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Fireman-wrestler Olsen was 'the real thing'
By ROSS ROMANIUK - Winnipeg Sun


Ole Olsen
Photo courtesy Walter Williams


A locally renowned Winnipeg wrestler has fought his final battle.

Albert Olsen, who often went by the first name Ole in the ring and was sometimes called the Fighting Fireman because of his other career, died days ago at the age of 85 after suffering a stroke.

Olsen began as an amateur grappler at age 23, training in 1945 at a downtown Winnipeg YMCA.

"He was the master of the wrestlers. He was a great amateur. When he was in the ring, he was well-respected, and he respected you the same way," said wrestling and boxing promoter Tony Condello, who met Olsen in the late 1950s. "This guy would stretch the sh-- out of you, you know what I'm saying? We call those kinds of guys the shooters -- because he's not an actor. He was the real thing."

Olsen started wrestling during a period in which he also played football with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, appearing in the Grey Cup against Hamilton in 1943 -- albeit in a losing cause.

Fighting under promoter Alex Turk in the 1950s, Olsen attracted his greatest acclaim amid wrestling bouts in Canada and the U.S. while finding time to continue his career as a Winnipeg blaze-battler.

After a few years, the husband and father of four soured on the pro scene to return to amateur wrestling in and around Winnipeg while organizing cards and focusing on instruction and coaching in the sport.

"He did a lot on the amateur side, and a little bit on the semi-pro and professional side," said eldest son David Olsen, 57, who remembers his early teen years watching his dad do his thing at community centres and increasing wrestling's local popularity.


RETIRED AS CAPTAIN

"He and a couple of other guys were instrumental in doing that around the city."

Olsen eventually stepped away from wrestling in the mid-1960s, though he continued with the Winnipeg Fire Department until retiring as a captain in 1987.

He continued to live at his home on Jubilee Avenue with wife Joan until his death last Thursday night. His family -- which includes sons Eric and Paul and daughter Ada -- has held a private memorial service.

"He lived longer than he ever expected to live. As he said, he had a good kick at the cat. I think he was quite happy with his life," son David said.

RELATED LINK

  • Aug. 24, 2008: Winnipeg was always home to Ole Olsen
  • Al "Ole" Olsen in our Canadian Hall of Fame
    Visit the SLAM! Wrestling store!


  • Learn more about Canadian wrestling
    Order The Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame: The Canadians