SLAM! Wrestling Canadian Hall of Fame: Iron Mike Sharpe
6'4", 275 pounds
Iron Mike Sharpe. -- photo courtesy Terry Dart
Iron Mike Sharpe. The name alone brings up an image of a black forearm
band and a lot of yelling.
The self-proclaimed 'Canada's Greatest Athlete' was a regular on the WWF
broadcasts of the mid-'80s -- one would often find him at staring up at the
lights after losing to WWF faces like Tito Santana
or Junkyard Dog
But who is he, and why does he belong in our Canadian Pro Wrestling Hall
Sharpe is the son of wrestler Mike Sharpe, who together with his brother
Ben formed one of the top tag teams of the '50s and reigned as World tag
champs in San Francisco and Japan.
As a youngster, he moved with his father, and grew up in California.
When he was a teen, the family moved back to Hamilton, where he went to
high school and later to McMaster University.
Sharpe actually dabbled in boxing and was deeply into weightlifting
before ever considering following his father and uncle into the ring.
Having done some amateur wrestling with the Hamilton YMCA, Sharpe turned
to Dewey Robertson
to learn pro wrestling at Robertson's gym at about
In a Hamilton Spectator article about 50 bouts into Sharpe's career,
Robertson praised his young charge. "He's got all the natural
attributes," Robertson told reporter Garry McKay. "He's got a charisma
about him that makes him really popular with the fans. He'll go a long
Having cut his teeth with the small promotions running around Hamilton,
Sharpe set out to learn on the road.
Out west for Gene Kiniski
's All-Star Wrestling promotion, Sharpe was a
Canadian tag champ with Black Avenger (Moose Morowski
) in 1977 and with
Salvatore Martino (later Bellomo) a year later.
In Louisiana, he was a major fan favourite and was a two-time Mid-South
Louisiana champion, a double Mid-South Mississippi champ and Mid-South
Brass Knucks champion all during the years 1979 to 1982.
With Duke Myers, he was Stampede International tag champion in 1981 as
well. He also spent time in Georgia.
Up next was the WWWF and a challenge to then-champ Bob Backlund. To
remember Sharpe only from his days laying down for others would be an
Under the management of Captain Lou Albano, Sharpe fought his way up,
though some may credit his mysterious black armband.
A Wrestling News article on Sharpe described the force of his forearm
smashes during a match against Tony Garea.
"Garea was stung by a rain of heavy forearm smashes, delivered by the
arm on which Iron Mike wears a strapped contraption of sorts. Many times
over it has been alleged that what makes Sharpe's 'hammer' the most
lethal in wrestling is that in this band of his he has secreted some
kind of foreign object. That's what they say. But, because no one has
ever succeeded in removing it from his arm, these allegations remain
It was with much joy that WWWF fans of the era chanted 'WIMP' at Sharpe,
which would of course further enrage him -- something that he was always
excellent at portraying.
Backstage in the WWWF, however, it sounds like Sharpe had a quirk or two
or his own, at least according to announcer Gary Michael Cappetta
in 'Bodyslams! Memoirs of a Wrestling Pitchman'.
"Sharpe was known backstage as Mr. Clean. He spent hours at the sink
washing his hands before wrestling and hours more in the shower after
each of his matches. One night, after wrestling in an early bout at the
Spectrum, he was still soaping up in the shower long after the matches
had ended. Luckily he found a night watchman to let him out of the
locked building long after everyone had gone home.
"Mike was a middle card tough guy who often was used by McMahon as a
stepping stone for future contenders of the WWF championships. He wore a
leather band on his arm that extended from wrist to elbow. Although it
was made of nothing more than thin black leather, once nailed with an
ordinary forearm smash, Sharpe's opponents senselessly collapsed to
defeat. Iron Mike also slid weapons under his armband which he used when
in trouble, concocting more controversy than his harmless gimmick ever
deserved. He squashed lesser opponents on television only to be thrashed
by up and comers at live events in Philadelphia and all of the major
venues throughout the WWF territory. Once getting past Sharpe, the
wrestler who was receiving the push gained credibility en route to
presenting himself worthy of a title shot."
