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SLAM! Wrestling Canadian Hall of Fame: Johnny Powers

Johnny Powers. Photo courtesy Sean Powers.

BORN: March 23rd 1943 in Hamilton, Ontario
REAL NAME: Dennis Waters
AKA: Lord Anthony Lansdowne, the Blonde Bomber

  Johnny Powers first got involved in pro wrestling at age 17 in Michigan. In 1963 at age 20, he formally turned pro in Detroit and wrestled Ivan Kalmikoff.

Powers first wrestled under the names Lord Anthony Lansdowne, and the Blonde Bomber.

As Johnny Powers nine months later, he wrestled Bruno Sammartino for the WWWF Heavyweight Championship Title fight in which Powers lost. The second rematch in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with Tony Galento, a boxing champion as referee. That set the scene for a series of matches with boxing champions including such greats as Rocky Marciano and Joe Louis.

Powers also had four professional boxing matches in his fighting career. Powers fought the original Sheik in Port of Spain, Trinidad the Iron Sheik in San Fernando, Trinidad and Dick 'The Bulldog' Brower in Cleveland, Ohio.

His fighting career included 5,007 fights in 27 countries in which he won over 3,000 of those fights. Fighting styles he acquired include wrestling, grappling, judo, tae kwon do, kick boxing, savat, brass knuckles, suma, jui jitsu, and street fighting. He toured Japan over 30 times.

Powers retired in 1982, but returned a year later for a series of matches with the proceeds being donated to charity.



While still wrestling, at age 24, Powers became president of National Sports TV based out of Buffalo, New York which evolved into the largest producer and syndicator of professional wrestling programming on film and video tape in the world. Clients included the Armed Forces Television Network, Telesystema de Mexico, Japanese Television Network.

He also worked as a wrestling promoter, in the Buffalo - Cleveland corridor. In addition to pro wrestling, he also promoted musical events such as rock and roll revival and other specialty events like the Harlem Globetrotters and other combat sporting events.

Thanks to Sean Powers and Joe Burd for their help with this bio.


