October 27, 1985
Old King Kong
Mean wrestler and footballer Angelo Mosca goes gentle into new worlds
By DAN PROUDFOOT -- Toronto Sun

A bloody Angelo Mosca is comforted by his son Angelo Jr. in May 1984. -- Norm Betts, Toronto Sun

  Thanksgiving morning, and Old King Kong sits at his breakfast table devouring a pot of coffee and brewing a new identity.

Oh, but nastiness has been good to him.

He is so thankful for that.

The $250,000 house in the Caledon Hills, the security, the not having to work another day -- a cornucopia of good things all the product of meanness.

But at 48, King Kong has piled too many miles on his Cadillacs, speeding from one wrestling ring to another, and too many times covered his ears in horror as fans have chanted "Ping-pong, Ping- pong" mocking poor Old King Kong.

It's not that he has really got old, but perhaps he has had enough of acting mean, so long after he stopped feeling mean.

At first it came easily. Establishing himself as the most hated played in the Canadian Football League, a quarter of a century ago when Angelo Mosca hadn't even dreamed of becoming King Kong, evil wrestler, was no work at all. Well before he made a national reputation by grinding Willie Fleming into the turf and out of the 1963 Grey Cup, Mosca was famous locally in Hamilton for creaming a bouncer at Duffy's Tavern. Tough punks were a dime a dozen in the part of Waltham, Mass., where Mosca grew up. The essential difference was he weighed in at 265 pounds.

But talking to King Kong this Thanksgiving morning is like visiting The Hooded Fang in retirement. He's 290 pounds, but hardly threatening. A gracious host, he keeps making more coffee. "I went to read for a movie part last week," Mosca says. "Just a bit in The Return of Billy Jack. I'm looking around for something to do. I'm not a 9-5 niche sort of person.

"Wrestling? I didn't want to subject myself to the hazards any longer. The hazards of 100,000 miles a year, all that driving. And being away from home. It takes a very special lady. My wife Gwen. She'll be down in a minute. We've been together 20 years

"I got my son Angelo started in pro wrestling, that was great. Maybe you saw us together in the GM truck commercial. He's since quit wrestling. It wasn't the lifestyle for him. He's more of a homebody than this Angelo Mosca. A real laid-back, quiet kid -- not the hyer-aggressive guy I am in anything I do."



What does a hyper-aggressive retiree do? Mosca is attempting with ex-footballer Len Chandler to stage a wrestling promotion in Hamilton to raise money for the Spinal Cord Society, he's still wrestling once a month in Hawaii as a favor to the promoter there, the widow of the late, famed Prince Maivia, and there's his enduring interest in show-biz. Some months ago he got a telephone call. Would he be interested in becoming host of a television talk show? What a question. Could Prince Maivia dance the hulu?

"This guy called up and told me he'd learned I was one of the 25 best-known faces in Canada. He figured I was still marketable. See, I've kept this face alive in this country for 25 years."

The show is a certainty. It's close, says Mosca. A matter of making the pilot program and finding the right network. Meantime, his face remains familiar in new commercials for General Motors trucks. Commercials, in fact, have been Mosca's best vehicle for retaining fame since he broke in with Schick razors more than 20 years ago.

"I've always played the part of the big mean guy," he says. "Underlying that, there's always the feeling in these commercials that 'he's not really that tough.'

Francous Joudan-Glasman, the writer/producer who conceived the sports/variety/talk show, needs no resume to see great things in Mosca as co-cost with actor David Clement. "Tell him why you think I should have a show," Mosca says when the producer shows up for a coffee, and it's like throwing a swtich.

"He's visible, versatile, likeable," begins Jourdan-Glasman. "There's not one subject he cannot handle. Angie has the capability of teasing someone and being teased, of taking a roasting or roasting someone. So whether the guest is Jack Webster or Mila Mulroney, or Sammy Luftspring ... The man handles an interview so comfortably. This is a man with 1,000 anecdotes. This is a wealth for a comedy talk show writer like me.

"You want humanity to come through in a host. And this man is a great human."

At that Mosca himself bows his head modestly. "I think the show will erase stigmas I have attached to me," he says. "That I'm just a body. I think I'll upgrade the athlete by my intelligence.

"I did learn something about acting last week, when I read for that part in The Return of Billy Jack. You know, my thing on camera has always been real hard sell. You know, 'Tell it to my face,' that famous line.

"So when I read my lines for this part as a big, jolly guy, I mustn't have seemed too jolly because the actress backed up! What I learned right there is, in acting it's more like talking. But I got the confidence to adject. I can do it."

He was 5,000 pro wrestling bouts behind him, he estimates, and who knows what ahead? Television? Movies? Wrestling promotions? Anything but nothing. Francois Jourdan-Glasman says he's absolutely sure the show will sell, going on the air next spring. David Clayton Thomas is to sing the theme, written by Francois himself. Right now, Francois decides to belt it out himself, sitting at the kitchen table, warmed up only by coffee.

  Look out! Here comes Angie
  Bringing it home to you,
  Watch out! Here comes Angie
  A hunk of a man, it's true,
  He's got laughs, great guests, games and fun
  A real sports shooter, he's Number One.
 
  So watch out for Angie,
  Look out, here comes Angie,
  Right here, we've got Anglie.
  Angie!

 
  Angelo Mosca, Old King Kong no more, breaks into a big grin. "Isn't that something?" he says. "He did that in a restaurant the other day. The waitress didn't know what to think."

RELATED LINKS

  • More on Angelo Mosca bio and story archive


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