September 24, 2007
Remembering Winnipeg's Monty Black
By RICHARD KAMCHEN - SLAM! Wrestling
WINNIPEG -- Lost amidst the murder and homicide investigation of former Winnipeg wrestler Big John Radocaj was the sudden passing of Keith Montgomery Black (a.k.a. Monty Black) September 9. He was 45.
Among others, Black left behind his wife and four children. His family and friends remember Black as an honest family man, good natured, humorous and fun to hang around with. He is also remembered as being dedicated to fitness and exercise, was an avid bow hunter, and Tae Kwon Do enthusiast.
Former Winnipeg wrestling promoter Walter Shefchyk told SLAM! Wrestling he trained Black as a pro wrestler, and called him a "well-built kid with some potential," but added he was very green and did not seem to really get past that stage.
Later in Shefchyk's North American Sumo Wrestling league, he promoted a shoot tough man contest in Transcona in 1985, a competition Black won after defeating Lyle "The Bull" Stardom.
Black also had a brief stint with the American Wrestling Association (AWA).
"He and I started about the same time, trained together and we both ended up working on AWA TV when we were both green as grass," said Randy Unrau (a.k.a Jethro Hawg). "He did most if not all of his wrestling barefoot because he didn't have boots yet. I got him the address to the bootmakers where I got my boots in Paris, Arkansas. When he finally got them, AWA pulled out of Winnipeg and I honestly don't think Monty worked for anyone else and then sold his boots to Bobby Jay."
While with the AWA, Black worked in a Battle Royal with "two very young and green Rob Rechsteiner (Rick Steiner) and Scott Hall," as well as Larry "The Ax" Hennig, Unrau said.
"The match was thrown together because most of the crew didn't make the TV taping in Winnipeg because of weather."
Some local Winnipeg wrestlers last saw Black working as a bouncer at a local bar called Bullwinkle's. Shefchyk said he recently happened to run into Black at a Subway restaurant where the two chatted briefly. Shefchyk noted Black appeared less bulked up than he had been in the past. Given the sudden passing of Black, Shefchyk wondered if a heart attack felled his former trainee.
"But he'd be the last guy you'd think would have a heart attack, if that's what happened. He seemed in good health and good spirits."
Black's family have suggested that in lieu of flowers, those wishing to may make a donation in Black's memory to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Manitoba (200-6 Donald Street, Winnipeg, Manitoba, R3L-0K6), or to a trust fund for Melanie Black and Family at South Interlake Credit Union (Box 340, 613 Park Avenue, Beausejour, Manitoba, R0E-0C0).
Winnipeg correspondent Richard Kamchen can be e-mailed at email@example.com.