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Paul Rimstead column on Shillelagh O'Sullivan, June 13, 1978
By PAUL RIMSTEAD - Toronto Sun Columnist




EDITOR'S NOTE: This column first appeared in the June 13, 1978 edition of the Toronto Sun.

There was obvious excitement in the voice of Shillelagh O'Sullivan, the Irish wrestler I once managed.

"I had to tell you," he said, "that I finally won something.

"No kidding," I said.

You have to understand that Shillelagh, while he always tried very hard at everything, has never been what you would call a big winner.

And that includes experiences in the boxing ring, as a wrestler, a stand-up comedian, a poet of sorts, a would-be novelist and many other things.

"What?" I cried, unable to contain myself.

"I won a pizza eatin' contest on the weekend out here in Ajax," he said proudly.

"Pizza eating contest?" I said.

"Yep," he said. "I ate almost two big ones in about 26 minutes. I had four minutes left over."

That's very nice, Shillelagh," I said. "Did you make any money this time?"

"Fifty bucks," he said. "But I split it with Oliver Lane, my superintendent at Wimpey's and we said we'd buy beer with it."

Maybe Shillelagh has finally found his true calling.

I can't remember him clearing fifty bucks as a wrestler.

"C'mon," he said. "Once I made $150 at Maple Leaf Gardens."

The way I got the story, Oliver Lane, Shillelagh and Ron George from Newfoundland -- all working at Wimpey's Construction -- entered the pizza contest on the weekend during the Ajax Homecoming Week celebrations.

"Oliver ate only about half of a pizza," Shillelagh reported. "Here, talk ta Ron George yourself, he's with me."

"I got just over half a pizza in me and I couldn't do no more," said George. "It was them anchovies ..."

"Yeah, I gotta go," Shillelagh said. "Say, how's the wrestlin' in Edmonton?"

I told him I wasn't certain.

But, if I were Shillelagh, I wouldn't bother making a comeback.

I first met him through two pals, singer Don Sullivan and Johnny McNamara.

They talked me into becoming his manager, without ever seeing him wrestle, and I talked Frank Tunney at Maple Leaf Gardens into putting him on a card one night.

We got Miss Christine Adlersparre, the spinster schoolteacher who lived beside me in those days, to make him an emerald green robe and we put a big, sparkly shamrock on the back of it.

You should have seen our entry in the Gardens.

Sullivan and McNamara, wearing green top hats, led the parade and little Donnie Sinclair, our friend who is a dwarf, followed behind in a green leprechaun's suit.

Next came Shillelagh, resplendent in his new robe, swinging a giant shillelagh at the crowd.

I followed in a lime green tuxedo jacket with white pants and green shoes.

We looked good but, dammit, Shillelagh couldn't wrestle worth a damn.

Our career as a team didn't last long.

Now, it seems, Shillelagh O'Sullivan is embarking on yet another career.

"Ron George is drivin' out to Edmonton tomorrow to see if he can get some work on them oil rigs," Shillelagh said. "I'm thinkin' about that myself.

"What about if we go back to wrestlin' out there and you can manage me again?"

I suggested that he stick to eating pizzas.

"Oh, I won't do that no more," Shillelagh said. "When I got home, my wife Bernadette asked me what I wanted for supper and when she said that, I got sick and had to go to bed."

We will have to stay here until next weekend anyway.

That's when he and the guys from Wimpey's are entered in a heavyweight tug o' war match ...

Shillelagh never quits.

RELATED LINKS

  • Nov. 2010: The ballad of Shillelagh O'Sullivan
  • Paul Rimstead Toronto Sun column, June 13, 1978
  • Paul Rimstead Toronto Sun column, March 8, 1977
  • Paul Rimstead Toronto Sun column, March 5, 1973