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COMMENT





Blast From the Past: The Mighty Masked Yankees
Wrestling Revue, April 1966 -- The Powerful Masked Marauders are the Newest Names on the Hate Parade
By ROGER BAKER - SLAM! Wrestling


The Mighty Yankees are introduced to the crowd in Toronto. Photo by Roger Baker
Digging into the archives of writer/photographer Roger Baker, we revisit a Wrestling Revue magazine article from April 1966 on The Mighty Yankees. The Yankees were Moose Evans and Bob Stanlee, and another reference has them as Masked Yankee Dandy and Masked Yankee Doodle. Writes Roger: "These wrestlers were not very helpful, insofar as giving me any background information, about their background, and opportunities for poses did not materialize. However I was determined to get a story done on them."

Check out Roger's story -- which we vet for the kayfabe of the era (in red) -- and his cool photo gallery of him.


There are a huge pair of masked wrestlers operating in Eastern Canada who are knocking off all their opponents with such steamroller finality that they are rapidly running out of opposition.

This terrifying twosome are known as The Mighty Yankees and are currently on a barn-storming tour which is destined to bring them universal recognition as the biggest, toughest and best tag team in action today.


The Mighty Yankees in a publicity photo. Courtesy Chris Swisher, www.csclassicwrphotos.com
If muscles, weight and size mean anything, The Mighty Yankees are in a class of their own. Both men tower 6'9" and tip the scales at 307 pounds each, give or take a little either way.

These giants of the mat are excellent conversationalists, full of wit and sarcasm, and seem to communicate with each other by mental telepathy. I found this out for myself when attempting to interview them recently in Toronto, Canada.

Often, one or the other would start answering a question I was just on the verge of asking. I started the ball rolling by trying to get a clue to their identity. I knew they would never tell me who they were in real life so I beat around the bush by asking how old they were, how long they have been wrestling, where they originally came from and so on. Both of them just laughed at me, looked at each other, and then one of them spoke up. Let's call him Yankee No. 1.

Said Yankee No. 1, "We are so handsome that if the girls saw our faces they'd swoon in their seats or go into hysterics and swarm all over us like they do the Beatles. We certainly don't want any fans to get hurt over us -- that's why we wear masks."

Yankee No. 2 cut in, "We are also aware that wearing masks creates an air of mystery and intrigue about ourselves not only for the fans but for our opponents who are never sure what to expect from us."

"Another reason for wearing masks," spoke up Yankee No. 1, "is that the masks conceal our facial expressions. Thus, neither of us ever gives away our intended moves or telegraphs our plans to our opposition."


Bob Merrill as Bob Stanlee. Courtesy Chris Swisher, www.csclassicwrphotos.com
"And they are nice and warm during the cold winter weather," laughed Yankee No. 2.

It was obvious that I wasn't going to learn a single thing about their identity so I decided to change the subject, but before I could blurt out my newest question, Yankee No. 1 began answering it.

"We owe our success to our exceptional strength, size, speed, muscularity, endurance, stamina, and all around wrestling ability," said No. 1.

"And to our tremendous physical condition and superior mentality," added No. 2.

"We constantly work on our opponent's weaknesses," both said together.

They cut in on each other so often, and so easily, picking up where each other left off with such facility, even finishing sentences for each other, that I soon didn't know who was answering what -- especially since I was trying to take down notes of what they were saying.

Anyway, here are some of the more important statements that hey made during our hectic one-way interview:

"We can finish off a man with any number of holds, but because of our size, height and strength we find various forms of the backbreaker best suited for finishers."

"Most wrestlers depend upon some pet hold to win a match. We won't hang around 20 minutes waiting to apply a pet finisher on anyone if we can do the job in any other way faster."

"Anyone who ever sees us won't forget us in a hurry. We don't fool around. When we enter a ring we mean business and the sooner we can finish that business the better we like it."


"Wrestling is a tough game -- it's the survival of the fittest -- and we constantly strive to survive the other guys. Sure, we've been hurt. We'd be lying if we said otherwise, but our superior condition enables us to take more punishment and recuperate much faster than other wrestlers."

"Blows that would incapacitate other men just bounce off of us. We take and give out more punishment in one week than the average fan suffers in a lifetime."

"Neither of us smokes. We spend as much time as possible working out in gyms all over the country, training with weights for strength and doing calisthenics for speed and timing. We watch our diet carefully and adhere to good health habits. Nobody can be a top athlete in any sport if he doesn't take constant care of his body."

