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SLAM! Wrestling Canadian Hall of Fame: Al Tomko


BORN: Winnipeg, Manitoba
AKA: "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 and others.

  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.

Memories

  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 should be.
  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! ryan,
  rwilock@wwonline.com
 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.
  Scott Brown
 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.
 Randy Y.
 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.
 Pete, Calgary
 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.
  TS/Hong Kong
 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.
 Kmann, mann3@home.com
 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.
 Gary, Burlington
 When I was a kid my dad and I had this weekly tradition of watching Atlantic Grand Prix Wrestling together. We watched every weekend.
 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.
 Glen Cherrington