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Hundreds mourn former wrestler Whipper Watson
By PAULA ARAB -- Toronto Sun

The Whip in 1973 with Timmy Kevin Collins. -- Michael Peake, Toronto Sun

  People in wheelchairs, the deaf, former wrestlers, and fans were among those who said goodbye yesterday to Whipper Billy Watson.

Watson, a humanitarian and ex-wrestler, was "a true champion" both inside and outside the ring, his son, John, told 400 mourners at St. James Anglican Church.

"Today, we want this to be a celebration of a life well-lived. He enjoyed life to the fullest.

"He was one of those guys who made things happen and had a special magnetism that made you want to make things happen with him," he said, speaking on behalf of his mother Eileen, brother Phil, and sister Georgina.

Watson died Feb. 4 in Florida a few days after suffering a heart attack.

Among those at the service were Billy Red Lyons of the World Wrestling Federation and former wrestler Gene Kiniski.

Kiniski, who was one of Watson's greatest competitors, flew in from Vancouver to attend the service.

Watson was a five-time world wrestling champion and an East York native.

His career ended in 1971 following an automobile accident.

He used his well-known name to devote more than 40 years of his life workingon behalf of numerous Ontario charities.

"He had all the fame he wanted, but the work he enjoyed most was when he was caring for the less fortunate," said Al Fraser, executive director of the Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Fraser, a close friend of Watson's, was a pallbearer.

The service was officiated by Rev. S. Duncan Abraham, Rev.Richard Jones, Rev. Robert Rumball and Rev. Arthur Brown.

Watson was buried privately after the service.

RELATED LINKS

  • Whipper Billy Watson story archive