I threw caution to the winds and bluntly asked, "Where do you boys originally come from?"

"What is this, 20-questions?" asked Yankee No. 1.

"For a little guy, you're too d--n inquisitive for your own good," added Yankee No. 2.

"Sorry fellas," I apologized, "but I'm just trying to get a few facts for our readers."

After pausing for a moment No. 1 decided to throw me a tidbit. He said, "Well, I'll put it this way ... we're both from North America for all that's worth to your readers."

"A lot of help that is," I countered. "Perhaps you can tell me where you wrestled just before you started this Canadian tour?"

"Why not?" said No. 1 to No. 2.

"We wrestled in Alabama, for nothing, along with other wrestlers who donated their services to raise funds to help a large segment of our fellow Americans to win the freedom that our Constitution guarantees them but has not yet delivered."


The Yankees have an opponent in trouble. Photo by Roger Baker
From the menacing tone of his voice I decided to drop that line of questioning and swung back to safer ground by asking, "Do you have any pet peeves about the wrestling game, or how it's run?"

"I'm glad you asked that," shouted No. 1. "Because of some stupid regulations or political control, the people of New York State are denied the pleasure of seeing The Mighty Yankees in action. If we are willing to fight anybody anywhere and people are willing to pay to see us in action why should we be prevented from doing so?" NOTE #1

"Another thing -- we can't stand being matched against inferior opposition ... and many of those who call themselves wrestlers should go back to something less strenuous like chicken plucking."

"What are some of the better teams you have met?" I queried.

Replied Yankee No. 2, "Eddie Graham and Sam Steamboat gave us a good fight."


Moose Evans.
"And The Funks were worthwhile competition," added Yankee No. 1.

"Are you getting any decent competition here in Eastern Canada?" I continued.

"Yes and no!" was the reply. "Frank Tunney is a great promoter and is doing everything in his power to match us with the best wrestlers he can line up. However, we've go to admit that we haven't met anything real tough since we came up here."

"Can't you fellows give me just a little more information about yourselves," I pleaded, as our interview seemed to be coming to an end.

"I'll tell you something else," said Yankee No. 1 in a very confidential tone. "It takes at least ten years of professional experience to get as good as we are."

"Also, before coming to Canada," piped up Yankee No. 2, "we did 95 per cent of our wrestling east of the Rockies."

"And thanks to jet travel we may appear in San Francisco on one day, in Chicago the next and Montreal the next ... we could even appear in some places without our masks under different names and nobody would be any the wiser," spoke up Yankee No. 1. "Why, we could even be working two different circuits at the same time for all you know." NOTE #2

"Thanks a lot," I said, "for your very revealing information. Although I haven't a clue as to who you are, our readers are pretty smart and I'm sure some of them will be writing in to tell me your right names."

(Author's Note: If any of you readers have got any good ideas as to who The Mighty Yankees really are please let's hear from you right away. I'm burning up with curiosity.)

The Mighty Yankees were unmasked by Whipper Watson and Bulldog Brower in Toronto's Maple Leaf Gardens on July 10, 1966, and in a unmasked rematch, lost a loser-leaves-town match.

From Albany, NY, John "Moose" Evans, who we'll call Mighty Yankee #1, was an AWA World tag team champ with Verne Gagne in 1964. The 6-foot-8, 327-pound giant is apparently still around, though reluctant to talk about his wrestling past.

Mighty Yankee #2, Bob Stanlee (Bob Merrill) worked as a third Stanlee brother for a while (with the far more famous Gene Stanlee and Steve Stanlee). He also used the Giant Evans name, the Golden Terror, Rip Miller in San Francisco, and Mighty Joe Thunder in the WWWF.

There were other Masked Yankees / Mighty Yankees singles and teams through the years as well; Frank Morrell and Charlie Fulton formed one such team in Nick Gulas' Nashville-based promotion circa 1973.

RELATED LINKS

  • The Mighty Yankees photo gallery
  • Previous Roger Baker pieces
  • Wrestling Revue magazine

    Roger Baker was a writer and photographer for magazines like The Wrestler, Inside Wrestling, Wrestling Revue, and Boxing Illustrated from 1958 to 1973. An archive of his contributions to SLAM! Wrestling are here. Email him at rbbaker@rogers.com.