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  March 11, 2000



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Classic matches


By BRET 'THE HITMAN' HART -- Calgary Sun

 I filmed a commercial for Humpty's restaurants at the Stampede Pavillion and was delighted to find that Ed Whelan was there and was part of it, too.

 Next thing you know, there's and Ed and myself sitting in the bleachers of this little building that always felt so big when the excitement of Stampede Wrestling blew the roof off the place.

 Then Ed says that the snapshot moment that stands out in his mind is when he got so caught up in it, he clocked Abdulah the Butcher in the head with the microphone and busted him wide open. That started us both on a roll.

 I told Ed that I can remember back to '66, when I had the best seat in the house behind Ed and timekeeper Tommy Carr, and I watched Dave Ruhl attack Sweet Daddy Siki. The week before, Sweet Daddy had jumped Ruhl and tied a pig's head around his neck. So now Dave came out of nowhere, jumped Sweet Daddy and ripped his sequined ring robe off. It was a huge feud with great matches between Sweet Daddy Siki, who called himself Mr. Irresistable, and Dave Ruhl, the so-called pig farmer from Hanna.

 They put on some of the most entertaining, colossal, realistic matches of that time and justice prevailed when Ruhl slapped on the almighty full Nelson.

 The next big monster that came on the scene was Archie 'Stomper' Gouldie, known for stomping his opponents in the head with his cowboy boots.

 The skinny kid showed up on my dad's doorstep in 1960 asking to learn to wrestle.

 Stu started him out in the basement and then he disappeared. When he came back eight years later, he was one of the most athletic and dangerous specimens ever to enter a wrestling ring. Archie went through everybody and kept on selling out the Pavillion. There was Ed interviewing him when Archie grabbed the microphone away from him and threatened to come out to Stu's house and tear the old mansion down brick by brick.

 When The Stomper and Stu finally went at it, they sold out the Pavilion for five weeks straight. I used to shake my head because when Archie did show up at our house, my mother always gave him a polite hug and a paycheque.

 At first I thought maybe mom was in on it with the bad guy, but eventually I figured out that she'd started to like the wrestling business a little more when Archie sold out the Pavillion week after week.

 Stomper eventually got beat by Billy Robinson, who in turn got beat by a new guy, a barefoot 350 lb. black guy with menacing scars on his head who only wore karate pants and was billed as being from the Kartoum and Sudan and didn't speak any English.

 He was vicious as hell. He maimed and tortured everybody. I was absolutely terrified of Abdulah the Butcher, as was everybody else that I know. It came down to a battle for the North American Championship between Abdulah, Ruhl and Sweet Daddy Siki. In one of the most controversial finishes of that time, Ruhl scored a win over The Butcher with help from Sweet Daddy to win the title.

 Business was booming when Abdulah went at it with Stu, but the Butcher made the mistake of doing something sneaky to my dad right in front of me. So next thing I know my foot sprang out from under my first row seat and booted Abdulah the Butcher in his very fat butt -- leaving my sneaker imprint for all the world to see. He turned around blown away that some kid had that much nerve.

 Then a young whippersnapper showed up who was cannon fodder for everybody in the beginning, but a year and a half later, Dan Kroffat turned out to be one of the most dynamic wrestlers of that era. I told Ed how vividly I remember Kroffat fighting Tor Kamata in a ladder match in Sept. '72. There was a big bag of money hanging over the ladder and that night when Kroffat won he jumped for joy and threw handfuls of 100s and 20s out to the crowd that had cheered him on. I managed to get a $20 -- which I still have. That got Ed smiling about Kamata's big saying, "No chancie Mr. Whalen."

 Unquestionably the classic match of all time was the January, 1974 match between Archie 'Stomper' Gouldie against Abdullah the Butcher. On more than one occassion, one referee and several restraints were needed to control the action.

 And where are they now? Abdulah the Butcher is now semi-retired and owns a restuarant in Atlanta. Archie The Stomper drives the paddy wagon for the pokey in Knoxville, Tenn. Tor Kamata has a restaurant in Saskatoon and Big Daddy Siki is a country singer in Toronto with a band called The Irresistables. Dan Kroffat owns a successful car dealership in Calgary.

 A stroke took Dave Ruhl.

 Ordinary people forever linked to an extraordinary past.

 I'll be signing autographs at the Marlborough Wal-Mart on March 19 from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. If you were there for the good old days of Stampede Wrestling, come on down and tell me a story about your favourite times. Who knows, that could be a whole 'nother column.

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