by beating Millie Stafford. She also upended top contender Mars Bennett in a match in Panama City.

Mario Galento continued his winning ways. He had a rough match with newcomer Jack Dunnavant. Mario won this one in two straight falls, but took his lumps in doing so.

Galento took on Gypsy Joe Gonzales as his new tag team partner and challenged Southern Tag Team champions Lester Welch & Buddy Fuller. They were granted a title match in Panama City, but Galento failed to appear due to an injury received in an automobile accident.  Gonzales also failed to appear so Welch & Fuller faced the team of Bob Boyer & Charlie Carr. Boyer & Carr argued among themselves throughout the match. The champions were too much for their opponents and won the match to retain their title.

Car was not satisfied with the outcome of the match and teamed with the now healed Mario Galento for another shot at the champions. The match was a rough one. A little too rough on the end of Carr & Galento as they found themselves disqualified in the third fall, allowing Welch & Fuller to retain their title.

Also in the area in November was Doran O’Hara.

 

DECEMBER:

A handsome newcomer from Canada hit the scene and quickly endeared himself to the fans. His name was Guy LaRose. He faced the returning Stan Kowalski in an opening match and quickly had the fans eating from his hands as he dropkicked the daylights out of the big blonde and won the match. Later in the evening LaRose teamed with Jack Welch only to lose to Kowalski & Mario Galento two falls to one. LaRose fared better the next week when he and Bobby Fields teamed to defeat newcomer Pierre Moquin & Doran O’Hara. Moquin had made quite an impression by defeating Lee Fields in his first appearance. After defeating rugged Joe McCarthy, back after an absence, in a singles match LaRose quickly found himself right behind the Fields and Welch boys on the popularity poll.

The feud erupted between Lee Fields and Mario Galento again. It started in a televised match between the two that saw Galento break a small bone in Fields’ hand. They then faced off in a tag team match with Lee teamed with Lester Welch against Galento & Stan Kowalski. Each team had won a fall when in the third, Fields tossed Galento out of the ring and followed him out. The two got into such a tussle on the floor that they forgot about being involved in a tag team match. Finally referee Charlie Carr disqualified both men and called the match off. Neither Fields nor Galento cared as they continued to batter each other among the spectators for the longest time. A rematch was set with one member of each team slated to wear boxing gloves. A coin toss prior to the start of the match would determine who would don the gloves. As it turned out, Lee Fields and Stan Kowalski wound up in the gloves. Each team had won a fall apiece and all four men were battering themselves silly when the hour time limit expired and the match was declared a draw.

Referee Charlie Carr tries to keep Lester Welch from going after Mario Galento as Stan Kowalski tries to regain his senses on the mat

Referee Charlie Carr tries to keep Lester Welch from going after Mario Galento as Stan Kowalski tries to regain his senses on the mat

Galento and Kowalski jumped Welch & Fields after the bout and were giving them quite a beating when Bobby Fields hit the ring. Together the Fields boys and Welch beat on Kowalski & Galento for a full 10 minutes after the match. Lee was then scheduled to team with brothers Don & Bobby to face Rube Wright, Kowalski & Doran O’Hara. The Saturday prior to this match taking place, however, Lee and Galento got into a bloody brawl on live TV. This led to the two of them squaring off in a Texas Death Match. At the beginning of the match, Galento wouldn’t let Lee enter the ring. Every time Fields tried to climb into the ring, Mario would knock him back out. Finally Fields made it into the ring and when he did he tore into Galento with a vengeance. He knocked the long haired ruffian from corner to corner, finally capturing the winning fall. After Lee had been declared the winner, it was as if Galento had been awakened from a bad dream. He roared up off the canvas and chased Lee all over the ring, pounding on him. He tossed Lee from the ring and then knocked him to the arena floor. Just as he was lifting Fields from the floor by his hair a fan charged from out of the crowd and took a swing at Galento. Mario ducked and was about to clobber the man when the police grabbed the fan and escorted him from the building. While this was going on, Don and Bobby Fields arrived on the scene to help their brother. No all three Fields boys ganged up on Galento and beat him to a bloody pulp as the fans roared with approval.

Also appearing in the area at the end of the year was Tor Yamato.