When his career had petered out, Sharpe turned his attention to
teaching, and opened Iron Mike Sharpe's School of Pro-Wrestling in
Asbury Park, NJ.
Crowbar (Chris Ford) was one of his students, and recalled the
experience in an interview with SLAM! Wrestling's Alex Ristic
Mike Sharpe was a funny guy. He showed me the basics, but I'd be lying
if I told you Mike Sharpe showed me how to do a Moonsault. He was a lot
of fun. Even though he
was never a top guy in the WWF, I always enjoyed watching him, he was
always entertaining and, as you know, vocal (laughs), very loud, always
screaming and yelling. He had that patented leather forearm thing. Even
though he wasn't a top guy I always enjoyed watching him."
Nova (Mike Bucci) also trained with Sharpe, and told SLAM! Wrestling's Bob Kapur
about what he learned. "I started training with Mike in 1992 during my second year of college. He taught me a lot about the business, the fundamentals. He has a lot of respect for the business, and he passed that on to me."
But perhaps what stands out best about Sharpe are the memories that fans
have of him. Watching him stomp around the ring, yelling and screaming
at the crowd, only to fall victim to yet another 1-2-3 on Maple Leaf
Wrestling was a Saturday ritual in the '80s.
-- By GREG OLIVER, SLAM! Wrestling
, September 2001
"Iron" Mike Sharpe = Legend.
Always entertaining. I still can hear his yells when I used to watch him wrestle at the London Gardens in London, Ontario.
Bryan, Vancouver, B.C.
I recall at a live WWF event held in Kitchener in the late 1980's. A group
of us had seats above the entrance that the wrestlers used to enter the ring.
When Iron Mike walked down the aisle towards the ring, we rose up out of
our seats, wearing black forearm bands, making loud "Iron Mike" noises.
Iron Mike (the man was huge by the way), stopped, looked up at us and
grinned. it was priceless. He subsequently lost to Hillbilly Jim that
Dean Berkers, Mount Forest Ont.
I met Iron Mike several times in the 80s. The first thing
anyone might notice about him is that his voice is very soft
compared to the loud gravelly voice that dominated his matches
in the squared circle from bell to bell.
Harris Black, Montreal
I always remember Iron Mike, even more so than a lot of up and comers
at the time. He was always on the verge of victory, grunting and
groaning, but always threw the match away by some stupid mistake.
Definitely one of my all time favorite jobbers.
Right here, right now, I would like to announce the start of an Iron
Mike Sharpe commemorative stamp campaign, featuring two stamps, one of
Iron Mike applying the armbar and one receiving the armbar.
Stephen Meisner, Edmonton
Back when I lived in Mississauga ,Ontario we were able to watch All-Star Wrestling from Vancouver on the Barrie CBC
station. I remember watching "Iron" Mike Sharpe. He was always either the Champion or contending for it. When I
later saw him in the WWF years later I never could figure out why he wasn't doing better.
John Kerry, Nanaimo
Iron Mike Sharpe wrestled Jumping Jim Brunzell at a WWF house show in October of 1990 at the Metrocentre in
Rockford, Illinois. I don't remember who won the match, but I will never forget what happened later that night. My friends
and I were waiting around outside the arena after the show. This was when wrestling wasn't real popular like it is now and
there were not hundreds of fans outside. It was just me and my friends and everyone else had gone home. After awile
Iron Mike came out of the building with no shirt on -- it was freezing out that night -- and went to his car. We hesitated but
went ahead and approached him, and he was super nice! He showed me the black forearm protector and his boots. He
signed an autograph for me and talked for awhile before leaving. For some reason we were not satisfied with that and
decided to follow him -- to a grocery store!! We went inside to "snoop" at what he was buying. I remember he bought
bananas! Anyway, we didn't want him to know we followed him so we ran out of the store. Security yelled "STOP!" They
thought we had shoplifted from the store! We then had to explain the whole thing, including having Iron Mike tell the
officers that yes he was a wrestler and we were just fans following him around!! He was STILL very nice even then! I don't
know if he would remember that, but I will never forget it!!