Memories

 I remember Johnny Powers on TV wrestling out of Cleveland in the early '70's. He was the darling of commentators Jack Reynolds and Ron Martinez. I know Reynolds worked for the WWF in the mid-80's. What ever became of Ron Martinez, whose father was promoter Pedro Martinez?
 ittleman
  I saw Powers in the late 60's at the Welland Arena. He fought The Beast that night, on a card that included Sweet Daddy Siki and Johnny Baron.
  Remember the Power Lock? I believe they call that the "figure four" today.
  The match: the main event that night. Lots of blood and outside-the-ring battles. We were able to see the fight proceed into the dressing room, with the referee getting his shirt ripped off his body in the continuing battle. I think both were disqualified. The Beast's manager was somewhat tame that night. I believe the crazies in the crowd really threatened him!
  Powers was "the man".
  Stan Szymkow
  I also remember Powers from the Cleveland area in the 70's. He became so popular that the city of Parma (a large suburb on the south side of Cleveland) even named a street after him. Powers Blvd. is just east of a big mall and is the street Parma Hospital is on.
  He started a chain of health clubs that later evolved into Scandinavian Health Spas.
  The big newspaper in town (The Plain Dealer) did a feature story on him in the Sunday magazine section when he had a big house built in another suburb called Strongsville. The big feature of the house was the back yard pool which had a big rock to use as diving point.
  He left town a couple of years later owing alot of people money and declared bankruptcy.
  Jim Kiefer
  One match that I'll never forget was when Waldo Von Erich was fighting someone (that part I forget) and Johnny Powers was the guest referee. Von Erich had beaten his foe and continued to beat on him. Powers intervened and elbow dropped a prone Von Erich numerous times.Von Erich shook in convulsions. I had never seen that before and it left an impression on me. Powers disappeared from sight;at least in this part of the country and that was the last that I had heard about him until this page. Thanks for the memories.
  Tony, London, Ontario
 I remember Johnny quite well as a tennager growing up and watching him on the IWA Wrestling Program especially his long running feud with Dick The Bulldog Brower as they battled back and forth for the IWA North American Title. They had some classic matches with Johnny as the classic good guy and Bulldog as the great heel.
 Martinsville,Va
  The 1st time I remember seeing Johnny Powers in person was at age 9 back in 1969 at the Cleveland arena facing the Sheik. The match was short lived because the Sheik purposely got himself disqualified. Johnny Powers had one of the greatest punches of any wrestler I've seen. When the Sheik came at him with a foreign object he reared his arm back and let it fly. The object went flying into the audience and knocked the Sheik right out of the ring. This was the first of many times I would see Johnny wrestle. I really miss that wrestling era between 1969 and 1973 at the Cleveland arena.
  Frank, Brookpark, Ohio
 I was about 3 or 4 when my dad took me to see a live taping of wrestling at channel 43 in Cleveland. The featured match was Johnny Powers, and my dad had a surprise for me, an interview setup with Johnny Powers and Jack Reynolds. Of course I was petrified and said very little, but have some great memories and polaroids.
 JOSIP MOSNJA
 It's good to see how many other Clevelanders remember Johnny Powers. I remember every Saturday night watching Big Time Wrestling with Johnny Powers on channel 43. Everytime I hear the song, Classical Gas I think of Johnny Powers. Trying to pin down my greatest memory is hard to do. Johnny's feuds with many wrestlers: Ernie Ladd claiming he could break the power lock. Waldo Von Erich, beating Waldo in 5 seconds. Johhny Valentine, the consecutive elbow smashes bloodying Johnny Powers face. The Shiek, Abdulah the Butcher and Dick Bulldog Brower.
  I know that one of the greatest things I ever did with my dad was go to see a live wrestling event. To this day we still talk about it.
 Thanks for the memories, Tom
 I am writing in regards to your information about Johnny Powers. My name is Richard Fletcher 131 North Kimberly Apt. 56, Youngstown, Ohio 44515. My e-mail address is: FRICHARD95@aol.com. I am 37 years old, grew up in Cleveland during the late sixties and early seventies. Some of the greatest wrestling in my memory came from that promotion the National Wrestling Federation. Johnny Powers was fueding with the likes of Waldo, Brower, Sheik, Abdullah, Johnny Valentine just to name a few. The night that Johnny got his nose broken from Valentine stands out in my mind the most. Five years ago I started collecting old wrestling video tapes. I still haven't been able to fing those treasured N.W.F. matches. WUAB in Cleveland moved downtown from Parma about five years ago, I found out that they had several hours of footage from the good old days. But I was the wrong person to try to get access to their program vault. Anyone that can help me please do so.
 FRICHARD95@aol.com
 I remember the many matches with Johnny & a wrestler named Moose Choolak back in the late 60"s. My dad used to take me & my younger brother to matches at the Akron Armory back then. Great matches with Johnny & Waldo Von Erich. Also remember wrestlers like Luis Martinez, Chief White Owl & the Love Brothers.
 Those were the days!!!
 JIM
 I still have some of the audio tapes from a few shows from over 30 years ago...the dialogue was hilarious at times, including Abullah Farouk (manager of the Sheik), the psychedelic Love Brothers, Hans Schmidt, Moose Cholak, the Gallagher Brothers....wow... I never met Johnny Powers but saw him in action twice at the old Cleveland Arena...cost two dollars fifty cents for a reserved seat...ringside seats were four dollars...today that won't even buy you a beer at a wrestling match...anyway he did it all, announcing with Bob McLean and Jack Reynolds, and making the ratings soar for WUAB 43 in its early days.....
 Elmer Pintar
 I remember JP from the Buffalo circut in the 70 's. My most memorable fueds he had were with Ernie The Cat Ladd, and Waldo von Erich. I also remember his ring buddy Dominic Denucci. Does anyone know what Johnny is doing these days...Thanks for the fond memories of a "clean" wrestler.
 VinaVita@aol.com
 One of the first wrestling matches I ever saw was JOHNNY POWER"S -vs- ERNIE "the Big Cat" LADD! I was something like 10 or 11 at the time, Bill Cardill was the announcer and some other guy with thick pop bottle glasses and big ears... hmmm can't remember his name right off hand. All I can say is it was bloody, wild and crazy ! I think JOHNNY had ERNIE in the corner giving him a chance and just that quick the Big Cat thumbed JOHNNY in the eye ! Before could say ''SHAZAMM" JOHNNY was down on the mat grabbing his eye in pain ERNIE took this opportunity to pull a sharpened Popsicle stick out of his trunks and proceeded to jab it into JOHNNY'S forehead! ERNIE went in for the pin and 1 2 3 -- it was all over! All these years I often wondered what ever happened to Johnny?
 DAVID P, ALLEN
 Being a sports reporter at the Plain Dealer in Cleveland and an acquaintance of Joe Rizzo (lias Jack Reynolds), I'll tell you what I told Jack is my favorite Johnny Powers story.
 These wrestlers back then were so good at ad-libbing that Jack said often what happened surprised him. On one Channel 43 taping, the Johnny Powers Fan Club presented him with a watch for his birthday. It wasn't a Rolex, but it was a costly make back then and Powers said how moved he was that his fans would remember his birthday, nonetheless get him a gift. The watch was on a table in front of him and Jack when Wes Hutchins, better known then as Reginald Love from the Love Brothers, walked in and said to Powers "So the big donkey got a present on his birthday!'' Powers said to him, "Yes Reginald, that's because I have something that you would know nothing about.'' Love said "What?'' and Powers said "I have fans...and they're the greatest fans in the world.'' Love said "True, I don't have fans, but I do have something that you don't have.'' Powers asked "What's that?'' Love said "A hammer,'' and he proceeded to take a hammer out of his back pocket and smash the watch. He then strolled off the set, leaving Powers flabbergasted. And I do mean flabbergasted. Reynolds said "I remember Johnny was so flustered he tried to talk, but he couldn't. He kept stumbling over some incoherent words. We had to go to a commercial break.'' Funny, I'm 53 years old and I've never forgotten that hilarious scene.
 Pat Galbincea
 I can remember back in 1970 or so, being 11 or 12 years old, at the Troy NY Armory, the champ Johnny Powers taking on Crusher Verde managed by Bruce Swayze in the main event. I don't remember who won, but I remember meeting Johnny's wife Kirsten at ringside, signing autographs. And for a kid to stand in the back and meet the likes of Bobo Brazil (the King of the Coca-Butt!), Chief White Owl and his jobber tag team partner, Ron Sanders who all took the time to sign autographs and chat with a bunch of kids. I remember the Mighty Igor having blocks broken on his head witha sledgehammer!
 I am re-living this evening show because last night I had the privilege of meeting and talking to Paul "the Butcher" Vachon at a mall near the Canadian Border. I talked of seeing him and his brother at the Troy Armory and also the Washington Ave Armory in Albany NY.
 As the Butcher said "Wrestling ain't what it used to be" and my memories of Johnny Powers and those nights are the best. Wherever you are Johnny, Good luck and thanks
 rdbrower@northnet.com