SLAM! Wrestling Canadian Hall of Fame: Al Tomko
: Winnipeg, Manitoba
: "Crazy Legs" Leroy Hirsch; The Zodiac
As Leroy Hirsch
To remember Al Tomko and his All-Star Wrestling out of Vancouver in the late '80s does not do justice to this Hall of Fame inductee.
Tomko opened the Olympia Wrestling Club in Winnipeg in the early 1950s and trained many local wrestlers.
When he left to pursue non-wrestling ventures, the Olympia Club closed down.
But the wrestling ring called him back, this time to Winnipeg's famous Madison Club, where he developped into one of the top villians of the era.
In 1966, Tomko became the Winnipeg representative for the AWA. In early 1967, Tomko was ordered by AWA honcho Verne Gagne to buy the local Madison club as the monopoly on the territory was threatened by impressive
attendances at the local club's cards. Tomko bought the group, then
eventually dropped its programming. During his time with the AWA, Tomko served as a mid-card wrestler for the local cards.
In 1977, Tomko vacated his position to move on to Vancouver, where he would take up the reigns for All-Star Wrestling.
It wasn't the same All-Star Wrestling that made legends of Sandor Kovacs, Gene Kiniski
Instead, names like Playboy Buddy Rose, Diamond Timothy Flowers, 'Dirty' Dan Denton
and Buddy Wayne wrestled alongside Tomko's sons Terry Tomko (aka The Frog) and Todd Tomko (aka Rick Davis)
Tomko's All-Star Wrestling closed up shop in the late '80s.
Thanks to central Canada's leading wrestling expert, Vern May of Canadian Wrestle-Media for his help with this bio. To learn more about wrestlers from Manitoba and Saskatchewan, Vern encourages you to email him.
I remember watching Al Tomko's All Star Wrestling on Satuday afternoons
when it was just too damn cold to go outside. It was one of the most
enjoyeable things on, mind you only Henry Waszchuk's fishing, and
Hinterland Who's Who, were there to battle it, regardless, this was some
quality programing. Who can forget a punch with the dreaded roll of
nickles, the Teddy Boys beating someone senseless with a teddy bear "loaded
with lead", or The Frog leaping off the top ropes only to hit his head on
the lighting rack, or, to watch a match and hear some iron lung yell out
"Kick his ass Frog!". I don't care if it was filmed in a basement, the
local gym, or in a sewer; this was pure enjoyment, just like wrestling
The fearless Commissioner Al Tomko, coming out of retirement in order to
settle grudges, and strap them on once more...wasn't that innovative for
that era? I watched the AWA the whole time I was growing up in Winnipeg,
and never did I see Commissioner Wally Carbo as much a raise a finger to a
wrestler. Not many people may have watched All Star Wrestling, or admit to
it for that matter, but don't some of these things do sound a little
familiar. Don't they? I watched All Star Wrestling, looked forward to the
duration match that would take you through the rolling credits, and am
proud of it!
I remember watching ALL STAR wrestling on Saturday afternoons in Ontario on most
CBC affiliate stations at the time. As a youngster, I always wondered how the
face and heel wrestlers could always come out of the same change room without
getting into fights. Sgt Master Al Tomko was often the focus of the show.
Other memorable names included Moondog Moretti, Moose Morrowski, Jerry Morrow,
Playboy Buddy Rose, Diamond Timonthy Flowers and cage matches with Bulldog Bob
Brown from the Cloverdale arena (complete with poor lighting and single camera
with no edits). There was always a little crowd and it was often the same crowd
week after week. I suspect they taped once a month. ALL STAR wrestling was
not the best show on TV -- but it did a good job of developing new talent and
emulating the big leagues from the STATES. In the end, I still look back on
this time with great nostalga.
The most gruelling and bloodiest match I have ever seen was a iron glove
match between Tomko and Bulldog Bob Brown. They both just stood there
for what seemed like years taking turns on each others head until the
match was declared a draw and the Cloverdale irrigation dept. was called
in to soak up all the blood.
My favorite Al Tomko incarnation was a character by the name of
Mr.Cool. he wore a black bowler and sunglasses and I think the name Mr.Cool was written on his hat. I just thought it was a great name because Tomko looked anything but. And of course enemies like Diamond Timothy Flowers were always calling him Mr.Fool! I loved All Star wrestling because it had none of the flash of the big promotions, just a bunch of underweight or out
of shape guys trying to beat each other's brains out.I loved interviewer Ed Karl and his sarcastic wit. Hey, in WWF you don't see crowds so small that you could hear what everybody was yelling at the wrestlers! I miss this Saturday afternoon gem of a show.
All Star Wrestling Rocked!. Sure It Might Have Been A Little Cheesy. Small
Crowd, They Recorded The Show In A Gym. All Of That. But, It Was Still
Great To Me.
Mary E Paul
All of the above. Plus, back in the late 60's, early 70's, my sister and I use to watch Ron "Be the Good Lord Willing, We'll See You Next Week" Morier interview Gene "And As Usual Ron, You Did a Great Job of Interviewing Me" Kiniski every Saturday night on our local Ontario affiliate and loved every tacky, dressed-down minute of it. All Star also had their own Ma Pickles in the front row (I forget her name) whom they used to give a camera shot to each show. High camp drama at its very best.
My memories of All Star wrestling were as a kid living in Ontario every
Saturday hearing that intro music. The theme from the movie the Warriors
God I loved that tune and that show. Sure it was pure cheeze in the
fromage sense of the word but I loved that show. Sgt Al Tomko cutting a
promo on Diamond Timothy Flowers "I taught him everything that he knows
but I didn't teach him everything that I know".
Long Live All Star Wrestling.
How could we ever forget Bruiser Costa? Especially when they put him behind that wire screen for everyone's
"protection". Also, was Mike Edwards a ref or a wrestler? (the original Danny Davis). The intro was well produced with a
growlly: "Universal Wrestling Alliance presents, All-Star Wrestling!" only to be followed by the most under-produced hour
on T. V. When commentator Mauro "The Mouth" Renaldo turned heel, I was genuinely stunned. Ed Karl held the thing
together famously, though I always felt he was also the weatherman or something of the local T.V. station where the
bouts were shot. Great memories.
Rob, Burlington, ON
Come on the best Al Tomko memory was when he was put in the sleeper hold (by who I don't remember) and "slept" for one week... only to have the commissioner (don't remember who) "order" he be woken up. So they start the next week's show with Tomko still "asleep" with a beard and being woken up with a slap to the neck (or was it a reverse knife edge?) and he wakes up like he
doesn't remember a thing. Now that is entertainment.
When I was a kid my dad and I had this weekly tradition of watching Atlantic Grand Prix Wrestling together. We watched
I was quite sad when we moved out to British Columbia, because as far as I knew there was no wrestling out there. One
afternoon I flipped on the tube to see the All Star Wrestling. I was surprised and happy that my father and I could
continue our weekly tradition.
My favourite All Star Wrestling moment had to be when it came to my town. I'll never forget the cage match between Billy
Two Eagles and King Kong JR Bundy. Man, that was the first time I had seen wrestling live, and to have the opportunity
to see a cage match was more than I could have hoped for.
Al Tomko was always part of the show on the TV program, but I never got to see him wrestle. I remeber hearing stories
from people who had seen him wrestle back in the day. They always built him up to be this legend. I guess that's just
what he is, a legend.