February 22, 2013
Remembering my late mentor, Ted Herbert
By MARK CHETCUTI - For SLAM! Wrestling
Ted Herbert was a great human being, mentor, and friend. His passing in November left a hole in my life. In 2002, I was a meek, bony young man who picked up a newspaper article that was passed along to me, which focused on Ringmasters Pro Wrestling School. With some hesitation I picked up the phone and asked about the gym that Ted and his son Santino operated on the outskirts of Brampton, Ontario.
Soon after speaking to Santino, I walked into the pro wrestling gym and was captivated by a number of things: the numerous photographs that contained Ted wrestling the likes of Mad Dog Vachon, Tokyo Joe, and The Original Sheik, Ted's cauliflower ears, his expansive height, his obvious strength, and the wrestling ring.
Every now and then I would hear Ted say that "Sabu's blood is in that ring," and that the ring originally belonged to WCW. After this initial visit to Ringmasters, I was determined to return -- and I did, often spending my high school days after class in Ted's gym.
Practices at Ringmasters were two hours in length, and ran two or three times a week. He also motivated his students to frequent the gym to get in better shape, which was another obvious passion of Ted's.
We learned of Ted's wrestling career in pieces.
Ted began his wrestling training in his native Trinidad under Ray "Golden" Apollo. Like many of the wrestlers of his generation, Ted was chosen by his trainer due to his natural height and strong presence.
He was the 1972 IWE Rookie of the Year in Japan, working as Kuroshio Taro, and later held the IWE Championship. Wrestling would then take him around the world during the 1970s, and ‘80s.
One story that Ted passed along was centered on Karl Gotch who he described throwing Andre Roussimoff over his shoulders with a German suplex directly into a bridge. This occurred in Japan. He also told us more humorous stories which involved Dusty Rhodes and Bobby Heenan. Both of these men were quite creative, not only as in-ring wrestlers, but also as charismatic personalities backstage, and on-set.
It was thus quite painful when I found out that Ted had died on Monday, November 19, 2012, at Trillium Health Centre in Mississauga, Ontario. He passed away during heart surgery. He was 65 at the time. I had spoken to him over the past few years, although I hadn't seen him for about seven years. I was planning on meeting up with him, but I had often been away from where my parents reside.
A number of Ontario independent wrestlers also trained at his gym which include: Lionel Knight, Steve Brown, Nick Watts, Mike Garcia, Brandon Rage, Deanna Conda, Stephan Elias, Dynamite Dino, Jack Rushton, Taylor Kaydeen, "The Big Deal" James Rogers, Toast, and JK47, among others.
Ted is survived through his family -- his children Santino (and wife Raylene), Tamara (and husband Steve), Joey, Thalia and Nandie, and grandchildren, as well as his ex-wives, B.B, Barbara and Monica, and his family still in Trinidad & Tobago.
As for me, I am just one of the many thankful people who came in contact with Ted Herbert during his lifetime.
Mark Chetcuti spends his time training at Squared Circle Pro Wrestling, studying at the library and is working as a construction worker. He is looking to complete a BA, specializing in English literature, and Film Studies at York University and attend graduate school. He has wrestled for Steve Brown's NSW promotion, and for the Ringmasters Pro Wrestling demonstration.