March 13, 2007
Family and friends bid farewell to Bad News
By JASON CLEVETT - SLAM! Wrestling
CALGARY -- To many, Allen Coage, in his wrestling personas of Bad News Allen and Bad News Brown, was an intimidating, take no prisoners badass. He could make you stop short with a simple look. However, to those who gathered at Leydan's Funeral home in downtown Calgary on Tuesday, he was much more.
The room was packed with mourners gathered to say goodbye to a man many called a friend, mentor, teacher and family member. Many past and present professional wrestlers attended, including Lance Storm, Phil Lafon, Rick Titan, members of the Hart Family, and several members of the current Stampede Wrestling roster. The non-demoninational service was officiated by Chris Lozanski who began the tributes by speaking about the influence Coage had on himself and his brother Mike Lozanski, and spoke of Coage's loyalty to his friends and family. He introduced a video package from NBC that profiled Coage in his wrestling career following his bronze medal judo victory at the 1976 Olympics.
Coage's wife of 24 years, Helen, eulogized her husband in an emotional and often tear-soaked tribute. Daughter April also spoke of the side of Coage that his nine children knew as Dad. Tributes were paid by former wrestlers Gama Singh and Don Callis as well as Calgary wrestling and boxing comissioner Candy Schacter and Coage's long-time friend and wrestler Gerry Morrow, whose wife Sherry spoke on behalf of them both.
The tributes all reiterated one thing: Bad News Allen had achieved many great things in his life, but the most important was the love and respect of his peers and family. Everyone commented on him being the first African-American to win a medal in judo at the Olympic Games, how he was honest to a fault, and that one thing with Bad News was if he didn't like you, you knew about it -- and if he did, you had his respect.
A final photo slide show of the life of Allen Coage played before the mourners made their way to the front of the room to pay their condolences to the Coage family. As many gathered in an adjacent room for a private reception, you can be sure that many great stories continued to be told. While Bad News Allen may have died, he left behind a legacy that will not be forgotten.
Jason Clevett is from Calgary, Alberta and considers it an honour to have met and spoken to Allen Coage on several occasions.