Doug Meyers, Rockford, Illinois.
Back in 1990 or 91 I was attending university in Ottawa. The WWF would come to Ottawa once a year and like many
other students at the time I made sure I was there. On a cold and rainy November night I made way to the arena and
paid my 7 bucks and sat in the cheap seats. The first match of the night was Iron Mike vs Tatanka. My friends and I
booed Tatanka, upsetting a small child a few rows ahead, and cheered our hearts out for Iron Mike. As he was making
his way down to the ring he must have heard us because Iron Mike turned around, looked right up at us, and gave us a
big thumbs up. I still remember that night to this day.
Luis D. De Sousa
What I remember most about Iron Mike Sharpe was a WWF live event in Detroit.
Iron Mike lost that night to Ken Patera. But I'm not kidding, Iron Mike got
the biggest pop of the night from the crowd. After the show a couple of
friends and I were eating at a restaurant outside of Detroit and there was
Iron Mike. We talked to him and he was a great guy. Very funny.
I wrestled Iron Mike Sharpe In Riverside, CA and Ventura, CA two days in a row
in 1987 for the WWF. We were the opening match both nights. Main Event was
Harley Race vs Tito Santana. I had never worked with Mike before, and wasn't
sure what to expect. He is was always in excellent condition, and we had to
go about 15 minutes each night. Needless to say, he worked my butt off. I was
bruised all over my chest for nearly a week after the matches. But I'm not
complaining, Mike was a great guy to me in and out of the ring! One hell of a
competitor, and a true professional! I remember him fondly!
BIG BILL ANDERSON, Riverside, CA
I think it was late-January 1987 in the Cobo Arena in Detroit, Michigan that
Iron Mike Sharpe had his last grasp at greatness. Due to a terrible
blizzard, many of the wrestlers couldn't make it to the show. As a result, then
Intercontinental champion Randy Savage's regularly scheduled opponent
wasn't there, and with few other alternatives, his challenger for the night
became...Iron Mike Sharpe. At the time, Sharpe had been a "jobber to the
stars" for several years, and was a heel to boot, so nobody showed any
interest in this match. But somehow, in a much-more hard fought battle
than anybody expected, Sharpe won over the crowd in his unlikely quest of
wresting the title from the evil Savage. Though he eventually came up
short, their epic 14-minute battle was easily the match of the night, and an
unexpected treat for the several hundred fans who braved the weather to
show up. Thanks Mike!
I used to spend a lot of time in San Francisco years ago and there was (is?) a Greek Deli type of place on Polk Street that served excellent gyros.
Anyhow, the cook, whom we presumed to be the owner had a window to the
street where he would bellow out to the passersby. We were all Iron Mike
Sharpe fans and he was so similar in his yelling that the joint to all of us
became "Iron Mikes."
My name is Tommy Force. I currently see Iron Mike Sharpe every Monday and
Thursday. I have been training at his Wrestling School for the past 5 1/2
years. Mike in a way has been like a father figure to me. When everyone would
leave for the night after a hard night a training I would hang around and
listen to Iron Mike stories. I would listen cause every story he would tell
you would get some or a lot of knowledge from it. He has taught me a lot
about the IN's and out's of this business, like the wrestlers before me who
trained under his guidance. Sharpe is the greatest trainer in the world, if I
needed advice as to how to go about what to do in a match or on a show or
anything I could always count on Mike Sharpe helping me out. Thanks Sharpe
for sitting there many a night's to 2 or 3 in the morning to give me
advice!!!! When I sit there and Sharpe gives me advice, it's like Bret Hart
getting advice from his father Stu Hart.
Tommy Force, Howell, NJ